See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 7 here.
See Part 8 here.
See Part 9 here.
See Part 10 here.
See Part 11 here.
See Part 12 here.
See Part 13 here.
See Part 14 here.
See Part 15 here.
See Part 16 here.
See Part 17 here.
See Part 18 here.
See Part 19 here.
See Part 20 here.
See Part 21 here.
See Part 22 here.
The Calm before the Storm
The next week seemed like things were getting back to some sense of normal. Mom didn’t have any new hospital visits. There were more people in the area to help her out. When I called, she seemed in decent spirits. She’d even started eating a bit here or there.
For someone as far away as I was, I could have remained ignorant if I were someone else. But the truth was she was in persistent, constant pain. She was enduring, but it was taking a toll.
Shortly after I called my mom, my sister had to head home. We spoke briefly. She was worried some members of the family would be upset, but the truth was she had to go home. I noticed this a lot through this trial. I think all of us felt some sort of constant guilt over what we weren’t doing or what we should have done or what we worried others thought we should be doing.
I’m of the opinion that all that did was cause unneeded stress and even resentment for nothing more than perceived or potential resentment. To be clear, it’s possible there was a great deal of actual resentment, but that only emphasized the need to limit any additional strain or concern.
My advice to her and any going through something like this is probably easier said than done, but I still feel it’s the mindset I’d advise people to have.
“Do what you feel in your heart is genuinely the right thing to do.”
Allow me to be frank:
It’s unreasonable to think people are going to be calm, well-adjusted, and rational through any trial that lasts this long. The fact is, people are going to go through phases. People are going to get mad. People are going to want to lash out, and they’re going to pick targets for their anger.
It’s my sincere prayer that people be anxious for nothing, “but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
It’s possible some will remember that, but the more important verse I found myself going to was, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) I translate this also as “Do not be overcome by hate, but overcome hate with love.” I sincerely hope those alterations are not inappropriate, but I feel confident the connotation holds true.
We’re human; we’re flawed and prone to un-Christly behavior. I feel that we to often feel the need to retaliate in defensiveness or pain. We hurt; therefore we want to hurt. It’s all fine and good to love our neighbor when he’s treating us well, but let that neighbor slap you in the face, and test if you’re really able to find the true, Christ-like strength and love to turn to him the other cheek. (Matthew 5:39)
Strive to find your compassion and love. Anyone can have those things when they don’t feel hurt or angry. We demonstrate our commitment when we do things even though they’re hard. We show our faith and devotion when we obey scripture even after we’re tempted to turn from that to our prideful, lustful desires.
To tie this back to the advice I offered my sister, I told her, “Anyone can, and probably will, judge you anyway, so you may as well go with the option you believe is correct (in accordance to God’s will). They can think whatever they want. It doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong. That’s not really for them to judge no matter how much they feel a right to.”
I think a part of the fear of judgment people sometimes feel is that those people are also judging. If I’m being fair, my sister felt like Mom needed more help. My dad was doing everything he could, but the insurance and hospital who promised “everything would be paid for” suddenly had a great deal of things that needed to happen before those things could be taken care of. But the point is when we judge, we feel more afraid of the judgement of others. The truth is though, when we judge, we act as if we know what is “right” or “wrong.” Since I’ve submitted more and more to God, I’ve started to realize just how little room I have for judgement, which isn’t to be confused with rebuke or scriptural discussion. It’s one thing to say, “This is what I know the Bible says.” It’s something else entirely to say, “This is what I think you should do, so you’re wrong,” or even to say, “The Bible says this is wrong, so you’re wrong.”
Let’s remember, readers, we all fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Let’s turn this to me, since my goal isn’t to accuse or even by description judge.
There have been times at work where I’ve felt like I could have done something better.
Then come the times when I feel like I messed up.
For starters, if I already feel like I might be judged, I have to ask myself how right my actions can possibly be. I’ve never done something just like I should, exactly when I should and then worried what people would think.
No, if I’m being honest, I feel the most fear of judgment when I’ve already had reason to believe I wasn’t right. So if I feel convicted about my actions, why shouldn’t others at least feel as if I’ve done something wrong? Does that grant them the right to persecute me or lash out at me? No, see the Philippians verse again. Yet, here we are, mortals given to sin.
I’ve come to realize that my defensiveness is directly proportionate to my own convicted feelings.
What I try to do now is make sure I’m doing what I feel is right and best in accordance with scripture and policy. Oh I fail just about every day (sometimes twice). But when I know I’ve done wrong, rather than hide and resent rebuke, I confess and seek forgiveness. Do I do it all the time? No, I’m afraid of getting into trouble or looking like a hypocrite, but that is just more sin.
When I’m at my best, I confess and seek forgiveness; first from God, then from those I know I’ve wronged.
This prevents me from compounding my emotions with fear of discovery or resentment.
I’m convinced the world would be a far better place if we all read Matthew 5:22-24. “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You foo!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
I’ve been a fan of that before I knew it was a Bible verse. I call it, “If you have beef, work that crap out before it festers.”
Again, I promise I’ve ignored that very advice, but I also promise it’s never worked out.
For my part, I was always afraid to start a fight. But the fight that happens after weeks of resentment and tense eggshell-walking is always worse than the fight that immediately follows an offense.
I’ve had dozens of uncomfortable, no-fun conversations that usually ended well and with a better understanding. But most fights I’ve had after weeks of pent-up emotion have sometimes ended in broken relationships.
These days, I try even harder to practice that advice.
We need family. We need bonds. We need love. To risk that love for the sake of temporary peace just seems foolish. This isn’t the same as, “My sister annoyed me with that joke.” Look, if you can get over it, get over it. If you’re going to let something go, let it go.
If I catch myself talking about something (venting, talking crap, letting off steam; call it whatever you want) three times, I demand that I go and address it. If I can’t just forgive whatever it is that bugged me and move on, then I talk it out.
Again, I’m still confessing I do this less than I don’t, but I’m getting better.
My sister ultimately decided to head home, and I can say no one blamed or grumbled about her to me. I can’t say it didn’t happen; I can only say I never heard it.
That didn’t stop my sister from joining the rest of the family when Mom had her appointment on July 19.
It didn’t go well.
Questions and Revelations
What gives you the right to tell me to hash my crap out if you admit you don’t?
Well, first off, this is more a reminder to myself than anything. I feel that advice is solid and Biblically supported (supported, not directed). This is why I focused on my own issues. I’ve never regretted trying earnestly to hash out a dispute. I’ve come to regret every argument that happened well after I’d already passed my boiling point. Even if it ended the way it needed to, it still only served create bitter feelings and damage relationships I value.
I’ve never claimed to be, and hope I never even implied, “I know how things should be done.” In fact, my greatest hope is I’ve been honest and humble in these segments.
As I type these, I find myself even more convicted. I hope these thoughts encourage and help you as much as they reenforce and drive me.
How much do you advise your family?
Way more than I should. Pastors and counselors are appropriate people to seek advice from. I have people I trust and seek guidance from, and they always mean well. I know I sure do, but the fact is I should probably just listen and keep my trap shut.
When I do open the stupid hole (also known as my mouth), I at least try to make sure there is a Biblical foundation to what I’m saying. I aspire to make sure more and more of what I do or say is grounded in Biblical policy (If I can copyright that phrase, I’d sure like to).
I’m honestly still trying to find the balance between being a good listener and friend (or family member), evangelizing, or just being obnoxious and bossy. I have more ignorance than wisdom. So until I learn when to be wisely silent and when I have an appropriate opportunity to evangelize, I’m at least going to make an effort that I keep my advice in line with that policy.
If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog. I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.
Thanks for reading