Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ponderings on critical thinking and talk

A very happy belated birthday greeting to my friend Sally Clarkson (aka: My Favorite Writer). She tells her birth story in today's post... here. But you can't read it until you read my post. Aren't I selfish? Okay, if you must go on over and read it. I understand what a miracle her being here today is since my first child was a preemie and he lived only a half an hour or so.

I found her post especially interesting as I'd already been pondering how our life is affected by our parents and the way we are raised. A (former) friend of my husband's sister had called to update on what she was doing.

She was telling me all the horrible things my husband's sister said about me, including giving a rundown on how I was so evil to her when she was nine years old and I treated her badly when we went to the fair together and that is why she hates me. I didn't meet her until she was in college so that tells you the state of her mind. :)

My in-laws fueled hatred toward me because they were critical of me and most of the people around them. Their parents were both critical of them. My husband struggles with a critical attitude.

I thought of my sister Bonnie's husband. They could have been quite wealthy today but he was a very vain and arrogant person who ended up losing everything and going to jail in his 40s due to white collar crime. They now live in a tiny apartment surrounded by the few beautiful antiques they did not sell. He was lewd, unfaithful to his wife when younger, and quite unscrupulous... just like his father had been.

He was also a person who criticized me through the years and spread untrue rumors. A year or two ago, he took my hand and with tears falling down his face... asked me to forgive him. Of course, the answer was yes and not at all hard because he had been made a "new creature in Christ". This man astounds everyone by his warmth and love now (although after living a life such as his, he still has rather crude humor... some things don't change quickly). :)

I find it interesting but not at all surprising that the person I find it so easy to love today is the sinner saved by grace and not the woman with the Christian label who never missed church. For the people who have shocked me with vicious talk and gossip were church people.

Perhaps it is just that I expect more from people who wear the banner of the Lord on their shoulders but it still amazes me at the hostility that can come from people of "faith" at times. Some have been downright mean people.

From one who has been a Presbyterian, a Wesleyan, and a Charismatic... I can tell you it came from all sides. I mean, really, given those three as a background I can argue theology with myself! But most of the time the hostility wasn't from a difference of theology but because our choices in life are beyond their understanding so we have to be bad (or even evil) people.

The worst vicious verbal attacks came from people in the church who did not understand our decision to homeschool our son. Or... something so little as not letting our daughter take part in an experimental "anti-drug" class when she was in elementary school because the program was based on Eastern Religions.

All this to say... in this life we will have adversity and some of it will come from the general direction of the Church. What do we do? Well, I was told by a wise person long ago to first see if there is any seed of Truth in their criticism. If there is, take it and throw away what else they say. If there is not, throw away what they say and do your best not to hold it against them.

Some have since asked forgiveness and others I never saw again. That's okay because I must "let it go" regardless. The Book says we are to forgive those who speak against us... to carry their cloak an extra mile if asked. That is not easy to do but we must release hard feelings against others if we are to walk in freedom and not let their words affect us adversely.

I think of the Poet King who spent years and years and years having people not only say dreadful things about him but coming after him to kill him. We have his thoughts and experiences in the Psalms. I haven't had to deal with that so it can't be all that bad. :)

I also must watch my own tongue. Just yesterday I found myself telling my husband how he should talk to someone speaking against the way he was handling this situation with his sister. Then I thought of the Beatitude... blessed are the peacemakers. Umm... I repented. Sigh... no wonder I cannot hold the words of another against them.

Back to pantry ponderings tomorrow... enjoy Sally's blog (link above or on my sidebar).

Picture: Swiped (borrowed?) from my sweet Busy Bee... somewhere close to Corpus Christi, Texas


scrappy quilter said...

Excellant post!! I've found the same thing. One thing I can say is I decided NOT to be like my dad. With God's help I'm not.

I've been hurt by church people has well. I think when it happens, God uses it to teach us forgiveness. For me, it's much hard forgiving a Christian than someone who isn't. Do you find the same thing? Hugs!!

Pom Pom said...

Hi Brenda, I'm going to tell my daughter about your blog. She has some current challenges with her husband's family. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You are so so right!! I have walked/am walking in such similar ways too. I always have loved the Psalms and taken such comfort in them. Not long ago I came across an article that told of the childhood of David, and what happened to both he and his mom. THEN I well understood how it was he could have written so well how I FELT inside. He had a most difficult raising!! Rather illustrates that we suffer and are comforted so that we can offer comfort to others!! I desire to pass the tests of this life. And some are sure hard, aren't they? Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

WOW...just had a moment to go read the link in this article to Sally...what a story!! THANKS so much for including this too, as it is SO encouraging to me right now. SO often I feel that I have not accomplished much of anything for my Messiah and Savior...but this helps me to keep struggling on.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

Outstanding post...it's a struggle for me sometimes to forgive someone who hurts someone I love. I find I can "let go" for myself far more quicker than I can if they hurt someone else in my family. I really have to work on it and remember what our Lord said. I'm just a sinner, saved by grace, and His grace alone.

Jonell said...

One of my all time favorite words: Pondering! A really good word.

Sally Clarkson said...

Sweet Brenda,
Of all the people I think of as gracious--you are at the top of the list. I am sorry that you ever had to be the focus of such harsh criticism, but obviously you dug deeper and found the grace of God. I love you more for your willingness to walk this journey with Him. Thanks for liking my writing. Since it is done in bits and pieces tucked around meals, chores, life and family, it is never very polished. And of course you know that you are one of my favorite writers. Love to you today.

Anonymous said...

I see the Holy Spirit in you. I see Jesus.
I see His love in your blog. The words you speak give glory to God. : )
Your heart is just lovely and is a product of much time spent with Christ and the Sword of the Spirit.

Anonymous said...

I'll take humility over Christian piety any day...Maybe that's how Jesus felt, too!

Of course, I can be guilty as charged with being critical (and prob. pious-seeming at times, too--just ask my brothers!). It was my (adopted) dad who was very critical, and when I think back to some of the things he said and did, it blows my mind. He was mean to us kids, and I would never do what he did. He's a good man, but since he had been abused he was still trying to live with that. I try very hard not to be even the least bit critical like him, esp. with my kids, but it sometimes creeps in even with them, and I HATE it! I am also far too critical of my husband, but am always striving to be better at that too.

It is just like it says in Deuteronomy, about the sins of the parents being passed on...But I also cling to Jesus' words "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free". If there's anything good about our "Oprah" culture, it's that bringing things out into the open, learning the truth, helps to set us free.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

These sorts of criticism can be so wounding. (I wonder if your sister in law doesn't perhaps have some sort of mental illness.)

My parents were very critical when I was growing up and tended to ignore the things I really did well. But I was lucky enough to have 35 years of marriage to a man who loved and admired me (and I loved and admired him) and gave me back the confidence I lost (or maybe never had?) He was such a blessing and I miss him, but I still have the positive effects of his love in my soul.

I wonder if that isn't what I think must be the response to those who hurt us. To love them, as God loves them, and hope they will be able to accept all that love that would heal them. OTH, I must admit to having a hasty temper at times, though it has never been one that lasted - another blessing. I do wonder why Christians can be so critical when they are supposed to love one another so much. And if this critical aspect comes from insecurity, then why are they insecure when they are supposed to be Christians. Something to ponder indeed.