Thursday, January 27, 2011

When unforgiveness becomes family drama

I do want to thank everyone who orders through my Amazon widget again.  I was able to order a book on gardening (how to!) for me, a belated Christmas gift for the New England family, and an inexpensive copy of an out-of-print book of essays because of you.  I appreciate every credit.  :)

But it also reminded me of some recent family drama.  I usually stay out of any and all such drama, especially family gossip.  I call it "closing emotional doors", something similar to what I read the Schaeffer's did at L'Abri.  Edith said every family has to have a time when the door is closed, even when they are in ministry... for them this was represented by the actual closing of a real life door but talking about protecting our family in all ways.

I am rather infamous in the family for not wanting to listen to anyone talk about someone else but especially as I developed more physical fatigue... emotional baggage brings with it physical ailments... that I do not need at this stage of life.

In this case, there were two sides to a story involving very serious accusations.  I had prayed and asked God to show me who was telling the truth.  I listened and asked questions and during one conversation, a family member told me gossip which another person had said about me and my family.  One of the accusations being that I only "got online" (they have no idea what a blog is) to ask people for money.  Others included treating my children very well and my husband... not so much.

Now, this person has only been in my house a few times in the past years and we have only spoken over the phone now and then.  I had to stop and ponder if there was any truth in her thinking I didn't treat my husband well when she visited.  For if any of you deal with a bi-polar person on a daily basis, you know there are times you do have to speak sternly, only because they are clueless as to what is going on around them in their very manic and very depressive states... but I didn't remember that happening when she was here.

As to asking for money or gifts, it may have been after receiving a financial gift from a blog friend... one who felt the Lord was wanting them to share with me to meet a need.  That has only happened a few times and as for gifts... there are blog friends who have sent sweet gifts and I cherish them all but you may notice I rarely mention it (only recently showing one gift that I framed) because I never, ever want to make anyone feel I am asking for something.  Well, other than going through the Amazon widget if you have no close friend or family who has one on their blog.  ;)

The person sharing this with me had never told me any of this before and I knew it was God answering my prayer.  As I talked to her further, I realized the other person had lied to me about other events surrounding the accusations against her... and that they were true.  Accusations which I refused to believe as they didn't seem like something this family member would do but over the years... she has changed.

As I pondered what this person and others have said, I realized she had become very bitter through the years, most likely her emotions as a simmering pot on the back of the stove concentrating all anger and hurt from her youth until now... much older... she filters the world through dark emotional glasses.  Where once was a strong, dependable woman whom we all teased as being rather "bossy"... her soul was filled with the darkness of not letting go.  Any actions of others are not seen as what they are but what she sees them as... through her worldview so to speak.

She has never believed in a God who forgives so she hangs onto guilt from bad decisions, never finding freedom and release to go on.  For there is freedom from a teenage pregnancy... freedom from (I highly suspect) abortions... freedom from anger at parents and ex-husbands... freedom, forgiveness, a lightening of the load.. "I'm sorry" covers it all as one truly repents and follows Him who washes away it all and leaves one as pure as the white snow.

On one hand, it was shocking for me to realize what the family member had become... that the accusations were true.  However, I wasn't angry at what she had said about me... much more then I had shared here. She had also spoken badly about others. Somehow I understood... it was as if He gave me a glimpse into the darkness of soul and showed me where it all started... all those years ago... and how her words against all of us were nothing more than the outpouring of that bitterness within.  I knew how to pray.

Oh, I did examine my own heart and my own ways in case there was any truth within her words... another mental Post-it-Note to be more gentle with my husband when he is having a bad day... writing here to make certain blog friends never, ever think I am asking for anything when I share how we live with beauty on such a low income... and definitely a reminder not to make immediate judgements on who is right or wrong about a situation... for it was the person I never suspected who was the guilty party.  Only God knows the heart of man.

I also took from this recent drama the need to daily ask Him what needs forgiveness in my own life, burdens to lay before His altar, forgiveness to accept, bad feelings toward others (which I HAD been guilty of last week) put away, not to be a stumbling block to another... giving grace, breathing grace, walking in grace.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reminder about closing emotional doors. My hubby is pretty good at that, with his local extended family, but I have a tendency to listen to all the drama. You are great at reminding, in a gentle way, that pouring crud into my ears isn't Godly.

I am an Amazon addict, so I am always pleased with myself when I remember to jump in from your widget. I love coupons, so it's like giving coupons away to someone else!

Connie in San Diego

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are wise not to listen to unpleasant family gossip. After all,how do you know if what the person told you was true or if it was just the truth as she saw (or understood) it. Also some people just like to 'stir the pot.'

Kimberly said...

Sorry that you are going through this family drama and are being talked about in such a cruel way. I am happy that you shared the story because I have someone like that in my family--probably most of us do. Mine is, unfortunately, my mother so the harsh words and lies are especially painful. I will pray for you and your family. Please keep blogging. If those of us who read you daily felt that you were "begging for money" we won't be followers.

Carol G. said...

This is good. This is very good! Thank you.

Leaking Moonlight said...

I've been reading for a very long time, and I appreciate what you have to say. Many times you address the very issue I am thinking about in a way that points me up and out of myself. Divine intervention at its most potent.

Thank you, and a big hug from Texas.

Mrs.Rabe said...

Thanks for sharing this Brenda.

I deal with a family member who is difficult at times, and yet it is not noticeable to those outside the family or inner circle.

I appreciate that you remind us that we must wait to make judgments, and that we must practice forgiveness. Otherwise we do end up with a bitterness of soul that is ugly and harmful to us and others.


Kay said...

thank you for this.... I've been in a quandry with some church friends, feeling like I'm being snubbed and that I've made them upset with me. I've been trying to lean on God and asking Him to show me if I've done them wrong. It was good to see you also lean on Him and listen to what He says in these kinds of situations.
And thank you for your little revelation of how you treat your dh & his bi-polar. I have a friend who I've had to either be stern with or back away from during her down times, in order to keep meself "whole."

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I think it is a grace from God when we are able to see that what we find not good in other people often comes from their suffering and a kind of grief because they are not seeing things the right way. When we understand this I think we can find more compassion and the ability to pray for them and not to hold anything against them. But it's something we all have to work on, with the help of Grace.

You are wise to be a little detached from such family gossip. There is a very bitter divorce going on in my family, in my daughter's generation and neither spouse is thinking of the children much at all that I can see. But I've had to realize that all I can do for them, really, is pray. I can't let myself be sucked into the maelstrom and I cannot really show them how to live, either. They have to find that themselves.

You are so able to find balance. It's what draws me to your blog! It inspires me.

moreofhim said...

Family dramas are so difficult. Your post is a wonderful reminder of asking God for wisdom and clarity because it's true - only He knows the hearts of men. I also loved the closing emotional doors. I have problems with that because I wear my heart on my sleeve. It ends up tearing me apart, though, and I need to gain the ability to close that door.

Thank you so much for a very insightful post. It was truly something I needed.

God bless you - Julie

Katy said...

I think you're right - it is really important to know when to close those emotional doors. After all, what use will we be to anyone if we're caught up in who said what to whom?

Also, as someone who has found you fairly recently, and read back through a lot of your archives, I just wanted to add that I have never once felt that you were asking for anything from me - only giving of your experiences and knowledge, which I appreciate greatly.

Jayne said...

Unfortunately we can't control other people, we can only control how we react to them.
In situations like this, I just think ...I am going to go on just being myself, and let God take care of the consequences. Praying for peace in your heart today my friend x

The Pleasures of Homemaking said...

Family drama...ugh! It's so hard to keep from getting sucked in. Some people just live for being the center of drama and love to create it.

I'm sure that there isn't a single person that reads your blog that feels that you are "asking" for anything! You've always been a wonderful inspiration to me on many levels.



Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Thank you for the insight into those whose souls and minds don't understand forgiveness and "see through the glass [extra] darkly". I believe we all have such people in our lives and they can push emotional buttons if we allow it. Thanks to your post, I now have a more informed perspective and thus will try to deal with such issues with more compassion and more prayer...and less emotion. :)

Storybook Woods said...

Well done Brenda, you handled the situation with God's grace but also were not pulled into the drama yourself. It is a fine line to walk xoxox Clarice
By the way, you would not believe all the things that are said about me and my family. We are considered freaks, but I will accept that tag with a smile!!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, Brenda. You know that God's spirit moves upon you to share and write what you do. I have been tremendously blessed by what you share. On a monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily basis. This time it is almost hard for me to believe how timely your post is. Family drama concerning lies has been going on in my family lately. The closing of the door and the praying and breathing and freely giving grace words that you shared have been used as such confirmation from the Lord right now. Thank you so very much, Dear Sister in the Lord.
In Christ's Love,