I was talking to a friend this morning about a situation she is having with a friend of over 3 decades. They are all recovering alcoholics, and my friend and her family have taken in the son of her friend for the past year or so. He is also in recovery, but not successfully. The families all agreed that when this young man came down here and started a new life, that no matter what happened, it wouldn't get in the way of their long term friendship. Well, of course, it has. The fellow has not taken ownership of his problems; he has abused the help to the maximum....taking advantage, taking cars, taking meds. Stealing is the word for it, I believe. My friend and her family have delivered consequences to this fellow at every turn, and it has royally pissed off his family. But the reason my friend and her husband are so successful in their recovery is, one...Jesus Christ. Secondly, they have recognized consequences to messing up. Not punishment from the Lord....simply consequences for stupid behavior. They have chosen the higher path....with RICH rewards. They are a wonderful family, all of them...loving, lovable, and close-knit....and now they are being castigated for standing firm in trying to help this fellow out. We've talked about the role of Christians in conflicts like this. It ain't easy! He has chosen the lesser path.
Now, they have to step away, draw a line in the sand, and accept the fact that their long-time friends are angry with them. This may well destroy this relationship. Of course my friend and her family are questioning themselves. People who really care do that. But, in my opinion, they were right in every decision they made...and they made the decisions as a group, so that they would have accountability. They took this kid seriously and tried to help. He chose to turn away.
Why do we beat ourselves up for standing firm? I've questioned this in the past few weeks. My hairdresser was cutting my hair this morning and remarked that someone had hit her car and left without leaving a note. She was mad, of course. It's not a bad dent, but they didn't own up to it. I agreed. I have a "crease" mark at the rear of my car, over the gas tank. Someone just clipped it and left without acknowledging it. It makes me mad every time I see it. On the other hand, right by my door is a quarter size ding...right by the handle. My hubby and I were at a store when this man came running in and asked the clerk if someone in a blue Chevy was in the store. It was us, and he was falling all over himself apologizing about the ding his little girl had left when she slammed open the door on his car. She didn't mean to...it was a two door, and you know how cumbersome they can be. She was only about 4. Well, hubby went out to look at it, as the fellow was trying to give him his insurance, numbers, etc. Hubby looked at it, looked at the little girl, looked at the guy, and said, "Forget it." Then he came in the store and I think he expected me to be upset that he just forgave it. I just said, "Good call." We call it the "Forgiveness Ding." It reminds me to forgive...but I still can't quite get there with whoever left the gas cap crease. Why is that? Both were a violation of my property.
Well, of course, it's because one person owned up to their actions and chose to be accountable. The other didn't.
I can't control the behavior of either of these people, but I sure appreciate the former. I can only control my reactions. Not forgiving the gas cap dinger only hurts me in the long run. He or she has long forgotten what they did--if they even cared. They probably figured it was my fault anyway...perhaps I parked weird, or somehow got in their way. Regardless...the actions of the two of them tells me who will really succeed in life, and who will not.
Now, my task in relationships, and my friends' tasks, are to stand firm...accept our right draw boundaries. To be kind, loving, and forgiving, but not to be doormats....and to (this is REALLY hard) not feel rejected if people we love and care about react in anger or unforgiveness to us. To be accountable to our own behaviors, to apologize when necessary, to remain humble. To understand that we can only control our reactions.
I think Jesus was like this.....he wasn't a cuddly, lovey teddy bear. He loves so greatly, but he got pissed off at the bad behavior of others...and then He took it on His shoulders. We don't have to. We now have the luxury and the gift to let it roll off of ours.