by Helene Torres
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There’s episode of E.R. where a psychologist is doing a research project into the way people deal with anger. In order to do that, he would purposely wind people up the wrong way and the fact that he was in the E.R. indicates he was more than capable at what he did. We have all met people like that. Most of us seem to have one within our family. I recall one taxi drive all too clearly. The driver had literally only been told which hospital and started on some speech about how “illness is all in the mind.” With my background, I would dearly have loved to thump him and then state sarcastically, “You know the pain that your experiencing – it’s all in the mind.” As it was, I just told myself, “Helene. It’s not worth it” and just said – tight-lipped “I disagree.”
Some people are able to innocently put their finger on delicate subjects, without intention because they are completely unaware of the circumstances. Other times we have to deal with people who lack tact and some things are simply said to hurt us. It’s difficult not to respond, either to hit back at the person or to go into some long complicated explanation about why they shouldn’t of said what they said, did what they did. The truth is there are reasons behind everybody character and characteristics. We misunderstand; misjudge people constantly, because we just don’t know. A blind friend of mine has been told off for pushing in front of someone at the checkout. People underestimate my intelligence and I get accused of being drunk, all too often. My natural response is to become righteously indignant. After all I can’t help it – my condition is enough of a nuisance without people making wrong assumptions. I’d like to stick a finger up at the people who make a comment and hate them for it. This doesn’t work, particularly when it’s the police, who have stopped you! It takes endless degrees of patience, to understand that it’s the obvious conclusion and that these people are only frank (or have drunk) enough to speak their mind, then wonder how many times I’ve jumped to a wrong conclusion about a person. I’ve had to accept that on the whole, I do not give a very good first impression and some impressions take a long time to breakdown. I trust that truth will surface and things will be worked out in the end, but even if it doesn’t, it shouldn’t really matter to me.
Righteous indignation is only right, if it isn’t directed at the people themselves, but at what causes the comment/deed and the sting it inflicts. Both of these are the caused by the devil. I find it hard to look beyond the people the devil uses to “get at” me. It’s far easier to blame someone who you can see, hear and feel, rather than a spirit, which is where my hate should be directed. To get to that point we have to admit that there is a spiritual dimension, which is something I failed to discern until embarrassingly recently. (I had to physically feel the forces at work without any other possible explanation.) Then we can only see past the people with God’s grace and by relying on Him. If we try to do it within our own capabilities then we fail miserably. It is so simple to believe that people are either “good” or “bad,” We all have our failings and characteristics that the devil uses, to attack others. I know that the very people, who have hurt and isolated me in the past, have been a great help in other situations and vice versa. Too often, I become smug believing I’m on God’s side, forgetting that the devil can still use me.
My illness I can’t help, yet I try not to use it as an excuse for not doing things. The same should be true for the way I react. I was talking to a friend who has known me all my life and I was saying to her, “I know shouldn’t have done that”. She kindly gave me a way out, “Helene, it’s understandable, anyone in your situation would have done exactly the same.” But “that’s a reason, it doesn’t excuse it,” I cried pathetically into the phone. I believe there are reasons in most peoples past that could make anything they do logical. If they turned to drug abuse, started self-harming, developed a sudden phobia of pens or became an elastic band collector, I’m sure psychologists could find a reasoning behind it and if psychologists could then how easy it is for us to justify it to ourselves. Sin should never be justified by our past, no matter what has happened, but ultimately, it is only God who should be standing in judgement as only He sees the whole picture of our lives.
We shouldn’t need to justify our behaviour to humans. It’s sorely tempting to try and explain everything away, to take credit for our good deeds and explain why we fall into temptation when we do. Jesus didn’t need to rationalize what He did, He was perfect and yet He died with most people believing He was a criminal. His instructions to us, was to keep our good deeds private, - when you give to charity don’t make a huge show of it, when you pray – do so in private. These instructions are for people like me – people who still need human’s approval. I admit I get a lot of satisfaction from breaking down, people’s perception of me in one easy shot. I will never forget the look on one particular persons face, the first time I had the confidence to pose an awkward question in House Group and they were suddenly shaken into the realisation that…hang on…there is a brain in her after all. All too often, I make a comment or do something, then examine it, “Why did I say that?”…“do that?” Yes, it might be true, but the reasoning behind my spouting it out was from a longing for acceptance and admiration from people alone.
Acceptance is still a big deal for me. I have often felt rejected by people without them having to do or say anything. It’s more what they haven’t done or said. Maybe I haven’t been invited to the cinema, even though I know about the trip. Am I sensible enough to get my feelings out into the open and just say; “Can I come?” Oh no. I shouldn’t need to ask, they obviously don’t want me. More often than not it is simply a lack of thought and by refusing to ask, I am actually lining myself up to be hurt and forgotten.
The people I admire most are the ones who don’t appear to require this sort of acceptance, praise or sympathy from humans, because they rely completely on God. They’re the sort of people who you can talk privately to and not even need to request privacy from – you just know it won’t go any further because they don’t require the interest or admiration that gossip gains. They accept your failings and flaws, but don’t have to know the reasons behind them to help and love you. These people draw on God for their confidence which is what I need to learn to do.
I have a fairly low self esteem at the best of times, but not having had any worldly success for a while – qualifications/job, has meant that my self image has deterioted. My negative attitude of myself can get in the way of my walk with God, because I view myself as simply not good enough. For instance, I took to not wearing any outward signs that I am Christian, because in my mind, it wasn’t a very good witness to have a Christian looking drunk at 10am. While things like this show that anything positive, which comes out of me has to be of God, it is also wrong. God said I was beautiful, He chose me before I was born. He saw everything within me, all that I try to hide from people and He wanted me anyway. I am His child and there’s no reason why I should view myself as less than anyone else. If He’s not embarrassed of His work in me, then why should I be embarrassed myself?
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