On Christmas morning my granddaughter, Annie (Annabel), called our house early. I was in the shower, but when I got out, I could hear her talking to her Papaw on speakerphone. He asked her how her how her day was going. She said, “I’m not feeling too good” (she was disappointed because she could not get her new Nintendo Switch to connect to the Internet). But, what she said next is what I want to focus on – she said, “But I will feel better when I get to see you and Ninnie!”
Oh, how grandchildren can brighten our days – it’s their openness, their readiness to say just what they feel and their childlike unrestraint to offer spontaneous hugs and kisses.
Why can’t we as adults be more like that? What happens between childhood and adulthood that causes us to shut down and become so guarded with our feelings? It is obviously a learned response because from what I’ve observed, most children show their feelings much more easily than we do.
I think that somewhere along the path we get hurt and we learn to bind up our wounds with caution, with restraint, and we become experts at avoiding and taking the risk of being hurt again. So, up go the shields and the walls of protection.
But let’s think about that for a moment…just what are we protecting?
Well, first of all, we don’t want to be hurt again because to put it simply, it’s just not a good feeling… But, then what happens? The result of closing ourselves off and shutting our feelings down is isolation (and we learn very quickly that this is no fun). Love is risky, but it’s worth the possibility of being hurt once in a while. And the truth is… isolating ourselves does NOT protect us from being hurt – we still hurt, but we endure it alone!
To dig a little deeper, what exactly is it inside of us that gets wounded and hurt? When you really think about it, I believe it is all rooted in one common problem – pride!
The problem is not other people (well sometimes it is, but for the most part I don’t think that people set out to intentionally hurt us). More often than not, if you are anything like me, you assign negative feelings to other people. So many times I have assigned negative thoughts or feelings to someone (believing that they feel or think negatively of me) only to find out later that it was my own insecurity working overtime and I was completely wrong about them. And you may find this surprising, but insecurity is related to pride. I know that sounds strange because it seems the opposite, but pride is simply an over concern and focus on self – and if we weren’t so focused on ourselves we would not feel so insecure.
The Bible says in Proverbs 13:10 “Only by pride cometh contention…”
This verse says that PRIDE is only (or always) the cause of contention and strife. When our pride is wounded we get into strife and hard feelings toward others (it may never be voiced, but this war is certainly going on in our hearts) – and according to Proverbs, pride is always at the root.
We perceive that someone has done us wrong. So now, we are mad at them and they don’t even KNOW it – they are going on happily about their lives…none the wiser and we are locked in a prison of unforgiveness and misery.
If someone has done some obvious harm to you, you should confront them about it, but most of the time, we are simply assigning wrongs inflicted upon ourselves by others.
The first and greatest commandment is that we first love God unconditionally and then that we love one another that way too. Pride gets in the way of that, so pride needs to go.
When we let pride go, then unconditional love can flow. Unconditional love means that WE love them, no matter how they may have slighted us (whether the wrong was real or imagined).
But, how do I do that you ask?
Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Psalm 34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
Psalm 37:3 Trust in the Lord, and do good… (You will be surprised how ‘doing good’ to someone will release you from the anger and bitterness.)
Let the wrong go (give it to God – 1 Peter 5:7); trust Him to bring good things into your life (HE is the giver of all good things – James 1:17); then purposefully seek peace and pursue avenues to do good to the person who has wronged you (whether real or imagined). Notice how ALL the verses above tell us that ‘doing good’ overcomes the evil done to us.
And of course, we can do nothing without His help, so PRAY for God to give you unconditional love for that person and to reveal some practical ways to show it.
Lastly, the greatest hindrance to good relationships (besides pride) is a lack of openness! Let’s all take a lesson from Annie and not be afraid to say, “You make my day!”
God bless you!