Cleaning Under the Rug
This is a follow up to my last post. I'm sure some of you disagreed with what I said. I'm okay with that. I'm processing through this and kind of thinking out loud here. So, feel free to comment.
I hope it's readily apparent that I am talking about the deeper hurts of life, not disagreements about paint color or someone cutting you off in traffic. Those things we should be able to let go quickly.
I'm talking about situations of abuse, neglect, abandonment, betrayal, adultery, etc. Most of us who are parents would never think of telling our children, "Hey, just get over it," when they come to us with a deep hurt, but I think sometimes we take the words of Jesus and use them that way. After all, He did say, "Forgive or you won't be forgiven." As parents we hug, hold them, let them cry, let them talk it out. Then, if we are wise, we will introduce Truth into the situation. I believe God, the Father, is much the same.
When people haven't felt free to express their hurt, and it is swept under the proverbial rug, it festers. It can become self-centeredness, bitterness, depression and/or chronic anger. If we want to be healthy people, if we want to live in the fullness of life Jesus offers us, we must deal with the stuff under the rug.
Right now I'm thinking of some more extreme examples. I've known several women through the years that became pregnant as teenagers. Parents quickly made the decision to take them to a clinic, with or without the agreement of the child, and "have it taken care of" quietly. Then it was never spoken of again. That's a heavy load to carry and to never be able to process it was very damaging. The same thing happens in situations of abuse. Because of deep shame it often goes unaddressed. That should not be. Obviously, not every situation is that extreme, but betrayal hurts on any level.
In thinking through this, I believe that admitting we feel betrayed, abandoned, cheated, neglected, ignored, unimportant, or the myriad of other possible emotions, opens the door for an exchange to happen. When we just say the things we have been stuffing (again, not to the offender - don't pick up the phone and unload on them) I think we make a way for God to take them from us, and replace them with the Truth - the Truth about us, the Truth about Him and even a new perspective of the one who hurt us.
I would categorize some of this under the admonition in the book of James to confess our sins one to another, that we may be healed. Bitterness and anger are our sinful responses to pain. We hurt ourselves and innocent people when we live with that in our hearts. In admitting to one another we feel these negative emotions we make a way to be healed. As I've said probably 500 times, there is power in confession.
The ultimate goal is not just to vent, but to receive Truth into our hearts and learn to trust God to take bad situations and turn them for our good. It's for us to be able to say, with Joseph, "What you meant for evil, God meant for good." He has the final word in our lives. Make the exchange.