There will always be people around that you simply don’t like being around and our lives will never have a shortage of things to complain about.
Have you ever been emotionally hurt by another person? If you have ever been in any type of relationship, then the answer is, “Yes, of course.” In fact, when you read that question, you probably had someone’s name or face pop into your mind. Relational pain is like that. It seems to stay fresh longer than other types of pain. Nobody likes pain. We avoid it at all costs. But relational pain, and the pain of betrayal, has a hidden advantage that we don’t need to overlook. Before I tell you about the advantages of relational pain, let me say that I am not encouraging anyone to go seek relational pain...that would be stupid. However, relational pain will come whether you look for it or not. It’s simply part of life. Relational pain has the ability to carve things out of our soul that keep us from moving forward into the great things that God has for us; Things such as sinfulness, pride, bitterness, chronic negativity, and unforgiveness.
One of the heavy hitters in the Bible was a guy named King David. He is an excellent example of a person who used relational pain, not as a deterrent, but as an accelerant, to move forward into the destiny that God had for him. He was betrayed at various levels in life and each painful experience helped him step forward and not stagnate.
In 1 Samuel 17:28-30, we see where David’s older brother publicly makes fun of him and humiliates him and what he does. David doesn’t retaliate, he ignores the negative comments and gravitates to the positivity of others that were standing around and away from family negativity.
David starts working for King Saul. A man that he admired and looked up to. I’m sure he had him up on the proverbial pedestal like most people do with their heroes. Here is what happened:
(1 Samuel 18:11) The next day an ugly mood was sent by God to afflict Saul, who became quite beside himself, raving. David played his harp, as he usually did at such times. Saul had a spear in his hand. Suddenly Saul threw the spear, thinking, “I’ll nail David to the wall.” David ducked, and the spear missed. This happened twice.
Twice! I don’t know about you, but if somebody is throwing a spear at me, I am not sticking around for it twice!
But this is David’s mentor. It’s his king! Even though he didn’t like his actions or his decisions, even though every spear thrown at him felt like a literal spear to his heart, he remained faithful.
Have you ever had someone close throw spears at you? Not literal spears, but proverbial ones. Every word is like an arrow that tries to pierce your soul and wreck your life. What did David do in the same instance? What can we learn from him out of this intense situation? David honored the office, and leaned into the pain. Another way to say it, is he embraced submission.
Love comes in different forms. Siblings can love each other like no one else. They can hit each other, yell at each other and still love one another. I think this is the lowest love in the family structure. Then, there is the child to parent love. It’s stronger. It endures more and tolerates more. But I think the highest form of love in the family dynamic is the parent to child love. Once that baby comes out looking all slimy and gross, we fall in love with this thing. We would literally lay down our life for this one. So when a child (spiritual or physical) betrays us, it causes the deepest of wounds in our soul. This is the betrayal that is flesh of our flesh, maybe a child or a spouse.
In 2 Samuel 15, we read where David’s own son, Absalom, betrays him and takes the kingdom from David. How does David respond? Does he retaliate? Does he gather his army and attack? No. He allowed others to defend him, and God to rescue him. As David was fleeing the city to get out of Absalom’s way, David penned Psalm 3. Look at this small excerpt:
“But in the depths of my heart I truly know that you, Yahweh, have become my Shield; You take me and surround me with yourself. Your glory covers me continually. You lift high my head when I bow low in shame. I have cried out to you, Yahweh, from your holy presence. You send me a Father’s help.”
No matter what level of betrayal and emotional pain you might be facing, God will be your shield. He will protect you and walk you through life’s most difficult moments. Trust him, and in all these situations, respond in a way that causes you to step forward towards your greatness and destiny.
Obviously, let them know what task or project are they supposed to own, and then make sure they know why. Why it is important, and why it needs to be done. The ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ is always important and valuable. Then, let them figure out the ‘how.’ Figuring out the ‘how’ is empowering them to create, and when they are able to create then they have been empowered.
I used to paint by numbers as a kid. My sisters got me hooked because they would do it all the time, and since I wanted to impress others with my artistic skill I started to paint horses, landscapes, and sometimes even some stupid flowers. It was always paint by numbers. You know what I’m talking about right? Those pictures that would come pre-drawn on a pseudo-canvas, with tiny numbers in each section. All you had to do is match the number on the paint color, with the number in the pre-drawn area, and then fill it in. When you start out it looks pretty good because you already had the picture drawn, and you can see where you are going the entire time. There’s really no mystery to it, and no layering or creating, it’s just coloring for big kids, but I did it. In fact I did it a lot until one day I went garage-saleing with my mom and we walked into some strangers garage and there for 25 cents a piece were my paintings! Of course they weren’t my paintings but somebody else’s who happened to buy the exact same pre-drawn painting and filled it in. There they were for a mere 25 cents, and the funny thing was they looked identical to the ones in my room that I was so proud of. I considered it art. I showed everybody my paintings because I wanted them to look at me and value me for having the potential to be the next Van Gough. However, on the muggy summer morning in 1977 I realized that I wasn’t an artist, I was a colorer.
I was trying to be valued. I wanted what I worked on to be valued, and since the pre-drawn pseudo-canvases were valuable enough to sell in a store, then surely I could add a little talent to the outline and therefore be valued. But that’s not how value works, yet it’s what we do everyday of our lives. We work so hard. We go to work on time, we do all of our emails, and we take all the phone calls. We play with our kids, we make sure all the bills are paid, and there is food on the table, and for that hard work we think we should be valued. However, that’s not how value is rated.
We think if we find something else that is already working for someone, or if we can find a pattern or form, then we can just pour a little bit of us into it and then we will make something of value and therefore be valued. Replicas and copies are never as valuable as an original. The original Gutenberg Bible is worth way more than the typical bible you can pick up at Walmart or steal out of the hotel room drawer on your next vacation. Originals are always valued more than copies.
You’re an original. Nobody on planet earth has the exact same DNA as you. Nobody has the same personality, likes or dislikes as you. You are truly an original. I have had to learn that planting a church is my opportunity to create an original. It would be very easy to take a form and a model that has worked for several others, and just fill it in with the right colors in the right places, and therefore it will be highly valued and successful. I have learned that is a load of poo-poo. What I need to do is create a church that is an original. A church that glorifies Christ in an original form and way. Copy –cats are everywhere, originals are valued.
So are you acting like a copy-cat or an original? Are you creating things at work and at home or are you just copying someone else’s life hoping it will pan out for you? Everybody wants to be valued, it’s seared into our core at creation, but how we go about being valued can either be successful, or a demoralizing venture of futility. Be the original that God created you to be, even if it is painful at first, in the end you will find the value that you’ve been looking for.
Some situations that I am a part of are so tragic, that there are no words that can aptly describe the passion and pain that take up residence in a room. Not so long ago, a young boy, barely into his teenage years committed suicide. He was part of a loving family with a loving father, mother, and siblings. It was truly the most heartrending thing I’ve been a part of. I don’t share this to cause undue attention to the family or to unearth sadness or anything like that. I also don’t share any of this to minimize or trivialize the incident.
However, during the funeral that day, the Lord spoke to me. It was through a scene that I’m sure will never leave my mind. A scene that has been etched into the veneer of my soul. I watched as a father grieved the loss of his son. Tears and groanings of a deep loss filled the space. It was a sacred space. As I watched the father bent over the casket of his son in deep agony the Lord spoke to me. Not in specific words, but more in rhythms, ideas, colors and smells, like only he can. The idea began to unfold in my soul that God is a father too. A father that is all powerful and all loving. But no matter how much love is present, and no matter how much power resides in the Father, all of it is powerless in the face of a son’s decisions.
A Father’s love.
It’s blind to a fault
Deaf to insult
It sees beauty
And reflects its own
It always hears a cry for help
No matter the distance
No matter the size
A Father’s love.
Its depth has never been seen
Yet explored by others of the same
Its power felt by all
Whose thoughts are dissident to his own
A Father’s love!
It holds and loves
Yet it stands powerless against the choice of a son.
Could you be better at what you do? It really doesn’t matter what you do or how you want to fill in the blank, but whatever you do, could you do it better? I think all of us would quickly say, “duh! Of course I could do better.” the problem is the only way to get better most of the time is to see, hear, taste, and experience reality.
We might think we operate in reality, but the truth of the matter is most of the time we think we do the job better than Steve Jobs did, we think we are funnier than Eddie Murphy ever dreamed of being, and of course we are more creative than Michael Angelo, but the reality is, we are not.
So the big choice is really ours, do we keep trudging along in our own little bubbles where we say we know we could do better and be better, yet always believing deep down that we are doing the best we can with what we have been given?
The only way to really get better is to FACE reality. And the only way to face reality is to KNOW reality. And the only way to KNOW reality is to have someone outside your bubble TELL you reality.
In other words honest feedback.
Feedback is the greatest gift we could ever receive from someone. Of course, it will hurt and be painful if we really enjoy being in our bubble, but if we truly want to get better at whatever we do then listening to feedback becomes the greatest reality check, the greatest gift ever. The feedback gift takes a certain type of person to open. It takes a man or woman of deep character and profound desire to achieve greatness. To recognize that they will never be the best in the world, but always wanting to be the best that they can be with the gifts and talents that God has already disposed them to have. It takes a man or woman with true grit that looks at feedback, no matter how real it is, and says, “thank you for the gift.”
Have you ever been annoyed by others? Have you ever been in a situation that just stunk? You feel like you have done everything you could or should do, you have been nice, congenial, in fact down right spiritual and the situation doesn’t change, it just stays the same? Sometimes we find ourselves in difficult situations and we just want out, we just want it to get better, and no matter what we do it doesn’t change. Usually in these situations we want the other person to change. I mean after all, we are perfect and acting right, and if they would just change everything would be grand!
Another way to look at it is that it is us not them. It is me not you. I’m learning that I am the one that needs more help. Not more help than you, just more help. We can’t compare, that just screws us up more. I’m learning that I need to have my head screwed on straight. In Romans the Apostle Paul said, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
One of the things I am working on in my own life is keeping my mind set on those things in the spirit not in the flesh. Do I meditate on issues, problems, annoying people, annoying situations, or do I focus and meditate on God, his eternal goodness, his love and grace? I’m not perfect. I find myself constantly struggling in keeping my mind focused on the spirit as apposed to the flesh, but after all, if it was easy everybody would do it. Plus it doesn’t matter how anybody else lives, acts, or treats me, it is how I act and how I treat others. I need to work on me, not you.
So who are you working on today, are you trying to work on me, or are you working on you? Who is annoying you today? Are you trying to fix them, or are you working on you? Today, fix your mind on Christ the author of your faith.