Saturday, May 1, 2010

Handle with Care (Fragile feelings)

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are very fragile beings when it comes to our feelings. We all think and perceive things different, and we all have different ways of acting, and very different ways of interpreting others. Thus, the things that will hurt one, will not affect another, and very possibly the one doing the hurting means nothing toward the first person. Hurt feelings can change the way our responses all the more, and can cause more and more misunderstandings and misinterpretations of each others. I don’t think most of us go around hurting others on purpose, yet tragically we do. The only solution is not foolproof, but would certainly help our interactions with others—handle each other with care.
My father always gives an example of this in his dealings with one of my brothers. One time he was giving reprimand, and at the look of my brother’s face in the middle of my father’s rebuke, he began to another tirade about “wiping that rebellious look off your face”, when the Lord checked him. Our gentle Lord said, “The red face, set lips, and almost glare in his eyes is not rebellion—he is trying to keep from crying.” My father is human and was going on appearances, and yet appearances are deceiving.
Another example would be myself. I remember a time in my life when I was feeling an extreme lack of self confidence. At this time I went to a church camp where I really didn’t know anybody well with my mom, and there were a few people I had known as a kid who tried to talk to me. I was afraid to be real friendly for fear they would try to talk to me more, and that I wouldn’t be able to think of what to say, and would feel dumb, so I was kind of stiff with them. (Now anyone who knows me now would think of that as a joke as some say I never shut up!!) Now those people probably thought I was stuck up and unfriendly, yet I’m not. Feelings made me appear different than I really was.
A more recent example of this is what made me think more on this situation. Person A I see as a fragile person. He was made fun of all through school, was put down as not being able to do anything by his family unwittingly, and just generally feels unattractive, untalented, and as if he can do nothing right. A situation happened where there was something (that I consider to be given entirely too much importance) happened that was very humiliating to this person, and nothing was explained to him why it was happening. It seemed obviously he was being talked about, and he began to be very defensive as is easy for us ALL to do—put up a wall to try to keep ourselves from being hurt more. Well Person B came and tried to talk and explain to Person A what was happening, but Person A was already hurt and defensive, and trying to get away from a hurtful situation basically cut B off and left. I know A didn’t hate B, and didn’t perceive himself as being unkind to B, but his feelings made him act in a way he didn’t mean. I tried to explain to Person B, and find out what the cause of the whole original problem was. Person B was very kind and accommodating, but said Person A needs to hit the altar with that attitude. Granted, Person A should have reacted to the situation different, but feelings were involved. Person B didn’t have the right to say what he did (or if he felt that way, he shouldn’t have said that to me—he should have talked to the Lord about it). However, feelings probably played a role in his actions also, as he hadn’t meant to hurt in the beginning and he probably found Person A’s reaction hurtful, and was taking it at face value. We are so fragile….
I think we need to not be sure we KNOW from other’s actions—we need to err on the side of graciousness and think they might not have meant it that way. We need to remember some of our own thought processes and reactions to things—we excuse ourselves, because we do know why we act the way we do; however, how often do we make excuses for the other fellow that we don’t know about? Problems snowball from simple issues like these. The Bible says, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” There is places in the Bible where it says to make our wrongs right, but here it says if thy brother has “ought against thee”, you go start the reconciliation. Maybe it is to help with situations like this where your brother is more fragile than yourself? Instead of jumping to conclusions from other’s actions, lets handle each other with care!