Friday, April 23, 2010

the point of understanding

I actually wrote this (italicized, below) awhile ago; last year sometime.  I had not only experienced but had seen first hand the effects of "righteous abandon" when it comes to knowing other people's business (and then making brutal decisions about that person's character from the knowledge). In a difficult situation, when someone is acting differently than I think they should, what is my role? Recently, enough around me has changed again that I found myself wanting to read what I wrote on the subject of Understanding... do I still agree with what I said?

Sometimes, though we want to, we can't blur the line between Grace and Consequence. However: it is still entirely possible for Grace and Consequence to co-exist. In fact, I would even go so far as to say they should always co-exist. It is never, ever my place to condemn or judge a situation that does not directly involve me. If I am in the situation, however, my role is a different one than if I am on the outside, watching it. When the situation is not my own, I am to be an instrument of peace, an honest look and a friendly shoulder. I don't deny or justify or belittle the pain (ever), but I don't use my own pain as a weapon, either.

Some of the situations going on around me right now have absolutely broken my heart. I don't know what to do with quite a few of them; where to take my ideas, how long to dwell in the pain I'm feeling, or most often, what to say or think or feel at all. But (and perhaps this is my own natural bent, and a crazy notion to the rest of the world) I can't stop trying to understand each situation. This may be why I felt the need to try and work this out in writing... again.

I guess, as well, I'm hoping this can be of some encouragement to you, wherever you're at. I highly doubt I'm the only one who's learning how to deal with big pain, massive disappointment, or emotional rifts caused by others. The main question I ask here is: what are my rights as a bystander?


I suppose it is fair to say that understanding is mainly for our own benefit. We are frustrated, we are confused, we don’t get it…and so we actively seek to understand. But what of situations that are not our own? Situations that effect us & wear on our emotions, but essentially have nothing to do with us…where is the boundary line for these situations? If you are hurting, if you decide and then move in a certain direction, and I don’t "get it"…where is my liberty? Are my rights the same as if it were my own state of mind?

No. I don’t think so.

There has to be, in certain cases, a forgoing of the will to be “in the know”. Personal matters are personal; I can not demand that you tell me every thought or motivation; nor can you demand this from me. I suppose the hardship comes, then, when we are trying to balance “But I love you” with “I respect your privacy”. We can not claim ownership over someone simply because we do not understand their decisions. We must be understanding, even when we do not understand. We must be a safe place for those we love, not a barrage of pointed questions.

It would be easy to decide I must mean that accountability is overrated or unnecessary – not at all! Accountability is a huge part of love. But accountability is not a form of attack; accountability has to be a gentle but firmly placed boundary line for the other person. To hold someone accountable is to remind them of the truth; not beat them over the head with a list of their faults. We hold people accountable because we love them. That being said, we have to trust that when a person says, “I am finished”, they actually mean it; that if they have said they’ve had enough [can take no more of our questioning]; they mean it. We must respect that. We can not trample in with righteous abandon and plough through the hearts of individuals (in Jesus’ name), and claim it is because we love them. We can speak the truth in love, though. That’s an entirely different approach.

I do not understand everything, and I (praise God!) was never asked to. I was asked to love.

Recently a good good friend, wise & gracious Jody, reminded me of something quite important. This is what she said:

1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter) starts with "Love is patient..." NOT "Love is easy".
If the love chapter (the inspired word of God) tells us love has to be patient...then God
knew how hard loving someone would be...therefore he started the chapter reminding us
to be patient in our journey with others.

And this is where I leave you, I suppose; at Patience… at the truth that love is never easy, but it is necessary. Even if we can’t understand them.

1 comment:

Victoria said...

Paragraph 3...
Funny how I've only met you a handful of times, but sometimes your words make me feel like we are related like Anne and Cordelia.
I've learned a lot this year about a broken heart - and I find the worse part is that you keep having to put one foot in front of the other trying to keep living 'normally' with a crater in your chest. I put on my war paint and am learning to tell myself 'this can't last forever' - but somedays I feel so lonely I could break in half.
Thanks for being honest, Ashley. It's nice to know that someone else is aching too; it makes the night less black.