Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Lent: Love keeps no record of wrongs

  • "That's the third time on this one project that she's ignored my emails until past the deadline when an answer could have possibly helped."
  • "That's like the fourth time in a row she either "lost that last email" or "needed clarification" after waiting a week or two to respond." (Actually not the same person as before ...)
  • "That person makes everybody wait every single day; it's driving me nuts."
  • "And they never give me any useful ideas for a gift. I have to guess and hope."
  • "Can you believe what a nasty thing that person did awhile back, when my kids were still small?"
It's Lent again, so I'm looking for one of my habitual sins to try to break free of. Unfortunately I have plenty of those. But it struck me that keeping a record of wrongs is against the law of love, as Paul teaches, "Love keeps no record of wrongs."

But don't a few of those things need to be addressed? Of course they do; and letting resentments pile up is not "addressing them". It's like a pile of clutter in my mind, or like an endless to-do list that never spurs any action but only resentment. I have been taught better; I know that the way to keep resentments from building is to address the offense as it happens, as Jesus said, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone."

Do I imagine it is better not to say something? Do I imagine it is unkind to speak up? Well, if it really is something I would do best to overlook, then let me really overlook it and not keep a record of it. And if it is something I should not overlook, then how is keeping quiet any different than being irresponsible? Once, when I was very young, I would not have trusted myself to make things better instead of worse; but these days I have enough practice with confrontations that I doubt I would botch the job so badly.

So for this Lent, I hope to not keep a record of wrongs, but to either truly forgive or truly address it.

There are different kinds of laws in the Bible: those that would stop us from doing harm and those that would have us seek and pursue what is good. I have to admit that here I am still on the beginner's laws, where I would need to stop being part of the problem. That will clear the way to love people better.


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

It's the truly addressing it that's my downfall.

But then I don't really ignore it, either. I walk away, but with a disdainful air or a sarcastic tone in my voice...

Besides being unkind (in the guise, however, or tolerant kindness!), this is also stupid, because then the other person either doesn't remember his/her offense but only my reaction, or else never even realized the offense in the first place, but only did it unintentionally. And I could have found that out, had I NICELY addressed the issue.

Lord, have mercy!

Weekend Fisher said...

I have a lot of trouble with it too. Like, last night someone was over for dinner, and one of my kids brought a gameboy to the table, so I said something about not letting it distract from meals, obviously. And I got smart-alecked back, and the guest started laughing at me, like she enjoyed watching my kid be rude to me. Nice, right?

But I had no earthly idea what to do when two people wronged me at the same time. So here I am trying to figure it out afterward instead of having said something to them.

I still haven't quite figured out what I should have done. And I'm going to have to figure out stuff like that, or I'm going to find myself keeping a record of wrongs.

The replies running through my head are probably not the best. Like, "I'm glad to see you having fun, but maybe not at my expense." And a simple "Don't sass me" to my child. Which I probably would have managed to say if the guest hadn't been laughing at me.

Maybe, "Let's keep mealtime polite, please."

I've rewritten this comment so you can't really identify the people involved. That's the closest I can figure out for how to get advice without leaving a record of someone else's wrong in public: make it so it's not traceable to any one person.

You're kind of like a spiritual sister to me, you know. I feel like I can tell you anything and you'll be there.

But like you said, Lord, have mercy.


Martin LaBar said...

All the best to you in this, and to me, and others, too.