Living with Separation
You are a good person and yes, you made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes and this time it was you. You admitted to it, knew it was wrong and asked for forgiveness. Despite all you have done for others through the years, people were shocked and now don’t trust you. Some see you as a terrible person and many won’t even talk to you. You expected a little fall out, but this seems ridiculous! What happened to the call to forgive “seventy times seven”? You haven’t been perfect, but you have done your best to “walk the walk”. Others have done much worse and aren’t treated this badly. What gives?
“To he who is given much…much is expected”. This advice was given to you when you were young and is even more true today. While young, you discovered personal strengths that came into play as you used them. Your physical, emotional and intellectual strengths can give you an edge in sports, the classroom and in specific kinds of relationships. This is how you “find yourself” and choose a career that takes advantage of the way you learn to wield your strengths.
I was invited to a seminar given by a world class artist. I didn’t go because I struggle drawing a straight line, much less creating a painting. On the other hand, I rarely miss a lecture given by spiritually oriented experts in compassionate care. This is driven by the fact that every day, your neurons love to talk, connect and expand their influence. Personal strengths are born of neuronal arrays God gives along with experiences that help expand their influence. These neuronal arrays produce nerve growth factors that “feel good”. Through a process called “neuroplasticity” they expand their reach as they help you connect with others.
You learn from others while sharing from your strengths. You can’t be strong in everything, therefore, guide your relationships from the perspective your strengths provide. Consciously and unconsciously you learn what comes easy to you. You approach each situation and relationship in a way that optimizes the way you learn to use your strengths. Eventually, you become known for the relationships you attract. Like attracts like as you take your place in society.
Potential problems arise when you try to meet all of your needs with any give strength. Some strengths sound like they could meet every need like empathy, decisiveness, helpfulness, expressiveness, strength, business-mindedness, an artistic nature or having a family orientation. You may have surrounded yourself with others who enjoy this particular strength and how you use it.
The problem is this; how would you know when to set a specific strength down? When does an empathic person need to stand their ground? When does a strong person lead a discussion with one of their weaknesses? When does a decisive person let another person know they are confused? Think about it. What would happen if you allowed someone else to lead a relationship, a team or the family the way you do? How would you feel? What would you say? How do you think others might react? (Lol, they might like it!!)
You may find yourself have boxed into a certain expectation. Everyone expects you to be “that person” and act “that way” and be perfectly happy, but you’re not. Worse yet, as you get better at being empathic, decisive, whatever; expectations grow, and the box gets tighter. Instead of broadening your relationships and skill base, you simply learn to do what you do even better. (Hmmm…maybe I should have attended that art class!) As your abilities and a certain degree of success build, the rest of you begins to scream as your apparent ability to acknowledge, ask for and meet your needs dims.
When Your Mistake is Revealed
There were so many other ways you could have gotten your needs met, but it didn’t occur to you and nothing seemed to work or occur to you at the time! So you used your strength in a way that doesn’t follow the rules. You gave and gave and gave, but just this one time. Of course, “this one time” led to another. A new way of thinking about it was born as you built your skills in both arenas. Originally, you were walking with Jesus, using your God given skills as the “Father above” instructed. Then breaks in your “praying continuously” formed as you began using your skills as the “father below” instructed.
Excuses fail when brought to the light, so you keep them to yourself, in the darkness. These new habits grow as they soothe the anger and frustration of your unmet needs. A new form of justification is born. You say to yourself, “I am a good person. No one is really getting hurt here. I’m happier and can help others more as I get these very basic human needs met. And somehow it feels right, and a new circuit is formed. It pushes aside the “Father above” circuit, allowing room for a new circuit for the “father below”. He now has a space to breathe and breed new habits.
Who knows how this all came to light, but it did and now it is out there for the whole world to see. Everyone is shocked except the few who always suspected! People feel hurt, sad and really angry! People you have worked with for years and others you helped now act as though they don’t know you. Relationships with those most involved seem destroyed, and may be for a lifetime. There is little to guide their response. This was totally unexpected. Those that don’t know you and have another option leave. Those who know you stay - conditionally. The hell coming your way seems to follow no rules. It does, but they are not the rules you are used to.
The greater your strength, the greater the pain, anxiousness and anger coming your way. The closer and more dependent the relationship, the greater the feelings of betrayal. The closer those betray are to others, the greater will be the spread of negative feelings. Every additional revelation will feed the flames. The flavor of the betrayal joins with similar betrayals joined in the timing and current cultural norms.
Finding Forgiveness for an Unforgivable Mistake
If this has recently happened to you, admit you were wrong and confused, because you are. You don’t yet know how confused you are. It will take you time to connect all of the dots. The Father above and the father below don’t work together. They never have. There is a reason you kept this secret. There is no logic that will hold or that anyone will believe. The pain of your mistake has yet to fully develop. You don’t yet know the pain that you caused, and you never will know all of it.
You are not the first, nor will you be the last. If there is a culturally accepted way of dealing with your confusion - take it. It will provide a structure for you and others to deal with the confusion. It is a step in the right direction, just as King David did when he mourned the death of his son. It helps others to see who you are and gives structure to their pain and concern.
Avoid running away or hiding. Stay present in productive relationships. You may have hurt many of your relationships but allow yourself the support of those who remain truly helpful to you and those you love. Some may have gone through similar circumstances and may offer insights you may find helpful. The pain around you is incredible and you are just beginning to feel it.
You made a mistake born of the very same issues you now see in others. Much like any mirror, you finally see how costly such mistakes are. You may have had a theoretical understanding as you slowly slipped into that mistake, but now you see it full force. Your mistake - no matter how “common”, how “innocent”, how “justified” - is connected to a system of human mistakes that separate us from what God wants for us.
Yes…this is how it feels.
I know that you have “apologized”, made amends and asked for forgiveness. Have you sounded out the depth of your betrayal to God and His mission to save us all? You were given a strength, walked with Jesus as you developed it and when you were called upon to use it you “denied you ever knew him”. You are now seen and treated by some as a “Judas”. Despite carrying out what self-righteous men told him, these same men buried him in a field bought with “blood money”.
Jesus remains with you, at your side.
Like the young prince, you turned away from Jesus when He called. He didn’t chase you or force you to obey Him. That’s not His way. He allowed you to walk away and like the prodigal son and He allowed you to take all of your gifts with you. Yet, do you remember the fate of the prodigal son? He lost all he had with his “friends” who eventually treated him worse than the pigs he was forced to fed. Does that seem a little familiar to how you now feel?
Peter chose another way. When called out as a disciple, he denied Christ three times. Those present may never have believed his later testimony because they were present when Jesus needed Peter most. Neither may some of those you have offended.
Jesus is “the way”. You can follow the ways of man and resent how you were led into your mistake. You can resent how people now self-righteously treat you. In doing so, you prove their point - you don’t understand.
Or, you can respond to His message to “Feed my sheep”. It may be hard to hear over the voices that surround you and the voices in your head that condemn you. It may be difficult to believe, given the now broken innocence of how you once carried your faith.
You may need to hear it three times:
Once… “Feed my sheep” to remember the pain you caused others and how it now feels. This will protect you and may be the only way you will learn the truth of how God tries to protect you. Eventually, these lessons will restore you, help you to grow and go on to serve others.
Twice… “Feed my sheep” to remember the strength God gave you and apply this strength with new wisdom based on all you now know to be true.
And a third time… “Feed my sheep” to restore your true innocence, the knowledge that you must pray continuously, walk with Jesus and through Him with others. You must be honest with your struggles and share them with others - for “where two or more are gathered…”
As you read this, He is with you. He loves you and is reaching out to you. Find others who know Him and they will help you find your way.
“Iron sharpens iron” when under His tender care.
To learn more ways to restore healthy relationships in your life and to get back on the path of optimal wellness, sign up risk-free for my Heal in Oneness video course today.