When another person makes you suffer

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

I agree they need help, but it’s also true that sometimes punishment (aka: tough love) is that help.

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4 responses to “When another person makes you suffer

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Laurel Anne. I think that’s the difference between the Christ’s command to forgive and being in a position to pardon. Forgiveness is the act of submitting the right to play judge to our Father, as He is the only One who can determine what is just. Forgiveness allows us to see the offender (and his or her sin) through our Father’s eyes and release the right to harbor bitterness and vengeance. As believers, it is imperative to work out forgiveness in our hearts.

    However, pardoning (releasing someone from the natural consequences of wrongdoing), is not always in the best interest of the offender or the one who has suffered. If forgiveness is allowing God the authority to handle things Himself, all too often it is easier to say “no big deal” while continuing to internalize the pain because we feel it is expected of us. There’s nothing wrong with distancing ourselves from those who have hurt us, and there’s nothing holy about remaining an emotional punching bag to one who has not learned from his or her mistakes. Allowing that wound to heal according to God’s justice and transformation is usually best, so long as our attitude of forgiveness allows for the offender to truly repent.

    I’m reminded of John Paul II’s assassination attempt, in which he visited the man who tried to kill him in prison. While forgiving him shortly after his recovery, twenty years passed before the pope suggested the man’s pardon. The pope was able to build healthy blocks for a relationship while the shooter bore the consequence of his offense. There’s a difference between forgiving and presenting ourselves as willing victims for the enemy’s slaughter. One is done out of love for God; the other comes from despise of self.

    • And I completely agree with you too. I’m in a situation now, and have been for the bast five years where I’ve had to distance myself from a couple people who used to be very close to me. They hurt me and my family years ago, and after we’ve patiently and kindly told them what they’ve done wrong, they refuse to repent, apologize, and change. I have forgiven them, but without change on their part, it would be foolish for me to continue being close to them. I need to protect myself as well as show them that what they do, if it isn’t biblical, does have consequences–the loss of a relationship with me. Treating them like everything is okay because I’ve forgiven them, will teach them nothing. Loving them is keeping my distance, remaining willing to kindly teach them what is right, and forgiving them in my heart daily while I hope for their hearts to change.

    • In a poem I wrote for myself a couple years ago–following a difficult letter I wrote to a good friend–is the verse:

      I care about the best for you
      more than you will ever know –
      more than I care to have you as my friend –
      I’ve cared enough to let you go.

      I guess it comes down to whether a person will speak the truth to someone who’s hurt them when they know it could ruin the relationship between them. If they will, this shows a selfless love. Many people will shy away from confrontation and strife saying it’s kinder and more loving to stay “on the good side” of the offender. To me pretending everything is all–or mostly all–okay is an unkind lie told for selfish and/or cowardly reasons.

    • I have come to understand forgiveness is:

      • Letting go of judgment
      • It doesn’t condone immoral behavior
      • Toward someone who won’t correct their ways forgiveness is a daily process–not a onetime action
      • Forgiveness toward someone who is changing takes an awful lot of grace and patience.

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