What if they tell you to not be who you are?
What if they tell you lies?
I am a Christian, a Catholic, very aware that our world is polarised with opinions that wound the other. It’s easier to label someone with set of words that show their lack of worth, most likely imagined, rather than approach them as people, as those who have a heart, who can feel our words on their skin, and ask them to tell us a story about who they are. It is much easier to presume, much easier to label, much easier to exclude. It is much easier to vilify than to enter into a dialogue. And I am sure we have all done it – at least in our thoughts, if not our actions.
What if you are on the receiving end of criticism that is not well-meaning? What if they tell you lies?
You have to know that their words are much more about them than about you. Maybe they struggle with something. Actually, most likely they struggle with something that is hidden and unaddressed. I know this will be difficult, but try and have compassion for them in this case. People react out of who they are. Not out of who you are. On internet especially, unless they are friends, they do not know you, so they cannot react out of who you are. They do not know who you are.
A friend of mine, who is gay, was told in an online comment “stop being gay”. Ouch. I could feel the sting of that, and I am not gay. I knew that if someone told me a variation of this that was applicable to me – lets say they misunderstood what means to be a Catholic and they criticised me for it, I knew that I would be hurt. I reached out to see if my friend was okay. Her response:
“Yeah, it does hurt, but I think it’s happened enough that I tuck it in a little box and accept that some people just don’t understand”.
Do you also have a box? Do you keep lies in a little box in your heart? Do you keep arrows they stung you with as a souvenir?
Maybe you even agreed with those lies. Let me tell you something – put some love into that box & tell all the lies to leave… You don’t need to carry other people’s judgements and inability to understand. Pour out not only your love into that box, but pour also God’s love. You are created worthy. You are created beautiful. No, not everyone will understand, but they don’t have to.
Let me tell you something I have learned by being involved in prayer ministry. I told you already, I am Christian. There is an enemy that we all have. A common one. I don’t want to give him any other name than just that – ‘enemy’. You know what I mean? The little fella that rebelled against God before the world was even created. Those arrows, and those lies you kept in the box – they are from him. They are lies. It’s not who you are. People who wrote them? Forgive them. I don’t know why we people sometimes act out of hate, but perhaps it means that we need more love, more compassion, to overcome our brokenness. No, you do not need to fix it for them. Just know what they said is not about you. It is most often about them. By forgiving them, you release them. You show you are stronger. You reframe what they tried to do, which is inflict pain. Instead you show grace, and remove their lies of off your shoulders as a coat that is not your own.
Yes, it’s easy for me to say it. I would be hurt too. But everything starts with a first step. A muscles builds itself up by practice. Will we start practicing emptying the boxes of lies? How we do it in prayer ministry is that we call on the name of Jesus, we call on the Truth. Empty the lies, bring in the Truth. Then with the help of God who loves us all, we can try to show compassion to those who are hurt more than we are. It’s enough just to bless them from the distance and let them be.
We may fail. But what if at least once we bring love, understanding, hope, a reconciling hand, first to the wounded parts of our own heart, then to our friends, then maybe eventually we may bring some peace, hope, healing, to those who just don’t understand.
I am sending love to your box.
Instead of the lies, put in a diamond. Because darling, your origin is divine. You are created in the image and likeness of God.* Allow this truth to grow within you, to shine.
Fill that box with the presence of God. In His presence, there is no room for lies.
*It is also true that God’s image in us needs to be refined, restored in this lifetime, but that is a story for another time.
© Iva Beranek, April 2019