Sunday, January 29, 2012

What Others Say About People, Even Family Members

I wish I could say it surprises me what people say about one another, especially family members, behind their backs. I want to be outraged at how someone could tell another person things about someone that disparages the person being talked about or maligns their character without the object of conversation being able to defend themselves. I would love to be able to shake my head in disbelief that that same person, when face to face with the person being denigrated, acts as if they would never speak ill of them to another person, or as if they have no problems with them. Sadly, I'm not surprised, outraged, disbelieving. And mostly, I wish I could say that only non-Christians do this type of thing.

I also wish that people would look a the relationship that exists between the speaker and the person being spoken about before absorbing what the speaker is saying and taking on that same attitude, especially if the speaker and subject are related; and it's even more important to do so the closer the familial ties are between them.

For example, look at other relationships the speaker has; do they have other relationships which maybe aren't what you would expect them to have with a person related or affiliated with them the way they are? And, does the speaker generally tend to speak in negative terms about others? Or do they act a different way when their subject is present? Does it seem at all strange to you that the speaker would speak of a person related to them in that manner?

I do have a purpose for writing this blog on this subject: first-hand experience of being talked about by relatives with other relatives or family friends which has caused problems in the relationships or possible relationships with those other family or friends because the others took to heart what the family member was saying about me, without giving me the benefit to either explain or defend myself. And, for the most part, this has been done with family members with whom I've strained relationships with.

The main family members who have done this are ones with whom I've generally had little contact with for many years, yet they speak about me as if they know me quite well, when the fact is, they know very little about me. Maybe at some point in the past they had closer contact with me, but for a variety of reasons we are no longer either physically or relationally close. Yet, they speak to others very authoritatively as if they know me quite deeply. And, while some of what they say about me might be partially true, the ironic fact is it's true because of the strained or dysfunctional relationship I've had with them.

Let me set the record straight, once and for all: yes, I'm weird to many of my family members. I have been a needy person who required much attention. I have often tried to get members of my family to "prove" their love for me or to show me in some way that I was important and mattered to them. Most of those character traits came about because of the circumstances of my youth. I'm not trying to cop-out, here; I am responsible for my own actions, today. Have been for many, many years, however, it is impossible to not have been effected and affected by the things that happened in my youth. Each and every one of us is the sum of all our previous experiences. Had one experience not happened, or happened differently, we would not be exactly who we are today.

I don't do everything the same way everyone else does. I do things the way i think, at the time, is best for me. I'm not perfect; I make mistakes and fall short of what is expected of me on a regular basis. I don't always do what I know I should and sometimes I do things I know I shouldn't. Who among us can say they don't behave in exactly that same fashion? Truly! Even the Apostle Paul wrote that he didn't do the things he knew he should and did the things he knew he shouldn't! Now, I'm not trying to compare myself to an Apostle, I'm just saying that each and every one of us is human...

So, from this day forward, let each and every person in your life be who they are; don't judge them based upon someone else's opinion or judgment and remember that every other person on this planet is struggling to walk the walk just like you are. No one is going to get it right all the time and some people may get it wrong more often than others. But, look at the heart of the person and see if they are truly trying or if they're just trying to "get away" with not really trying. And, through it all, look at them the way Jesus looks at you: with eyes of grace, mercy and love!