Once, not too long ago, during a wonderful intimate time of fellowship, a lovely sharing circle suddenly turned into a brutal combat zone.
A beautiful, godly woman without warning and seemingly without cause, turned and let out a deadly barrage of ‘friendly’ fire, riveting a poor, unsuspecting ally.
The silence that followed the unprovoked attack was incredibly unnerving. A few dared to look up and survey the carnage while most of us kept our heads low and pretended to be completely engaged in our rings and fingernails.
My mind began to process the situation, trying to figure out what triggered the attack . . .
This is not about this . . . This was about THAT!
But of course!
So often people snap and spew hurtful words at bizarre times. We who witness or worse yet, receive the blows wonder what on earth just happened. The savage verbal hit is typically undeserved leaving us scratching our heads and wanting to duck for cover.
The thing is, this is rarely about this but rather about that. When seemingly sane people suddenly lash out irrationally it’s usually due to a trigger. Something said or done reminds them of a hurt from their past and click the bomb goes off. That is what they are angry at, not you and not whatever just transpired. In fact, it may be an old hurt from decades before.
It’s kind of like my dog.
She was a pound rescue and besides her oversized ears, she appeared to be a very loving, secure and ‘normal’ dog. After a few weeks with us, however, while horsing around in the kitchen one day, I whipped a towel playfully at the kids. As soon as she heard the snapping sound, she snapped! It was completely unexpected and over the top. Not in her true character at all. Clearly this little pup had a bad experience with some abuse or something that brought out the fight or flight in her.
Ten years later, a bit more sure of herself, she can now handle a few snapping sounds before she goes off but the programming is still there.
I believe we all have old thats.
While we may not be able to rewire our brains overnight to disconnect the this’s to the thats, as we mature and friends come alongside us in love to help us recognize patterns, slowly we can surrender our old hurts to the Lord and receive healing; fully and completely .
In the meantime, we need to show grace to our wounded friends, even when they turn and penetrate our souls with ‘friendly fire’. We need to recognize that it’s not us they are angry at (even if they don’t see it for themselves yet); they are reacting to old snapping towels from their past.
Each situation will bring unique circumstances that need to be handled differently. No matter what, in moments like these, we need to go to them in love. Hurts typically only get that deep when inflicted by those who should have loved and protected them. So, as sisters, it’s up to us to give them an extra measure of grace in order to help them build trust. It’s not easy. Not to those reaching out nor to the deeply wounded soldier trying to rebuild their life.
Thankfully, the Lord will take our thats and transform us until we are controlled by His Spirit, not the this's.
Until then, just keep remembering that This is about That and don’t take it personally. And, never go out—even to a Bible Study—before you put on your whole armor of God. It's a spiritual battlefield out there!
(Then there's the Theses and the Those's . . . don't even get me started on Them!)