RECONCILIATION – THE NEED OF THE HOUR: EXPECTING DENIAL

Person 1 – “Hey, I’m sorry for it all. This shouldn’t have happened. Would you forgive me for behaving the way I did?”

Person 2 – “Well, it’s good that you realize it. After some tussle within, I had forgiven you in my heart. And, now I tell you the same. Don’t repeat it again with anyone else.”

Person 1 – “Hoooofff! I’m relieved. Now that we are friends again, let’s go hiking this Saturday.”

Person 2 – “I hold nothing against you in my heart. But, the whole episode has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I don’t think it’s possible to go back to old times. We can’t be friends anymore.”

Person 1 – “How can you say that? I mean . . . we’ve been friends for decades and then this happens and you decide to walk away after saying that you’ve forgiven me. We’ve got to be friends again to prove that actually, all is well between us and that you have indeed forgiven me.”

Person 2  – “Sorry, forgiving doesn’t mean you and I need to be friends again. It simply means that I hold no grudge against you now. If ever we crossroads in life in the future, it’ll be in a clean-slate mode. No past record will hold either you or me hostage. However, I am not comfortable going back to being friends with you.”

Person 1 – “You can give it a chance. You could try trusting me once more.”

Person 2 – “That’s not something which I want to do. And, you need to respect that.”

Person 1 – “Initially, I was doubtful as to whether you would forgive me in the first place. But, I was relieved to know that I stand forgiven. But, I guess, I became a bit too ambitious by expecting more. Somebody said rightly, ‘Actions have consequences’.”

Person 2 – “Rightly said, ‘Actions have consequences.’ I can’t trust you with myself anymore.”

Person 1 – “Well then, here we part. I lost a friend. Good tidings to you!”

Person 2 – “Good tidings to you, too!”

This is a conversation between two friends involved in a conflict. Though there is forgiveness, there is no reconciliation. The reason being a denial of one party to the conflict, to restore old ties.

Once bitten twice shy – is an old saying. A requirement of reconciliation is two agreeing parties. This does not always happen. No matter for whatever reasons there is denial, it ought to be respected after an initial attempt to reason out.

Relationships cannot and should not be forcibly restored. The denying party has a right to personal space unless convinced otherwise.

This is true especially in case of a divorce between a married couple or a break-up after a romantic stint since deep-rooted emotions are involved in the relationship-building-up phase.

Hence the bottom line is that on the path to Reconciliation, one may face a roadblock called Denial. It has to be confronted with Reason. If Reason succeeds in displacing Denial with Convincing, Reconciliation is a short distance away. However, if Reason fails, the process needs to come to an end with due respect for the personal right to space being provided.

If the process of Reconciliation comes to an end without the desirous result, one way to resort to is prayer. Persistent prayer of faith changes situations and transforms hearts. It doesn’t breach the space of the other, yet continues its relentless persuasion.

BE YE COMPASSIONATE COMFORTERS

Ever had those nervous moments such as waiting for your turn to face the interview panel or being the next in line for a stage performance? Clammy palms, fidgety toes, twirling hair ends or biting nails?? Been there?

And did you feel better if someone came by and wrapped an encouraging arm around you or gave you an encouraging pat on the back? I bet you did feel a lot better!

Humans need comfort at varying times. Stress, anxiety, disease, worry, financial debt, death – all call for comfort and consolation. At times just a silent presence is the best comforter for an aching soul. While at other times, words or acts of comfort are necessary.

Well rehearsed words of comfort or a gesture of formality serve to console the speaker/doer more than the person(s) in need for comfort.

As I write this, I am reminded about a person called Job mentioned in the Bible:

He lived in a place beyond present-day Euphrates. Job has been described as a man who was ‘blameless and upright, and the one who feared God and shunned evil.’ He was a wealthy and respectable man with a happy family. However, in one day he lost his enormous wealth by natural and human hazards. As if that was not enough, all his ten children died at one go when the house in which they were feasting together, collapsed. To add to his misery, Job developed a horrible skin disease and his body was covered with stinking sores. Instead of standing by him during these tough times, his wife taunted him saying, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job’s pain and suffering was intense.

At this juncture, three of his friends who got the news of Job’s misfortune came to visit him together to mourn with him, and to comfort him. But when they saw Job from far, they could not recognize him. At this they lifted their voice and wept. They could not believe their eyes! So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.

After these seven days of silence, each of them spoke up – lengthy speeches. Each of them jumped to various conclusions. The common essence of their speeches was that – only the wicked suffer this way and that Job was suffering because he had done something wrong. They repeatedly encouraged Job to admit his wrong and repent so that God would put an end to his suffering and bless him again. After hearing them out, Job says, “What miserable comforters, all of you!”

Oftentimes, aren’t we quick to jump into conclusions on seeing people in distress? At times, yes the wrong-doing of the person may have led to disastrous consequences. But, that is not always the case. As in Job’s case, we see later, that it was a test of his faith and uprightness and not a punishment for any wrongdoing.

We do not have the answer to all the whys of life – in our own lives and in those of others. A newly married girl loses her husband – why? The much awaited baby is born with a fatal disease – why? Cancer robs a little girl of her loving father – why? A family travelling for a good cause die in accident – why? Parents shot dead in a case of burglary, leaving the children as orphans – why?

Well, we don’t have the answers to events that God in His Sovereignty permits to happen, though He never causes them. ‘Why do bad things happen to good people’ is an often asked question. There is a book by this very name written by a Jewish Rabbi named Harold S. Kushner in which he tries to reason out and come to terms with the death of his son at the age of 14 in 1977 of the incurable genetic disease, Progeria.

Reasons are not always necessary to comfort and console others – a heart of compassion is.

Bear in mind the following when attempting to comfort and console anyone in distress:

  • Do not attach meaning to any event just by looking at the surface of it
  • Pause and put yourself in the same situation
  • Do not be hasty to speak too much
  • Do not add spice to sad events and spread them all around
  • Even if the consequence is a clear action of wrong doing, do not jump to get the credit for pointing it out
  • Speak the language of comfort that the person would understand – silent presence, a warm comforting hug, actions of comfort, few non-judgemental words of consolation
  • Do not accuse.
  • Do not point to generational flaws (mistakes of parents or grandparents)
  • Do not be hasty to provide solutions
  • Make your presence a balm of comfort for the suffering person
  • Allow the person to give a vent to his/her feelings (may be shouts of anger, tears of sorrow, denial, stoic silence)
  • There isn’t an apply-to-all-situations formula for comfort. So, act according to the situation.
  • Most importantly, pray for the person. The God of comforts will provide the peace that passes all understanding.

Anti-depressants, comfort foods, alcohol, drugs and other various addictions never bring the comfort that the heart requires. They, at best, numb the pain for a while. If you are hurting today and there is none to comfort you, I want to assure you that your Creator cares for you and will make Himself known to you if you lean on Him.

Let us be alert towards hurting people around us – in our families, workplaces, neighborhoods and even our helpers. It doesn’t cost to comfort. Rather it is richly rewarding to restore a soul from the depths of distress to the heights of relief!

I GAVE HIM THE SILENT TREATMENT AND HE DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE!!!

“He should know me by now. Doesn’t he know what I want?”

“If he has one ounce of common sense he would know what I am feeling”

These are the thoughts going on in the wife’s mind while hubby darling is watching television blissfully unaware of the turmoil going on is his wife’s mind. Isn’t this a common scenario in many households?

Boils down to only one thing – lack of communication.

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To start with I accept that I am not an expert in communications. At times my communication with my hubby leaves a lot to be desired. But after 16 years of marriage and observing many couples around me I can say one thing for sure.

That communication is the oxygen of relationship. It’s a relationship after all, with two separate individuals in it. Do you expect your spouse to be able to read your mind and understand what exactly you are feeling at the moment? Well, it’s really not possible. You need to share your feelings, your needs with your partner. Don’t just assume that he or she will know or rather should know. Sometimes we suffer the most when we don’t communicate but still expect others to understand us.

At times I have seen wives sitting calmly and showing no outward signs but inside their mind there is a huge conversation going on. The fight has already begun in their mind and they are ready to explode but outwardly they will appear very calm. So now God help the poor helpless husband who doesn’t suspect anything amiss and the explosion occurs.

There is of course the other side to the coin. Which I will call Over-Communication or nagging. Here again generally the wives are famous for nagging. They repeat the same thing over and over and communicate so much that it has the entirely opposite effect than what is desired. But look at it this was she cares for you so she nags you.

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One important aspect of communication is listening. Knowing that you are being heard is one of the experiences most likely to cement a feeling of connection to another. Remember communicating also means to listen and understand the other person’s point of view. Don’t just say your part, understand your partner’s perspective also. Only then we would be able to find a middle path which is acceptable to both.

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Let me sum it up in a few points:

  • The best way to communicate is to avoid extreme criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.
  • Understand your partner’s way of communication. Some of them show with their actions that they care rather than words. Value their efforts instead of expecting things your way.
  • Your significant other is not a mind reader. Remember that!
  • Don’t keep your emotions bottled up. But at the same time don’t overdo the communication bit.
  • Be a good listener too. Try to understand the other person’s perspective.

And remember the three golden words we learnt in the nursery rhyme “Please, Sorry and Thank you”. Yes they work wonders in the adult life too. Try it!

PURGATION OF THE MIND

                                                

We generally do not associate pleasure or happiness with Doomsday. We use the term often when we refer to a day where a virtual execution may take place. By which, I mean a day where we are to receive some form of thrashing or the day of our examinations or a presentation day in case of working persons etc.

Throughout the week, especially after reading the Mega article we have come across agents that lead us to doom and the ways in which we can overcome them. One prominent feature that struck me was the involvement of the mind in bringing about destruction to oneself and others. I would agree with the writer in her saying that all sorts of actions bringing about destruction have its source in the mind.

Our mind is a web where we weave ideas and thoughts and execute them into actions. No wonder the human mind is still a prominent subject of research and study in today’s world. Psychologists come up with novel theories regarding the functioning of the human mind. However, no one but the Creator Himself knows how and to what depths the human mind works . There is no limit to our thoughts and it can lead from a particular one to a different one in a matter of seconds.

But, to enhance our abilities that differentiate us from animals and baser creatures, we need to distinguish between fruitful and harmful thoughts. There is a very fine line between instinctive action and decisive action and we often commit the mistake of confusing one with the other. I feel the actions that bring about doom are downright instinctive. Let us direct our instincts to the achievement of necessary objects. But then also, we have come across people who commit crimes to eat one meal a day.

Therefore, I feel purgation of the mind is very necessary, which can come about when we associate ourselves with the divine power of the Almighty who is not a transcendental God but is very close to us and is seeking for a relationship with His best creation.

I too have and oftentimes come across destructive thoughts causing harm to myself as well as others. These included building up a wall around so strong that none could penetrate it and isolating me from the world. But as a resolution I practiced going back to the Almighty with a guilty heart and this resulted in the purgation of my mind. This creates a mental immune system so tough that even the most toxic thoughts are cleansed of their impurities. I found that through this recovery process, the values of endurance and faith have gradually enhanced.

The scripture offers a powerhouse of such values that transforms the mind of the destructive individual. Memorization of practical proverbs needs to be done on a daily basis as we are subjected to toxic thoughts regularly. It’s called the power of the spoken word. The more you utter positive verses the more they get imprinted into your mind. Trust me when I say, you will understand the difference.

If this still does not convince you, let me inspire you with St. Paul’s transformation from the Slayer Saul to the Preacher Paul. This was brought about by the same Word of God that continues to strengthen me through my struggles.

Therefore, my friends let us look towards all that, which spells love, peace, unity, justice, holiness and cleanses the mind of the impurities. Let us learn to live the life of a Diamond.