When people fail us...


How should I treat people when they fail me, or when I feel betrayed?

This is an important question to answer because it speaks of the reality of living together in community and society. We all fail each other in so many ways; the word spoken too quickly without thought, blame shifting so as not to carry the responsibilities of our mistakes, self doubt that spills out in insecurity that sabotages relationships, trying to own each other when no one ought to own another at all, demanding from each other what we are not willing to give of ourselves and the worst of them all is the lie we tell ourselves when we damage another person saying "They deserve it" even though we would quickly argue when we do the same thing that it is simply not our faults.

We damage each other so quickly.

This is true of my own life - I have had to accept that a dear friend can lie in most terrible ways to gain attention, Christian people can hang you out to other peoples scorn for the choices they made, that a Church can live with lies about you and do the most unjust things (including lying or failing to seek the truth - the same thing in my view) to keep their sense of superiority or 'specialness' before God.

It is in the deepest pain that we either become a bitter root that poisons the life we live, or grow a ticker skin and stand as an oak resisting the wind of other peoples failures or the disappointments of life.

But there is another lesson we can learn also. I read a verse recently I had known about most of my life, but now it has taken a deeper and more significant meaning to me:

Proverbs 11:1 (ESV) 1 A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.

When we are hurt, let down or treated with disrespect and disregard it is right to say "This is unjust" it is right to confront evil, to stand your ground and to try and put things right where you are able. But it is also just as right to recognise the tendency within us to have a double standard. That moment where we do the same unjust act to another that has been done to ourselves, and yet find a self validation for our own behaviour we would never allow another person.

Let me be blunt, even on myself, we are cowardly when it comes to confronting the "dragons" within us. We are like brave knights before the dragons of others willing to slay the beast and rip head from body for the sake of our perceived justice we seek - but when I find the same "dragon" within myself I portray it is a wounded puppy needing to be feed and nurtured. Let's not fool ourselves it is still a fire breathing dragon waiting to consume others as much as ourselves.

The Lord hates a false balance, where we tip the scales in our favour so as to justify the evil we do each other.

As I have already stated, it does not mean we do not confront and challenge the bad others do to us - evil, meanness, unjust behaviour, nasty actions and just behaving badly ought to be confronted if people are going to grow up and become good citizens and good members of our fellowships - the trick is to allow others to also challenge ourselves, to take us to task when we fail to live up the standards that are reasonable and mature. A courageous life acknowledges the potential for fault and evil within, it feels the weight of its capacity to harm to others, to hide from the truth and to seek to put people in their place so as not to be hurt. It also asks "Where did I go wrong?".

Maybe the only other advise I might give concerning this question is that it asks it of people worthy and mature enough to respond to it - least you get advice from someone who is a dragon pretending to be a puppy.

Courageous living is hard work, but being a fool is worse.


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