Have you ever had someone be cruel to you and then had you start feeling that their cruelty was your fault? As if it was totally up to you to make the situation better?
Sometimes we make poor judgments, cause turmoil in relationships and are the one who needs to change to improve relations. But there are times when other people cause the turmoil, refuse to take responsibility for their evil, and want to blame us for the trouble they caused. It’s important to know the difference so we don’t take on guilt and blame that doesn’t belong to us.
There was a time when I took an honest action that severely upset a distant acquaintance of mine. My action interfered with plans he was making, and he wanted me to change my plans to accommodate his. I couldn’t agree with his notions for some very strong moral reasons, and suddenly he viewed me as his arch nemesis of the universe. The diatribe, slander, accusations, and hatred that followed were the darkest of dark.
At first, I agonized, “What had I done wrong to bring this horrible malice upon myself?” But when I thought it through, I hadn’t done anything wrong. Yes, if I wouldn’t have taken the action I took, he wouldn’t have got upset. But it was not an unreasonable action to take. Any morally balanced person would have easily adjusted to it and figured out a workable Plan B. His dim outlook was not my creation, I realized. This was his narrow view yearning to expand. I was not to blame for the malice. I did not cause it and shouldn’t take responsibility for it. But I did have a responsibility to love him back.
And that became my prayer—to pour love all over this individual so he would hopefully mellow out, relax about the situation and see it from a healthier point of view.
We have crossed paths since, and I always say Hi and stand ready to strike up a positive conversation with him. But he has not been ready to talk to me–yet. But that’s okay. That’s not my job to worry about. This is a healing he is working out with God. My job is to love him and let him know I harbor no ill-will.
In the meantime, I’m not going to carry around externally imposed guilt that doesn’t belong to me. I have a life of happiness, joy and love to live! You do too.