Almost every care giver has stories of thoughtless words, lack of appreciation, unfair criticisms and other such cuts that leave scars on our souls.
I’m going to share something with you that’s helped me rub some soothing balm on those kinds of wounds. It is one of those “there’s two kinds of people” ideas.
It comes from the Bible, but don’t run away if you’re not a Christian. There might be insight into the human animal that is helpful to you, and I’m going to keep this post at that level for you.
A guy wrote a letter to a friend, and said, “There’s two kinds of people,”
“Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.”
The first kind are genuinely malicious people. The mean people, about whom the bumper sticker says “they suck.” There are people who, for any number of reasons, need to tear down other people.
Get away from them. Notice all the ways that our ancient letter writin’ guy distances himself from someone who did him “great harm,”
- He doesn’t go after him to get even; he leaves justice up to his God
- He states the facts about the mean behavior and leaves it at that; he doesn’t sit around stewing about motives
- He’s open and honest about the guy’s behavior, warning others not to get caught up in it and creating social distance from the jerk
- He doesn’t blame himself (care givers are prone to do that)
When you are dealing with that small, toxic group of manifestly mean people, put every kind of distance you can between yourself and them. Physical space, emotional space, spiritual space – just get away from them.
Granted, sometimes the person in your care can be the mean one. You can’t make the physical space (e.g. abandon them – you’re better than that!), so you have to work on emotional and spiritual boundaries.
But like I said, “there’s two kinds of people.”
Most of the folks who hurt us are not mean people. They are that group of family, friends and others in our lives who screw up. They don’t mean to hurt us, but sometimes they do.
Our letter writer tells us about them, too,
“At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!”
His friends bailed on him when he was in a tough spot. But he realizes that they are just friends who screwed up. Totally human. People just like him, he tells us in other letters he wrote. So he advises,
- If you are a praying person, ask God to overlook their screw up
- Keep in mind that they are on your side, even if their efforts aren’t tip-top.
- Maintain relationship with them. Don’t create unnecessary distance from them.
- Keep caring about their well being
If Jesus is not your way, my hope is that something in this post will shine some light on the path you’re walking.