Yesterday I got into a confrontation with a close relation, which of course you can imagine is never fun, especially since it wasn't so much an argument between us, as it was me being at the receiving end of a rant well-peppered with all the expletives acrimony will inspire.
Things between this relation and I have been going downhill for years despite my best efforts; invariably, I displease him, often without even knowing it, and invariably, every time I've ever done so is resurrected when we clash. He seems to me to labour under some sort of persecution complex, apparently never feeling he is receiving sufficient respect or gratitude. I don't know anyone so accomplished at cataloging one's lifetime of faults and sins, or harbouring untold depths of resentment and bitterness, built upon layers of unforgiveness directed at every person who has ever trod upon his highly nervous, touchy sensibilities.
I've often thought how very like "Mrs Fidget" he is, this being a personification of perverse, hypersensitive affection described by C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves:
"I am thinking of Mrs Fidget, who died a few months ago. It is really astonishing how her family have brightened up. The drawn look has gone from her husband's face; he begins to be able to laugh. The younger boy, whom I had always thought an embittered, peevish little creature, turns out to be quite human. The elder, who was hardly ever at home except when he was in bed, is nearly always there now and has begun to reorganise the garden... Even the dog who was never allowed out except on a lead is now a well-known member of the Lamp-post Club in their road.
"Mrs Fidget very often said that she lived for her family. And it was not untrue... The Vicar says Mrs Fidget is now at rest. Let us hope she is. What's quite certain is that her family are".
In some ways of course Mrs Fidget is not like my relation; Mrs Fidget is essentially a martyr, but not in quite the same way as my relation. "Mrs Fidget, as she so often said, would "work her fingers to the bone" for her family... They couldn't stop her. Nor could they -- being decent people -- quite sit still and watch her do it. They had to help. Indeed they were always having to help. That is, they did things for her to help her to do things for them which they didn't want done".
But this -- this is so eloquently put -- "Can Mrs Fidget really have been quite unaware of the countless frustrations and miseries she inflicted on her family? It passes belief... the very laboriousness of her life silenced her secret doubts as to the quality of her love. The more her feet burned and her back ached, the better, for this pain whispered in her ear "How much I must love them if I do all this!"
"The unappreciativeness of the others; those terrible, wounding words -- anything will "'wound'" a Mrs Fidget -- enabled her to feel ill-used, therefore, to have a continual grievance, to enjoy the pleasures of resentment. If anyone says he does not know those pleasures he is a liar or a saint. It is true they are pleasures only to those who hate. But then a love like Mrs Fidget's contains a good deal of hatred" (extracted from The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis).
In searching for the text of The Four Loves, I stumbled upon the blog post of Minister Steven Wedgeworth on this same Mrs Fidget, in which he beautifully described her thus: "This sort of “love” turns the posture of giving into an idol. The giver has to give in order to feel necessary. The giving itself makes demands. It lords generosity over others. It fulfills its own need by giving, and indeed, the gift nearly destroys those it is given to... what becomes clear is that the Mrs. Fidgets of the world are exacting a daunting price from their families. They make their families despise this form of “love” and often end up alienating those which they are supposedly doing so much for".
And so, letting my day, I'm sorry to say, be quite spoilt by this individual, I went to bed sad and forlorn, only of course to be woken at about 3am to pee. My depressed feelings naturally returned, and with a vengeance, as they are wont to do when one has insomnia. Being at the brunt of someone's concentrated ill feeling is never pleasant after all, and certainly not conducive to sleep. I found myself staring at the ceiling, struggling with feelings of hurt and anger, and desperately trying to hear from God. And then, from deep in my spirit came these words: "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him" (1 John 3:15).
I knew then that I really needed to do something to stem my tumultuous thoughts, but what? And then my eyes fell upon a book that had been given to me some two years ago -- Living Beyond Your Feelings, by Joyce Meyer. I had not read beyond the first couple of chapters and the book had been tucked away pretty much brand new. Now I felt compelled to pick it up and was immediately drawn to two latter chapters -- Anger, and Why is it so hard to forgive? Reading them helped me so much that I told myself that I simply had to share some of it with you today, just in case you ever have to deal with a Mrs or Mr Fidget in your life.
"Nothing justifies an attitude of hatred. I admit that I hated my father passionately for many, many years. That hatred did not change my father or make him pay for his wrongdoing, but it did poison me. It took away my peace and my joy, and my sin of hatred separated me from the intimate presence of God.
"First John 4:20 reads: "He who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, Whom he has not seen". We cannot maintain love for God and hatred for man in our heart at the same time. When God tells us to forgive our enemies, it is for our own benefit...
"If I get angry when someone does something to me that's wrong, is my anger any less wrong than the wrong they committed? I think not. Sometimes their wrongdoing merely exposes my weakness and I am able to repent and ask God to help me overcome it. Be determined to get something good out of every trial you face in life, and don't ever let the sun go down on your anger...
"As we navigate life, we will need to be generous in mercy in order not to be angry most of the time. In the Amplified Bible we learn that to forgive means to "let it drop (leave it, let it go)" (Mark 11:25)... I talk to myself and tell myself how foolish it is to let some unkind person ruin my day. I follow Scripture and pray for the person who hurt me. I try to believe the best of the person who offended me and try to get my mind off the offense and onto something more pleasant...
"Some things that people do hurt us worse than other things, but the answer is the same for dealing with them all. Do yourself a favour and forgive quickly and freely. The longer you hold a grudge, the more difficult it is to let it go... I like to think of mercy as looking beyond what was done wrong and on to why it was done. Many times people do a hurtful thing and don't even know why they are doing it, or they may not realise they are doing it. Sometimes they are reacting to their own pain without realising they are hurting others. I was hurt so badly in my childhood that I in turn frequently hurt others with my harsh words and attitudes... It helps me to forgive when I realise that 'hurting people hurt people'".
"If I don't forgive, I am poisoning my own soul with bitterness that will surely work its way out in some kind of bad behaviour or attitude. The root of bitterness contaminates and defiles not only the one who is bitter, but others around him as well...
"We all want justice when we have been hurt, and it's often difficult to be patient while God brings it. We are very tempted to take revenge instead of remembering the God said vengeance is His, not ours...
"God wants us to do what is right first, no matter how we feel. When we do, we are growing spiritually and will enjoy more emotional stability the next time we are faced with a difficult situation... For many years I tried to forgive people when they hurt or offended me, but since I still had negative feelings toward them, I assumed that I wasn't successful in the forgiveness journey. Now I realise that no matter how I feel, if I keep praying for the person who injured me and bless rather than curse him or her, I am on my way to freedom from destructive emotion...
"When someone has hurt us, we can refuse to speak evil of them, even if we're tempted to do so. We can also bless them by talking about their good qualities and good things they have done. If we only look at the mistakes people make, we won't be able to like them. But looking at their whole lives gives us a more balanced picture of them" (extracted from Living Beyond Your Feelings, by Joyce Meyer).
If someone hurts you, cry a river, then build a bridge and get over it.