Friday, November 9, 2007

Gifts that Cost Something

In a conversation this week someone was making comments about a person with whom they have had an adversarial relationship with. It didn't matter that the person being commented about has been long dead and gone. The statement was made, "she was willing to give only those things that cost her nothing." The horribly sad reality is, the same could be said of the person commenting.

Last night I had an extremely long and terribly draining conversation on the phone with someone who has an adversarial relationship toward me. The power of pleasing and making sure everything is OK just to keep the anger and meanness of this person at bay was disconnected years ago. In the recent past I just let them say whatever they need to say and respond in saying something but really saying nothing. We see this in the sports world:

interviewer- Spike, you lost the first game. Anything you are going to take away from this for the next game?

Spike- We can only take it one game at a time. We are giving a 110% and we can't get ahead of ourselves. We can only play the game in the way we know how to play.

See, Spike said something, but he didn't say nothing. This is a brilliant offense and defense in difficult conversations with difficult people. In conversations with this person I have also instituted a 3 strike rule, say 3 things that are mean spirited, stories of slight and hurt from the past that aren't going to change or just not true, and the conversation or visit comes to an end.

Last night as I listened to this person download for the 1000th time, "I was not a good______ and my best was never good enough". I said something back to them and there was going to be value and meaning in the response. This person was waiting for me to say, no...that's not true, but regretably, it is. I calmly went to "back in the day" going to a therapist would have meant shunning and that is why so many were hooked on Valium to take the edge off the stresses of life. So I said to this person, you did the best with what you knew to do at that point, but because of this, you were hard to be around. You seemed mad all the time and we tiptoed around the anger and your displeasure with us. You put " your best is not being good enough", on yourself. We just tried to keep you happy because we could not bear the anger and hostility you felt and could act out on us, and not on those who controlled the strings in your life. Then I told them a story about gift cards. There are always those people who give you Dillard's Gift Cards when they know you rarely shop there and the mindset is, well I know you don't shop there, but this is good enough for you and I didn't want to take the time to give what would really bless you. The point I was making is not about being grateful and gracious in receiving that gift, but the message is given you are not important enough to me to give you what would really bless and lift up. Only the adequate is given.

After telling this story to them I then said, you did your best in not ever letting me know that you had an adversarial relationship with this person whom we loved and loved going to see. We never knew the hurt and the uneasiness that you were experiencing throughout the visit. That was a wonderful and best gift.

When we got off the phone I told Roy I just gave them a gift by finding something good to say about a terrible and almost unbearable season of life. I thought to myself I gave them a gift that cost me something... a lot to tell you the truth in therapy fees, walking in God's love, giving praise sacrificially and just maybe the opportunity to say what has been on my mind for a lot of years. It wouldn't have done my any good to say what I thought anyway because this person no matter what you say hasn't changed a course in life. They would take the words and once again play the victim as that is their chosen course.

I took a few moments before coming out to the living room and prayed. It was then I heard the Lord speak into the deep recesses of my heart. Choosing the right way to talk and handle the situation has been God's gift to me. There was a day when I would have hung up the phone and cried. I would have lamented what should have been and cried out with the why and lack of reconciliation about the whole thing. I would have just sat for the rest of the evening, fighting back tears and then anger only to loose an evening. Last night was God's gift. I got off the phone, briefly told Roy of the conversation and then we went on to eat dinner and get caught up with our days. I read a book, watched some TV and went to bed with peace in my heart and joy in my life. Oh what a gift, what a wonderful cost Jesus His life for me to know this peace and joy. I am oh so thankful and grateful for His costly gift for me and for all of us.

Psalm 84 holds a special place in my journey. It is all about hearts set on pilgrimage with God. The sparrow has found a house- sparrows represented to the Hebrews, insignificance. Those who felt insignificant found a home in God's dwelling place. The swallow a nest- swallows are the picture of flitting...they couldn't be still. They continually moved flitting from one place to another-they couldn't settle. But in God's dwelling place, they found a nest, a place to settle and a home. Our strength is in Him. Passing through the valley of weeping, God's strength and home in our lives makes it a place of blessing. Our shield and sun is the Lord!

All the above is really about Psalm 84ing it. Just another part of the journey and part of my travels on this earth. Yesterday, I had a coupon burning a hole in my pocket to you guessed it, Border's. Instead of using it yet for another book, I bought yet another journal. Only this one is different for me. It is a travel journal and it has places for pictures, for pasting in mementos from the trip and a place for writing. This is going to be my journal for next year. I am going to keep it just as if I were traveling. Actually, I am, but it will be my journal filled with mementos, pictures and my thoughts as my heart is set on pilgrimage.


EBay said...

Praise the Lord! Isn't He so good and amazing to give us gifts that we don't deserve, and most definitely could never give ourselves? Thanks for sharing!

Lisa P. said...

That was like dinner with hearty meat. I'm gonna go eat an ice cream.
So sorry for that "same person" in your life. But God's grace was available in enough portion for the time and the amount you needed.

Dana said...

And because of your willingness to share your pilgrimage with us, our hearts are blessed and lifted up! You are such an inspiration to me and I know to others as well.
Thank you

Anonymous said...

hear hear to dana's comments..i so hear you...but the real reason i wrote is that I LOVE YOUR PILGRIMAGE JOURNAL!!!!! Nancy you are SO often will the little tree appear and disappear???? Beth and lifeway could have used that idea!! Maybe they will!!!

Anonymous said...

ps..i know a this-person too...but alheizmers has prevented any kind of honest exchange with this-person now....that's almost like another blessing for you.

Anonymous said...

Oh Nancy- I know this person as well. Yet I have never, ever, much to my frustration with myself, been able to articulate my feelings. I am so sorry for the pain this person has caused you. Your journey has given me hope. God Bless You Sister. You are an inspiration! Missy

Lauren said...

There is a person in my life this entry seems to apply to, and it can be difficult sometimes. I like your 3 strikes you're out rule, just for the sake of imposing SOME boundaries. But the thing that strikes me most is what God has done in your pilgrimage. Hallelujah for that peace and joy, amen?

Anonymous said...

I think that all of us have a person just like that in our lives. Thank you for sharing your pilgrimage and for being so open about the journey. Wow!