01 October 2010

The Price of Pain

Greetings Dear Reader,

In response to my last post someone asked a question that I feel I must address. “A Distant Reader” asked about the pain involved in following Christ in his example to love? I will repost his/her comment for the sake of others.

I'm facing a similar storm, one which I have faced for many years, and you raise an issue I often wrestle with as well. I have been using the love-at-all-costs approach for many years with a particular family member, the result of which has been a lot of pain. I have finally withdrawn over the last year, not entirely, but to a safe distance. Although I wish things were different, I feel that what I'm withholding isn't really friendship at all, because this person only abuses my friendship. Therefore, in allowing myself to be hurt, I have also indulged this person's exploitative approach to relationships. Isn't there a point where the best way to love someone is to withdraw your support from their unhealthy habits? Or am I just using that as an excuse to protect myself from more pain?I hope your situation is better than mine.

I pray that opening your old wounds allows them to heal. - A Distant Reader

I will not presume to judge Distant Readers situation but I do intend to address some of the questions asked. We cannot support the unhealthy habits of others but we tend to ignore things and live in a pretense for the sake of “peace.” When we see someone with a fault we are to restore them in love. When we allow someone to mistreat us without lovingly pointing out the injustice of the action, we promote the bad behavior. If the individual abuses our kindnesses we should realize first that we do the same to Christ daily. I cannot measure myself against how others behave in following Christ. I must measure myself against how Christ would treat them.

We do not have to allow others to harm us. My sons have taken great pains to show me behaviors of mine that cause them pain. They have mostly done it in a spirit of love and restoration. Their not putting up with my bad behavior has allowed us to grow closer.

We do not have the right to reject others. We do have the obligation to avoid the pretense of things being right when they are not. I think it comes down to really talking to each other. When we restore someone in a spirit of love we can end painful cycles of interaction that have harmed us for years.

When we do not honestly seek to love others as God loves them, including gently showing them how they cause harm, we scab over dirty wounds and they fester. When we honestly, lovingly discuss the harm people cause to us we give them a graceful opportunity for change. We can make it clear that we will not tolerate mistreatment but that we still love the individual.

There is price to the event. Christ knew he would die. We are to take up our cross and follow him. It comes down to trusting the Christ will be sufficient for us as we risk all to show his love for others. I must believe that Christ knew what he was saying when the said that we must love others as we love ourselves. I cannot afford to reject anyone. I want others to lovingly restore me when I am at fault, so I cannot fail to do the same for them. I do not want others to reject me so I must not reject them. Ponder the marriages, friendships, and partnerships that could be saved if we truly treated others the way we wish to be treated, including gentle but honest communication about the things that hurt us.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."


  1. A Distant Reader1/10/10 12:01

    Thank you for this wonderful response to my question! You have hit the nail on the head that I have let a lot of things go for the sake of peace. It was a conscious choice to rebuild the relationship after it initially foundered years ago when I attempted to hold this person accountable for the way she treated me and others. It kept the peace for awhile, but nothing truly changed, and we still had problems that finally led to my decision to withdraw.

    Now I'm facing some new opportunities to reconnect with this family member, and I will take your advice to heart. I will not withhold gentle honest communication if she engages in behaviors that cause me harm, but I will also not withhold my love for her. Although I am afraid of being hurt again, my greatest fear is that if I do point out the injustice of her behavior, that she will withdraw from me. But I will have to trust that Christ will be sufficient to get me through whatever happens.

    I have never thought of the golden rule the way you described it. I have always thought of it as simply being nice. But I do want others to lovingly restore me when at fault, even if it isn't very comfortable to do so. So, if I'm going to live by that rule, I must commit to doing the same, even if it is uncomfortable.

    Thank you for your wise words and fruitful guidance.

  2. Distant Reader,

    Thank you for your kind words. Feel free to revisit this conversation when necessary.

  3. Interesting and insightful though I do wonder about when a family member/friend tries to reconnect after an absense of your friendship. Should you welcome them with open arms in hoping they have changed for the better.. And also, what if what you believed was wrong? As in the reason and basis you withheld that friendship. I know enough that things are never as they appear to be on occasion. We use the best judgement we have but we may not always be correct. I know sometimes we have blinders on as well and see what we want to see instead of being open to their explanations.

    I know there are a lot of what ifs in the world and no one circumstance is the same but I hope you can touch on this and share some insight as I know most of us have been thru it at some time or another.

    Best Wishes,