You forgave the person who wronged you even though they never apologized or changed. Now you wonder, how do I treat them when I see them? How do I keep uncomfortable feelings from controlling me?
The M in FREEDOM is Manage yourself.
We must be careful not to confuse forgiveness with tolerating sin. We must also guard against letting another’s wrongs negatively change us. We Manage ourselves by answering two questions:
- Who am I?
- How do I treat the one who’s wronged me?
Betrayal affects our self-image. It is not uncommon for victims to act out the damaged identity they feel the event put on them. Hurt, anger, and insecurities surface. We experience them and gasp, Who am I? What have I become?
We battle the pull to retaliate, be depressed, defend ourselves, or berate ourselves for not avoiding the injury in the first place. If we don’t Manage ourselves, our hurt will negatively change how we see ourselves and relate to others.
A choice emerges. Will I allow this situation to brand me or better me?
Instead of letting the injury define you, tell yourself the truth. Cling to what God says no matter what lies others spread about you. We become what we believe. So it is important to grieve our losses and resist destructive thoughts.
King David knew God cleansed him when he confessed his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah (Ps. 51). If God can wash away the sin of the perpetrator, He can remove the stain this event left on the victim.
Victims may also need to confess. Confess comes from the Greek word homologeo that means to say the same as another. Sometimes we need to confess “I’ve wrongly believed this event defines me more than Christ’s righteousness.”
God uses betrayal to teach us to see ourselves through Christ. He uses affliction to burn up an identity based on what we do and what others think.
From those ashes He resurrects beauty, a solid identity: “I have the righteousness of Christ.” He turns the awful turmoil of “Who am I” to the awesome conviction, “I am Christ’s beloved.”
Marianne Clements, who has been married before, said her current husband overheard her tell someone, “I’m divorced.”
“I thought you were married,” he said.
“I needed brain surgery. I was carrying around the identity of being divorced and had not accepted my new identity: righteous and married,” she said.
How have you let former hurts, failures, or betrayals label you? What identity do you need to confess and forsake? Let God exchange those awful labels into an awesome new identity. Allow God to use this trauma to burn up the chaff of an unstable identity and replace it with a shining true image that can never be tarnished. He brings beauty from ashes.
Next time we’ll answer how to treat the one who wronged you.
I’d love to hear what helps you manage yourself. You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Deborah W. Wilson