being the bigger one… expected
So in the past couple of weeks there has been a little trouble in paradise or at least among friends. There are always three sides to a story: theirs, mine and God’s. Since God and I are the only ones available, this is the side that will be unveiled. Wynell, one of my inner circle girlfriends that I talk to almost on a daily basis has a
friend named Priscilla. While it has been almost seven years since we’ve met’ we have not hung out that often. I have gone on outing with the two of them on a couple of occasions and have invited both up them to dinner parties at my place. Priscilla’s persona is that of a helper. She appears to enjoy doing for others. Normally I watch and listen more than I talk. I find out quite a bit about a person that way. There are other times when I am caught up in the business of this world and have found myself, not really paying attention. This would turn out to be one such occasion. When my inner circle of girlfriends hang out, we pray, we talk, we have fun and we communicate freely regarding just about anything. Pricilla recently informed the group that she has struggled through this past year and has even begun the New Year with extreme financial difficulties among other things. She is an only child and she currently lives alone but took in a few roommates. At the end of last years she was almost 7 months behind on her rental home as well as a few other utilities and the sort. Since hearing about her struggle I have prayed that God would help her and teach her how to live through the hardship and live in the purpose that He has for her. On many occasions I have wished that I had extra money (what ever that is) so that I could give her enough to catch her up. But there is no extra, for me.
holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free
in your head
Mary Catherine another close friend of mine has also struggled over the past couple of years but her struggle is a bit different and it leans toward the opposite end of the spectrum. She has problems with saying “no”. She continues to give out of obligation because “no” will not come out of her mouth. Her family and former friends have abused her to no end due to that fact, which has caused her unbearable pain. We haven’t been able to figure out just what happened the story unfolds like this…
remind yourself that it is ok
not to be perfect
Pricilla stopped by my place a few weeks ago needing a place to stay but I was away. Her lights, water, phone and gas all ended up disconnected at the same time. She contacted another friend, who allowed her stay for a little over a week. Pricilla, at the time, and still, had three other individuals living at her place rent free because they ran into a hard time. That decided to stay it out although the utilities were not on. I will skip some of the details for shorten the story and land the plane, but I again must tell you that I was not quite paying attention to all of the details, which is not like me and so like the enemy to try to catch you slipping. Needless to say when I return to town, Mary Catherine stopped by my place to let me know that she was on her way to the bank to pick up the money for Priscilla. I questioned, “what money?”. She began by saying Priscilla called me on several occasions and at my first opportunity I returned her call. She indicated that you informed her that I would “bless” her. She said “I told her that I had been thinking about it, but didn’t realize that I had informed anyone else”. Priscilla then tells Mary Catherine, “I don’t want you to give me the money, but it would be great if you would allow me to borrow it and pay you back. This sounds excellent! Now Mary Catherine had planned on giving her $100, so she said told her that she would allow her to borrow the money. Priscilla then belts out that she would need $4000 and would repay her in sixty-days. Mary Catherine stuttered through it but agreed (no contract, no nothing). When $4000 came tumbling out of Mary Catherine’s mouth, I almost past out and then my attention quickly honed in on the fact that Mary Catherine had also indicated that Priscilla told her that I informed her of that. What jurisdiction would I have over someone else’s money? NONE. I informed Mary Catherine that I didn’t tell Priscilla that nor had I talked her. Anger, panic, frustration, and prayer began to well up in my mind and heart all at once. Did this girl, whom I hardly knew use my name, in vain? And WHO DOES THAT… ask someone that they don’t know from Adam to allow them to borrow $4000? I quickly began forming my words and thoughts and informed Mary that I didn’t have a good feeling in my spirit about that. Mary Catherine indicated that she has the money and doesn’t mind giving it. I told her that having the money is not the point. “You know nothing about this girl.” I asked her about a contract and she said that she didn’t mention one to her. I asked her if she knew Priscilla’s spending habits and she indicated that she did not. Every answer to my questions resulted in “no”. Mary Catherine said, “Isn’t this your friend? You are making me very nervous.” I reminded Mary Catherine that I talk and pray with quite a few people and will occasionally invite them over to take there minds off of their hard times, but that doesn’t mean that I call them friend or that I know them. I informed Mary not to move until we prayed. I know she has a problem with saying no and since she had already given her word that she would give the money; she would also have a problem with reneging on the deal. If she sat too long thinking about it she would act on the fact that she gave her word. We began praying and I eventually called Wynell to attempt to get additional information about Priscilla. When I finally got a hold of her, in the grocery store and I began asking her about Priscilla. The truth was right before my eyes all the time but I hadn’t been paying attention. I had gone to the store a few times with Priscilla and she dropped money like it was nothing ($500-$600 at a time) only to complain later on that she didn’t have the money to pay for certain necessities. I began remembering that she was months behind in her rent and utilities and wanted a place to stay. So how was she to pay back that amount of money in sixty days? I began thinking how Priscilla would mention that her parents would get on her nerves mentioning how she would always give, shop and mismanage her money, to the point that they would have to bail her out or she would take out a pay-day loan – which are the worse trap to get involve in. We later found out through this ordeal that she constantly takes pay day loans to help her out of other mismanaged debacles. I began remember that she had rental furniture that she said would be repossessed in a few days because she didn’t have money, how she indicated a few days prior that she had gone on vacation and returned to all utilities being shut down (vacation? really?); how she had people (who all happened to have jobs) to stay with her at no charge, when they could have least help her with anyone of the utilities that she was struggling to keep on. I began praying with more understanding and diligently seeking the best way for Mary Catherine to approach this craftiness of the enemy. My mind wondered how and why she chose to use my name and also why she chose the particular friend who was already struggling in that area. I began wonder how much information we had sat and talked freely about, feeling that we were among friends and not realizing that we were among one who was operating in that same spirit of Judas (betrayal and greed). I began thinking “yes” she could have a true problem with managing and spending that is caused by her own hands, but still no less a problem and that it would need to be handled in a delicate manner. But I was also angry. I truly saw RED! Angry at her for the problems that she was causing among me and my friends, angry at myself for many things: not paying attention, speaking about personal things in front of her, with my friends, that affected not only our lives but the lives of our families. A few people indicated that she could have come to the conclusion when I informed her that we all wanted to help but it was hard times for everyone. I am sorry, I just couldn’t draw that parallel. If that were the case why didn’t she ask all of us for the $4000. Why ask the one who is weaker in that area of saying “no”? It just didn’t sit well with me. My mind wanted to think that she has been there all along trying to devise a plan, but could I say that for sure? No. No I don’t want to accuse anyone of something that they may or may not have done and I had problems letting it go. I had so many questions and no answers only speculations.
And then my thinking came to a halt and God began to speak clearly, in love. He began to show me that we all have things that we struggle with; being introduced to someone doesn’t mean they are our friends and caution should always be used (not suspicion – but caution). He showed me that we have all been hurt and we have also hurt people around us and that we normally don’t like being on either side of the pain. No she shouldn’t have used something that she heard in a personal setting among people who have only tried helping and loving her for her own personal gain. But even more plainly I heard forgive anyway. I believe at this point I had a bit of rage that I was dealing with and thinking about the nerve that some people have and the fact that she wasn’t concerned or didn’t think far enough ahead to know that my friend would tell me, especially since she decided to name drop and use me as the bait. I can honestly say that this is not what I wanted to hear (forgive) in that moment. I was angry for so many justifiable reasons. Trust me the story becomes even more insane and even more ridiculous, outrageous lies vomited out of Priscilla’s mouth – lies she didn’t realize that each of my inner circle friends who talked and prayed with each other on a daily basis would not mention to the other. I was so upset that every time I would say Lord I let it go, something else even more unbelievable would pop in my mind regarding yet another lie. I felt my head wanting to explode and I literally made myself sick. I ended up getting an upset stomach for a couple days along with a pounding heading, because I continue to question God about WHY. Why me, why did she do it, why $4000, and the reason that she said she needed the money was even a lie, why would she need car repairs on a new car that she just bought? She had just mention a few weeks ago that the car was great and had no problems, which is not to say that it couldn’t have problems now. But wouldn’t one take a brand new car back to the dealer if you have had it less than two months?
My parents always caught me defending myself; although I didn’t start the fight I always had to be the bigger one and apologize first. This was not always a good feeling. But the quicker we forgiver the quicker we could begin playing together again and the offense was never remembered.
My friends would call me everyday because no one had heard from Pricilla. They would ask me if I had called her. Why would I do that? What I mean by that is; she is not a person that I would normally call. As a matter of fact before her telling us how much she was struggling I hadn’t called her in the entire time that I had known her but four to five times. I soon began remember that I struggled through hardships in my life and there were times that I caused my own pit falls but I still needed someone to treat me like I mattered, to tell me there was hope, to love me through my mistakes and wrong decisions, to pray for me, to speak truth in love, to help me (through knowledge and example) get back on the right track, to tell me it was and would be ok, to show me how to forgive myself so that I would begin to heal, get over and release those ties that had me bound to show me how to make amends. There was a time in my past when I lied to someone that I loved but still wanted them to handle me with leniency. As I sat in silence, in my room, shaking my head, I thought why can’t I let this go? Why can’t I answer the phone when she calls especially when I have said with my mouth that I forgive her and hoped that my heart would soon follow in that same manner? I began thinking about a passage I had just read in 1 Corinthians 6. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter and covered many topics but truly tried encouraging the Corinthians to look at problems and disputes differently and not as the non believers did. He wanted them to quickly forgive as we want to be forgiven, instead of quickly jumping to conclusions or into an offense.
1When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers a! 2Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? 3Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. 4If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? 5I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues? 6But instead, one believer b sues another—right in front of unbelievers!
7Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? 8Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers. c
In other words, I’ll paraphrase him to say, So What? So what that someone wronged you? Let it go. Don’t get worked up over it. Release it. Don’t become tangled in their same web of offense. Is it good enough that YOU know that you are not guilty? Why do you have to prove it among everyone else and to what degree? How far will you take this? And if or when you are ever are on the other side of the fence do you want favor, grace, mercy, as well? Can you let it go? Will you? Well being human you will occasionally concern yourself with what others may think. The line is thin sometimes. At that moment I began to pray that God would help me let it go. That I would not only forgive so that the wrong is not held against her but that God would justify her in the situation so that it would not even be remembered. In forgiveness: the forgiven is pardoned and can totally go free and the forgiver pays the bail (the price) – not through malice but in love.
love has nothing to do with what you expect to get but instead what you are expected to give
The thought will still occasionally come up and I realize that it is a process (it’s only been a few weeks) but forgiveness has come. I am no longer just saying it with my mouth but my heart is pure and I believe it. It is my prayer that she get the help that she needs and that God will continue using me as a conduit to share the knowledge that I have learned about money, saving, tithing (first fruits) and God. While I am still learning and may still have a long way to go, I hope that one day my own financial situation will no longer a be a situation but a blessing. I am grateful for being forgiven and being able to forgive and I made it through the processes a little quicker this time!
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