Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Real Talk Tuesday: Justice, anger, forgiveness.

I don’t know if you relate to this, but I have this strong sense of justice in me. And I have a pretty good ability to read people. So that means I often times spot something unhealthy, deceptive or inauthentic and my strong sense of justice flairs up. Y’all, this often times comes out in anger. Especially when I see that a behavior is harmful (to that person or those around them).
I like to call this righteous anger. Ya know the, “But that is not ok and I am rightly mad about it” kind? The, “I need to speak up, defend, put a stop to this” kind.

Honestly, I love this about me. But it is a curse too. I am passionate, feisty, a fighter, intentional, willing to do what is hard when needed.. But often times those things that can be good come out in unhealthy anger, being upset over things that are not my battle, and resentment. Have you heard the phrase “Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”? I get it. Staying upset, resenting someone and carrying around bitterness is not awesome. But we’ve all been hurt. Some of us, really deeply. Some hurts have been ongoing. Some hurts were sudden and detrimental. Some hurts are not fully recognized but rotting away at us.

So, how do we balance justice, anger and forgiveness?
Let’s break these down.

Justice: "a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people”.
The next definition mentions Fairness. I am all about fair. My husband has heard me say, “It just isn’t fair” so many times. And I feel it deeply. When people are totally disrespectful to me or others, I get so frustrated. When I see people overlooked, treated poorly, taken advantage of, I can’t just stand by. When people see themselves as worthless it breaks my heart. My heart is for people and while I love young people and young women, I’ve never been able to totally narrow it down to a certain age or group. But I do know that when anyone needs defending, I am all in. When someone is isolated, abused, defeated, discouraged… I want to do what I can. I can’t tell you how many people I have seen crying and awkwardly approached to see if they are ok and if I can help.

But synonyms for Justice include: fair-mindedness, equity, evenhandedness, impartiality, objectivity, neutrality, disinterestedness, honesty, morality.

I often times give myself freedom to be angry, intense, irrational; all in the name of justice. Looking at what justice really looks like, I can’t help but think I’ve made it something of my own. Sometimes a whisper speaks louder than a shout. Calm, honest communication can be such a barrier remover. I am challenged in the way I defend. Right now, this looks a lot like how I defend myself... How I scream for justice when my husband hurts me. How I am processing some other hurts and lack of forgiveness towards some people/situations I’ve experienced recently. How I so easily get angered by injustices other people are facing. I want to take action! But maybe I need to step back and respond differently. Be objective, clear headed, neutral. This feels tough sometimes and please hear me that there are so many injustices that are UNACCEPTABLE. So many people I know have been deeply wounded in completely unfair ways. Life is hard and people make bad choices. I am not dismissing anyone’s pain, hurt or experience. But more so challenging myself to step back and pause before releasing my all out, “Oh HELL no!” side.

Anger: a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
"Righteous anger is typically a reactive emotion of anger over perceived mistreatment, insult, or malice. It is akin to what is called the sense of injustice."
I see a small but defining difference. Righteous anger is rooted in defense for mistreatment. I see a desire for good. Anger speaks of hostility. I read something this morning that defined hate as "cherished animosity".
I allow myself to be hostile and annoyed. And I think there is an acceptable level of that. But there’s a line somewhere and I think it has to do with the condition of our heart. And therefor how we act.
Example: SoCal traffic. I very quickly can assume the worst about someone who has cut me off and is driving stupid. My tone changes, I say not nice words and speak fury about how unacceptable their behavior is. On the other hand, my husband dismisses it, moves on, gives grace, isn't angered. What is necessary? What is good? What is the heart beneath it?

: the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven; mercy, pardon. 
I don't believe in "Forgive and Forget." I believe in a process of release, healing and grace. But we are not called to bury, ignore, pretend we're fine and carry on.
A mentor recently shared a breakdown of forgiveness with me that was so helpful. It was so freeing to know forgiveness is beyond saying, "I forgive you" and everything being good again.

There are 3 parts to the process:
  1. Forgiveness: Between a person & God. A choice to not hold the person responsible. This doesn't mean we were not wronged or our pain is invalid. It just means it is not in our hands to punish them. We can hand the process over to God.
  2. Reconciliation: Two people agreeing on the offense. This isn't always possible. It might not be wise or healthy to engage this. Sometimes we do part 1 and move forward in healing. Sometimes this part can happen. And if so, we move onto part 3. 
  3. Trust: Two people agree + demonstrated change over time. This is where we can reenter into relationship with the offender. It's not always healthy to just forgive and go back to where the relationship was. But, it is possible. It is a process. And it takes two. 
I don't know about you but this was so healing for me. I often times feel I am in the wrong and think I haven't forgiven if I still don't trust someone and don't wish to reengage.  But now I can breakdown a situation and decide what process is possible, necessary, good. But, this is also removes my freedom to say I have forgiven but still hold the person responsible, talk poorly about them or hold a grudge. I have to hand it over to God and move forward. I can still have a boundary with a person, but the condition of my heart changes through forgiveness.

So, there's some real talk for you based on something that's been on my mind/heart, stuff Charles and I have been processing and just good old life lessons.

I don't know what helps you process anger or tough situations but for me it is usually solid time journaling with a good cup of coffee, long venting/talks with my husband or a trusted friend or time outside in nature.

Welcome to the process.

I hope you find relief, comfort and a sense of healing today.

No comments: