Tuesday, January 19, 2010
There are some things we have control over in our lives; our choices in food we eat, the clothes that we put on each morning, our attitude about the scriptures, and many other things. While we can make a significant impact on our lives, and the lives of those around us, by our choices, there are many things over which we have no control. Many times we think that having no control is a bad thing, that it is an indication of our powerlessness, and so we try to deny that there is anything that we can't control.
I think that many times the fear of being out of control is much worse than the fact that things happen that we can't change. Our fears of the challenges that other people have can make us blame them for those challenges, because we are afraid that if we admit it was out of their control, then we would admit that the scary thing could happen to us. I have found that the more something seems "random" the more people want to assign blame to the person who it happened to. If a number of things happen at the same time, the tendency to blame the person experiencing the difficulties seems to be even more reflexive.
Job is maybe the best example of this from the scriptures. His friends blamed him for the string of challenges and trials that the Lord allowed to happen in Job's life. They kept asking Job what sins he had committed, and tried to find ways to make the deaths of his family members, cattle, and the loss of his material possessions, Job's fault. While Job was understandably sad about the loss of so many people who were dear to him, he did not lose faith in the Lord, and he became spiritually stronger through the process. Eventually all that he lost was restored to him and more, but what he gained spiritually was even more important than the things of this world.
The last few years have felt a little like a Job trial. We lost a significant amount of money selling a home we could no longer afford, my husband's former employer froze wages and laid off workers a number of times. The medical problems associated with my pregnancy were only a precursor to the medical problems that Maddy and I had after she was born. The cost of both the pregnancy and mine and Maddy's challenges since her birth have led to massive amounts of debt. We needed to move in with my parents to be able to pay our bills and keep our family from being homeless.
I have been surprised at how many people have blamed me for all of our family's problems. From accusing me of somehow tricking doctors into giving me medical care that Maddy and I don't need, to blaming me for having a child who is "too expensive." I have been told that what is happening isn't real, and that I am simply "making it up" to get attention. In some ways it is almost laughable to think that a doctor would do a medical procedure that isn't needed to a child, or even to an adult. I know it happens occasionally, but after fighting hard to get insurance companies to just cover the things that are medically necessary, I can't imagine wasting the energy to try to get something covered that isn't needed.
All of the conflict that has resulted from the "blame game" has led me to think about why someone would choose to blame someone for unfortunate circumstances, rather than being supportive and "mourning with those that mourn" as the Lord has encouraged. I don't pretend to know all of the reasons that an individual would feel the need to judge someone else, and I am trying hard not to be judgmental myself. However, I do think that it is important to not let myself be pulled down emotionally by people who are not being supportive, and who are trying to convince me that all of my problems are of my own making.
I know that there are plenty of mistakes I have made in my life, but I also know that repentance is real, and that when we repent, the Lord really does remember those sins no more. I also know that the Lord gives us difficult experiences, not as punishment, but as an opportunity for us to learn and grow. Job would not have been able to be as compassionate with others, or to understand Christ as well, if he had never been tested or tried. I would not be able to help other people, or understand those who are struggling, if I hadn't had opportunities to struggle as well. There are struggles in my life that I never would have chosen, but I know that the Lord has taught me many lessons during the last few years that have brought me closer to Him than I ever thought I would be.
I don't need to defend myself to others who judge me. Christ is the only one who I need to make sure understands, and He knows me better than I know myself. He gives me experiences to bring me closer to Him, and that includes giving me the chance to forgive those who are judgmental. My challenge is to "Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. (Luke 6:28)" Part of forgiving them is making sure that I am not judging those around me, but learning to see them as Christ does, and loving them as He does. It isn't always easy, and there are times when the best I can do is step away from a problematic relationship, but even that doesn't stop my obligation to love my neighbors.