Being a victim is not a choice, but remaining a victim emotionally and mentally is.
Some people seem to get addicted to a victim self-image. It becomes their identity. But a victim mentality not only excuses us from taking responsibility for ourselves, it gives all our power away.
If you listen to someone who has fallen into this trap, you can hear the suppressed anger. Women particularly, but to some extent most of us, are convinced that anger is bad, even sinful.
But anger recognized and claimed can be ours to control, to express, and to turn into something creative and empowering.
To cling to a victim mentality is to remain a helpless child. While reasonable anger channeled in practical ways can change injustice for ourselves and others. Anger’s power and the responsibility and accountability that go with it can be our doorway to maturity and effectiveness. The change starts with recognizing and claiming our anger. Then, we can begin to work toward finding our own process to not only deal with our anger, but to turn it into a power for good.
I’m hoping that some of you reading this will comment and share things that can help others experience this transition and even impact others.
It is okay to be who you are as long as you are alive, because you are still becoming the person you were created to be. It’s important to know that, because otherwise you have to pretend- even to yourself- that you are perfect and don’t need to grow and change. It’s a lifelong process, a dance between grace and the limits of the hand we were dealt, that probably will still be happening at our moment of death.
I don’t know about afterward……I’m personally counting on Jesus, the expression of the unconditional Love of God, being God’s promise of forgiveness for those bad choices I made along the way to becoming the person I am meant to be. Remember the Prodigal Son story.
So, I was really struggling this week with the statement by a writer I respect: “That if God is just, there has to be a hell.” I’m wondering if that depends on your definition of “just.”
Justice to me means recognition of an evil that brings about change. The evil can be either personal or societal.
I don’t see it as a “get even” kind of thing. Plenty of people have hurt me, just as I have hurt others, but I don’t need them to suffer for it. I just want them to recognize it and sincerely regret it enough to not do it again to me or anyone else. I figure that’s what God wants from us.
I do suspect from my personal experience that a “balancing” plays out in life here in a lot of ways. Sometimes when someone hurts me, I have a sudden memory of having done the same thing to someone else. Depending on what it is, I may laugh, sigh, or feel heartbroken about my own blindness. But it frees me to not only let go of the hurt and temptation to judge, but to avoid doing it again myself.
I believe the whole point of justice isn’t retribution. Justice is about recognition, regret, forgiveness and change. It seems to me that in many ways it’s a dying to self and that we experience a lot of deaths and resurrections before the big one.
One note: Acts have consequences. The reason there are “Do Not” commandments is that those things have negative consequences not only for others, but for those who do them. The rules are for everyone’s protection. I believe the retribution is intrinsic and comes in this life.
I have been reading and learning a lot about forgiveness. We all have different proclivities for how we handle anger and hurt. Recently a blog post about our responses to horrifying acts of terrorism against innocent children challenged me to explore the polarities of love and anger and forgiveness.
I’m not sure about this, but some scriptures and some experiences I have had myself make me suspect that forgiving someone has healing power not only for ourselves, but for the offending person. And here’s the freaky part: it can happen concretely simultaneously across great distances without being communicated. I can’t prove it. I have not read anything much about it, but I have had some minor, but thought provoking, experiences.
Also, years ago, I read a small book called “The Hundredth Monkey” which had some research statistics that claimed that monkeys on separate islands and continents can suddenly simultaneously learn new “human” kinds of skills. Their conclusion was that when a certain level of a population of a species acquire a new trait or ability, it somehow triggers a leap in the species across the world. And the author’s hope was that if we as individuals became peaceful, eventually the critical number of our species would bring about world wide peace.
I kind of liked the idea and shared it with friends, but my logical self was very dubious. And since statistical studies such as this can seldom control all the variables, I took this with a grain of salt. Until recently when driving, I hesitated to start across an intersection when the light turned green because more and more people are running lights right after they turn red. And sure enough someone did. In the last four or five years I have observed a steady increase in this disturbing phenomena.
Something clicked for me today. Is this a negative example of the “hundredth monkey” theory?
Again, as David Hume taught, cause and effect are almost impossible to prove, which is why we measure statistical probability. But even a remote possibility that our own small struggle to become more loving, forgiving, peaceable people might have a lot more significance for the larger scheme of things would be reason enough to expend more serious time and effort on that project!
Most of us reach a point in our lives where we recognize that we cannot change others, we may can facilitate their attempts to change, but we can’t make anyone want to change and we can’t magically change them even when they seek change. It’s a helpless feeling and tends to make us feel pretty hopeless about things like drug addiction, terrorism and war, and the gross inequality of resources and standard of living across our planet. And even when we are consciously on a Spiritual journey putting time and effort into becoming more loving, forgiving, and peaceful, there are times it hardly seems worth the struggle, if we are managing at least to avoid breaking the big “TEN” in case there really are a heaven and a hell.
What if it matters a lot more than we can imagine for us to clean up our only mildly toxic act: our cursing bad drivers, keeping people out of our lane when they have ignored the warning that theirs is closed further down the road, turning people against one another through gossip, holding grudges, spending a major part of the rest of our lives seeking vengeance under the name of justice for real harms done us or those we love, or even just blaming everyone else for our own failures?
I tried to teach my children to judge the effect of their actions by the age old excuse, “Everybody else is doing it.” What will the world become like if everyone else does what you are doing? What will hotels have to charge if every person steals a towel or a pillow? What will driving anywhere be like if everyone drives like it’s a race to beat out all the others?
Or maybe even more pertinent, perhaps everyone not doing the same things you are not doing. Not offering help to someone that hurt our feelings, not reaching across differences, not sharing from our abundance because we assume the worst of others. Not picking up trash. Often we simply ignore our sins of omission.
The infamous butterfly fluttering on the other side of the world isn’t making a moral choice, but we do each make numerous moral choices as to what we do or neglect to do each day.
What if it only takes ten more truly loving people to change the world? Not by their accomplishments, but by their love, forgiveness, and peace? Will you and I be one of that ten?