Monday, July 16, 2007

Put Yourself In My Shoes Before Your Put Your Foot In Your Mouth

On the Hannah's Prayer Community Forums I am posting monthly devotionals based on various chapters of Hannah's Hope. Here's the 5th in this series.

The following is copyrighted material and has been adapted from "Put Yourself in My Shoes (Before You Put Your Foot In Your Mouth)," chapter five of Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, & Adoption Loss by Jennifer Saake, NavPress, 2005. Please do not duplicate without permission. You may read a portion of this book here.

And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. - 1 Samuel1:6 (NIV)

I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called upon God and He answered - a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless! Job 12:4 (NIV)

We know of Hannah's misery, but we don't know much about Peninnah. I believe she had unfulfilled desires too. It is obvious that her fertility did not earn her first place in her husband's heart. Maybe Peninnah turned her bitterness outward, much as I did with my yearning for motherhood. The barbs she tossed at Hannah may well have been thorns thrown in self-defense. Flaunting her fertility could have been the only way Peninnah knew how to cope with her own broken heart. (see Psalm 73:21-22)

While, sadly, there are a few vindictive individuals who may set out to intentionally use my grief against me as Peninnah did to Hannah, most scenarios that bring me pain are neither premeditated nor spiteful. It is easy to believe everyone is out to hurt me, when in fact most people are either unaware of my sorrow or honestly wanting to say and do the "right" thing. People who haven't walked in these shoes have no idea of the depths to which we grieve and experience anger and hopelessness. It's no wonder their comments and behaviors can often seem insensitive or downright clueless.

I have to remind myself that the outside perspective is one of innocence. My own perceptions were also much different before I walked this road. I try to remember times when I have hurt hearts with statements or actions that unintentionally inflicted pain. Like the time I blurted out the figure of speech, "I just about had a heart attack" (indicating my great surprise over an event) twice in the same conversation with a friend who had father's heart-related death. (I'm so sorry, Julie!) Each time I instantly wanted to chew off my own tongue for the poor choice of words. Yet not knowing the right words to say, compounded by embarrassment over ones I had used, I just stumbled my way right on through my story, not even stopping to admit my insensitive tread on her tender heart.

When a friend says or does something that seems less than supportive, I can step back and ask the Lord how He might want to use me to encourage her and seek His grace to love her in spite of the heartache she causes. There are always going to be specific time (like when my hormones are a mess), places, or people that get under my skin, even when I try to seek the Lord's guidance. Some days the Lord-love-her-through-me approach is easier than others, but overall this strategy saves a lot of unneeded self-pity. When I pray for someone who causes me pain, God can bring surprising blessings as a result.

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Psalm 73:21-22 (NIV)

Dear Lord,
Sometimes my heart feels so crushed that it is hard to see beyond my own grief. I take things personally when there is probably no harm intended and I ache so much! Please help me to be able to see the loving intent behind carelessly worded conversations, and give me grace to return love in situations where my heart seems senselessly trampled.

For that one person (you know exactly who I'm thinking of here Father) who has such a knack for intentionally getting under my skin and poking at the most raw and tender parts of my spirit, help me to love her through your strength. Open my eyes to the hidden heartache she herself might carry, and teach me to be a blessing in her life rather than letting me become a brute beast in return.

Thank you that you are the trustworthy Friend I can always turn to and that you love me unconditionally.

In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ,
The One who promises to be closer than a brother,

No comments: