Blaming Others

A problem that emerges in most relationships involves upsets between two or more people.  Having wisdom about those upsets and what is really going on thus becomes very powerful in making those relationships work better.

A tell-tale sign of wrong attitudes in relationships is that process of blaming others.  Accusing and blame shifting are common practices when people are in tension about something.

We are all familiar with the example of a mother calling out in an angry tone, “Who brought this mud into the house?”

And we are all familiar with the chorus of voices saying, “It wasn’t me!”

Getting upset, and doing what we can to avoid trouble are two automatic processes that often get built into our interpersonal communications.

Properly Interpret What is Going On

When we have an idea about something we can be very reluctant to change our mind.  This is especially so if the new perspective suggests we are wrong or have a problem.

The whole “blame shifting” routine kicks in if someone tries to suggest that we are a cause of trouble.  We don’t like to be wrong and we don’t like to be accused, or exposed for our weaknesses.

In highly competitive contexts we may be very strong in asserting our innocence or trying to cover up our failures.

These human tendencies, based on our pride, become deeply ingrained and some people become famous for their readiness to accuse others or to make up excuses.  For example, alcoholics are famously recognised for their ability to cover for their addiction and failures.

It is important for our own health and the health of our relationships that we properly interpret what is going on in our relationships.

Different Perspectives

Consider the difference in perspective that could be applied in the following statements.

“You often upset me and it takes me days to get over it.”

Or alternatively it might be more accurate to say: “I get into moods about things and take days to get over it.”

“You upset me so you must be wrong.”

This might be better stated as: “I get upset by you, so there is something about my reactions that is not right.”

The Real Issues

Since our true “issues” are not what others do or say but how we react, then it is wrong for us to blame others for the mood we are in, or for our responses.  It is what comes out of us that defines the “issues” we have to deal with.

In an earlier article titled Issues of Life, posted on 1/10/11, I discussed a powerful Bible text that exposes what the real issues are in our lives.

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

This verse tells us that the real “issues” of our life are not what people say or do to us, but what comes out of our heart.  Our responses and reactions define the issues, and in fact ARE the true issues.

Natural Impulse

When a parent gets upset with his or her child, when a husband or wife gets upset with their spouse, or a child is upset by their sibling, the automatic assumption is that the other person is wrong because it seems to the one who is upset that the other person caused it.

It is counter-intuitive to think that we are upset because of our own choices and the weaknesses of our own personality.

Yet the Biblical truth is that it is what comes out of us that is the problem, not what was said or done to us.

What happens to us could well be injustice and wrong.  I am not saying that if we are abused it is our fault.  People hurt and offend others and we all suffer at the hands of others in some way.

This discussion is about the tendency we have to get into a mood, or some other form or “reaction” toward another, that is really our own responsibility.

Touchy People

Some people have a “hair-trigger” and readily react toward others. They are so ‘touchy’ that others have to walk on egg-shells in order to avoid being at the receiving end of a tirade from that upset person.

This is the substance of manipulation, oppression, abuse of others, control, emotional abuse, imposing self-will onto others, belittling, etc.

People who indulge in such activity are out of order.  They have “issues” in their own heart and mind.  However they may be able to justify their outbursts, accusations, anger, sharp tongue or other attacks on others without realising they are the oppressor, not the one they are blaming.

Loving Others

This self-delusion, while intuitive, is destructive and a failure to “love others” and to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, which is the Golden Rule given to us by Jesus Christ.

“As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31

In fact, it may be that a central purpose of the two great commandments, to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbour as ourself, is to force us to realisations that we would be blind to if we thought the world revolved around us.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30,31

Maybe God’s intention in giving us His laws is not to enslave us to His will, but to lead us into revelation truth about ourselves that will set us free from folly and shame.

So, next time you hear yourself expressing your exasperation, disapproval, anger, frustration, resentment, jealousy, contempt, prejudice, unforgiveness, intolerance, demands, despisement and similar rubbish toward someone else, even if only in your thoughts, stop and realise that YOU HAVE “ISSUES”.

By reflecting on what you are thinking and why you are doing it you can be led into health and release you don’t presently have.

Example

In my family seminars I share the account of my early married life when I found myself readily annoyed and frustrated with my first-born son, Stephen.  Susan and I were parents shortly before our fist wedding anniversary and had three children born in short order.

One day I realised that I was particularly hard toward my oldest son, and much more lenient toward the two other boys.  It struck me that I was being unfair on him.  For some reason I caught myself out being biased against him when it came to rebuke and discipline.

I could justify my reactions by saying, “He’s the oldest so he should know better”, but I sensed there was a deeper issue at work.

I prayed about the matter, confessing my evident bias and asking God to show me what was wrong and what to do.

As I reflected on the situation it struck me that I resented my son.  He was the first baby and therefore the first child to take my wife away from me.  Susan had to care for the baby, and she had various health challenges along the way.  A baby completely changed our married life and reduced our time together and or intimacy.  Unconsciously I held Stephen responsible for how that impact on me.

Having realised the impact of a baby I was far less reactive to the impact of my next two sons.  So my “issue” was only with Stephen.

Once I realised that situation I was able to pray about it, confessing my selfish responses and attitudes, asking God to forgive me and to heal my heart attitude toward my son.

Some time later I realised to my delight that I had a fresh relationship with my son.  I did not feel any of the hardness of heart that had been there before and I enjoyed him as I had not been able to before.

Set Free by Truth

My experience is a testimony to the veracity of God’s Word, which tells us that when we know truth that truth liberates us.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

So I share these insights with you, in the trust that you will refer back to God’s Word and allow God’s Truth to settle in your heart and set you free.

Your problem, as is common to all humanity, is that we will prefer to believe a lie, if it gives hides our pride, lust, self-will and shame.  You will tend to justify your actions, including your selfish and angry responses to others.  You will like the idea that THEY are to blame, not you.

I can only pray that the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you, to change your heart and cause you to step into the wonderful freedom that is available to you.

Rejection 13 – Human Bandage

We move now from the results or impacts of rejection, which the victim has little control over, to the choices and responses which victims make. Rejection needs to be dealt with at two levels. We need to resolve the spiritual and personal impact of what the victim experiences at the hands of others, and the victim needs to undo what they have done in their response to being rejected.

Coping Skills

People have different coping strategies and coping skills for surviving life’s challenges. I heard recently of an African nation where, as a consequence of war and disease, there are families of surviving children where an eleven year old is the ‘adult’ caring for two younger siblings. The survival instincts and coping skills needed in such a situation challenge the understanding of comfortable westerners.

Because people are different and each situation is unique, there are many diverse responses which people create to deal with their problems. What I present in this and the next few lessons are the responses I have seen most often. I see these as the core responses to expect in the life of someone who has suffered rejection.

Ease The Pain

An early instinct, in a survival situation, is to reduce our suffering. We automatically look for ways to ease our pain. We withdraw from the problem or the source of pain, and then attend to our wounds.

A wounded ‘heart’, as we saw in an earlier lesson, cannot be treated in the normal medical facilities which help heal our bodies. We are often left without any real help for dealing with our hurt feelings, confused thinking and damaged internal life.

What we do, then, is apply a bandage of our own making. I call this the Human Bandage, and I depict it as a bandage across the open wound in our heart. A bandage on such a wound does not help it heal since we need God’s healing touch to ‘restore our soul’. However, we are usually quick to come up with our own bandages to dampen the pain we feel inside.

Man Made Bandage

It is important to distinguish between a ‘man made bandage’, what I call the Human Bandage, and the divine healing tools which God supplies. The man made bandage is that which comes easily to the mind of people. It does not usually have the divine therapeutic value which comes from God’s ways and God’s word.

I have met many people with their man-made-bandage, who are quite insistent that their own way of dealing with a problem is working. I have found it difficult at times to prompt people to look for God’s full and wonderful healing, because they have been quite satisfied with their own makeshift remedy.

Whatever they have done to cover the wound and numb the pain is their human bandage. It is their attempt to protect their wound from further bumping, and to minimise the pain they feel inside.

Blur Blame and Bluff

Among the coping skill, survival strategies which I have often seen are Blur, Blame and Bluff.

Blur is where a person plays mind games, such as rationalisation, to mollify the sting of what they have been through. They may say, “Everyone had it tough in those days, so I shouldn’t be upset about what I went though.” Or they may say, “Mum was very sick, so I can understand why she was so cruel to me.” This kind of thinking is an attempt to paint over the cracks, but it doesn’t change the fact that real pain was felt and still persists.

Blame involves directing or dumping the hurt and hardened feelings onto someone else. “It’s all my father’s fault! If he had never left us I wouldn’t have gone through all this!” However, the blame game does not bring any healing. It actually nurtures a ‘root of bitterness’, which creates a whole new set of problems.

Bluff includes such things as the simple assertion that “time heals”. Time does not heal anything. Pain may become more buried over time, but it is still there, raw and painful, under your pile of bandages. When someone tells me, “I’m over it now”, I am suspicious. I know that unless someone has actively applied the love and grace of God to their pain they are unlikely to be free.

Distracted Life

One of our tools for dealing with pain and pressure is to bury ourselves in activity. People develop a ‘distracted life’, filled with activities, business, hobbies, parties, relationships, and things that keep them distracted from their past pains.

While this might give the impression they can maintain normal life, their life is not ‘normal’. Their whole existence is one huge coping mechanism. They are not living, but running a life-long strategy. Their work, achievements, busy-ness, social butterfly flittering, intense devotion to their hobbies, and the like, are not what they were created for. Those things have been adopted to smother their pain, not fulfil God’s plan.

Don’t let pain destroy God’s plan for your life.

Proving Yourself

Another coping strategy, human bandage trick is to prove your self-worth. Because rejection attacks your confidence and sense of self-worth it is easy for rejected people to throw themselves into proving themselves, as a way of ameliorating their pain.

If a person can count their achievements, affirm their own worth, and prove that they are not what others think they are then they can blur the feelings of rejection deep inside. Sadly, these achievements do not take away our pain, but they play into our desire to rationalise what is going on. It provides material for our mind to toy with, even though that does not pour oil into our wounds.

Me and My Bandages

I have mentioned before that I had put so many bandages on my own heart they had become a small hill. I tried to cover my sense of internal pain and I was extremely reluctant to ever expose it, even to God.

God graciously assured me that He would not bruise me in the process of healing me. I was comforted by the scripture about the Lord not breaking a bruised reed or putting out the last spark in a smouldering cloth.

A bruised reed he will not break and the smoking flax he will not quench: he will bring forth judgment unto truth.” Isaiah 42:3

Eventually I let God get His fingers under the bottom bandage and pull them off my life. I am ever so glad that I did. He healing in my life has been so wonderful and opened to me a life much more abundant than I ever thought I would have.

Rise and Be Healed in the Name of Jesus

You were not created to be a victim or to live your life in pain. You were not created to be hidden behind a bandage or mask, or to consume your life in survival strategies.

You were created to be hugged by God. You were created to play like a child on the golden pavement before His throne. You were created to bask in the sunshine of His love and to be surrounded by the security and overwhelming grace of His presence.

So, in the lovely and powerful name of Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, I command you to Rise and Be Healed. Walk in freedom, wholeness and transformation, showing to the world the awesome grace of our amazing Heavenly Father.

I command that your soul not only be ‘restored’ (as Psalm 23:3 says) but ‘prospered’ (as 3John 2 says), so you can not only live your life, but amazingly bless everyone else’s too!