My best definition is this: I want the best for someone and I do my best to discern what I can do to help that person have what is best if it is within my ability to do so. At very least, I can pray for the person.
Now the story. The names are changed to protect the innocent. I haven’t changed my name because I don’t need to be protected.
Many years ago, I was living with my boyfriend, Mike, in an apartment attached to a larger house. The was owned Chuck’s parents. Chuck lived in the house. Chuck was a good friend of Mike and I. Mike worked nights, and I worked days. I liked to visit Chuck in the evening because I was lonely and Chuck and I had a lot in common. Pretty soon, we started having a sexual connection which of course Mike did not know about. I felt somewhat guilty, but I justified my actions in very twisted ways. Basically, I was in DENIAL.
When Chuck’s parents found out about our affair, they were furious. I can’t remember exactly what happened, but I knew I felt very ashamed. They made up an excuse about why Mike and I needed to leave, so Mike was not told about the affair. Chuck decided he never wanted to talk to me again, and cut off the relationship completely. I was devastated. I lost a friend. I felt terrible guilt and shame. I knew I had done wrong, but I had no one to turn to because Mike was my best friend. I loved him–even though I betrayed him.
The agony I felt was almost unbearable. My life on the surface was so good. I was part of a new age church People thought living together without being married was just fine. I was part of the church choir, and we regularly sang at convalescent hospitals. I was always trying to help people, and was quite well-known and popular. I started a little business delivering healthy, home-cooked meals to my friends. I was compiling a song book of uplifting songs so that I could easily get sing-alongs going all year. I thought that if I could only get the world to sing in perfect harmony, we could all get along. Oops.
Even my relationship with Mike looked really great. People thought we were a wonderful couple, and everyone loved Mike who had such a kind, sweet personality. But I had this shadow. This shadow of denial and betrayal did not make me an evil person. I wasn’t betraying anyone else. In fact, integrity was one of my highest values. Yet my addiction to this relationship with Chuck kept me from being at peace. I know I was not happy. I was living a double life.
Looking back, I wish that Chuck’s parents could have been more compassionate. Instead of saying and doing things that contributed to me feeling like I was one of the most evil people in the world, I wish they had compassionately talked to me and shown me the error of my ways. Really, that is the first step that should be taken in any confrontation. Getting the facts straight, clearing up confusion, showing empathy and then addressing the issues are essential if someone wants a person to change their ways.
I know they were doing the best they could, and I forgive them and Chuck for the actions that wounded me so deeply. But I think if they could have been more compassionate and pro-active, I could have shared my problem with Mike, and also gotten counseling and perhaps gone to 12 step programs or other support groups. Instead, I continued having emotional affairs with other men to whom I was sexually attracted to during the years I was in a committed relationship with Mike. Chuck and I ended our relationship because I finally gave in and had a physical affair. I just could no longer stand being confined in a relationship. I wanted to be free. This caused a lot of pain for Mike and I.
I am remembering this painful experience as I figure out how to deal with someone who I think is doing dishonest things. I don’t want to shame this person, who I will call Doug. I love Doug. But to let Doug continue to act in ways that are damaging to himself and others is not loving. Doug is not a bad person. He is doing positive things in the world, and most people would not even believe that Doug is doing anything wrong at all. But I do have physical evidence, and a good case that shows he is lying about something that is hurtful to others.
I plan on presenting my case with compassion. I even want to express appreciation. I don’t want to shame. But I hope that
Doug will see that his lies are harmful, and to continue them compromises his integrity. I know that Doug wants to do a lot of great service for the world. I know that the pain of denial is very great. The knowledge that I betrayed Mike, and lost a friend was overwhelmingly hurtful. The fact that I could not heal because no one would lovingly give me a chance to change my ways is very sad to me. I wonder how many people have continued in their hurtful actions because no one wanted to confront them, thinking things like, “I need to take the log out of my own eye before I take the speck out of theirs.”
I understand that this verse means that before I show someone the error of their ways, I must get rid of the anger that I harbor against them. If I am angry, I can not see someone’s mistakes clearly. I hope and pray that I can talk to Doug with the help of a friend who also sees the lies that are being told in such a way that will help Doug want to change and turn around.
Denial is one of the most powerful defense mechanisms that we as humans have. I have read many stories about how love and compassion overcame denial. This is the reason Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. He knew that the power of sincere love and compassion is stronger than the power of denial.
I feel so grateful because since I surrendered my life to Jesus I have an increasing ability to forgive myself as I know how much he loves me and forgives me. I am in the process of doing my best to make amends to all people I have hurt. The more I do this, the more I realize the freeing power of taking responsibility for my actions. I am wanting everyone, including Doug, to experience this marvelous freedom which helps me to open up to be loved by Jesus, other people and myself.
I hope that you, dear reader, want the same. I would love to hear what you think and feel about what I just wrote. I hope that I contributed to your well-being.