By Emma Lu D
We were seated on folding chairs surrounding the room. Many of the attendees seemed in a restless state. Then mixed voices erupted and they projected their anger upon each other like fiery darts. The problem seemed focused on conflicts in the Home Owners Association regarding fence lines, landscape choices, and mixed concerns regarding new roofing. As I viewed the situation, it seemed the challenge was between those who wanted to be in charge versus those who were in charge. The sad dilemma resulted when various disturbing concerns fell on my doorstep and brought me precarious problems. The days following the meeting proved to be uncomfortable. A neighbor seemed to delight in passing snide remarks toward me. It mattered not where we were, the park, church or anyplace we came in contact, and the most miserable part, she seemed to know how to draw others into her circle of resentment, and it hurt to the core of my being.
Was I right with my opinion? Was she right with her opinion? At the beginning it did not matter. I felt determined to stand by my convictions. However, I soon felt the need to melt down and face reality and gain compassion for those who hurt me, if for no other reason than the sake of my own well-being. I realized I was developing warning signs of self-imposed stress. I began having sleepless nights, escalating stomach irritations, and nagging negative thought patterns and feelings which began consuming my time. I realized the need to take hold of myself if I wanted to be a stable individual. I would have to face the fact I must become a forgiving person.Even though it was not an easy task to face reality, I did move forward. It became apparent I needed to pace myself with a plan of healing. The following four steps were very helpful to me:
Step One: I used the power of prayer. In the New Testament, Christ gave council to “pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5: 44) It was obvious I needed to get busy and follow his direction. This first step led the way.
Step Two: I needed to overcome my pity party and the taste of bitterness within me. I wrote heated letters and then burned them so angry words could not fly about as the plundering, black raven. I also walked and talked to myself like a comrade of valor regarding my problems, which helped expel the miseries.
Step Three: I learned to mentally jettison my problems. I took advice from a wise man who said he would stand on an imaginary bridge and watch his problems float down a river until they were out of sight; this cleared his troubled heart that previously had reeked with resentment. I, too, built a bridge in my mind and visited it a number of times and said to myself, “Girl, see the river below the bridge. Now take your time, no hurry here, quietly watch your problems gently bob up and down as they silently float far away and disappear into oblivion.” This exercise became an enormous help.
Step Four: I used a “Chart of Truth” which became an amazing implement. On a blank piece of paper I made three columns. On the left side I listed my views, on the far right side were the views of others. In the middle column I drew from the right and left sides the valid accuracies (leaving out the yucky garbage), which proved to be the real “truth” and a fabulous working compromise.
I am grateful for the lessons learned from the experience. My soul is healed. One fact became very clear: hatred does not serve us well. It is like a robber in the night that steals away our self-esteem. Now I know it’s much better to live in the light of kindness and forgo the darkness of ill feelings. Yes, prayer led the way and I am very grateful. Also, the other three steps of healing I worked through assisted me to be forgiving toward others, to appreciate their goodness, and to come to have compassion for those who hurt me.