Sometimes in life we come across folk who seem to react instantly and badly to things that happen or that they think have happened. Don’t we?
And the fact is that we have probably all, or at least most of us, done this at some time or other in life.
And in truth it is a behavior which we see in most toddlers.
Won’t they (and we when we were younger), at one point or another have done this – thrown their toys out of the pram?
When it first happens most parents will; bend down pick up the toy, brush it off/clean it, and give it back to the toddler concerned.
Sometimes, of course, the toddler sees this as a being fun. So naturally they throw it out again, and often the parent will repeat the whole returning process.
But of course with human nature being what it is, the more this happens the more rewarding it becomes for the child and equally the more frustrating it becomes for the parent.
So the process reaches a point where the parent cottons on to the fact that it has become a game and so – not wishing to reward the child or encourage it and allow it to become a learned behavior – they simply warn the child (if the child is old enough to understand) or simply refrains from returning the toy to the child.
It is, I think we would all agree, a perfectly natural and common place event in childhood and parenting is it not?
But what happens when it isn’t a child involved? What happens when it is an adult and not toys out of a pram but people out of a relationship? And what happens when the learned behavior is already their and that person – being discarded – is YOU?
I am, I think, many things to many people. Different people see me in different ways and that again is, I think very natural. To some I come across as very approachable and very caring. To others – or so it seems – I come across as detached and uncaring. To some the practical joker and yet others a very serious, deep thinker.
Actually, I can even remember one time when I was standing next to a lady in church – whom I had known casually for some months but never ever really had a cross word with or any long or noteworthy conversation with – when she turned to me and said, “I have to tell you Kevin, you really scare me. I just find you so intimidating.”
I have to admit that I was both stunned and somewhat surprised by the revelation and how it seemed to come out of absolutely nowhere.
I also have to admit that I was very saddened by that revelation. After all, it isn’t as if I am some sort of Ogre
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that I am a big guy. Actually a very big guy and I accept that my size can make me a little intimidating.
I also understand that the way my mind works I am often deep in thought and do on occasion – either as a result of my schizo-affective disorder or my Aspergers – sometimes respond more deeply (or conversely say simply things) which others would perhaps hold back on.
But none of these are intended to push people away or intimidate. And neither of them demonstrate how deeply I do care about people.
Actually, I personally think that it is something that people often get very wrong about folk who experience mental health struggles and especially those of us who have Aspergers. They somehow think that we just don’t care or do not have emotions on the same level that they do.
The truth is of course, – or at least in my experience the truth is – that they are very wrong and we do care – sometimes more deeply than others may – we just demonstrate it and process it in different ways.
Not least of all because it means that you can no longer show them the love that you have to offer and which in a lot of cases they actually need.
It is of course quite natural to say, “Well good luck to you then. If you don’t need me or my love then who cares?” But the fact is that deep down inside, perhaps under the initial hurt, we do still care don’t we?
And to accept anything else, to stop loving that person, to allow our focus to be on any hurt, to allow those hurt to become bitterness and to fester is unhealthy for them, for us and as Christians to our faith.
No, I am convinced that the truth is that when this happens our loving them doesn’t have to stop. The only thing that stops is their ability to see and fully know how much we love them perhaps.
So instead this is when our love, which by now admittedly probably has a greater cost to us as we need to surrender those hurts, needs to take a different form and to be offered solely in prayer.
And whilst it is true that prayer should have formed part of our love for them all along, it is in the surrendering of those hurts – in the heartfelt love and caring for the person who has caused us that hurt by rejecting us – which will also guard our heart against bitterness.
And that in turn allows our doors to remain open for when they have calmed down or seen things differently – perhaps more clearly. And in so doing – to allow for the healing that needs to take place.
Why am I blogging about this now? Well because a couple of days ago this happened to me. A misunderstanding caused someone, someone I have known but a few days and yet already care so very deeply for, to throw me out of their life and to close the door on my love.
Did it hurt? Yes very much so. But as I have said, it is at times like this when our love must take a different form. Why? Because that is what love is and that is what I know God would want for and from us.