Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
One of the most powerful forces in this world is positive momentum. Even it its smallest doses, God sees our efforts and He bestows His favor upon us. Recognizing the strength found in this blessing, the Holy Spirit nudges us closer to actions that are uplifting and righteous as we learn the discipline of perseverance. Nevertheless, the devil sees this positivity too and does what he can to interfere on our journeys of spiritual growth. Distractions arrive, tempting us with doubt, fear, and sadness. These distractions show up in the form of life’s circumstances, but they also come from the people we care about deeply – particularly those who choose to remain broken.
And it may feel strange to say – choosing to remain broken – when most of us consider brokenness as a response to trauma or the result of hurtful behaviors we’ve picked up along the way. Yet to stay in a state of sinful behavior is a choice. If we purposely forego the decision to embrace healing, then we are choosing to remain broken. We are creating a false ideology that says our shortcomings do not warrant immediate and actionable steps towards betterment. Sadly, it is this choice that has led to some of our deepest traumas and hurt towards others.
Managing Through the Grief
It goes without saying that accepting someone else’s choice to remain in a suboptimal place is quite difficult. We want them to change their behavior because we believe it will benefit them, and us too (if we’re being honest). The impact of their pain and attachment struggles brings darkness into our own lives. Whether it’s broken parent-child relationships, breakups, bullying, fractured friendships, or narcissistic behavior, we feel the loss. When we realize the only option we have left is to pray and distance ourselves, it’s not uncommon to enter into the stages of grief.
First, we go through denial thinking this really can’t be the case for someone we love or care about. Next is anger; we wonder why we’ve been subjected to such chaos. Then we arriving at bargaining. We hope to change their behavior with the right words or emotional pleas as we look for any sign that something is different. Depression follows when we realize that nothing has changed. We feel disappointment in knowing that our expectations to be treated fairly and kindly will never be met. And finally, if we’re lucky because it feels like luck, we accept.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t get to the acceptance part. We cycle between anger or depression because it’s hard to believe that someone would choose to remain broken. We pray, we ask God for change, but their character remains the same. We wonder what kind of person would forego healing? We think – shouldn’t I matter enough to drive some level of change? We then start to internalize their choices as a reflection of us, but they are not. Everyone has the right to choose, and some people choose self – at all costs.
Facing The Ego
We mustn’t underestimate the role of the ego, and the damage that it can do when our characters no longer reflect the fruit of the Spirit. If we go back to the garden of Eden, we can observe Eve’s ego becoming misaligned with the will of God, as Satan worked to convince her that she should have access to something God had forbidden. Her story is a reminder to us that when we remove God from our decision-making, we are officially off course. We sink deeper into the darkness, meeting well-intended feedback with criticism, defensiveness, and/or avoidance.
Our selfishness consumes us. We find no peace because the ego will not allow it. Instead, we hide behind words like “good intentions” because the truth about ourselves is much more difficult to face. We don’t want to admit that we’re holding onto our cherished sins by not seeking the help needed to rid ourselves of such hurtful demons. It is our selfishness that allows us to inflict hurt upon others while refusing to change. It is also our selfishness that expects others to change simply because that’s what we want. Sadly however, no matter which side of this situation you’re on, we all pay the price.
The Choice to Remain Broken
So, what did we do when we encounter those who choose to remain broken? If we look to the scriptures for an example of what Christ did, we find ourselves reading about the Pharisees. This group refused to acknowledge Christ as the son of God, without any real justification. Moreover, they were legalistic in their behavior, lacking the love of God in their hearts. Jesus rebuked them for their actions, even labeling them as hypocrites. Nevertheless, such speeches do not take up the majority of the four gospels. Instead, Christ’s miracles and His parables fill the pages.
When the disciples questioned Christ as to why He often spoke in parables, Jesus responded in verse 13 of Matthew 13, by saying: Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. He later says to His disciples in verses 16 and 17:
But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
The Choice to See
With Christ, the choice always remained with the individual. Everyone had the opportunity to accept His message, but some would not. Christ kept going, and we must too. Make no mistake – there will be those we care about who choose to only care about themselves. We can’t get lost in their brokenness. We mustn’t cave to those distractions, no matter how difficult. We are responsible for our own well-being, which may include seeking professional help or relying on your support circle.
Most importantly however, is that in the face of hurt, we can still choose to see God, and to accept the light He wants to give us. We won’t always be able to receive that light from others, but rest assured, God will give us strength for the journey. He will always help us to find a way to experience joy amidst what we feel has been lost. Be confident in knowing there are new doors to be opened, and unexpected blessings to be received.
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