In a church that Dave pastored, one deacon was a kindly older gentleman. He was always respectful in his conversation, and he supported Dave’s ministry at the church. I don’t recall ever hearing him speak an unfriendly word, even in our sometimes loud and vocal business meetings.
I became friends with this man’s daughter. We had lunch, went to conferences, shopped together–the things friends do. One day, over lunch, I mentioned how much I admired her father and how kind he was to our family. What happened next sent shock waves through me.
My friend’s face melted.
I watched as her face went from happy and smiling, to a total meltdown of grief, anger, and tears. Not sure why what I said had caused such a reaction, I kept silent and give her time to compose herself.
“If you really knew my father,” she bit out, “you wouldn’t say that. My father is the most cruel, vile, ungodly man I have ever known.”
Wait, now, what?
As I sat in shock, staring wide-eyed at her, she continued, “He treats my mother like garbage, constantly belittling her, storming past her when he comes in the house without the first word. More than once he’s thrown his dinner plate across the room because something on it didn’t sit right with him. He is an angry, angry man, and I almost hate him. And he treats me with the same contempt, as if he’s angry at my existence.”
I apologized–for what she was feeling, for not knowing, for her mother’s pain. Lifting her hand to silence me, she reminded me I was not the one who had caused all the pain, and I did not need to apologize, that she just wanted me to know that what I saw was not real–that her father was not the man inside that he showed the world.
I learned two lessons from that encounter.
First, I learned we don’t know the heart of a person. This man who had made such a positive impression on me was not at all the man he portrayed. I don’t know what had caused his angry responses to life, but the people who were the closest to him saw a hypocrite—a man who was evil in one setting and fake in another.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Does God see the same person the world sees? Do the people who should receive the best of you get shorted, while those on the periphery get a fraud who is trying to keep them from knowing who you really are? While I understand that the root of bitterness can grow in our hearts because of misdeeds against us, we should deal with life responses according to God’s Word and not based on how others treat you. The temptation to hurt others because others hurt you is great, BUT GOD… He is bigger than all hurts, bigger than our personality bent, and bigger than any reason we have to behave ungodly. Do you have unresolved anger and bitterness? I’m so sorry for your pain. Please call someone today who can help you give that over to God and allow Him to begin the healing process.
I also learned that we don’t know the pain in the soul of a person. As Christians, we should be ready at all times to offer comfort when we learn of another person’s hurt. Eventually, I got around to saying the right words–I’m so sorry for your grief and anger; I am here if you want to talk about this; can we pray right now that God will help ease some of this pain you are experiencing? These precious, aching souls will cross our paths, and it’s important to offer a comforting word, hug, or prayer.
What’s inside of you? Are you in pain? Does life just get overwhelming sometimes until you can no longer hide and the words spoken into your pain blow your facade apart? Do you have a friend you can call right this moment and let them help you through whatever is hurting you? Call them. I am praying for you at this moment.