Letting Go of the Temptation to Dismiss, Blame and Minimize the Harm We Cause
By: Cassi Cox
I will never forget the moment I truly came face to face with the impact of the worst decision that I ever made.
It was YEARS after. More than a decade after I had selfishly acted out of my own trauma, chosen the defense mechanisms I had built out of a desperate attempt at self-preservation- THAT was when reality hit me like a ton of bricks.
I hurt someone that I loved.
I know that we throw around the phrase “I hurt you,” pretty easily these days. We use the wrong tone of voice, choose the wrong words, misspeak, miscommunicate and wholeheartedly admit, “I hurt you.”
But I HURT someone. I hurt them in a way that changed them. I hurt them in a way that created defense mechanisms of their own; a catalyst, a ripple, a snowball.
At the time I didn’t even say, “I’m sorry.”
I made excuses. I justified myself. I had EVERY reason to make the decision that I made, after all. I was young. I was unsure. I was confused. I was scared. I was…..
I was focused on myself.
And that is the whole damn truth.
For YEARS, I made excuses. They were fine, it wasn’t that big of a deal. God removed them from my life for a reason. I was on a different path. This was “God’s will.” God knew what he was doing when “He made this happen for a reason.”
“We all sin,” I said. “We all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” I chanted it to myself. I’m forgiven. Christ’s blood covers me. It. Is. Finished.
How inexcusably selfish of me, to use God to justify my hurting of one of his children! To take the gift of Christ and use it to excuse the very thing he came to earth to eradicate. Jesus died to bring Heaven to Earth and here I was, using that very sacrifice to justify acting out of my own self-preservation. I used the selflessness of Christ to minimize my own selfishness. To allow myself the comfort of closing my eyes to the devastation I had left in my wake.
More than a decade later I sat at a kitchen table listening to a recollection of years gone by. Conviction gripped my soul as I heard anecdotes that clearly traced back to my sin. My harm. They weren’t saying it. They weren’t blaming me, but I saw the thread woven throughout the stories of fear, pain and loss; the evidence of wall built and trust damaged, the remnants of my choices lingering.
Forgiveness. It’s such a complicated concept.
There is a song that I used to love.
“I’m forgiven because you were forsaken. I’m accepted, you were condemned…”
Now, I don’t love it so much.
Why should I be accepted? I am the one that caused the harm. I need to own it, not pass the buck to Christ.
To simply say that Jesus forgives, allowing that to cover our interpersonal sin is NOT to love our neighbor. We have to own it. The only real way to love our neighbor as ourself is to be willing to OWN our shit.
To truly love our neighbors, we MUST be willing to look them in the eye and say, “What I did to you was not okay. There is no excuse, and it IS that big of a deal. I am sorry- with everything in me.” Then, expect nothing. You aren’t owed anything by those you have hurt.
You aren’t owed forgiveness.
You aren’t owed a relationship.
You aren’t owed a celebration of the good times and a minimizing of the bad.
You did the thing.
I did the thing.
Be Bold. Live Out Loud.