This is a guest blog by someone I have known for nearly 35 years. She is an amazing woman, a best friend, and…MY WIFE, Zerrin Oelze!
Jon Gordon, in his book The Positive Dog, talks about two imaginary dogs within us: one positive and one negative. Gordon explains these two dogs often fight inside us, but the one that wins is the one we feed the most. We have a choice in which dog we are going to feed!
I watched the final game of the World Cup this week. No doubt many of you did as well. I must confess I have not been a huge soccer fan, but it is growing on me. Every time I watch I am amazed at how the players keep moving/running the whole game. It looks exhausting. Statistics show a player may run as many as 9 miles during the game! (That’s compared to 2.72 in Basketball and 1.25 in American Football – just in case you were wondering).
In times of war there is something known as Rules Of Engagement (ROE). According to GlobalSecurity.org, they are “directives issued by competent military authority which delineate the circumstances and limitations under which United States forces will initiate and/or continue combat engagement with other forces encountered.”
Recently I thought married couples should be practicing rules of engagement when it comes to interpersonal conflict!
Here are 8 Rules of Engagement to ensure you’re always fighting fair:
Why forgive? The easiest answer is to say because we are told to. Ever since we were kids I remember being told things like: “Say you are sorry,” or “Tell her you forgive her!” And as far as God went, we were supposed to forgive others just like He has forgiven us. Unfortunately that was the gist of what I heard. Numerous questions remained.
In this last series of blogs, I have done my best to answer a number of questions and share my heart on the topic of forgiveness. In this last blog on the topic, I want to refer back to an earlier work on the subject where I approach this topic of WHY. Why forgive? What is the ultimate purpose in God forgiving us and in turn, you and I forgiving others?
Why me? Why do bad things happen to good people? If God is good, why does He allow the horrible injustices in this world? These ageless questions have been asked no doubt for as long as man has existed. I have asked them myself. You probably have as well. Though God alone knows the greater story, we can gain some insight if we are willing to look beyond our pain or the injustice and consider the very purpose of our existence. What part might we play in His greater story?
We all long to have impact. We want to make a difference in the life of another. What if this is one of the greatest experiences to be had in life?
Every time it happens–someone cuts me off in the road, I get cheated out of some money, or someone treats me rudely for no real reason–I bristle and sometimes worse than that. Why did they do that? What right do they have? That isn’t fair! I am going to…
Usually before going much further, I stop. But the anger is still there. Too often, forgiveness is far from my mind. Instead, I want to hurt back in the way they hurt me. More thoughts come to mind: It would serve them right. Who do they think they are anyway?
The plain fact of the matter is I didn’t WANT to forgive him. That was the conclusion I had come to and had to be honest about with myself and God. I simply didn’t want to. He wronged me and I just wanted to move on. He did what he did and I was out of there. Why think about it anymore?
That is where I found myself time and again when faced with the idea of forgiving the one who had wronged me. I knew the words of Jesus: “if you do not forgive, neither will My Father in heaven forgive you,” but again, I just didn’t want to think about it, so I focused on other more important matters, or so they felt.
When couples come in to my office I never know what kind of story I will hear. Often it is one of great hurt because of a wrong done by a spouse. As I listen, one thing becomes clear every time. The person is at a crossroads because of the wound that was inflicted. What was done to them has the power to destroy. Whether that destruction is fully released depends largely upon the person’s response to the wrong done.
In order for one to overcome the wounding that took place, acceptance of the wrong done must take place as I wrote about in my last blog.
As I wrote in my last blog (Step 1), when we are wronged we will experience all kinds of emotions. Naming those emotions and understanding why we are feeling them is part of the journey to forgive. Doing so has the settling effect of untangling our internal thoughts and reactions. It moves us forward towards the next phase which is acceptance.
Our Response to Hurt
Our tendency is to fight whenever we are hurt. Sometimes we quickly hurt back to get even.
Sometimes we fall into a rut of asking endless questions: “Why? Why did you do this? Why did this happen? Why me? What did I do wrong? What did I do to deserve this?”
Shame. Anger. Self-doubt. Fear. I am well acquainted with these emotions that come and go in my life. When I trace their roots, I find they are often associated with several people in my life who have wronged me.
Most days I think I have forgiven them. But some days I still wonder. I don’t always want to be around them. I can’t say I always like them. I pray for them at times. I wish them good and not evil–for the most part at least.