Sometimes in life, we all are faced with difficult decisions and questions. One such question is, “Do I do for me or for another.” Often in therapy I encounter people who feel guilty and fearful because someone else reacted harshly and judged them unfairly for something they didn’t do.
One young lady told me she was invited by a friend to go on an all expenses paid (by her estranged father) trip to Las Vegas where he hoped to reconnect with his daughter. The friend said she wanted the young lady to go along so she could leave her father and go have fun. Initially, the young lady agreed, but circumstances changed which she had no control over, and she was not able to go on the trip. The young lady’s friend “lost it” and began screaming at the young lady and made her feel terrible. Eventually, the friend withdrew the friendship all together and the young lady was devastated that someone who she cared about would just “dump” the relationship and blame her for the consequences. The young lady had been living in an emotional jail cell -of her own making- because of the feelings of guilt that consumed her. I put things in proper perspective for the young lady, “You didn’t do anything against your friend. You did something for yourself. Your friend got upset because you didn’t put her needs before your own. She was selfish and blamed you for her hurt feelings. But you were not guilty of any wrong doing.”
The Bible warns us about being overly critical of others actions and judging them more harshly than they deserve,
1“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.
2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging
is the standard by which you will be judged.
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5
In a perfectly selfish world we would be able to ask and immediately receive what we want and desire. These unrealistic expectations in our relationships cause so much hurt and dissension because from our selfish perspectives, “If you care about me” you SHOULD put my needs first. But, as with everything perceived, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” meaning if you can have selfish needs, so can I; and YOU should want to put my needs first, “If you care about me.” So who wins? No one, both lose in this scenario.
The only way two people can get their needs met is to first identify their own selfishness, aka: The log in the eye. When you “see” your selfish request as the problem and not the person who is not allowing you to be selfish, then you can let go of that unrealistic expectation and respond lovingly toward the other. Grace that is freely given by the one doing the judging allows forgiveness to be received by the one who has been misjudged and falsely accused. Be kind, be generous, be considerate, and give grace to others. You just might find the one you let out of jail is you!