Saturday, March 31, 2012

bad guys and good guys

Have you ever noticed that you tend to compartmentalize people into bad guys and good guys? I hope someone else out there does... or else I'll REALLY feel like a bad guy!

Every story you hear seems to portray people in this way - David and Goliath, Jesus and the Pharisees, Cinderella and the Step Mother, John Preston and Father, the Jews and Hitler. The good guys usually have some sort of flaw, but the bad guys are just BAD.

Life don't work that way. I'd like to propose that people mostly think they're doing the right thing as they do it, or at least that what wrong they're doing is excusable because it's one of the the least evil options that will let them get their own way... they don't acknowledge evil actions as "evil" so much as "well... but this is what's best for ME." Or think about Hitler from Hitler's perspective. Didn't he think he was doing the right thing for his country and humanity? I'd argue that few people do evil things that they regard as inherently evil, for the sake of doing something evil, because they enjoy hurting people. Most people are much too preoccupied with themselves and how to make themselves feel good to worry about how it'll affect someone else - for good or bad.

I try to believe the best about people. That they didn't know what they were doing or it was an accident or they were just having a bad day. This can mean I spend a LOT of time thinking about the actions of others for the sake of viewing it in the best light. Some people make this harder than others, like, for me, it's easiest with people I either don't know from Adam or who I am already very close to (funny how that works) but I digress.

I was deeply hurt recently by someone very close to my heart. I tried to explain it away, to make excuses for it, to see if I was overreacting... but no. It really was a conscious decision to deliberately deceive me on multiple levels with no intention of coming clean about it if at all possible.

Mom, I know you're going to want more details. Please don't ask me. I don't want to dwell on it any longer.

My point in sharing this is: what now? Do you get angry? Do you walk away never to speak to them again? Do you forgive them and pretend you didn't find out their secret? That's the other thing I hope I'm not the only one guilty of, and it's in the same vein - I desperately want to deal in absolutes. Either I forgive you and we're okay or you're guilty and I'll try not to hold a grudge but you are no longer part of my life.

But I tried to see it from their perspective. The deception was intentional, but what was the motivation? Unfortunately for my desire for absolutes, this is not the "best friend" who turns out to be Tony Stark's Obadiah. It's just a normal person who sometimes thinks it better to withhold the truth for the sake of their image or because they think their pursuit of pleasure and happiness will disappoint/hurt someone and lying about it would cause less pain than if they knew the truth. Clearly they weren't TRYING to hurt me, but rather the opposite... in a twisted, self-serving sort of way. The goal was not to make me feel bad... only to make them feel good. They were just trying to please themselves and probably trying NOT to think about the way the consequences would effect those around them. Is that loving? Is that considering others above yourself? No. But to say it's intentionally UNloving is misleading, and that's what I tend to do.

And unfortunately I imagine that's what happens in a lot of marriages that fail. It need not even be infidelity. It could just be, "He obviously doesn't love me. How many times have I told him to put his socks in the hamper??" You feel unloved. You've even given him the benefit of the doubt and EXPRESSED your frustration rather than expecting him to read your mind and KNOW that a guy should pick up after himself even after he's married. But from his perspective? He had a hard day. He was distracted. Probably thinking about YOUR cute butt swishing around as you cooked dinner downstairs! I'm not a guy, but I know cute butts take precedence over laundry.

Few things grieve me as much in life as people who take offense at harmless thoughtlessness and mistakes, which is why I try to see things in the best light. So sometimes you can't explain away the circumstances or exonerate them entirely, but I think usually you can rest assured that the pain you feel wasn't part of their plan. Whether they blinded themselves to the wrong they did or they really just didn't know, they didn't mean to cause you pain.

I'm not saying that makes it okay. I'm not saying they're in the right in what they did. I'm not saying it's not sin and inherently wrong to fail to act lovingly even at the risk of your own happiness. I'm not saying you aren't allowed to run from certain situations that endanger you mentally or physically... or guard your heart against the words of a friend who isn't always truthful. What I AM saying is that forgiveness can be a lot easier if you try to see the situation from their side. When I feel sinned against and don't forgive, it's easy to get angry and judge and say harsh things and... indulge in the same sin and become the "bad guy" who is just out for self-serving and concentrating only on how *I* want to feel. But that person who hurt me? They're not the bad guy... they just weren't very good. True of all of us most of the time, yes?


Daddy said...

Unfortunately, yes.

And unfortunately yes, cute butts DO take precedence over laundry.

I love you. Wish I could give you a hug.

knic pfost said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
knic pfost said...

spot on as usual.