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Betrayals, good grief, those sure are painful, aren’t they? I now consider myself a professional, well earned at the school of hard knocks.  I’m a bit bruised, I’m telling you. My favorite is when you hit bottom and then take a deep breath as if to say, whew we’ve landed. At least we can’t plunge any lower. Then the floor opens up and oops, false bottom.

Now that’s a betrayal of trust.

Something I’ve been taking apart, in the Bible it says, “let your yes be yes and your no be no.” You can’t do that if you haven’t got any self control, a fruit of the spirit. Actively using addicts for example, well their promises often have less substance then the breath they used to say them.

When people don’t do what they say they’re going to do, that’s a betrayal of trust.

Don’t confuse “self control,” with people who can control themselves. Very subtle difference there, but control is rooted in fear, fruit is rooted in love. Sociopaths and other assorted evil characters can control themselves, because it benefits them to do so. So can terrified people. People in a state of fear or pain will often say anything to make it stop, so fear prevents your yes from being yes and your no being no.

Perfect love casts out fear. 

We don’t let small children sign contracts or allow people with major cognitive challenges to manage their own affairs. It’s a given that these people are unable to consent and to understand all the implications. So their yes cannot be a yes, their no cannot be a no, and we legally recognize it would actually be cruel to put an unrealistic expectation on them, one they cannot possibly be morally held accountable for.

That’s the legal side of things, but emotionally and spiritually I think the same concept applies. Various people due to their own toxicity, relationship dysfunction, lack of self awareness, fear, whatever, simply cannot practice the fruit of self control.

In other words, they cannot consent to my expectation that their yes will be yes and their no a no. So if they disappoint me, it’s because I’ve placed an unrealistic expectation on them. Let me clarify here, not a wrong expectation, nor a particularly demanding one, simply an unrealistic expectation in the sense that the person is incapable of meeting my needs.

Or perhaps put another way, I’m trying squeeze competency out of an incompetent. If someone is incapable of ruling over their own spirit, then I should grant them very little influence over mine.

The Book of James is beautiful and teaches us many wonderful things, but one that is significant in my life is why do you have strife, envy, conflict, relationship dysfunction? Unmet needs. Unfulfilled desires. Expecting others to do for us, what only God can. That’s a complete paraphrase by the way,  but that is what James has really taught me personally.

My needs are perfectly reasonable and valid, too. I just want to reiterate that point. What makes them unrealistic is only that I try to place them on people incapable of responding as they should.

Something I really loved from church on Sunday,  James calls us all adulterers. Why would he do that? Where is the good news in adultery? Ahh, because the accusation of adultery assumes there is a covenant relationship. God has a claim on us, He has an expectation, an investment, a contract, a marriage if you will. To be accused of adultery is by it’s very nature, evidence of belonging to Someone who has made an investment in you.

We are speaking of emotional betrayals, family, friends, churches, not necessarily literal adultery, but spiritual adultery. Adultery is a great analogy for the nature of  betrayals

I have a hard time managing this paradox between practicing the self protective bigotry of having no expectations of people what so ever, versus having some gentle expectations that are sure to crush my heart with searing disappointment.

Because we are an adulteress people, indeed.

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