Updated: May 23, 2018
It has been a couple of weeks since we talked. Taking care of myself is not as easy as I thought because my pattern of performing and taking on others' stuff are not so easily overcome. I will persist. I will attempt to do better.
As I continue to look inward and learn how to care for myself, I found a surprising place of unforgiveness. This source of unforgiveness wasn’t the usual suspects: those who have offended, slandered or openly blocked attempts at forward movement. Instead I realized I was angry at the passive spectators, the “don’t tellers”, the too-weak-to-speak-up ones.
In my quiet time I was confronted with some old anger – you know the kind you have lived with so long that you only notice it occasionally. I was angry at people who technically had done nothing. “Lord, help me to understand where this is coming from. They didn’t do anything…they just didn’t do anything.” “Why didn’t they do anything”? I wondered to myself. They were not strong enough; they aren’t the kind of people who confront wrong; they are …weak.
It’s easy to identify the source of anger and unforgiveness for the person who offended you, blocked a promotion, slandered you, misused or abused you. You go through the process of identifying, confronting if possible, forgiving and moving on (i.e., using the experience to learn about yourself, others and make necessary adjustments in people and their placement in your life). But what about the one who was holding the slanderer’s coat, or covering for the abuser, or who knowingly said or did nothing? What about the one who watched you bleed and looked the other way? They didn’t technically do anything, right? You’re right. They didn’t technically do anything.
Though they could have.
Perhaps your weak person was a parent: a father who technically didn’t do anything including show up, or a mother who didn’t protect you when she knew what was happening. Maybe your weak person was a relative or a spiritual leader who “didn’t want to interfere” with a wrong committed against you. Your weak one could even be a spouse who didn’t cover or guard you when you desperately needed it. You may have also experienced the weak response of a corporate manager who knew you were doing the work but continued to give credit to someone else. While whatever decision you make concerning those relationships is your own, for peace, we must also forgive those who were simply weak.
After the process of forgiveness for the perpetrator is finished, some of us may be wondering why we are still angry. Do you need to acknowledge your pain about the subtler betrayal by those who were too weak to speak up or stand up on your behalf? Yes, there will be challenges in moving forward in those relationships but taking care of you requires that you acknowledge that pain.
Even if the one who could have helped is no longer living, the act of admitting your own pain will help strip you of the façade that could one day make you weak to the cries of another.