This may surprise a few of you, but I can be an irritable person. Moody frequently, and many know this, but I save my irritable side mostly for my family. They can’t escape me, and I am privileged to enjoy their irritabilities as well, so it’s a fair trade.
As a psychology/communications double major in college I took my fair share of family and interpersonal communications classes. A statement by one of my professors, Lawrence Rosenfeld, stuck with me. He said, “The reason your family is so good at pushing your buttons is because they are the ones who put them there.” It is in the early communal environment of the home and your initial intimate relationships with family that we develop our frustration triggers. It makes perfect sense, but learning this in the 1990’s did not cure my short-fuse tendencies.
I was in my thirties before I grew up enough to learn how selfish it was exploding and ruining family gatherings for everyone. After one too many early exits in tears, I decided my zero to 10 outbursts, which my sister coined “hitting a 10”, wasn’t fun for me either. I had become the go-to person to blame if conflict broke out because I was chronically the one responsible. So I developed the bottle method; when I felt offenses accumulating, I bottled them up, choosing to endure over react. If I wasn’t in the equation, then others could discover their own portion of responsibility.
Good strategy right? I can be a decent actress. They didn’t have to know how much I wanted to explode.
This strategy worked for a few years. I stopped being the instigator. My family enjoyed time together more. Unfortunately, the bottle method had side effects. I would return to home and nurse my wounds alone, replaying all the offenses in my mind. Eventually, the bite would lose it’s sting and I would let the offense go.
The final time this happened my mental replay of hurt went go on for almost a week. It wouldn’t fade. So, I placed a phone call to my parents and asked them both to stay on the line. I went through the list of infractions from our last visit. They listened calmly, empathetically, and apologetically. They helped me to a place of healing. But before the call came to an end, they shared lists of their own where they had exercised grace toward me and harbored no hurt. Because I had blocked giving them grace, I had no perception of receiving their grace which I highly desired!
There is such a thing as Grace Repellant. It resides silently in the heart. When you refuse to grant grace, you will never perceive the receipt of any. But as soon as you choose, “I will give out grace”, the next thing you know, perception awakens to grace falling from all directions. It is a marvel which has forever changed my vision of family dynamics, but it pertains to other relationships as well.
It is the same with Love. There is such a thing as Love Repellant. If you protectively guard your heart out of pain prevention, retaliation, or any other justification, you cannot perceive where love is already flowing into your life. But in choosing to give love, the lid must come off. When the lid is off, you are open to receive and your tank fills.
Jesus said, “ . . . Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? . . . ” (Mark 8:17-18)
It’s as if you are naturally deaf until you decide to sing. But when you sing, the outgoing opens the pathway for the incoming and hearing becomes possible. Oh, to receive hearing simply because you chose to sing!
Are you repelling grace or love by refusing to grant grace or love? Do not permit grace repellant or love repellant to prevent your receipt of blessing. Pour forth grace and love for your own sake!