When people hurt me, my first response is usually to become shocked, angry, and a desire to get back at that person in some way. You hit me, I hit you back, is the way toddlers fighting over a toy deal with conflict. And it's not limited to young children. Wars have been fought, divorces and relationship breaks happen, and neighbors squabble.
Of course, when Jesus came on the scene, He taught us to change this kind of behavior. Love your neighbor as yourself, forgive seventy times seven, and bless those that persecute you. This is not typical human behavior, and no matter how hard I try to do it, I just don't have the strength sometimes. I'm so thankful that I can ask God to help me, because without His help, I'd be like the little toddlers slapping each other silly!
Lately, it seems like God has been giving me a lot of practice in showing grace, or blessing those who hurt me. When my kids rage or are dysregulated, I have a choice to either get all angry and lash out, or calmly wait until the storm is over before I guide them to a better way of handling their fear or anger. Guess which way works better in helping them to act more socially correct? Kids with RAD often lash out at the mother figure. It's not easy to react with love, peace, and playfulness when a kid is throwing things at you, hitting, or yelling profanities. Now, my kids have outgrown some of the most difficult behaviors, and the rages are a lot less frequent, but I still have plenty of opportunity to practice grace.
I had a chance to show grace today with Birthmom. I have plenty of reasons to lash out at her. She pickled the kids' brains, neglected them, and kept them in an abusive situation. Unless God heals, they have mental and behavioral scars that will last the rest of their lives. They've had to work so hard to overcome things that children should never have to worry about. When we first got the kids, Birthmom called CPS on us, saying I beat the kids up. Actually, I was the one with bruises! We then had an inspector coming to our house, which still gets my heart going after all these years. And lately she hasn't wanted much contact with the kids, even though she had raised their hopes. I could try to retaliate. But nothing can make up for the heartache the kids, our family, and I have had to go through because of the choices Birthmom has made. It's sad. Really sad.
So today I brought some bread over to bless Birthmom and the family during a surprise visit. The kids got to see her and there were hugs all around. It's interesting how, when I bless someone who has hurt me, my heart changes and I feel love towards that person. I still have boundaries. I can't be stupid about trusting someone who isn't trustworthy, but the love is there. And when I show love to someone who doesn't deserve it, I'm better able to receive God's love. Because after all, I don't deserve His love either. I fall so short. But He loves me anyway.