Recent cries for explanation accompanying the hurt, anger and turmoil when leaders, spiritual, political and parental let loyal supporters down through broken promises, selfish behavior or immorality. We’ve all known people who become discontent with a relative, minister, member or club leader quit attending worship or club. And even after the minister or club member moves away, they still didn’t return to church or club or family gatherings. Sustaining confidence in other leaders who haven’t violated commitments often comes into play as some disappointed followers, as the old saying goes, ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’. How sad to allow a problem from one to spoil older friendships along with positive involvements.
Mournful accounts are mixed with grief: “I’ve trusted this leader for years, given much money and prayed for him and can’t believe what I’m reading in the news. I’m just devastated. Who can I trust?”
Years ago, when our mom was in her 70’s and her older sister, Hazel who lived next door experienced the downfall of their favorite TV evangelist, they were shattered and grief-stricken. Around the same time, Jim’s Aunt in another state, also in their peer group, suffered tremendous stress when the evangelistic in whom she had placed spiritual and financial trust disappointed his viewers as his ministry ended. We were kept busy offering encouragement to these three faithful ladies listening to their woes without condemning their vulnerability. All three were also mad at themselves for contributing significant financial support over the years. Our task was to help them to forgive themselves.
There’s little value or comfort in placing blame with statements: “It happens all the time”,” it was his/her own fault” or “they’re just in it for the money”, “you can’t trust any politician, preacher or lawyer”, or use one-upmanship to tell your story which tops his, “let me tell you what I experienced one time”. Unsolicited advice such as “don’t let that bother you,” or “take it with a grain of salt” merely adds hurt to the betrayed. Victims of this kind of passive abuse need to tell their stories because for some it’s their only claim to fame. And in retelling their stories they eventually heal from grief. In the last year millions of all ages have experienced grief and loss in some way or another at the ‘hands’ of Covid-19 as well as in the political arena.
Losing confidence happens within families as well as inappropriate behavior of someone you love and trust continues. affecting families forever as the following cry illustrates: “I wanted my dad to walk me down the aisle, but since I’ve learned he’s been having an affair, I am uncomfortable involving him. My respect for him is in shambles. What should I do?”
Just this morning as I responded to a friend’s email regarding last week’s blog and included a brief preview of the current subject, she whipped back the following: “Oh boy, you hit a nerve. I could write a book about the people who’ve let me down. Those who should always support you are the hardest to have turn on you--your children. It totally erodes my sense of security and the ability to trust or believe others. I’ve found myself doubting and questioning those I should have trusted. It’s easier to just subconsciously let go of people. I tend to build walls so no one can hurt me.”
When the trust-factor is demolished, the betrayed yearn for comfort and peace. My goal today is to encourage any listener--family, friend or neighbor--and you--with simple guidelines in quietly restoring a disappointed person toward a positive, peaceful recovery.
No one has to live very long before experiencing broken promises from someone they depended on, respected and looked up to. Bad behavior by good people is never easy to accept. The duped is not only hurt but often questions their own judgment. Several interrelated ideas are: accountability, confidence, unconditional love and listening.
Soft hearted people who have to have harmony are prone to rationalize, “Well, they meant well,” or “He/she was influenced by their friends.” I’ve even had mates blame the influence of their mate’s divorced friends for the desire for a divorce.
Accountability is a very important character trait, one that has to be developed, developed and developed. Training in these traits begins as soon as a child begins to understand who they are and can demand what they consider theirs. We are amused when our two-year-old great granddaughter lets you know when she wants the chair you are sitting in. There will come a time when she’ll have to learn that she can’t always get her way (only when she’s with grandma).
Accountability-building was in progress when I was 9, and bent on finding and raiding Mom’s box of chocolates, I was caught red-handed. I had reason to be in Mom’s bedroom for my drawer of clothes, but being under the bed was suspect. No scolding or sermon ensued, but the experience has had long-lasting effects. Around that time, Mac and I were visiting grandma and in roaming around her big house spotted a sweet-smelling bowl of something cooling in the pantry, so we helped ourselves. We managed to pass through the pantry several times. We knew we were wrong and should ask. But we didn’t. But the prunes told on us. We were only loved, not punished or shamed. Adhering to a mature attitude begins early and requires non-stop patience and determination, especially if temptation from others, even siblings, beckons you continue in bad attitudes or behaviors.
But when an educated adult leader, who has gained the trust of many selfishly trashes accountability, invariably, innocents get hurt. Thankfully, we can all help in mending the shaky confidence of an injured person. Step one--is acknowledging the situation: “I am so sorry that you’ve been deeply hurt and disappointed in…” and then listen patiently to however the grieving person wants to vent whether in anger or defense of their deposed ‘star’--celebrity status--in their opinion. They may choose to cry. We may not have liked who they are disappointed in, but stomping on the evangelist, doctor, friend, relative, politician, minister, child, club member, star or race car driver becomes a double negative. When the story-teller asks how you would handle it, or asks if you’ve ever experienced being let down, this is permission to share your story and wisdom about how you would cope.
Step 2--is encouraging the injured to give their anger to the Lord. Mixed with anger toward the perpetrator, the deceived often become angry with themselves for allowing someone to become so important. They may question their discretion. Step 3--is forgiving themselves with unconditional love for being vulnerable or placing impractical expectations on another. This is just as important as acknowledging God’s unconditional love for us which is based on who we are and not on what we have said or done. Step 4--Listening to God’s voice through scripture. I’ll look forward to your comments and stories.
37 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matt. 22:37-39 NIV See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; I John 3:1 …and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph.3:19 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I Pet. 4:8 NIV Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. I John 4:11