Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Sometimes when we get hurt, we act out.
Pain provokes us.
I've heard it said that the best way to get a grasp of someone's character is to view him under duress.
Seriously, though, it seems ungracious to condemn people for failing when they are under attack. Sometimes when we are attacked, we fall. This is a natural course of events. It is admirable to remain standing under attack. It is admirable to suck it up and be gracious even when someone has hurt you, but I'm not sure it should be expected or demanded.
At least, not the first time.
And therein lies the heart of it, for it is not an initial failure that defines our characters. We all fail sometimes. We all hit bumps that knock us flat. We all have regrets about how we handled ourselves in certain situations.
The question is not so much whether you were a "good enough" person to remain gracious in the face of hurt the first time it slammed you. The question is: what did you do thereafter? What did you learn from the situation? How did you resolve to change and do better in the future?
What have you learned from your failures, and how have you resolved to do better in the future? Now. That is a much better test of character than whether someone fell on an early try.
This is probably why people who have suffered are often the kindest and most gracious. God exercises and trains us through trials. I'm not sure He expects us to get it right on the first shot. Sometimes it is good for us to mess up, so we can have compassion on others when they mess up. This is not an excuse for behaving badly. We need to identify our bad behavior and plead for God's grace to help us change it. At the same time, it is valuable to remember that we, also, have at times behaved badly, and to remember how hard it felt to be in the situation that took us down, and to have compassion on others who also struggle and stumble along their way.
The true test of a person's character is not so much whether he can hold it together under duress, but rather what he learns from his failures in duress. The true test is whether he gets up, tells the Lord he is sorry, asks the Lord to help him change, and then tries again and does better.
These are the true marks of character.