I will never allow myself to be so naive again! I thought angrily as I wept. Never again!
One week before, my husband had walked out, never to return. My world was turned upside down and I, a conservative Catholic, became a divorced Catholic. A statistic. A member of a group I wanted no part of. I proceeded to adopt the idea that cynicism was the only way to protect my heart from future hurts. I chose suspicion, disbelief, and skepticism as my protection, the exact opposite of what Christ’s sacrifice on the cross exemplified.
My ex-husband had lived a double life our entire marriage. Most of our friends knew all about it and never said a word to me. You can imagine how humiliating it was to be the last one to know. My wounds were so deep I just couldn’t imagine being able to trust anyone ever again, which led me to make that very resolution… I would never trust anyone again.
If you’ve been through a divorce, my scenario is probably quite familiar to you. Pain caused by the betrayal of people you trust is devastating and it’s not difficult to understand this militant desire to never allow yourself to be vulnerable again. But, cynicism is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to being hurt. Vowing to be forever a cynic, to never trust again seems like the smart thing to do, but it stands to cause more problems than it will prevent problems unless you try to look at the situation with a supernatural perspective instead of a wordly view.
Being cynical is not really protection, it is just a false sense of security. Even though you might proclaim you will never trust anyone again, the fact is you still do trust people, especially strangers. Disagree? Well, consider these examples: when you board a plane, you trust the pilot – a stranger – will fly you to the destination you selected when you paid for your ticket. When you deposit money in your bank account, you trust the bank administrators – strangers – will keep it safe for you. When you are in the hospital and a nurse – a stranger – inserts an IV, you trust she is giving you the proper medication and correct dose. In each of these situations, you are trusting someone with something personal and valuable to you and only rarely is your trust betrayed. Your expectations are met and there is no harm done. This is the way God meant for us to interact with each other. So it stands to reason that building trust in others is a better option than burdening yourself with the negativity of doubt and suspicion.
Cynicism actually circumvents the possibility of happiness, not hurt. In the gospel of Matthew, we read:
He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18: 2-4).
So, what is it God is really asking of you? Is He asking you to be a doormat, letting anyone and everyone walk all over you and abuse you? No. Then how, you may ask yourself, can someone who has been betrayed so terribly protect themselves from future betrayal and still be able to love? The answer is forgiveness. Beholding those who have hurt you through the eyes of forgiveness is the key to maintaining love in it’s purest form, a child-like love.
You may be insensed by that idea, and it’s not surprising. Society preaches a “feel good” love; so as long as it feels good, love. When it doesn’t feel good anymore, stop. That is not love, for real love is most vividly displayed when things are difficult and painful, yet a person remains charitable; still seeks the good of the other, and does not allow anger to dictate his words and actions. It’s easy to look at someone who has hurt us and say, “That person doesn’t deserve my love,” but if we contemplate Christ on the cross… the torture, the whipping, the insults, the spitting, the pain, we realize that we don’t deserve His love. Yet, He gives it to us freely.
A friend of mine went through a divorce some years ago. His wife had packed up the kids and moved out without warning, and he suddenly found himself embroiled in a nasty custody battle that left him financially bankrupt. His response? He said his only goal – one that he worked toward each day – was to try to see Christ in his ex-wife. The world would call this man stupid. I say he’s evolved to a higher level of true love. If you truly want to find healing and peace in your life and move forward to a better place, ask God for the grace to forgive others, to find love where there is none. Ask God for the grace to love.
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