Has someone ever hurt you so deeply by misunderstanding you? Did you feel like their anger and their venom invaded your space? You work hard at keeping your peace about you and asking forgiveness. But nighttime comes and you find yourself ruminating over the situation, replaying the ill feelings the confrontation caused, and maybe even trying to validate and see them from their perspective. You wrestle with your own private search for clarity on the whole incident from your point of view. You awake in the morning exhausted because not only has this intruded on your thoughts, it seems that your very peace has been violated! This vicious cycle is exhausting! Your thoughts become such a burden that it becomes difficult to even breathe, much less go about your new day.
Even more importantly something is not quite right even in your soul; you feel confusion and sadness. Our tendency is to flee, to avoid or to fight. Good old survival mode!! Even prayer comes with difficulty, and connection to those we love becomes overshadowed by the unrest of our spirit and the cycling of our thoughts.
In his book, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, Elder Thaddeus talks about an old woman who told him that her neighbor was bothering her. She said the other woman was constantly throwing things into her yard. He asked her why she was always quarreling with her neighbor. But the old woman said that she never even spoke to her evil neighbor. The Elder insisted that she quarreled with her every day! “You are convinced that she is doing evil things to you, and you are constantly thinking about her. Let her do whatever it is she is doing, you just turn your thoughts to prayer, and you will see that it will stop bothering you.”
The Lord calls us to love our enemies, to pray for them. Not for their sake, but for ours! For as long as we bear grudges, as long as we dwell on how someone offended us, we will have no peace. So, we are not called to carry these grudges nor bear the resentment that grows within our thoughts and spirit. The Elder teaches us that the mind will attain peace when the Holy Spirit enlightens us with “the realization that the way to peace is the path of gentle thoughts, full of love and forgiveness.”
Their destructive thoughts need not be our way. Praying for them changes our hearts so that we can then let go of the situation & allow God to heal us both. This does not mean isolating ourselves behind our imaginary walls of protection and isolation. This means acceptance in humility the realization that we do not control the other person nor do we “allow them” to control our thoughts.
In humility and compassion we do not hide from our Lord but we run to Him. We pray for them in their suffering and for our freedom from this bondage. We put our trust in our Mighty God, the healer of all.
Note: If you suffer from negative thoughts that have become a pattern in your life, thoughts which are now causing disfunction and distress, you may want to speak to your Priest or MD, to guide you to a professional counselor if needed.