I've had the great fortune to be deeply insulted by someone. I was under the impression that my involvement in this person's life was helpful. However, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I had not helped at all. Not only had I not been helpful, I was told, but I had been hurtful.
I was called evil. I was told I was a hypocrite in both word and deed. I was told I wouldn't make it to Heaven. I was called a bully. I was told I have a personality disorder. I was told I have no character.
Of course, my initial reaction was defensiveness. I wanted to state my case and correct the author. I wanted to refute such charges. Instead, I chose to withhold my response and ponder the situation.
I shared my experience with those closest to me. They know my heart. They also know my ugly. I asked if this person was right. Was I really an evil person? Was I a hypocrite? Was I so focused on the riches of the world, I had forsaken my covenants? Was I a person void of integrity?
I mean, I could see how my strong personality could make a person feel bullied. But, the other claims were not as easy for me to swallow. I actually pride myself on being a person who is consistent in word and action. When I make a commitment to people, I keep that commitment to the best of my abilities. While Allen and I are financially blessed, we try to be as free with our blessings as the Lord has been with us.
As I mulled this situation over in my mind and heart, those who know me best assured me that I was not any of those awful things. They also knew the context within which I received these criticisms, and made sure I saw that that I was attacked because I had asked another to be accountable for his behavior. They helped me remember the erratic nature of this person even prior to this diatribe of insults, and that at no point had my efforts ever been received with gratitude.
Even though I had an answer as to why this other person could respond to generosity with such hateful sentiment, I feel that to walk away without having learned something about myself would be a waste of an experience. Surely I wasn't completely blameless in the situation.
My fault in the scenario wasn't in holding this person accountable. It wasn't in giving the service. My fault was expecting to be thanked for that service.
I really thought I was helping. I really thought I was creating a chance for this person to make some strides in life. And I thought I would at least get a thank you.
And there was my error.
I gave the service based on a spiritual prompting and was being obedient to that prompting. But, ultimately I was seeking the praise of man. I was hoping I would make a difference and be rewarded in the form of gratitude. I was hoping that this person would look back have fond feelings toward me and mine.
Allen and I have a rule about lending out our material belongings: if we would be mad if it never came back, we don't lend it out. For me, that is easy; I don't think twice about it. I value people way more than things. But I do expect a thank you. My pride wants the recognition of my service. I want to be liked. I want to be appreciated. I seek that from man. I seek that appreciation in my own family; I want them to see how hard I've worked and acknowledge the fruits of my labor. When I feel unappreciated, it makes me feel resentment toward those for whom I have provided service. I feel frustrated. But mostly, I feel hurt.
That right there is a complete recipe for failure.
When I give service, I need to do so without any expectations. I need to do it because I need to give. I need to give of myself, my time and all that I have without any strings attached.
If I never hear another thank you in my life, I should still be willing to give in the same way. I should do so because it is the right thing to do. I should do so because Heavenly Father is counting on me to help his children. I need to focus on what will earn me the praise of God.