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Punishing The Wrong Person

When we stopped at a gas station on one of our family trips between Portland and Boise, the attendant declared, ?You people must pay first before I can pump gas into your vehicle.?

I asked, ?But, how do we know we have to pay first when there is no display indicating so??

?You are the ones who are forcing me to demand payment before I pump gas,? responded the irritated attendant. ?We are from Boise, Idaho. I do not understand how we are forcing you to treat us this way.?

I said this to find out what we had done to deserve rude customer service.

?I have lost twenty dollars this morning. People just disappear before they pay. I want every one to pay first, then get gas.? This was said with a tone of finality. I apologized, paid first and got the gas.

The treatment we received from the attendant brought me to an important awakening. Why should people be punished for a ?crime? they didn?t commit? One logical explanation is that there has not been forgiveness and healing from the offended person.

Punishing the wrong person occurs more often than is recognized, especially in marriage.

In marriage, spouses often treat each other based on what they learned from their parents. In their book, ?Marriage Conflicts,? Everett L. Worthington, Jr. and Douglas McMurry state, ?The opposite sex parent usually provides a model of how the person?s partner should or should not behave within marriage, but the same sex parent teaches how to respond to a spouse?the same sex parent usually builds important patterns of rejection or acceptance.? They conclude, ?Often people in troubled marriages have been deeply hurt as children. They bring those patterns of hurt, and response to hurt, to their own marriage.?

Spouses who had been hurt in previous relationships tend to carry their hurt into marriage. What we need to know is that there are significant differences between a spouse and a father or mother. Also, your spouse is different from anyone you might have been involved with in previous relationships.

To enjoy the fullness of married life, as someone who had parents who devalued one another or who mistreated you, the first step is to forgive your parents. Lack of forgiveness prevents total commitment and enjoyment of life. You accept or reject your spouse based on criteria that may be irrelevant. You are letting your past be a stumbling block to your life, now and in the future. If someone has hurt you in the past and you let that hurt remain, you have literally given that person control of your life, then and now. Forgive that person, heal and enjoy life. Everett L. Worthington, Jr. and Douglas McMurry state that, ?Memories are continually reconstructed as we gain different perspectives on a past event. The Lord can enter into the memories to change them by giving new perspective, promoting forgiveness, or simply taking away the emotional distress.?

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