I think all of us have spent time… a lot of time…. more time than we should have…. on a situation that is really beyond our control. Someone accuses us of something, they don’t like us, they badmouth us… and it hurts. Especially when the person doing this is someone you personally cared about, and someone that you wanted a relationship with. I’m not good at letting situations like this go.
When someone has it all wrong about me and tells other people lies about me, I naively think, “Oh, well that’s because they don’t know me yet.” There are times when I’ll try and show them who I am, I’ll get to know them, but all the while they are continuing to look for flaws, for things they can exploit or gossip about. It’s a hard lesson when I finally have to throw in the towel and realize that this person never wanted to get to know me and each time I tried to get close to them they burned me with their accusations, snarkiness, and hurtful words.
I think most people know this instinctively. But if you grew up like me (and many of you did) you don’t have this natural layer of self-preservation embedded in your psyche. Instead, you gravitate toward the people who treat you poorly, all in an effort to get to know them better. As you know them better, they show themselves to you again and again as the same nasty-spirited individuals who get off on the fact that they are hurting you. The more you try, the more they like it.
It’s sick, right? And if these people were strangers you might walk away immediately. But often they are friends or family members you want to have in your life. It sometimes takes me years to stop trying and walk away. I’m better about this, but depending on the relationship I don’t give up too easily. This is something God has worked on me with. He’s had to wrestle things away from me when instead I should have handed them over to him easily. It’s one of the many flaws I will probably always work on.
All of this is to explain a poem I wrote in my latest poetry book, My Soul Is From a Different Place. I finally looked back and saw what a waste all of that effort was. How much emotion was spent on someone that just didn’t care and didn’t want to care. This poem was about all those moments when I realized I needed to move on, and instead of spending time on people who don’t care I needed to start celebrating the ones that do. Maybe you can relate.
Waste of breath
to change the mind of someone
who tells lies about me
who never got to know me
who made up her mind about me
before we even met.
I could point out the facts
that prove she is wrong,
Instead, I will use my breath
to sing the praises of God
to speak truth
to whisper “I love you”
to the one who stands by my side.
Waste of thought
to wonder why you never liked me
to go over every step I could have made
that displeased you
to come up with yet another way
I can try for your approval.
I could continue thinking
about your terrible treatment of me,
Instead, I will use my thoughts
to meditate on the blessings of God
to create words and pictures
that champion beauty
to encourage others who
have someone like you in their life.
Waste of emotion
to cry over someone
who enjoys my misery
who doesn’t want reconciliation
who has evoked pity from those
who believe her false testimony.
I could cry for years and years more
over the brokenness of our relationship,
but I’ve done that already.
Instead, I will use my tears
to clear my vision so I can see you
as you really are
to wash away the hurt of everything
you have accused me of
to call up strength I didn’t realize I had.
© Cherie Burbach, “Waste,” My Soul Is From a Different Place, 2014
This poem is from my book, My Soul Is From a Different Place.