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If you have this book - I'm talking about a story taken from chapter 14 - Process of change.
Its strange how I reread this story from the past - someone had asked me send it to them. It was in a book that both of us had read, and she had lent her's out - but needed the story for reference on a project she was doing. It kind of reminded me of the style Jesus used in the form of parables. How he told stories of characters, and how they turned their lives around...or what happens if they do not!
Now that the story is fresh in my mind I will paraphrase it. It’s an interesting story to me! In a way it is a story of repentance and penance I guess could say.
One neighbor had this awesome tree that they loved in the backyard! It gave them all kinds of shade in the summer, and the leaves were awesome when they turned in the fall. It was an old great tree - I don't remember the type. I guess they had a next-door neighbor that loved his lawn and his garden, but that tree caused way too much shade in his yard for it to grow to his liking. He asked the neighbor to cut it down or prune it. They neighbor told him any branch that was on his property to go ahead and cut, but they loved their tree and didn't want to make it less than what it was on their side of the property. That royally ticked the neighbor off, and when they family left on vacation he went into their property with a chainsaw and cut the tree down. He left it on their property making sure it didn't harm their house, or lay on their side so that he didn't have to clean up the mess either! Can you imagine? OUCH! Anyway, the guy went home all satisfied with himself...the tree was GONE and his lawn could now grow the way it should.
As you can imagine the man had second thoughts afterwards! How was he going to handle the neighbor reaction? What are the other neighbors going to think of him? How can he deny his actions? What is going to happen, and how can he get away from what he done! Not so sure he could get away with that in my neighborhood...LOL but that is a different thing! The author asked the group of people he was counseling to listen to the steps this person may have to take to make up for the action he did, and also acknowledging the pain that he had caused this family over their lovely tree!
He had to admit what he done was wrong, and he needed to not make it sound like blaming or his acts were justified to a point! You know like, "Yeah I did it, but it was an ugly tree anyway!" He shouldn't say that someone else did it, and what a shame and all that. He needed to admit that he had cut down this impressive and pretty tree that his neighbors loved, and make no excuses about it! Stop saying, "YES I cut down that ugly thing!" You know the attitude!
When he finally admitted to his wrongdoing he should NOT make excuses about WHY he did this! You know like, "Well I was drunk when I did it!" Or, "I wasn't in the right frame of mind - I was enraged by that stupid tree so I cut it down!" In other words stop making excuses and be true about your motives at the time! He did this on purpose and stop blame shifting onto something else! We see that all the time on the news don't we?
He needed to give the neighbors a heart-felt apology. Not one filled with, "Well I was VICTIMIZED by the shade, and they didn't want to do anything about it! Anyway I'm sorry I did it!" BLECK! We see this all the time also don't we?? The icky BUTS in life!
He needs to own and acknowledge the fact that the neighbors were hurt and angry over this act (with his apology)! That they have the right to these feelings! He has to own the pain he caused without a tone "Well its just TREE for goodness sakes! Get over it already!" Apologizing is important of course - and he would need to do that - but downplaying the damage he had done doesn't show real sincerely now does it? He needs to be sincere, and I guess empathize with their pain, and own the fact that he caused it...no excuses! People do try to shift a bit of the uglies off them don't they at times??
He needs to accept the consequences of his actions! It could be replacing the tree, or facing the criminal charges that could be brought against him! If charges are brought against him to NOT fight it, and deal with what happens next! You hear all the time about how people whine afterwards to others to gain sympathy, "OHHHHH this tree caused me so much money! I'm broke now and I can't even afford anything just because they couldn't trim the stupid thing down so it didn't wreck my yard! Wahhhhhhhh!"
He needs to devote his time and efforts to make amends for his action! There is no way he can make the tree come back, or erase the effects of losing this tree due to his actions.... but he can do others things! Maybe go out and buy the biggest tree he can afford! Go to the neighbors house, plant it, water it, feed it, protect it...keep doing this for years because new trees as we know take a while to get established! At least from my experience...I know maybe I am asking too much of the neighbor huh? I'm not so sure!
Even if the man took all the steps he should with sincerity - the neighbors might still be left with pain over his actions. The man can't demand they change those feelings just because he corrected what he did to the best of his ability! He can't tell him how long they should feel bad, since he is the cause of this after all! The neighbors in time may begin to act nicer to him, but that doesn't mean they will like him now! He can't demand that! He can't demand, "We need to be friends now!" afterwards even if he did take all the right steps! He should view their forgiveness towards his actions as an act of kindness, and NOT something he is OWED for replacing their tree and doing what is right! I guess what I'm saying is attitude! He isn't entitled to anything in that legalistic manner!
He needs to treat the neighbors with respect from then on! He can't five years down the road decide okay now its time to go into their yard and axe down their rosebush and then say, "HEY! I was good for 5 years! How about some credit for that! I'm not perfect ya know!" I know a silly example, but you get the point! Asking someone not to cut down the rosebush is not the same thing as expecting perfection here is the point!
He needs to own the negative reactions of the rest of the neighbors towards him over this "cutting the tree down" act out of just plain being mean! He can't go around saying, "Well you know how they are! Can you blame me?" He was the creator of this hostility towards him, and he needs to acknowledge that just because he disliked the neighbors and their tree - that had nothing to do with his actions and the damage he caused. He needs to stop being a bully!
Okay I have you an insane example I know. LOL but its the spirit of the attitude is what I am trying to get across here! Anyway, the author read everything above in much more detail to a group of people he was working with. He asked them, "Do you disagree with any of the steps or comments, or actions I have mentioned?" I guess all the people felt that it was reasonable and right and very necessary...as long as you are talking about neighbors and trees he found out later! When he started to apply these to their lives, and how they treat family members or others close to them...they started to backpedal a bit! You see they were in that group because of awful actions they had taken towards those people. He was trying to get across you need to change yourself, and stop blaming everyone under the sun in order to do it! The sad part was that most wished to own their "moldly mattress", and just maybe throw a blanket over it and carry on with life as usual. Lets just cover what I did, because I don't want to be that man in the story...you are asking too much from me. That is just too much work. Can we go on now?
I think we all can relate to some aspects of this. The story went on for pages, and devoted chapters to forgiveness, repentance, making up for the ickies, and in the end change. It almost dissected every portion of this story. It was a story I had long forgotten about, and was an interesting way of looking at things.
Alot of people tend to skip certain steps, or make excuses as to WHY they shouldn't! Others will accept their blaming, or diverting because its to much work to hold them accountable! If the tree family asks for support in encouraging Mr. Chainsaw to do what he needs to do to make up for the wrong - alot of times they don't really get it in any true form! Maybe you should just leave it alone now! He could get upset and make matters worse! I'm not saying the tree family shouldn't leave their bitterness behind, and move with life okay? We all know they should! Its the fear of accountability that seems to be lacking. As we can see from the above example when that happens it seems to get bigger and bigger! We never truly encourage people to finish the job anymore! Shortcuts are acceptable! They aren't to Jesus I don't think, and I don't think that was his message while he came to earth to show us, teach us new ways - or enforce old ones.
Anyway this story not only showed me how abusers deal with things, but also how most of us tend to 'own' parts of that also. We either skip a step or two, or enable others when we don't encourage them NOT TO!
Dear Lord help me to be the right type of person that you would have me be! Help me to teach my children, and for us to show others how it should be done by what you wish of us! Please forgive us when we fall short, and we will God! Thank you for loving us anyways. Thank you for the forgiveness you have offered us! Thank you for being in my life, and having such a huge impact! Please help me grow beyond what I am now, and help me find ways of showing your love to others so they may follow and do your will as well!
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