Reverberation of Relational Rejection

One interpretation on the Garden of Eden story regarding Adam’s first sin was that he decided that though he knew he shouldn’t partake of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he did so anyway for fear that by his denial of the fruit, he would experience some form of rejection or loss of some level of intimacy with his wife, Eve, a created good.

Have you ever felt rejection in a relationship? If not, I’m suspicious. By the untrusting seed planted by Satan in the first sin of Adam and Eve, it is a common experience to feel rejected by another person, and it hurts depending upon how belligerently close you would like to be to the would-be rejecter. In talking with friends or family about a rejection experience, it is somewhat common for them to spout cliches like: “they don’t know what they are missing”, or “forget them”, or worse, and you should admonish them here, they will cuss out the other person.

In an experience of rejection by a girl in high school, though certainly confused and existing in a world of pain, I passed it off in an intellectual way that I was never willing to go as far as to accuse her of being mistaken or unkind. However, in my heart, I retained sadness, overly self-critical accusations, and fear; and lurking underneath the strong emotional output and fake acceptance was a simmering level of resentment and deadening sense of inadequacy. I am blessed that the rejections I have been a part of have come from a place of prudence rather than any level of injustice to me. Most relational rejections follow this mold, mainly because, as is referenced many times in scripture: “the door opens from the inside” as it were. People should have freedom in their relationship with one another.

Holding onto Grudges

In speaking with a group of friends about the readings for today’s Mass, the theme which came up over and over was this sense that holding onto grudges and anger is extremely dangerous. In placing those who we hold grudges against into this “debtor’s prison of the heart” from which the idea of them cannot escape or gain any credit, you enslave yourself to your own desires for vengeance in some form or another, and your ability to peaceably relate with others takes a severe hit. Not to mention, the Father will “hand you over to the torturers”, which should cause us to not be so belligerent.

Paraphrasing the way one of my friends put it: “The only satisfying solution in hurt is the one which requires you to forgive; every other path, though seemingly necessary in our concupiscible state, forms a closed heart loop from which nothing, including yourself, your ideas of others, and your affections, can often escape. It is better to, even if you are not correct, assume and desire action of good intent on the part of others and put yourself into a position where you are willing to see and accept the just judgements of others fully on their own merits”. If this is not accepted, or if it is, but only for the purpose of reaching your goal of vengeance; then you are in much more danger than anyone else in this equation. In your opposition to a just thing that has happened, you align you with Satan, who is always seeking vengeance on God because he doesn’t accept the beauty, goodness, and truth of reality.

Freedom in Accepting

In today’s readings, it is revealed to me that there is freedom in acceptance of the painful yet true judgements of others. There is a place of peace in settling into the relational position which is mapped out to you by friends and God’s will. In accepting this new position, I find that I can desire the good of others without making it subject to the satisfaction of my own expectations. It inspires me to grow in virtue and love of others. Though certainly still a possessor of concupiscence, and thus on a path which requires vigilance, diligence, and honesty, this endeavor can now grow in peace.

[Readings: Sir 27:30—28:7; Rom 14:7-9; Mt 18:21-35]

Matthew Kelly

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