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Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.
Proverbs 27:19 As in water face reflects face, So a man's heart reveals the man.
Recently I was aware of experiencing several points of anger and began to inquire into them: “What am I so angry about, Lord?” The understanding I came to was that there had been several incidents that hit my regard button. I recognize regard as one of my sensitive areas, having experienced lack of regard in my growing up environment, where there was little hearing of heart issues. Heart struggles were met with impatience or ridicule—not in an abusive way, but certainly in a dismissing way.
I worked through the current incidents with the Lord, got back to clarity about His regard and perspective, and so could let them go, with no perceivable heaviness left in my heart. Processing regard issues is something I have done more than once! These instances, however, began to stir up a wider awareness. I had thought of it as purely my issue and one that I need to have discernment and wisdom about processing when it occurs. Mind you, the incidents I am talking about actually were disregarding. They were not my sensitivity or imagination. Nevertheless, they need not be used to rob or work disruptive influences in my heart.
This time I started reflecting on the influence of disregard and all the faces of it, and that it certainly is not an issue impacting only me. I began to see how much of the anger I hear in others in counseling settings is caused by disregard, when you get right down to the feeling that is igniting their anger. Often people argue over facts, when in fact the issue is that one or both feel disregarded by the other—not heard, acted against in some disregarding way, left out, not considered or consulted. Many people are very reluctant to say: “You hurt my feelings.” Instead a case is made to prove fault. Then the person hearing their case gets defensive and the argument escalates until both are weary and hopeless of any productive outcome and break off the effort to converse.
Then I thought of how prevalent this issue is in the church and how many instances of it occur there. I could probably go so far as to say that there may be no one in the church who is not impacted by the hook of disregard and its resulting anger. Very few, perhaps, have settled all the lodgings in their heart of lack of regard. If they are not resolved, they have other outcomes—withdrawal, a guarded demeanor which is often misread by others, criticalness over issues that are not the direct cause of the anger but merely trigger it. In a word, the buildup that surrounds disregard greatly complicates our relational lives, providing many snares that often are not traced to their actual causes. The causes have been minimized, forgotten, or hidden away in an unresolved state. In that condition they leave sensitivity and protection waiting to be hit, and, since we see the hearts of each other so poorly, it is practically inevitable that a direct hit will occur. I saw that the whole issue of disregard is a massive one on the human scene.
Continuing to reflect on this, I realized that the element of the fall that has to do with operating “chiefly in the mind” guarantees that we will feel disregarded about our emotional lives, as the message to our heart is: “Feelings don’t matter and should just be ignored.” Ignored means hidden away, but there is no way to hide emotional energy without it having some continuing influence, usually negative, as it comes out sideways instead of directly acknowledged in a way that has hope of resolving and reconciling. At the very least it needs to be reconciled with the Lord! It may be that others will not discuss it with us, or will not discuss it productively, but He always will, if we can take off the lid and let Him in with His light and restoring grace.
I saw that by the time I see and begin ministering to people, their disregard pool has had many deposits, sometimes so many that they are very afraid to lift the lid. It feels like they will be overwhelmed by the size of the pool, or by the pain it contains. But the Lord lifts it an incident at a time, and attends the resolution, once we know how to let Him. One could say that a great deal of the ministry that follows hearing and responding to the gospel (the point at which our brokenness and captivity are addressed) is involved in helping believers empty their disregard pool, letting the Lord restore their sense of themselves and unite with Him instead of protecting against further disregard and store housing the accumulation of the past. Of course, as Christians, we “should not even have these storehouses,” but if we do not know how to process them with the Lord, they will inevitably be there.
Then I realized what great use the enemy makes of our storehouses. They can be easily tweaked, which will complicate any endeavor the Lord has of His children coming to One Accord. And they can be easily worked to produce condemnation, as people judge themselves for not behaving properly or not having the right thoughts and feelings toward others. These issues can therefore be used to separate believers from the Lord, or prevent connection in the first place, because they believe they are not doing it right and He is displeased with them—that’s our internal logic. His offer to be with us in whatever condition we are in rarely overrides our internal logic, unless there is some effective ministry to access His perspective and the power it has to restore our heart.
I marveled at how prevalent the regard issue is in our lives and all the faces it has in our relationships. It complicates them mightily, until we process the instances of disregard with the Lord (and ultimately with each other), which turns our anger to wisdom, compassion, patience, even kindness in the face of disregard because we come to share the Lord’s heart toward us and therefore toward others.
You never know what the Lord will show you when you begin asking: “What is going on with me, Lord?”