Showing posts with label forgiveness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label forgiveness. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Living The Bitter (less) Sweet Life / when you've been hurt

Life is good. I could end right there. It's good.

Life has been good for me for awhile now. I've gone in and out of troubling scenarios with my kids or my health, but by the grace of God, I survive. I gain wisdom, understanding and strength. I'm way stronger now than I've ever been.  Not physically, but that's an whole other topic. But I know who I am and what I want more than I ever have. And I know who to go to when life seems off kilter.

Seems being the key word. Because the word "seems" usually parallels to the word "feels." And we know that what we feel in a moment or in a season may not necessarily be truth. Although, I do validate feelings, because they are real. You can't tell someone to not feel hurt or sad if they are hurt or sad, but the question is 'where do we go or what do we do with those feelings?' Is it possible to move on?

I wanted to share something that the Lord spoke to me recently that has helped me a ton to move on and live in freedom and really love people. I'm mean for real. Love them. It's super simple, yet chock full of wisdom.

Last summer, I was feeling yuck. I can't really put my finger on it. But I was feeling sort of hurt, offended,  and just overall sad. People were making me sad and it seemed as though I was living a life of being either let down or full on abandoned by people. It's sort of the unfortunate nature of the beast when you are a preacher's kid. And I just got used to it. People leave or people talk, and you hear about it. And if you let it, it can take a little piece of your heart every-single-time. And I was feeling weary and worn down of living the past 30 years this way. It can be rough. I was honestly just tired of smiling and hugging people or liking everyone's facebook status in my very best attempts to 'walk in love.' I was doing a pretty good job of pretending I was okay. I was letting it roll of me 'like water off a duck's back' as they say. Yet inside, I was one big Blahhhhhh! Ho-hum. Wah-wah.

I was taking a walk, talking to the Lord about it one day. I didn't want to try so hard to walk in love. I really didn't. I was tired of making the effort to love. What I really wanted was to genuinely love people. Friends, enemies, frenemies and naysayers. I really just wanted to be genuine when I prayed for people. I really just wanted to hug people and not feel burdened on the inside with bitterness or sadness. And I was honest with the Lord about it. I told him like it is and how I felt. Because really, who wants to live like that? It's a crummy way to go through life. And God is cool like that because he listens. And He tells YOU like it is back.

The weird thing is, I didn't even realize I was holding on to any bitterness. I honestly thought because I was doing my best to smile and walk in love, that this was enough. My very best effort to walk in love was equivalent to forgiveness, no? As I was talking to the Lord about it, He said "Why don't you forgive them?" Wait, what? But God, I liked their facebook status. I smiled at them at church. I hugged them. I waved when I saw them at the grocery store. I did my very best, didn't I?

To even try to walk in love in our own strength, in particular when we've been hurt, will never be enough to move on or feel happy or content on the inside. It's a nice try and your heart probably is in the right place when you go on pretending as if all is okay for the sake of your 'love walk.' But if you truly want to feel free to love, it starts with forgiveness.
By that I mean, speak it. Say it out loud. God, I forgive 'so-n-so" and I release any bitterness and all hurt I have felt because of him/her. I want to love that person like you love them, with your love. I thank you for going to the cross for me, I thank you for forgiving me and because of that I can and will let go of any hurt or  pain because of what they did or said and I will let go of any resentment I've harbored ...and I give it all to you.

I hate to say it, but I had lists. Things I didn't even realize were hurting me still. And I went through them one by one. People I loved, people I didn't care for all that much, anyone and everyone. I remembered situations I had let slide. I remembered things said that made me cringe and my stomach sink. The tears rolled. But I gave every last bit of it to the Lord and I forgave 'em all. And wouldn't you  know it, my heart is free. It's free from all the yuck. The sad feels. The irritable feels. The frustration. And I can love people authentically now.
If a new situation occur or things get said that make me want to crawl back into the hole of contempt, I remember what God said to me... "Why don't you forgive them?'

I told you, Simple...yet profound. And liberating. Stop trying so hard. Just forgive them. And love will be easy.

I want to challenge you now. If you are thinking of a person or people that you've tried hard with. You've smiled. You've hugged. You've let it roll off you, in sort of a pretense of walking in love. Maybe you forgot to give it to the Lord. Maybe you forgot to actually forgive them. Maybe, like me, you need to ask God for his forgiveness for hanging on to it and trying to do it all in your own strength. Do it now. Say it out loud.
God, I forgive them. I want to love them like you love them. I want to walk in freedom from hurt and bitterness. I give it all to you and from this point on I can smile and hug  and love with sincerity. I don't have to pretend any more.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Loving Them Well

I started writing this around Thanksgiving and seemingly got busy and sidetracked and never quite finished. Fortunately, I can say with some certainty that it wasn't too much of the 'holiday rush' that consumed me, but just having a family. And that's a good thing. It's a good thing to have people to love. It's even a better thing to love them well.

All year long, most of us pour our lives into our people... our families our friends. And this is unquestionably a season where we intentionally set aside time, funds and thought to others outside of our circle. During the holidays, we make an effort to extend that extra hand in particular those that are in need. It's what we are called to do at all times, to love. But as we celebrate the gift of Christ each Christmas, we are reminded to love and give to those around us. We go above and beyond. However, going above and beyond for many of us may just mean to start at learning to love the people in our lives better.

We live in this era when there is something to be said for just being there in that moment without having to document it for the world to see. There is something to be said for loving our people well...for no other reason than just because. Not for a photo op, not even to make ourselves feel better, but just because those are the people that have stuck by us, will stick by us and they deserve our best and our better most days.

Earlier this year, I really felt God tugging on my heart to step out of my comfort zone to love my people better. I'm a home body. I'm perfectly comfortable pretty much never leaving the house. I adore my friends and I love my family, but getting up and out takes work and energy.  Mustering up the words via email or a text or vox to let someone know I have their back when I wont actually leave the house to have their back seemed pointless. So I knew God was calling me to stretch a little and make sure the people who have laughed with me and cried with me knew that I loved them truly.

As the body of Christ we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to this world, but I  have always had a problem with the person that can be kind to the stranger or will give more time and thought to the passerby in their life, yet fail to treat those who have always been in their life with respect, honor and kindness. I don't want to be one of those people.
I happen to believe most of my family and true close friends are God given. Those are the people who have defended us, who will repeatedly forgive us and who will go on trusting us over and over again when others wont. Those who will try and talk us out of the bad decisions or even tattle on us when we make them are the people who love us. And first and foremost, if we are to practice love, we need to learn to honor them with our time, our integrity, and our sincerity... I truly believe if we can learn to love our circle of people well, that love will spill over naturally to the world outside of our circle.

This past February, we very unexpectedly found out my dad had to have open heart surgery. I don't want to say I was scared, but I was prepared. At least as I could be.. And I made sure I was there every moment possible of his 10 day stay in the hospital. With four kids, school, my husband being out of town for 5 of those days, it wasn't easy and I was exhausted. But I knew how important it was for me to be there. It was important to me that I was there for him, and I needed my dad and mom to know how much I loved them. The previous year, my mom went to the ER and was told she was a week away from a heart attack. Those are hard and scary moments. I'm a faith girl and I believe in the promises of God, but those moments are just hard and I am thanking God for his peace through every moment.

Since then, I've thought a lot about whether I've shown my love and support for family  and friends the way I needed to over the years. And until this year, I don't think I have. At least not as well as I could have. And over the course of this year, it's something I'm still working on. I've been selfish. I've been negligent. I've been busy. But I've come to this place in my life where I realize a lot of the 'issues' we have with our people simply aren't worth the inner fuss and they definitively aren't worth the fight. Our goal in life is simple. To love. And to love well. To be there first for those God has placed  in your life and that are there just for you... and let that ministry of loving well, then, seep over to others... on the outside as well.

I'm really good at saying I love people, because in my heart, I do. I am empathetic. I am sympathetic. In my heart, I rejoice with those when it's time to rejoice. I mourn with those when it's time to mourn. But love isn't an empathetic feeling or a smile or a tear alone. Love moves you. And I want it to move me to be present in the lives of the people that mean the most to me.
In between the week of starting this post and today...One of my aunts who I am closest to had a stroke.... My heart aches. I see her almost weekly... at church, on visits, we spent Thanksgiving laughing and cracking as we all played Heads Up and Catch Phrase, we spend every Christmas Eve with her and her family, and she always has such a giving heart and is such an example of faith to me. And as I've witnessed and experienced these hard moments with people I love these past 2 years, somewhere in between shock and heartbreak, I am reminded how much I really love them, but even more, how much more I could be loving them. And this isn't my goal for 2016, but it's something God has been laying more and more on my heart. Love them well. From now on and forever, love them well.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, who are those people?  Who are the people that have been there for us? Who are the people that we spend our holidays with? Who watched us get married or came to a funeral of someone we love to support us? Who cared enough to tell us like it is when we messed up?  Who cried with us when we lost someone or something? Who texted us to ask if we were okay? Who laughed with us over and over at the same dumb joke? Who visited the hospital when we were sick or having a baby? Who taught us to be more like Christ? Whose words of wisdom have stuck with us? Who hand held ours? Whose arms hugged our neck? Whose shirt was wet from our tears? Who forgave us over and over? Who trusted us again after we hurt them? Who trusts us enough to tell their frustrations? Who looks up to us to care for them? Who do we laugh so hard with we need our inhaler to breather (ahem...)?

Chances are there are several people, friends, family members, leaders, pastors, classmates, co-workers, etc that fit several of these categories... Chances are these are your people. People that are in your life, right here right now, that need your time, your patience, your generosity, your forever support... These are the people you need to love well.
My husband always teases me when I drive through Starbucks or am on the phone with a customer service rep. Apparently, I  talk "pleasant." He's messing around me with me because my voice gets extra high and perky and I suddenly pull out the ultra nice card. I get a good laugh out of him joking with me. But the truth is, it convicts me of how I treat and talk to him or my kids or the people I truly truly cherish. Why do they not get this 'pleasant' side of me? Am I more kind to a stranger than I am to my own people? Do I put more thought into how I treat someone I don't know than how I treat those I love?

It's certainly something to think about...

I pray as we embark upon another year, our hearts aren't broken or afraid or tattered before we learn to love and cherish our people. I pray today, right here and now, before difficulty comes, we stop and make the decision to really love.
To realize and remember those that really impact our lives and we all learn to love, love them really really well...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Are You Holding Against Her/Him?

Sometimes, I find it interesting the ruler we hold other people against. The ruler of perfection.
We stand on our pedestal, expecting the forgiveness of God to erase all of our past,
yet we fail to forgive others.
We call them fake, hypocritie, prideful...a fraud.
Because of some standard in our mind we think they should adhere to.
It's our standard, not God's.
God standard tells us to come as we are.
God's standard says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
And we proclaim the love and forgiveness and grace of God in our own lives.
We speak of how he has forgiven our past,
how he is so kind and decent and doesn't hold things against us.
Yes, He is indeed a merciful God.

After the thousands and thousands of times we have hurt him.
The thousands of times we have hurt others, when he specifically tells us to do two things.
1) Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul & mind
2) Love your neighbor as yourself
Yet, we have all clearly fallen short of these over and over and over in our lives.
And over and over and over he has forgiven us. Yes?

Yet, when we see something we don't like in someone else.
A mistake they made.
Something they have done to hurt us or someone else.
Something they didn't even know they did to offend us.
And it suddenly becomes okay to hold that against them.

Is it though?
What is it today that you are holding against someone?

Is it something they have done to hurt you over and over?
Is it something they said to you just one time?
Is it something you are simply assuming or over analyzing what they must be doing or saying about you?
Is it something they didn't do that you think they should have?
Is it a behavior you have seen that you frankly dislike?
Maybe it's not even something they knowingly did...
yet you are holding them accountable for that action YOU deem unworthy of your forgiveness.
You just disapprove. It's that simple.

Look at your life and all that you have been forgiven of. Look at all the times God could have turned his back on you, held grudges against you or even called you a hypocrite.

Yet, while you were in sin, he died for you. He didn't wait until you apologized for your actions.
Sometimes, in our attitudes or remarks and fits of anger or bouts of gossip, we don't even realized we have sinned. We just do it. We don't premeditate it. It just happens out of pure human emotion and before we know it, the words have come out of our mouth.
Yet it's still sin...
and it's sin that Jesus died for willingly.
He made the first move to redeem you from the hurt you caused him and others.
And then put the ball in your court.
If someone has hurt you, offended your or simply annoyed you in some day,
ask God to help you forgive them, or not judge them
in the same way he has forgiven you.

Look at these verses and see what God has to say about forgiveness and let it soak into your heart on a daily basis...
and notice all the reminders of 
"if, as, with the same measure, just as."

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Matthew 7:2

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Luke 6:37

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."
Matthew 11:25

Friday, September 6, 2013

Character vs Reputation

I read this brilliant quote today on facebook and it spoke volumes to me.

I was the queen of getting my feelings hurt. And this week alone, I felt like I was spoon fed several opportunities to be offended at what people might think of me, of my "reputation."  In all honesty, my hearts cry is to remain humble. And in my heart of hearts, I want to be a balanced person of God's grace, his wisdom, and his love...and at the same time, I still want people know that I'm real and messy and fun and sarcastic. I'm not religious. I'm not fake. And I don't pretend to be better or worse than I am. I'm just me. And it hurts when it seems like people don't see that. It hurts when people see something they don't like. 
But that's me. That's how I roll.
I have to try my hardest not to let little things people may think about me bother me. At the same time, I've been working harder at not being a doormat, and not doing things just because people will or won't approve of me.

I want to be true to who I am. 
I want to be who God made me to be. 

It isn't always easy to defy the rules that will give you a generous reputation or to defy the art of people pleasing.
 But at the same time, there is something about standing up for yourself that helps define confidence in who God says you are. It defines character and loyalty and honesty within yourself and everyone around you. When I say standing up for yourself, I don't mean a haughty outward defiance to the world and those who hurt you, and I'm not talking about a giving yourself an ego boost or a "you deserve better" pep talk,  
I'm talking about developing true character, which somehow in contrast to pride and ego, brings about both humility and strength at the same time.
On the inside of you.

 All I know is I have to be happy with who I am. And I am happiest most when my allegiance is to Jesus.
I've found that I''m not always well liked because of it. Jesus comes before everything and everyone.
My relationship with him beats church, ministry, family, rules...everything. It sounds harsh, but if I have no relationship and intimacy with him, I don't feel like I'm much good in any of these other areas anyways.
If I'm in love with him, then I do so much better at everything I am doing in this life.

Don't you hate that when you know in you're heart how genuine you are, when you know how much you love people, how much you want to help others and love God....but someone else sees you differently?
It's hard. And it sort of breaks little pieces of you when it happens.

But what do you do then? 
I was taking a walk the other day and sort of chuckled to myself as I heard myself say, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." But I know that is so out of line. I am no better than any other person.
But it was funny, because that's sort of how I felt. It was honest. For a minute, anyways.

Truthfully though, I've had to ask God to show me if I'm wrong somewhere, if was out of line at some point of time. My first step is to get myself right before God, not right in someone else's eyes.  
I use the opportunity to grow in strength and to grow in character. I want to care more about who I am in the eyes of God, than what people think about me. And I want to be everything God says I am. 

Humility and forgiveness is key. It's not easy. I've drudged up the same hurts in my mind over and over and over again. And over and over and over again, God has taught me how to forgive and let go. I ask for his strength to let go of it...because sometimes, it can kill you slowly and it wants to suck the life out of you.
I've experience life suckage. In major ways.
And not only is forgiveness key, but something else I heard today that I should have known but haven't done a whole lot of to be honest, but praying for the person who hurt you. It can actually build more love in you for that person. This is humility and love in its truest form. Praying for those who have hurt you.

My prayer this weekend is that if you've been hurt in any way by someone, in the smallest of ways or the biggest, that you ask God for his grace and his strength to look that offender in the eye (at least in your heart) and love them with the biggest of loves. His.

  But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!   In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.   If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.   If you are kind only to your friends,  how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.   But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48

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