What do you do when things come against you in life? When disappointments happen, or someone you love hurts or betrays you? Do you get angry? Do you want to lash out or retaliate? For most of us, I imagine our responses being very different and varying in a number of ways. For me personally, I can speak from two different times in my life … Before Jesus and After Jesus!
Before Jesus, my reaction was anger and hurt feelings. I would close off and shut down from everyone. While I would not confront the issue directly, I would let it seep in and simmer until it was down deep and marinated in my heart. I would move on and keep it buried and never speak of it, just put on a smile until the next offense comes along. The same cycle would take place and finally I am just a walking book of offenses. A book threatening to bust at any moment and recall EVERY SINGLE offense that I had harbored in my heart. As you can imagine, I was bitter, unhappy and not very genuine in my love for others. I purposely kept my distance, careful not to get too close because I didn’t want to feel that sting.
I think for some of us, maybe even a majority of us, we keep our distance and only put in just enough to keep others at bay. You know, the one that always shows up and plays the part, being kind, loving, generous, helpful and genuine in their efforts to love others. However, they never truly connect on a deeper level. They always leave feeling as empty as they did when they arrived, because they sense the same act being played by others. We have become a world where we just put on the face, play the part and never experience any real change in our hearts or our lives. We stay in the same “safe circles” until strife and division sweep in and tear these circles apart. It is so easy to separate relationships when there is no real substance there. This holds true for our friendships, our marriages, even families are torn apart by a worldly mindset of it being all about “ones self”.
I can certainly speak to this mindset from a personal standpoint because I was that person. I’d shut down so fast and avoid people who hurt or offended me. If I allowed myself to be back in that same circle, I’d be cordial, kind and even smile, but my heart was guarded and I never truly engaged again. My feelings were hardened and I looked for any reason or excuse to maintain my grasp on the offense that I was carrying. As you can imagine, this lifestyle was extremely lonely because I had not one person that I could truly count on. I had no one that I could vent to and trust that it would go no further. I learned very early in life to guard my tongue when I was frustrated; because the one whom I thought was a confidant and true friend, only used my words against me any time it fit their agenda for personal gain.
As you can imagine, I didn’t trust very easily and even to this day, I don’t. I am extremely guarded with what I share on a personal level with people who can use my pain against me. It has literally taken years of heartache, failed relationships and trusting my own misguided ways to come to a conclusion that I needed something so much more in life than what I had. I needed Jesus and no not the “just go to church on Sunday” kind of Jesus. I needed a real, authentic encounter with Him. I needed to hear His voice, I needed to feel His presence, I needed to see His goodness. Once I got to that point I could finally accept His grace and in return extend it to others.
Now I am in a place of living life with an “after Jesus” mindset. After I truly encountered Jesus and accepted His love and grace over my own life, was I finally in a place to start extending that same love and grace to others. This was by no means an overnight process and I still get it wrong, but I can quickly recognize the holy spirit prompting me when I feel myself backsliding. Thankfully, my eyes have been opened to see what God wants me to see in my moments of heartache, and I can hear what He is telling me in my spirit. It isn’t always an easy answer or process and sometimes I have to hurt even more to get to a place of healing. However, finding my place of healing, followed by my freedom is worth every heartache that He walks me back through.
This post is in my spirit today because of something I am currently processing. A hurt that was brought on by a feeling of betrayal by someone I love. It is never easy when those we love hurt us. I know this hurt was not intentional and I even understand that it came from a place of fear. Regardless of the how or why behind it, it hurts non the less and I am left with a decision to make. I can either be angry, bitter and upset with someone that I love dearly and would break my heart to lose. OR, I can extend the same love and grace that God pours into my life daily, always forgiving me graciously with every hurt and heartache that I inflict upon Him. As a christian and woman of God, I choose to be “like Christ” because that is what His word tells me to do. Is it easy? No, but what would be harder to bear is losing someone I love over an honest mistake.
The thought I want to leave with you guys today is this … love even if it breaks your heart.
Love others in such a way that you can easily extend the grace needed when those hurts or disappoints come. I no longer desire to hold on to grudges or file away the offenses in my heart. What I desire is to have someone that is there no matter what, that person that I can disagree with, but still stand together in unity. That person that drives me to be the best version of myself that I can be. That is the person that I will always defend, no matter what! That is the person who’s secrets will always be safe with me, regardless of a disagreement. I will never use their hurts or pains against them, because my Father in heaven never uses mine against me. I spent too many years in a very dysfunctional friendship/relationship that wasn’t healthy on either side and I have absolutely no desire to go back to that. I want genuine, I deserve genuine and so do you. Find that person that you can be real with, knowing that they are flawed just like you, understanding that they will disappoint you and let you down, but in the end will be willing to fight tooth and nail to sustain that relationship with you. That is what living with a heart of grace is all about. Being able to love others where they are, being able to disagree but still stand together and cling to the promise of a better future together than apart.
God’s Word tells us that the greatest commandment is to Love. You simply cannot have true genuine love for others and not have grace for their mistakes. Not one of us in this life is perfect and we all come with our own set of issues and mishaps. True genuine friendships are so rare so when you find one, fight for it. When someone wrongs you, no matter who they are be willing to extend the same grace and forgiveness that God so readily gives to us. If we all just took a moment to think of the ways we hurt and disappoint God on a daily basis, we might just live our lives with a different mindset. For me I choose to overlook instead of find offense, I will extend grace and not hold a grudge and I will love instead of lose! People that God places in our lives are not disposal, just because of a disagreement or mistake.
But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. Mark 11:25 NLT
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8