Going through life being imperfect, I’m bound to offend others; bound to annoy and irritate. I’ve done this countless times and not always on purpose.
I don’t wake in the morning looking for ways to accomplish this, I just know in my human frailty; my faulty self will inevitably fail someone.
Some I fail and grace is given. Understanding and forgiveness mends hurt— but what about when anger arises? When offense is taken and grace is not offered…what about then?
I tried to be friends…I believe we both tried in the beginning. Dinner invitations were exchanged. It was a budding friendship in the opening stages. Our children played and husbands conversed.
But something happened…a powerplay…a tug of war. I didn’t even realize we were holding a rope until it began burning my hands as it ripped through.
I struggled trying to get a grip, a place to hold and steady my footing; finding my position.
First, a nasty letter came in the mail followed by answering machine messages left on our day off.
Nothing said in public or to me; just whispers in the dark and in places I was not.
The Father’s heart breaks as His children devour and bite at each other with whispers and half-truths.
Why do we let the enemy wreak havoc? Letting our own positions, our own opinions — faulty as they are — tear away.
Poison is spewed; hurt happens. Hearts are damaged and relationships break off at the bud.
Some things can’t be fixed, as much as we would like it to be all good, sometimes it’s not. In our broken world, when forgiveness is with-held, we have to grapple with our own selves.
- What do we do with our own selves?
- How do we keep our own souls from being poisoned with bitterness, resentment and anger?
This I had to struggle with. I had to struggle with being angry?
- Did I have the right to be angry?
I struggled with defending my own self…my family…protecting my husband from those who spew words of hate and indignation.
Struggle…. I had to struggle with the idea that God was not defending His own…my own!! My family was being talked about in unfair ways. My husband was getting yelled at on my own front porch.
Struggle… Where are you, God, in the midst of all this?
Struggle… Why does He not come and smite my enemies?
Then the Lord spoke to me in soft whispers:
Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. ~Matthew 5:44 (The Message)
I didn’t get this overnight…in fact, I still haven’t perfected this. It’s a working-out process… a process of Him growing me.
- A working out… letting the tough things in life bring out the best in me and not the worst.
- A choosing…making the choice to love and not let bitterness take root.
- A decision… acting in love, the way Christ loves me.
I decided to love…love as He loves … even when love would not be returned:
I heard her little one’s feet were growing. She had a house full of boys and one precious girl toddling along. Money was tight for them and there was nothing extra for shoes. Boy hand-me-downs wouldn’t quite match the upcoming Easter sundress, but what else could be done?
As parishioners passed, the gift waited for the unsuspecting recipient.
I watched from afar as the tag was read and the contents opened like a flower in bloom.
I smiled as an outright giggle and excitement overflowed and the little one donned her new white shoes.
Choose to Love…expecting nothing in return.
When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself…When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. ~ Matthew 6:2-4 The Message