They hurt us deeply and cut us to our core. If we are not careful, they saturate the fertile ground of our soul and take root there to grow and spread like a cancer. Internalized, offenses will suffocate our spiritual root system and cut off our Living Water supply. Damaged roots stunt our growth in Christ. Enough damage renders us useless. We die.
Our enemy is clever.
The offenses that have hurt me the most have been the ones that came from a family member or friend who knew me well (or so I thought). With loved ones, we tend to let our guard down more easily. We invest into those relationships emotionally, so when they come back to bite us, we're left with a big gaping hole in our back sides wondering how it happened. So what are we to do when someone close to us throws a fiery dart our way? Reach for the pint of Häagen-Dazs? (Woo! Hoo! I am totally there!). No, just kidding. Though tempting to drown ourselves in the sorrows of this unfair world that can sometimes eclipse our lives, we have a better choice:
"Show them what?" you ask.
Show them GOD's Love.
I had a difficult time understanding this spiritual concept at first. If I've done nothing wrong, don't I have a right to be angry? Can I chew them out, just this one time, Lord? I'll do it in a godly fashion. I promise. I just need to give them a piece of my mind JUST THIS ONE TIME!
In Matthew chapter 18 (vs.22) Jesus said that we are supposed to forgive others 70 x 7 times. In other words, . . . stop counting.
Recently, I came face to face with what I believe to be the essence of that chapter when a close family member attacked my character...again! That was it for me. I threw my hands up ready to wash them clean. I'd hit the proverbial 70 x 7 and I wasn't giving anymore, and I surely wasn't going to take anymore, or so I thought.
I escaped to a place of quiet refuge to talk to God. I prayed to keep from responding out of anger. I prayed to regain my composure. I prayed because I didn't know what else to do. My feelings were hurt, and I was emotionally drained (Offenses taking root). Have you ever felt like you didn't have any more to give? My soul was fatigued.
Through tears I prayed:
Lord, I'm so tired. After all of these years, how can someone that I've loved unconditionally continue to view me through tainted lenses? I've shown them unconditional love from my heart time and time again, and they continue to lash out at me. What do You want me to do?
"Show them love. Show them ME", I heard HIM gently whisper into my spirit.
How can I do that when they've hurt me so many times? Why don't they trust me?
"I could ask the same question of you, my child. "
Wow! Ouch. I didn't see that one coming.
When we are offended, it's easy to feel victimized, as if the world is caving in on us and that life is SO UNFAIR! But, if we are truthful with ourselves, can we honestly say that we haven't treated God the same way? When HE speaks, do we always listen? Or, do we pretend not to hear Him and quietly rebel? Do we spend quality time with Him daily getting to know Him through prayer, meditation and His Word? Or do we only feel like talking to Him when we want something or have a problem? I don't like it when a loved one treats me that way, and I’m pretty certain that our Father, our Creator, feels the same.
The next time someone close to you (or not so close) doesn't treat you the way you want to be treated, bottle the hurt, turn it toward Heaven and release it into the hands of the only One who can make a difference.
I've tried it.