Proverbs 10: 12 says Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.As a storm was brewing, I sat on the concrete in the breezeway of my carport and cried my eyes out. The force of the wind pushed my hair to one side of my face as I sat, praying for God to speak to my heart about this pain I was feeling. I begged Him to heal this situation. I just couldn't stop crying because all I could think about was the hurt I was feeling. I felt a presence near me, and I knew it was God. I looked up at the sky and I felt these words so deep in me.
"It's all going to be okay."I had previously shared something about my spiritual struggles with my husband and didn't get the response I had expected. I struggled for days beforehand thinking I had to keep this thing to myself--afraid that my best friend would judge me. I recognized the ugliness in me and I really wanted to keep it between me and God. But the more I struggled with it, the more I've been convicted to share that part of myself with the person I feared would judge me. I feel that shame is something the devil puts in our minds. It's meant to isolate us from others and the way to combat shame is to expose it. So that's what I did.
Have you ever done this? Am I alone here? Have you ever told someone something about yourself and come away feeling disappointed and hurt because they didn't respond as you'd expected, leaving you feeling rejected and stupid? Maybe it's pride, maybe it's the shame itself at play here. I'm not sure. But I did walk away with a few lessons.
First, I realized that this was an opportunity for me to practice forgiveness. And in doing so, I had to make my mind up to set all my hurt and ill feelings aside. Honestly, this is easier said than done, but those of us who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord already have His spirit in us. In that, we are able to do anything He requires us to do if we set our fleshly natures aside and recognize that it's not about us--it's about glorifying Him.
Forgiveness, like anything else in the Christian walk, is done with intent. It doesn't come easily and it's unnatural to our fleshly natures--it's work. As Christians, we have a choice: Will we follow the desires of the flesh or His Holy Spirit. The other point in forgiveness is that if we want a relationship with Him, we have to forgive. I'm convinced that unforgiveness is a growth stunter.
I also realized that I was putting my hurt feelings before my desire to serve God. Frankly, I was offended and I let that offense take over completely. Someone recently shared with me something they heard about offense.
"Each time we pick up an offense, it's like we drink poison. We need to learn to just love people & think the best of them...therefore we won't get so easily get offended. Ever since then, every time somebody makes me mad, I think about that. Because honestly it's true, I'm like you, if I allow myself, it will boil into a big huge mess that shouldn't even be." Kerry McDanielThe words she so recently said came to mind as I calmed down. And as I sought God's word about offense, I found this.
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10: 12As I read that verse, my heart stung a bit. I kept wondering, "Why is this so hard to let go?" As I thought about this and sought His word, it became more obvious that I was putting my feelings before obedience and love by hanging on to this offense.
This leads me to my third lesson.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 ESVWe're supposed to be in control of our minds. What we think of and how we think are things that we Christians are supposed to be intentional about. Our minds don't just immediately change once we're saved. As we seek Him and He shows us new things, we are supposed to replace what's already in our minds with whatever He shows us. It's critical to our growth that we not only be willing to change our minds but also that we gain and retain complete control of every single thought we have. Otherwise, our flesh wins and we continue to be nothing but mere baby's in Christ--unable to handle the bigger chunks.
Our broken moments are never any fun. They hurt. They're gut-wrenching at times. But He wants to use those very things to improve upon us-- to bless us. He says so.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28