Remember me? I haven’t forgotten you; in fact, I’ve missed you. I am sorry for my silence, but to be honest, I’ve needed to be quiet. This year has been an emotional rollercoaster for me with losing ones dear to my heart, big opportunities and projects, several health battles and surgeries for both of my parents, getting a new car that delights my heart every time I see her :), walking with friends through extremely hard seasons in their lives and celebrations and travel. This has been my year, but I’m certain it resembles yours too. We are all busy and overwhelmed, and even if our list isn’t as long & hard as someone else’s, ours is no less challenging for us.
Throughout this year’s rollercoaster ride I’ve carried the extra weight of two situations that played out as 2017 came to a close and 2018 began. In one case, I wronged someone and in another, I was wronged. One brought shame and the other anger. Those are powerful emotions that I don’t often battle, so I was definitely rattled.
Details are unimportant, but earlier this year someone that I should have been able to trust entered my safe place and took what wasn’t theirs, turning the space where I gain my greatest strength into a place of violation and unrest. Where was their integrity and respect??? They caused me more angst than they will ever know. Healing has been a process and especially difficult because there was no closure. They never admitted to their wrong, so no apology was made and nothing was ever returned. But in the face of constant reminders that kept reigniting bitterness and anger God challenged me to have “a love that looks beyond” (like Jesus). Admittedly, nothing about that was easy when I felt so violated. Thankfully, as the months have passed, God has brought so much healing where this wound is concerned, but I still find myself whispering “soften my heart” and “remove the sting”.
Big sigh. While feeling completely stabbed in the back, God gently reminded me of how I myself messed up only 2 months earlier, overstepping and hurting someone who should have been able to trust me. Where was MY integrity and respect??? I’m afraid I caused more angst in them than I ever knew. I apologized for my words and actions, though I do not know if I was ever forgiven. My wrong was unacceptable and shame is a powerful force that condemns, paralyzes and imprisons. In her post “What Our Hearts Need When We Mess Up”, Holley Gerth said, “…what the enemy is really after is not simply to make us sin — the cross has already taken care of that — it’s to make us abandon our identity. It’s to convince us we cannot be both imperfect and loved at the same time. It’s to tempt us to believe our worst moments define us.”
In both situations, it has been a battle for me: A battle to forgive the one who wronged me…and myself. A battle to show God’s grace and forgiveness…and to receive it. But the enemy does not get the final say in these or any other area of my life…he never has. Anger and shame don’t win here. I cannot let my offender or my offense own me because I’ve already been bought. Besides, my enemy isn’t even the one who took things from me on a winter day, but the one who seeks to steal from me EVERY day (Ephesians 6:12).
I really struggled with how God uses this person the way that He does for His kingdom, yet at the same time they were capable of stealing from me. But couldn’t the one that I wronged say the same of me?? I am understanding more and more of how God uses imperfect people…and I am thankful He does, otherwise He wouldn’t be using me. As Holley Gerth eloquently puts it, “No level of spirituality or ministry exists where we are suddenly exempt from being human.” The Bible proves it. While there are consequences for sin, we cannot let the enemy deceive us into thinking that we – or others – are disqualified or a fraud when failure happens.
If you have been wronged by one of Christ’s followers, please don’t judge God, His church or a ministry based on the person’s actions. If you are looking for perfection, look to Jesus alone because the rest of us are apt to let you down somewhere along the way. Let’s keep our eyes on the work of God, not on the flesh and blood He chooses to work through.
To the one who I hurt, I hope you have forgiven me. To the one who hurt me, I forgive you.
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – Jesus in John 8:7
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
But by the grace of God I am what I am… – 1 Corinthians 15:10
This song by Big Daddy Weave says it all.