Tag Archives: Mercy

When it never comes….

12 Apr

So I told you at the end of my last post, I had some life-giving words to give.

I did it.

It was not easy.  Well, it was easy but …oh, just let me explain.

It took me a long, REALLY LONG, time to speak these words.

I knew years ago, they needed spoke.  But as I’ve talked before about how to give a real apology, I knew I wasn’t ready yet to not try to justify myself… or include “you hurt me too.”

In my opinion, one of the biggest hindrances to forgiveness is when we try to tackle both people’s issues at the exact same time.  Often what happens is, neither feels their issue was addressed properly and nothing truly gets resolved.

There is a time to tell someone, “you really hurt me when….”  but it’s not the exact same time you’re saying “I’m sorry that I….”

And I wanted to say that first part really badly.

Normally, I’m all about face to face apologies.  There are exceptions.  And in my case for this one situation, it was a letter kind of apology.

It was easy to write.  I did have a lot to ask forgiveness for, and I knew it! God had convicted me a long time ago, and I had repented and asked forgiveness years back.  So, there wasn’t any doubt about what I had done or why I should be sorry about it.

However, what came next was hard.

The waiting.  Knowing the letter had been read, but waiting for some kind of a response.

You never know *if* you will get a response, what it will say, or what it won’t say.  But you have to wait anyway.  We all do.

Best case scenario, you get a quick response, total forgiveness and an apology for what they may have done in or because of the situation.

That doesn’t always happen though.  And then we have to control our emotions and lead our hearts with what we’ll do next.

This might seem silly to some, but I waited 48 hours for a reply, and it felt like eternity.  In that time, I felt very vulnerable and exposed.  It seemed like my raw honesty was being ignored.  Or minimized.  Or maybe even mocked?

I wrestled being hurt or offended. But I was preaching and preaching and preaching to myself… DON’T pick anything up.  This wasn’t about me.  This was about them.  Entirely about them!  I owed an apology.  And I gave a sincere, genuine apology.  If I didn’t hear anything back, that was OK.  I didn’t have to.

The response was very nice.  I was forgiven in full.

Praise Jesus!

Yet, that one last thing was missing… “I know I hurt you too.”

…….

 

Guess what?  It’s OK.  That’s not news to my heart.  I knew that YEARS ago too.  And Jesus is the power to forgive… not simply by the receipt of an apology.

Sure — I believe in apologies.  That’s why I gave one.  But… Jesus’ paid the debt for everyone’s sins.  Mine, theirs, yours… all of us.

I don’t need to require payment to forgive.

I can forgive quickly and fully because Jesus’ has forgiven me of much worse.  He paid my sentence.  He paid their sentence.  IT IS FINISHED.

 

If you’re still waiting for that response, forgiveness, or admission of guilt from someone else….. can you look to the cross this Easter and say:

IT IS FINISHED!

Practical Application:

Am I still being a debt collector? Am I requiring payment that Jesus’ already paid?

Only heinous people tell lies.

3 Apr

 

For the longest time, I thought I was the worst person in the whole world because I struggled with lying.

Only really terrible people do something so heinous as to make up a lie. It’s unacceptable, inexcusable, and unforgivable.
“What is WRONG with you that you wouldn’t be honest and you’d hide behind made up stories to fit in, or have something to talk about that anyone would want to listen to. You’re a fake and a total disgust of a human” are just a few of the thoughts that paralyzed me for a long time.

My husband has reassured me over and over again that EVERYONE lies. Yes, some people struggle in a more in-depth way than others if it happens to be an addictive behavior that Satan wraps them up in, but that doesn’t mean others have the authority to put themselves in a position of superiority like they are above such ugliness.

The problem is often that they classify “lying” as a definition that only includes what they “don’t do” and then conveniently exclude the ways that they lie.

There are a number of ways that we are tempted to, and even give into lying, that we rarely talk about in-depth. I’m not going to cover them all. I’m going to tackle three and hopefully I’ll start the ball rolling for you to make your own list.

1.) Lying by omission.

This is simply “not” saying all the details. I’m not describing keeping someone’s secrets, secret. It’s ok not to share everything we know about everyone with everyone. That is being a trusted friend.

Lying by omission is when we’re leaving out information, details, words, ANYTHING about ourselves that is giving someone an impression or story that isn’t entirely accurate. We might feel like we didn’t “say” anything that was a lie or that we can’t be responsible for what other people assume, however, if we are willingly painting a picture by NOT painting it, we’re lying.

Telling our spouse that we went to lunch today with a co-worker, while leaving out that it was a male co-worker, is lying by omission.

2.) Lying by repeating something with a different tone, inflection or attitude.

This happens in marriage A LOT! But that statistic in marriage might be beat out by how often this happens between women who have problems with each other.

The story changes, and the likelihood for hurt feelings and offenses greatly increases when tone of voice is misrepresented.
Picture this:
In a soft, calm voice with a smile Gina says to Penny, “Sally looked so pretty today. I bet she spent a lot of money on that dress. It was really worth it. It worked well for her.”

Penny doesn’t like Gina and always reads offenses into everything she says, so….
With a harsh, sarcastic tone she says to Sally, “Penny said you looked SSSOOO pretty today. I BET she spent A LOT of money on that dress. It was REEEAAAALLY worth it. It worked well for HER.” Flips her hair as if Gina was rudely gossiping about Sally and says “you should have seen her face.”

Sally leaves hurt and confused and now has an offense against Gina.

It’s not uncommon for spouses to say the phrase to each other “I didn’t say it like that.  I didn’t use that tone.  You’re making me sound like such a jerk!”

What if a husband says, “I’d rather you not tell me how to handle this situation. I’m struggling with the best decision and your emotions are so high right now that you’re speaking from a place of hurt.”

And the wife repeats it like this, “I’d rather YOU not tell ME how to handle this situation. (Pounds on chest) I’m struggling with the best decision and YOUR emotions are SO HIGH right now that YOU’RE speaking from a place of hurt.” (As if I’m the problem here and am messing up your life.)

In both of those situations, the words were repeated correctly…. but the heart was misrepresented and that constitutes as lying.

3.) We lie through our actions.

As a believer in Christ, this one really stings because if we have Christ, and we walk in sin…. we’re lying with our bodies.

Am I saying we can’t make mistakes?  Of course not.  We all sin.  And will all sin until we die!

But committing a sin and repenting is not the same as walking in sin continually and habitually.

We can’t claim to have Christ and yet walk a constant contradiction without lying with our bodies.

This happens often with couples who have sex before marriage.  They are telling a lie with their bodies that they are indeed one flesh when they have not truly become one flesh through permanent commitment and marriage.

This also happens when we have a habitual gossip, anger, addiction, porn, lust, pride, selfish, idolatry, money, love, forgiveness, bitterness, mercy problem(s).   We’re claiming to be a child of the living God, but constantly maligning His testimony through us.

We praise our Father, but then curse with our bodies by allowing them to follow the ways of Satan.

 

Sometimes we get so judgmental of other who struggle in ways WE never would, all the while, missing how we maybe aren’t that far from them.

That’s why Jesus likens hate to murder and lust to adultery. We may not be letting others see it on the outside, but in our hearts, we’ve already sinned.

 

Practical Application:

Are you trapped right now by Satan because of something you struggle with that you are believing no one else struggles with or is as horrible as you?

(Comment below or shoot me an email… I’ll help you uncover why that’s a lie too!!!)

Are you judging someone else for being so much worse than you are because you’d never do what they do?

Have you ever told a lie in any of these ways? Does this change how you feel?

 

Let it go.

26 Mar

Right, right… the title reminds you of the Disney song from the movie Frozen.  I wasn’t a fan of that movie. I have a whole list of reasons – but since everyone seems to LOVE it, I better not blog about it.  I’ll be down to zero followers.

I’m not talking about the movie Frozen today – however, I’m talking about a Frozen Heart.

There are some of you that used to be Lessons of Mercy followers WAY back when I use to blog on BlogSpot, and walked through life with me while I faced broken relationships and unforgiveness.  I spent a few months in counseling (I think EVERYONE should go to counseling at least once in their life!!) and getting to the bottom of all my bitterness.

It was through that time that God really unveiled the spiritual gift of Mercy in my life (hence the name change, blog location, and fresh start.)

My relationships with some people in my life were a mess.

It had reached the point of never communicating again.  It was broken.  It was over. It was NEVER, EVER able to be fixed again. (Oh, how little I knew of the power of God at that moment in my life.)

I had a list of hurts that were brutal. Unacceptable. Unforgivable. Inconceivable.

And, they were never going to change anyway, so what did it matter if I liked them or not?!

Sure, I hurt them too… but by golly, I had a right to at this point.

Do you see the problem yet?

I couldn’t be fully 100% focused on myself, and extend mercy, grace, forgiveness and understanding at the same time.

I was selfish.

I wanted my wounds tended to and then I’d take complete ownership and offer a sincere apology for what I’d done too.

I was sorry…. I never didn’t acknowledge that I played a part, but I couldn’t take my eyes off myself and my wounds long enough to care long term.  I wouldn’t let myself scar.  I kept letting the wounds be ripped open again and again and again, and then I had to tend to my own hurts and diminish the hurts of the others.

This was a common cycle in ALL of my relationships.

I was guilty of the same behavior with my husband. And some other much older friends too.

God was doing some things in the hearts of the other people at the same time that He was doing an overhaul in mine.

But it wasn’t until I took my eyes off myself, and looked at everything, EVERYTHING from their point of view that I saw a different story.

What had I really done?  Did I have the permission to tell them what really hurt them and what didn’t?  Did I have the right to expect the things I’d done to be quickly overlooked and forgiven while not extending the same grace?

HAD I ASKED GOD TO FORGIVE ME OF SOMETHING FAR WORSE THAN ANYTHING THEY HAD DONE TO ME, BUT WAS THEN REFUSING TO FORGIVE THEIR SINS???

Had I really become the man from the parable in the Bible? (Matthew 18:23-35)

I had.

I felt compassion.  I felt an understanding.  I felt remorse. I saw my sin.  I saw my failures.  I saw the hurt I caused.

(That DOESN’T MEAN I was giving justification to their choices, but it means, I was repenting of mine!)

Then came a real, (A REAL!) apology.

I’m sorry I did……..(this and this and this and this, in my case)………. please forgive me…… I’ve changed so much and I no longer have any desire to repeat those same mistakes again.

I also received sincere apologies and healing started to truly take place.  (I know you can’t control how others respond. I have apologized to some whose heart was too hard to receive it. But I will say, 9 times out of 10, if you truly apologize and love the person deeply, it’s hard to stay mad when someone is being so humble and honest.)

The immoveable mountain, moved.

Without God breaking my heart for His beloved children, I would have remained frozen forever.

What thawed the freeze in that silly movie?  LOVE.

Bingo.

When you LOVE God with all your heart, you LOVE who HE LOVES.  And He loves His children.  Even the mean ones. 🙂

Would you believe after 10 years of total brokenness, and 2 years of healing… I recently had a visit with this friend and we let our kids spend the night together?

No anxiety.  No bitterness.  No past tension.

Biblical forgiveness is miraculous.  It is unlike anything the world can teach.  It’s complete, lacking nothing.  It’s freedom.  It’s beautiful.

Practical Application:

Who do you still have on the hook to pay you back something they can never pay back?

Who do you still want to get what’s coming to them?

Who do you still get bitter feelings about when their name is mentioned?

Who do you still feel the desire to warn others about or share your side of the story first about?

If we’re about to celebrate Jesus walking that road, carrying that cross, being nailed to it, and taking on your sins….. is it time to let Him be the payment for their sins too?

Is it time to let it go???

 

 

He looks identical to Christ.

23 Mar

Nineteen months ago, I saw myself in my marriage in a new light.  I saw how I was disrespecting my husband, how I was full of pride, how I had unrealistic expectations, how many idols I was obsessed with serving, how unforgiving and resentful I was, and how much better I thought I was than the man I married… all while thinking I was a better Christian than he was too.

It was humbling.  I shed some tears. I apologized to my husband.  And I spent a good solid month doing nothing but studying my behaviors, and setting up ways to break all these terrible habits.

It’s a life long process, I didn’t conquer anything in a month, I’m still learning and changing every single day.

I thought at that time, I saw my marriage for what it was.

I was wrong.

Thursday night, my husband and I had a long talk about who I once was and what I did in and to our marriage over the course of that first 10 years. We had already done this two years ago so this wasn’t some shocking or earth shaking conversation.

And yet, I broke.

I spent almost all of the next 24 hours sobbing uncontrollably or secretly fighting and wiping tears in front of my kids.  I’ve never cried that much before in one day, ever.

All the sudden, through some deep reflection and conversation, I saw everything differently than I ever really had before.

I was a horrible wife.  HORRIBLE.

I must have hurt my husband in ways he couldn’t even describe if he wanted to try.  I put other things above him, I have lied to him, I have belittled him publicly, I have put expectations on him that no person could live up to, I have reacted in haste and wrath to his mistakes with intensely hurtful remarks and shame, I have dabbled in the game of an emotional affair, I have carried around a list of his wrongs and dwelled on them bitterly, I have had conversations in my mind premeditating how to hurt him when I felt hurt instead of offering mercy and forgiveness….

I was wretched.  To me, completely unforgivable.  I have no idea why he stayed married to me.  I wouldn’t have stayed married to me.

I have never fallen apart like I did on Friday.  While I kept desperately trying to speak truth to myself, and let my husband and my best friend speak truth to me… I could not accept it.

I didn’t want his forgiveness.  I didn’t want his grace or mercy.  I didn’t want his unconditional love.

I wanted him to get mad at me.  I wanted him to yell and cuss and tell me how awful I was and how much I’d hurt him.  I wanted him to treat me how I deserved to be treated.

Every time I presented a reason to him why he should hate me, he offered back a loving gesture… and I got so angry at him.  Angry because I felt like he was being so stupid. I thought, you deserve better you idiot. There is no forgiving what I’ve done!!

Who loves someone like that?  Who forgives someone so completely?  Who looks at someone and says “That’s all in the past.  You’re not that person anymore.  I love you more now than I ever have.  You’re my girl.” after everything I put him through?

I know he’s sinned against me.  He isn’t perfect.  But for the first time, his sins seemed like no big deal.  And my sins seemed catastrophic.

I kept trying to compare our mistakes and his were minor and mine were major. I have always seen this the other way around.  Even after I started to understand unconditional respect and how big my sins were, I didn’t see his sins as minor. I felt like we were more even-keeled.

I know people say, a sin is a sin is a sin.  But I don’t agree with that.

Yes, a sin is a sin in the regard that all sin separates us from God.  But I believe there is a difference between sins and I think Paul makes that point in Scripture too. (For another post if an explanation is needed here.) We can be quickly tempted and make a wrong choice, or we can willfully make premeditated sinful and or even habitual decisions on purpose and I don’t think that’s the same thing either.

While I sat there sobbing to the point I could barely breathe, I kept reflecting on the purpose of marriage.

My husband had never seemed more like Christ, ever.

I represented the church – sinful: proud, lost in idolatry, unforgiving, lustful, bitter and self-pleasing.

And he stood before me as Christ – LOVE: unconditionally holding me in the palm of his hand, merciful, gracious, forgiving every sin fully/completely as far as the east is from the west.

My husband knew I was broken.  Somehow, he knew it was bad.  That I wasn’t how I’d ever been before.

Because Thursday night started this down-ward spiral, he text me during the day to check on me.  I was mad he text me.  I hurt him, why would he want to see if I was OK?

I bounced back and forth between feeling like he was literally Jesus in the flesh… loving me and giving me what I could never afford and ….not wanting to talk to him at all because how dare I cry and be the one hurt when I’m the one who did the hurting?  I was NOT interested in playing the victim or martyr in this situation.  And I knew if I opened my mouth, it would spur that “I’ll make this better for you” instinct that all men have… and I didn’t want better.  I wanted what I deserved.

He walked in the door from work, locked us in our bedroom, turned our wedding song on his phone, and made me dance with him. I didn’t want to at all.  I tried to resist him and beg him to just give me some space for a while.  But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I melted in his arms. I forgot how perfect the words of our wedding song were… especially today more than ever before.

Through gut-wrenching sobs and blurred vision, I expressed what was happening in my heart and mind – and he remained the perfect picture of love and forgiveness.

I wasn’t all better after that 45 minute unraveling in his arms.  But, I was on the road to facing this new reality.  I was either going to end up bitter or better.

I think I needed to be broken in this way.  It changed me.  In a way I’ll never be the same again.  Of course I’ll still sin against my husband – I will never be perfect.  But, it gave me a perspective on marriage I needed to literally feel to fully understand.

My husband decided we were one, and that means, we are one.  When I’m broken, he’s broken.  When I’m sinful, he’s forgiving.  In my weakness, his love in and through me makes me strong again.

He’s going to sin against me.  It probably won’t be too many days from now when it happens. I’ll be different.  I might be hurt.  We might need to talk about it.  But I will never stand myself on a throne again after seeing our marriage and who I was and what I truly had to be forgiven of in the light I saw it on Friday.

Practical Application:

I’d never accuse anyone of being as horrible of a wife as I was…. but have you truly seen your sin, as SIN, and not as justifiable mistakes?

Do you know what it cost to send Jesus to the cross?

Do you  know what your husband has had to forgive you of to love you like Christ loves the church…. even when you don’t deserve it?  Even when you’re rebelling?  Even when you’re selfish? Even when you’re serving idols?  Even when you’ve created an existence of unrealistic expectations? Even when your hormones get to control your mood?  Even when you’ve given your heart to things in priority above him? Maybe even someone else (another man, a friend, the kids?) Even when you’re wagging your finger at him because he doesn’t behave how he’s suppose to in your book?

The cross looks different again to me this Easter.  I see my husband on it.  Laying down his life for mine. Taking on my sin and saying it’s no more.  Telling me I am new.  And I am eternally loved. And it’s too overwhelming for words.

 

 

If only I learned this years ago….

14 Mar

It’s a common phrase isn’t it?  We’ve all said it.  We’ve all heard others say it.  And we’ve all contemplated how our life would be different if we only knew then, what we know now.

This has never been more true for me than in my marriage.

If I only learned years ago, like 12 years ago, that unconditional respect was a command in Scripture and how to speak and act in a way that was obedient to that command…. my marriage would have been SO different the first 10 years.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have felt like I married an un-romantic dud.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have treated my husband like he was my child.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have thought I was just as much the head of this family as he thought he was.

Maybe, I would have submitted with joy to his ideas instead of insisting that I was always right and so much smarter than he was.

Maybe, my husband would have listened to me more if I was more careful with his feelings.

Maybe, my husband would have talked to me more intimately if he felt safe enough to be vulnerable with me.

Maybe, we would have really been “best friends” instead of just trying to say that we were because it sounded right.

Maybe, my husband would have met more of my needs because he would have felt more fulfilled too.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have been tempted to entertain emotional attention from anyone else.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have been so jealous.

Maybe, we would have had lots and lots of hot and passionate sex.

Maybe, we would have learned to enjoy each others hobbies and looked forward to doing things together instead of him appreciating his time away to do his own thing so frequently.

Maybe, we would have served each other selflessly instead of expecting our feelings to trump the others.

Maybe, my husband would have helped me more around the house because he wanted to instead of digging his heals in and ignoring me.

Maybe —- this list could really just go on forever and ever and ever.

This isn’t just the case with my marriage.  I feel this way about a lot of things in my life.  I’d love a time travel machine to do it all over again.

But.

I don’t think entertaining “if I’d only learned this years ago” is where Jesus wants us to camp out with our thoughts.

I certainly won’t take credit for this phrase because I didn’t come up with it… but it’s incredibly true.

Everything we face will either make us BITTER or BETTER.

We can wrestle with the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s in our mind and maybe we don’t feel like at the end of the day we feel “bitter” about it.  We just feel like it would have been such a different life if we’d only known.

Bitter does seem like a strong word when reflecting, however, what if it isn’t as strong as it sounds?  What if, it really does trap us with negative memories when we reflect like that.

Secretly, do we kinda resent some of those situations still? Do we still feel like it was a negative time in our life?

I know that even though I love my husband beyond belief and have totally forgiven him and been forgiven by him for the mistakes we made in the beginning of our marriage— if I sit and really think back on some situations that were really hard in our marriage, I can start to feel hurt again.

There is one memory in particular of a time when I felt devastated.  And this one really bothers me because I didn’t feel like I “deserved” it.

You know what I’m talking about…. there are memories where you can see why he said something mean because you said something mean first.

This wasn’t like that.

In fact, we’ve talked about it numerous times over the years and he has even said the phrase “if that happened today, I would NEVER do it like that again.”

I know he wouldn’t.  And yet, if I dwell on that memory for ANY amount of time, the hurt tries to push back in.

Christianity is all about being intentional.

We don’t “accept Christ” accidentally.  We don’t just miraculously grow closer to Him just by being alive.  We don’t stumble over an open Bible and learn.

And we don’t become BETTER without being intentional either.

What if…. it was a good thing that we didn’t have marriage all figured out before?

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say.  I don’t think we should keep engaged couple uneducated so they can live the wrong way for a long time because that’s better for them.  Of course that is not better at all!!!  We’re crazy if we keep this knowledge to ourselves and do nothing with it to benefit other believers!!!!

But – God wastes ABSOLUTELY nothing when it comes to our lives and experiences.

Walking through failure, especially in marriage, gives us an irreplaceable way to learn patience, forgiveness, mercy, grace and self-control.

Not only does this further our understanding of what Jesus has given us, but it grows our characters in a way to advance the gospel that can be some of the most powerful testimonies ever!

Of course if we never sinned in our marriages, we’d be an awesome example of getting it right and that God’s way is perfect and beautiful.

But getting it wrong gives us the chance to be BETTER and reach couples just like us who also got it wrong and need the truth.

Practical Application:

If only I learned this years ago….. I wouldn’t know forgiveness like I do today.

If only I learned this years ago…. I wouldn’t be able to relate to wives out there who have blown it big time just like me.

If only I learned this years ago…. I wouldn’t be nearly as aware of just what it took for Jesus to take all my sin to the cross.

Of course, getting it right in the first place is best.  But getting it wrong can lead us to a beautiful place of BETTER.

So…you don’t like me.

28 Feb

Are there any people-pleasers in the crowd?

Wait. Wait. Wait.

Is there a difference between being a people pleaser, and feeling emotionally defeated when you’re misunderstood?

I hadn’t given this much thought until the last two days.  Why?

Because guess what — I got a LOT of support for my recent sex series (public comments and private emails and new followers).  However, I got a little backlash, some “unfollows” and my post was added by an awesome supporter to a sex discussion forum and some of the readers there, well, they let everyone else know just how much they disliked the post- and made conclusions about the author (me).

I know there are some blog authors out there who laugh hysterically when people come at them… because believe me — if you blog, you get backlash.  People really like letting you know when they disagree or think you’re stupid.

I am not one of those people.  I really find no pleasure in spending thirty minutes reading through a slew of comments that tear one of my posts apart, make wild accusations about me as a person, or worst of all claim that I do a disservice to Christianity with Scripture interpretation.

I immediately thought, man I’m such a people-pleaser to feel frustrated over these few negative comments.  I could have five hundred positive comments, and the one negative one will make me question over and over how I could have worded something different or explained something better to reach that person too.

I don’t think that is actually people-pleasing.

I actually think people-pleasing is when a person says yes to things they don’t want to do or may actually even disagree with, to gain someone’s approval. They  may agree to serve in the nursery when they really don’t feel called and are in the middle of a rough season at home with their own children.  They might join in the crowd to make fun of someone else, even though they feel immediate guilt.  Or they might go out of their way to make special arrangements in a desperate attempt to be important to someone.

That’s actually not me at all.  While I like to be liked, I can pretty easily say no when I really need to say no.  I don’t join into conversations of activities just because the crowd is doing it.  And I don’t chase down people in an attempt to mean something to them.

However, I really struggle with being disliked when I feel like one of three things is happening.

1.) I’m being misunderstood or misquoted.

2.) I feel like I’m being held to a standard that isn’t attainable for anyone, especially the person who is coming against me.

3.) I’m being wrongly accused of something I would never do.

That’ll keep me up at night.  It’ll make me battle the temptation to shut down my blog, my Facebook page, and hide in a bubble for a few months. It’ll make me shed quite a few tears feeling suffocated by things totally out of my control.

I have no desire to go back and write something that makes the people on that forum “like me”.  I actually don’t feel any sadness over the fact that they don’t.

I am NO STRANGER to not being liked.  Eh, everyone has someone or a group of people who just clash with them.

But not being liked feels a whole lot different from being wrongly accused.

So…. I got to thinking a little further.

Might this be why marriages seemingly flounder, families fall apart, and church’s are full of congregations with known enemies attending?

Are we all largely people-pleasers….. or are there more people out there like me who feel like, “You don’t like me/trust me/get me/serve me/want me/help me/love me because you don’t understand me.”

– You think things about me that aren’t true. And, oh – lets own it – I think things about you that aren’t true.  I’m just making assumptions sometimes.

– When you repeat the words I say, you say them with a tone that I never used.  You misquote me and make me sound like a jerk.

– You don’t listen to what I’m saying, you’re too busy planning what you’re going to say against me from the first phrase I uttered… without listening to my explanation.

– You have these expectations of me that I can’t live up to.

– You’re unwilling to forgive me when I make mistakes.  You hold everything over my head.  I’m not perfect.  That doesn’t mean I’m evil.

– All you can see is everything I do wrong, do you see anything I do right?

Are you in the middle of a relationship where you feel misunderstood?  Misquoted?  Held to a standard you can’t achieve? Accused of doing things you’d never do?

Let’s ask some deeper questions.

Are you in the middle of a relationship where you might be misunderstanding someone?  Have you added a tone they never used? Do you have expectations they can never possibly reach?  (This happens a lot when men expect women to be like them… or women expect men to be JUST like them.) Are you throwing around accusations that you really don’t have the hard facts to prove…. that you gained from some heavy assumptions?

Practical Application:

God’s desire for us is to reach restoration with our brothers and sisters (husbands, wives, parents, in-law, friends, church members) whenever it’s in our power to act. (God calls us to make things right before we even come to the Altar to worship Him.)

The first step to restoration is recognizing and owning your own part in the problem.  More reflection, less blame.

Set a realistic next step.  I’d never tell you restoration happens in all situations after one five-minute conversation.   But good starting points are

*self-reflection, prayer, counseling, communication, confession, apologizing, asking forgiveness and listening in humility.

We won’t always be able to reach reconciliation.  Sometimes the other party isn’t ready.  Sometimes there is no relationship there to restore (like blog commenters you don’t even now their real name.) That’s OK.  The process of uncovering *why* you don’t like someone or are mad at them will bring healing to you, and forgiveness too.  Even if everything is not completely restored.

Chance are — if they are misquoting you, misunderstanding you, or misrepresenting you, it has a lot more to do with them than you.  So dig deeper and tap into mercy.

A good lesson in mercy is learning to empathize with your enemy, instead of trying to find a way to retaliate against them or sulk in your own feelings.  Hurting people, hurt people. Ask yourself, why are they hurting?

A Bullet.

8 Jan

Wow — have your kids ever said something so simple and yet it resounds in your mind as the most profound thing you’ve ever heard???

That happened to me today when I was making lunch.  My husband’s parents got my boys these really awesome Nerf guns for Christmas and my daughter brought one into the kitchen where I was standing.  She proclaimed in her ‘mean, manly voice’, “I’m gonna get you Mama.”

I cry out “No, no, don’t shoot me, we’re friends. You don’t want to hurt your friend.”

To which she replies, “Yes, I do.  If I put a bullet in you, then we’ll be friends forever.”

She’s three years old.  And on first look at that, the simple sentence alone isn’t an earth-shaking statement.  It’s almost humorous her little innocence in trying to come up with a way to make it sound “fun” to shoot me so I’ll play along with her more.

But I got to thinking, is that how friendship works?  I’ll put a bullet in you, and if you live, we’ll be friends for life?

Well, maybe.

I mean, we do hurt the ones we love the most, right?  It’s why family feuds are the longest lasting and most bitter fights of all time.  Because we know where to hit each other to make them bleed the worst, AND we love each other so much that the bullet actually penetrates and really hurts instead of just bouncing off.

The wounds we inflict on each other kill each other and ruin relationships. (We give life or death with our words like the Bible speaks of when describing the power of the tongue.)

But those relationships that experience forgiveness for wounds and are brought back to life again through the revival of mercy and grace – those relationships mean the absolute most to us in the long run.

When I think of my husband, the reason I love him so much is because I know I’ve really hurt him.  I know I haven’t always been a good wife, or even a decent wife and I know that I’ve said hurtful things and threw punches verbally and spiritually below the belt a few times, and yet — he has extended forgiveness time and time again, with no long-standing consequences that he holds over my head.  When it’s over for him, it’s totally over.

How could he love me like that?  How could he forgive me like that?  How could he show mercy like that?  How could he be humble like that?

It cements my feelings for him to recall his patience, forgiveness, grace and love toward me.

He’s taken a bullet from me (more than once) – and instead of remaining dead, he chose life and forgave me.

And in my heart, that makes him my best friend for life.

Practical Application:

Spend some time thinking about your closest relationships?  Are they with people you have never, ever had a disagreement or issue with, EVER?  Or are they with people who you’ve had to disagree, argue, forgive, ask forgiveness, show grace and show mercy to?

How does that make you feel about those you haven’t chosen life with yet?  And what could that mean for your future with them?