I love my kids dearly and I am pretty certain they love each other. But sometimes, like their parents, they decide that the other one is not doing something they are supposed to be doing, or vice versa. So, they decide to tell each other and us. Now, they will get a different response depending on whom they have chosen or seen first. Me: “Let’s work this out, guys. Do we tattle? No. No, because we want friends.” (I did not grow up with siblings and having a harmonious household isn’t on my laughable never gonna happen lists yet) Husband: “Don’t care. Figure it out. They will figure it out.”(Grew up eldest of three siblings) We have this immense and often intense feeling for fairness and equality sometimes. And even though we know with our heads that it isn’t always possible to have perfect fairness; why is it our hearts don’t always get the message?
Have you ever had a person, event, series of events, or even a time in your life that is hard for you to think about without evoking a negative emotional response? I have had all of the above. And add a dose of bitterness, a dash of resentment and put it on repeat, sister. And the longer it played, the more I agreed with it. That may be the scariest part of all.
Now, I know better. But, to be honest, there are days I don’t feel like adulting. That’s right. No acting like an adult today…so no bill paying, no work, and no crap from nobody. Someone does me wrong? Oh no they didn’t. Have you seen Tombstone? Then you know what’s comin’ with me. That is my interpretation of my four year old’s attitude some days. And we all have those days, emotionally. (Hopefully not just at our house) But I can be just as extreme in my own irrational ways of thinking if I am not taking thoughts captive.
Sometimes I have a false sense of entitlement that I start to believe once I perceive someone has offended me. This false belief will seep into every part of my thinking about this particular person and sour everything about the situation with negativity. It then becomes a breeding ground for anger and hatred to grow and feed. It is absolutely scary how far our minds can go when we are mad and we believe we have cause. Protection of a loved one. Revenge. Defense. Whatever our reason, we will fight beyond what we ever thought we were capable of…and for what?
What is it we really want? What is it we are truly seeking? Is there ever anything anyone can do to fix a situation where something or someone is lost? Nothing will bring them back this side of heaven. Nothing will make a rumor unheard. A picture unseen. An act of betrayal unhappen. So what is it that we hold onto so tightly that we will willingly walk away from freedom, chain ourselves up, and remain in bondage???
I stayed here for a very long time. I thought I had forgiven, and even thought that I had meant it for awhile. Finally, I asked God to help me because I didn’t understand how deep I had let my roots of bitterness and unforgiveness get. This was not a light shovel job. Now I had a full blown root removal problem. I had chosen to come back here and be chained up some more by replaying events and working myself up over nothing too many times.
What I had was fake forgiveness. What I needed was hard core forgiveness. And I needed to forgive hard core. The Jesus Way. And I really didn’t know how. The day I finally admitted that to God had to be a miracle because He had been waiting a long time for that one…. My heart was finally workable from that point. At least I was getting the point and trying. Feelings will follow. That was and still is a hard concept for me to grasp but I am walking in it by choice. Forgiveness is a choice. But it’s not just one choice, it’s an infinite number of choices.
It is a deliberate choice not to rehash wrong choices made by this person in the past, even if they asked and I didn’t bring it up. It is a choice to stop thinking about things that are affecting me negatively and stealing my joy, even for that very second! No more! I need Jesus in every second or I will willingly give ones away to the enemy and he wants to destroy me. Jesus took punishment and died for me, so shouldn’t I at least hear Him out more?
This reminded me of someone who was in prison and in bondage a LOT. Paul was a remarkable example of what God can do in a “wicked” person’s life. Was Paul perfect? No. He persecuted Christians. You know that had to be something that the enemy probably loved to use to taunt him with. Our pasts can become easy targets for our enemy to strike. Paul talked about a thorn in his side that he begged God to remove, but God did not remove it. Rather, He instructed Paul that His grace was sufficient for him, and His power is perfected in his weakness. Some people think this was an illness or something, but in my head it was a person that Satan was using as a tool to get to Paul and tried to make him ineffective. I have no proof of this, nor am I am Bible scholar. But when I hear it this way, it gives me hope and shows me how I am supposed to handle things like this when they happen. Paul wrote this in 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 in The Message:
7-10 “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”
Just let Christ take over. That means our hearts and our minds and just being open to hearing from Him. Asking Him to take away our unforgiveness and all the host of strongholds and roots of bitterness and resentment that may have taken hold. Then, as Philippians 4:8 Living Bible (TLB) Translation puts it well:
“And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.”
It’s time to play The Glad Game from the dear old classic that my Mom used to make me watch when I needed an attitude adjustment, Pollyanna!
We have free will and freedom of choice. We can choose to be captives or we can choose to be free. What our decisions are today will determine our direction. We can choose our course. I’m choosing to be like my friend Queen Elsa and letting it go. ❄️
**These worksheets are very good at getting down to the hard core of forgiveness if this is something you struggle with. I found them online and used them for free, but great resource! http://experienceheritage.org/wp-content/uploads/forgiveness-prayer-exercise.pdf