Well, I did it again. I reached out, poured my heart out, walked the plank, put it all out there, and got smacked on the face once again.
Have you ever had a person in your life that you loved and you thought you mattered too… because you had walked through several really tough times with them. You just, plain and simple, loved them as if they were your own sister or brother, then after years of friendship, a disagreement happens, and they just decide to end the friendship? And decide to have nothing more to do with you? Maybe it’s not even a friend for you, but a brother, a father, or a relative, or someone you really respected.
This isn’t the first time. I could sit here and give you a mile long list of the ways the hurt has happened before, of the many times I have invested into the relationship, of the many times I have forgiven, of the many times I have confronted, and told them how they not only hurt me, but how they have hurt others as well, and yet for some reason. I kept going back and wanting that resolution, that restoration. I did the whole Matthew 18:15 verse. 15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Furthermore, they are a brother or sister in Christ, which makes it even tougher to let it go. You think, because they are a believer and you are a believer, you must keep reaching out, that as your sister/brother in Christ you are required to have that restoration, that you shouldn’t give up on them. If you tell them how they hurt you, they will eventually feel sorry for what they did, and restoration can happen.
Okay, right about now, you are thinking this is pathetic, and you would be right. And the flesh side of me gets really mad and angry about that. It does sound pathetic, and I Don’t Like to sound pathetic! But hear me out. I am not just venting, although my husband tells me it sounds like I am venting. The flesh, the sinful side of me wants to run and tell you exactly who, where, why, and how! To warn you against ever being in a friendship like this and claim it all as being a good sister to you so that you can avoid the hurt. But that is not the point of going into all of this. The truth is, I know of a few people right now as I am writing, who are dealing with someone in their lives that has hurt them who are much closer to them than just a friend. A father figure who has mentored them, an authority figure whom they feel has betrayed them, a relative who has molested them, for all those who hurt because they were abused or hurt in some way, and they’re lives are ruined because they just can’t seem to let go of it. I write this to you today, not because I want you to take my side, or because I want to talk about all the hurt. I write this because I know there are many of you out there that have this person in your life and because you feel betrayed in much worse ways than I do. You have retaliation on your mind. You want to hurt them as much as they hurt you, but God says in I Peter 3:8-9, “Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it.”
The thing I must do first is speak forgiveness. It can help to look at all the circumstances and possibilities of why. Maybe they were betrayed and just have a hard time being close to others. Maybe they were actually brought up to think only of themselves. “You need to look out for number one.” That is certainly what the TV and media tells all of us each and every day. “Follow Your dreams, climb to the top, don’t let anyone get in your way!” If I look at the circumstances, that might help me along the way to forgiveness, to “walk a mile in their shoes” so to speak.
But what I am commanded to do in God’s Word is to find a way to forgive them, not for their sake necessarily, but for my sake and sanity and for my spiritual walk with Christ.
Matthew 6:14-15 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
The hard truth is, they are probably not even thinking about you or me, and have moved on to other friends that they will probably do the same thing too. One hopes that they will learn that they will not do it again, but in all honestly, “Some people never learn,” and you can’t be responsible for making them learn, only God can, and truly if they are a child of God, He will keep working on them.
But forgiveness is for us, as it says in 1 John 2:9-11 (The Message) 9-11Anyone who claims to live in God's light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It's the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God's light and doesn't block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn't know which end is up, blinded by the darkness. “Whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.” Unforgiveness leads to hate and hate makes us do things we would not do in the light. We cannot be all Christ calls us to be if we are bound up in the dark, fretting and conjuring up the hate or unforgiveness we feel for that person.
We have to pray through the unforgiveness we feel and sometimes, that is a daily task, especially if you are faced with that person on a daily basis. Just like with any other temptation we may constantly face, we need an arsenal of scripture that when we feel the rage, the fleshly side coming up in us, we must have our sword of the spirit raised and ready for the attack. Because it is an attack of the enemy. If he can keep us focused on unforgiveness, he accomplishes another day of defeat and keeping us from what God wants us to be in Him. It is war, a battlefield of the mind, and remember that “we can do all things through Christ, which strengthens us.” Here are just a few scriptures to put in your quiver.
Matthew 18:21 21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" 22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Mark 11:25-26 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
Luke 6:37 - 37"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Luke 17:3-4 - 3-4"Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it's personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, 'I'm sorry, I won't do it again,' forgive him."
We also must remember how much is forgiven of us. How many times the Father forgives us for failing Him. In so many ways, we are that person to Him. He tells us how much He loves us, and why He wants us to surrender an area to Him, but so often, we speak “yes we will” with our lips, and yet we continue hanging on to that area with our actions. I had to remind myself of this today. I don’t like being this open and seemingly petty, but I know I am not the only one who has been hurt and who deals with these struggles and if I can help one person forgive today, it will be worth it. And remember, there is a whole world of people that crave the love you have to show them. Focus on the people that do love you and treasure your friendships and relationships with them. And mostly, focus on the Love that God gives you each and every day. He desires relationship with you more than anything and He calls you a “Friend of God.” I love you, be blessed, Kerri