Hope

Grace Over Grudge

I’ve been praying on and thinking a lot about forgiveness, my tongue, my thoughts and my actions when it all comes down to it. My own stuff. I have also had numerous conversations recently about the same things. 

Honestly, relationships are difficult but in times like today the difficulty level has been magnified. Admittedly, the issues existed long before THIS happened but for a lot of people it seems that the time has come to face the music. Even though I am not currently in a relationship, I still have time to reflect on my own past behavior and how even in just a normal everyday relationship (work, friendship, whatever) I still need to be aware of my own tendencies and conduct.

Our future destiny, as followers of Jesus, is determined by our present conduct. I want to be characterized by grace, not a grudge. How about you? I want to be characterized by grace for others and grace for myself when I did not and do not always do the right thing. How about you?

1 Peter 3:9 says this: Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were allied so that you may inherit a blessing.

In this scripture, Peter is really telling us to grow up and to not try to earn the blessing that happens when we do, but to instead receive it as our inheritance. It isn’t about the blessing, but the One who does the blessing. The One who extends endless grace time after time, and does not repay insult to Him with insult to us. Read this same scripture in The Message and it becomes plain as day. 

1 Peter 3:9 That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Insead, bless-that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing

Forgiveness is hard when we choose to hold a grudge. Restoration and reconciliation is nearly impossible when we don’t choose grace. Grace doesn’t say that what the other person has done to hurt me is okay. Grace says I will choose to see through eyes of compassion and tender-heartedness even when it hurts. Grace is what I want and expect others to give to me. How about you? 

Sometimes forgiveness happens in an instant supernatural moment, and sometimes it takes years and years and years to be able to forgive. He is right in the middle of both. 

I know I need to do intentional work to grow up in grace. I want to be known by grace, not a grudge. 

Hope, Keeping it Real

Where Are We Today?

Today, I am not sad or imprisoned by the full-on firehose blast of social media content and news content that shows us the images of division, despair, death and diversity all mixed into one bag. 

I have had conversations over the past week or two regarding the current social climate and how that is affecting our already emotionally drained souls (read COVID-19). I have not chosen to engage in most of what I am seeing and reading based on what I felt God telling me in my heart. I know what happens to my emotional health when I start getting wrapped up in the endless hours of non-stop immersion and connection to on-demand information and opinion.

I could hear Him telling me that a wise person holds their tongue. A wise person does not add gasoline to the fire or engage in conversations that there is no easy answer or immediate peace over.

“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than him.”

Proverbs 29:20

I could also hear him telling me to shut my mouth when I felt judgment coming forth. Right after this all started exploding I saw a person that clearly believes differently than I do with outright blatant racism tattooed across their back. Boy oh boy did I have a few things to say and wanted to ask him, but instead chose to close my mouth and assume the best instead of the worst. 

I’ve heard him say shut your mouth, when I see something that is hysterically funny to me and also tone-deaf to the situation at hand. I have chosen to sort of keep my filter on, but instead, I have chosen to share that levity with a choice few safe people. Humor is sometimes better than the gross reality, and it is healthier for me to laugh a little than to slide into despair over things that are really outside my control. Mostly out of my control, anyway. 

“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:37

My mouth may be mostly silent, but my heart is not. My heart is in turmoil and also in peace at the same time. Anyone besides me just totally emotionally drained?

 It is exhausting to feel the depth of pain that our black brothers and sisters have felt and still feel today. When I try to think about how they walk out their door every day knowing they will be targeted for the color of their skin and how emotionally draining and scary that is for someone, it makes me want to vomit, scream and cry all at the same time. 

I am heartbroken for the police officers and their families that are lumped into the mess that one or two or five individuals that were or are police officers caused. 

When I watch people looting and rioting (different than peacefully protesting) and think about the depth of the frustration that they feel for whatever reason they are doing what they are,  I am both fascinated and disturbed. 

When I look for the good things that are happening in the middle of this mess, I have to search far and wide to see those reflections, stories and images. I don’t want to have to muddle through the anger, violence, blaming, arguing and generally ignorance to find them. That makes me sad, so I choose to not do either as much as possible. 

I know that none of this is new. All of this has been happening in one form or another for a long, long time. This is not new to Him and certainly no surprise. He has control even when it all feels and looks like it is out of control. Always,still and right now today. 

We can do better, and also join the fight to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. I believe that starts with more listening to God and each other first. Listening before speaking. Pausing before posting. Hearing past the words and what the real message and truth is. 

Give yourself permission to feel the huge pendulum swing that this is bringing up in you. Choose where those feelings land, though. That’s just what I am choosing for my own self and maybe it will help you as well. 

I am choosing to disconnect, and really listen to what God is saying to me personally and how I can take action to continue to listen, learn and love better than I do now in all circumstances. 

What are you doing today to be part of the solution to your own personal response to this opportunity and challenge? Are you pouring fuel on the flames or are you sitting with Him asking Him what He wants to teach you in the middle?