Blast from the Past

forgiveness3

Forgiveness. Sometimes it’s a pretty heavy word. God calls us to forgive. And, he’s pretty clear about it. In the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “And forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:14-15 goes on to say, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” No doubt about it … God calls us to forgive.

I ran into someone at the grocery store the other day. Someone I thought I would never forgive. We were friends at one time. We laughed and joked and were comfortable with each other. And, then we weren’t. We were co-workers and the environment around us became very unhealthy. We each retreated into our own fear-based behaviors. Me into eating disorder behaviors, and he into anger and withdrawal. Towards the end of our time together, we barely spoke. I felt sad, confused and angry. When I left that place, I swore I would never speak to him again. And, then … there he was, ten feet away saying, “Hi, Nanci!” My first reaction was delight. Then, I remembered, “I’m supposed to hate him!” But, you know … I didn’t want to be angry. All the good feelings about our friendship rose up. We chatted a bit. Talked about old times. Talked about the pain of where we had been and the joy of where we are now. Our lives are different. Better different. As I walked away from that encounter, I realized we all do what we have to do in the moment to survive. His survival relied upon shutting down and not getting involved. What I took to be collusion against me was simply withdrawal from the ugliness of it all. My heart swelled with joy knowing that I would never have to dread seeing him again. I even hoped to see him again. The weight of all that anger fell away.

Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? Do it now. Don’t hold that heaviness and pain. I’ve heard many times that holding a resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Resentment and anger only serve to keep us in bondage. Ask God to fill your heart with forgiveness. Practice forgiveness. And then practice some more. Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect. But the more we practice the open we become.

God truly is working in our lives every moment making each day a Wonder-Filled Journey!

nanci

 

 

 

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Love My Enemies? C’mon God!

love-your-enemiesOn a daily basis, as a Technical Support Manager, I get to talk with people who are angry, frustrated, fearful and stressed. For a long time I allowed that to make me angry, frustrated, fearful and stressed. Then I started applying prayer work. Every morning I pray, “God, guide me in all my interactions with others. Help me be kind, patient, and empathetic. Help me deal with difficult people in a loving and tolerant way.” Through this prayer, I was set free from the constant anger, frustration and fear. I quit coming home and complaining to my husband. I decided to consider my job my ministry and began enjoying the calls. Oh! It just occurred to me … what would happen if I shot up a prayer asking God to bless the person on the other end of the phone before I started every phone call? Wouldn’t that be something? See, every day I get to help people feel better. Granted, not everyone feels better after we talk. But, many do. Many call me in an angry state and by the time we hang up they are laughing and relieved. What a gift! Such a great job to have. Thank you, God.

But then today … today I got the call that seriously pushed me over the edge. He was angry, accusing, condescending and rude. I do not respond well to those behaviors. My ego gets all bunched up and I want to retaliate. I’m sorry to say I did. My voice took on a “tone.” My heart hardened against being helpful and kind. My “judge” decided he didn’t deserve it so he wasn’t going to get it. I dug my heels in and gave him a hard time. After the call, I stormed down to my bosses office and ranted. Then, of course, I had to tell two or three other people about how nasty and unreasonable this man was. “What a jerk!” and “Who does he think he is?” were some of the kinder, cleaner phrases I used in reference to him. I nursed that baby good! Oh … I am such a good human being. Flawed and cracked and just wanting love and acceptance.

Tonight as I read my devotions and prayed, I thought of this man and our interaction and of course, today’s scripture came to mind. Ugh! God! C’mon on! Really? OK…

I did a search in the Bible App on “love your enemies.” Did you know there are at least four different places in the New Testament where Jesus taught this?

  • Matthew 5:44 – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
  • Luke 6:27 – But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you
  • Luke 6:35 – But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.
  • John 15:12 – My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

And, I’m sure there are many more hidden in the treasure of God’s Word. So, tonight I will pray for this man. Not with the expectation that my prayer will change him. That’s God’s realm. But rather with the knowledge that my prayer will change me.

God truly is working in our lives every moment making each day a Wonder-Filled Journey!

nanci

 

 

Yes … Words Do Hurt

Proverbs 18:21 — Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]. – Amplified Bible

taste_wordsAs a child, would I run to my mother crying because someone called me a name or said something hurtful. She would hug me and then say that oh-so familiar phrase — “Remember … Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me. ” I know this was meant to be helpful and empowering. But, it never quite took away the pain of the words. My husband often urges me to “not be so sensitive” and “let it roll off my back.”  Again the intent is to be helpful; to ease the hurt and pain. But, it never quite takes it away.

Words do hurt. Words can cut through a person’s heart and scar them forever. Words can lift a person up or send them spiraling down. Once out, words can never be un-said and they can change things forever. Today I received an email that the sender obviously did not intend for me to see. There were hurtful words and mean intent in the email towards me and another woman. My heart sank when I read it. I held this person in high regard! I truly liked and admired her! And, then this. My entire perception of her changed. The glow of knowing her was gone.

For the next few hours, I worked on forgiveness. I know that harboring anger and resentment only hurts me. So, I prayed; I thought of God’s Grace and our messy humanity; I thought of the good things this person has done. And, I asked myself … “when have I done something similar?” My answer: “More times than I care to remember or count!” Gradually, the hurt eased, the anger lifted, and forgiveness settled in. I’m at peace with it now. I can even kind of chuckle at the absurdity of it all.  But, those words have changed things forever. Even with forgiveness, i will never see this person in the same light again. It will take a while to trust her and feel at ease in her presence. I may not feel resentment or hurt, but I also don’t feel love and safety.

So, please … remember this the next time you are tempted to say or write something hurtful and catty about another person. Envision God standing over your shoulder reading the email or standing at your side as you wind up the tongue for a mean delivery. Think of his grace and unconditional love and extend that to the person instead. Sure, it can be hard. Spiritual growth is definitely NOT for sissies! But, I can guarantee you will feel like a million bucks, and so will the other person without even know why! That’s how love and positive energy works. It’s impact is great. Commit today to always strive to be kind and uplifting to others in thought, word and action.  The world will be a much better place for us all.

God’s blessings!