I started to write a Facebook status this morning, but it just kept getting bigger—and since they apparently no longer limit the number of characters on a status, this was a problem. I’m grateful for FB’s limiting us all those years as I am convinced it improved my writing skills and put a lid on my tendency to be…well…”wordy” ☺. Then I remembered a dear friend of mine who kept reminding me that my FB statuses were often really blog posts. This same dear friend (cough…Maggie Hogan) was the driving force that finally got me off my duff and into blogging. Thanks Maggie (I think ☺
Lately, I’ve been coming to terms with things I cannot change and realizing that a load of condemnation I have long been carrying really doesn’t belong to me…I don’t have to bear it anymore nor feel the pain of it…even though it is present in my daily life due to circumstances…I don’t have to take the blame for what is outside my control. It’s broken and I can’t fix it. Does that mean I shouldn’t care? No, it doesn’t. My role is to pray, to have compassion, to be obedient to do the things which my gracious Savior calls me to, to gratefully embrace the role He has called me to in this particular situation especially, to look for ways to show love (verb) and be quick to forgive as I’ve been forgiven (and continue to be!). Does that mean it will be easy? Complex question. “Easy” in the sense that He strengthens me to do what I need to, NOT “Easy” in the sense that it is a continual battle with myself (the biblical word would be “flesh”) that screams “I DON’T WANNA!” yep…don’t we all deal with THAT one!
Really, the tough part is remembering in the heat of the moment that the battle is really with myself. Is my pride being hurt? Is my agenda being interrupted? Am I just tired of being “the nice gal” or is there really an offense, a sin directed at me that can be dealt with in a right way, in a way that diffuses the rising tumult? Sometimes. Imperfectly. Often not. In that case, what is my role when there is sin (pick any flavor of the day—anger, lies, etc.) directed at me? How about– simply get out of the way and let God handle it?
Oh I know that sounds so simplistic, maybe even cliché, but here’s how I see it in a nutshell—when there is a conflict of any kind between myself and another, my role is to speak the truth—but here’s the challenge–in a gentle, loving, respectful manner even when everything in me is spinning up and wanting to scream “Are you a nutcase? How can you possibly SAY that much less BELIEVE it? There are half a dozen witnesses who can vouch for the insanity of that statement!” No, keep control (and believe me, this requires strength beyond myself) of the tongue. Answer calmly, gently, reasonably, TRUTHFULLY–then leave it. I have been known to say, “It would be unwise to continue this conversation right now, let’s take this up later.” And walk away. Then the REAL work begins.
When everything inside you is burning at an injustice, it is very difficult to look up and ask the question, “what in this is my fault?” But truthfully, when we first check our own motives and behavior (Jesus Christ tells us to obediently check the plank in our own eye FIRST, before looking for a splinter in our brother’s eye) it really helps in perspective when dealing with the other guy! I don’t want to play fast and loose with the Scripture here, I’m just not a huge fan of “Christianese” which can make the simple concepts confusing. Basically, I am not responsible for the wrong actions, thoughts, motives, agendas and sin of another—even towards me–but I AM responsible for my reaction/response. That’s a very freeing concept. It enables me to go to that other person, even someone who continually and repeatedly sins against me—and truly forgive—and this is the hard part—ASK FORGIVENESS for that part which is TRULY mine—either something I did (or failed to do), something I said—or even the way I said it. After that, it’s God’s deal. There really is great spiritual, emotional, mental freedom that comes with this. If, before God, I have done all that is in my realm of responsibility, I can step out of the way and watch God work. And THAT can be exciting.
No, I won’t carry a burden of condemnation—Jesus took care of that on the cross. The burden I will gladly carry is a shared load with my Savior–
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is [aa]easy and My burden is light.” (New American Standard)
I also love the way “The Message” paraphrases Jesus’ words:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”