Are you carrying around painful memories of something that happened over the past year? Maybe you are still angry, bitter, or deeply hurt over something which was said to you or done to you over the past 5 years.
Do you want to know a secret? The Lord revealed something to me in the first three months of 2018.
The Lord revealed that I was carrying around a burden — bitter memories –of something that happened around Christmas of 2003. That’s a long time, friends. That was about 15 years of dragging around my own bruised, mistreated feelings.
Last year was a year of learning and growth. As I mentioned in my last post, it wasn’t the way I planned it, but it was the way it needed to be.
We’ve all been there at sometime.
Maybe you cried after logging onto your social media account sometime last year. Or you felt insane anger pulse through your veins because of what a “friend” shared about a politician on their page. How many of you have felt deeply hurt by a close friend? How about your dad or mom? Did your closest ally betray you in the battlefield of life?
Who among us has never been offended or felt jaded by a mean spirited remark? Seriously, just being on *ANY* social media platform is enough to lose friends, be offended, feel hurt, or be enraged these days.
Throughout my life I’ve seen not only my own hurt but the hurt of those around me. I’ve witnessed how other people deal with their pain and even what causes them pain.
Sometimes, people make careless remarks that don’t carry much weight as they let the words fall from their lips. However, those same words can feel like a punch to the gut in the heart of the receiver.
Sometimes, others say things out of concern but to the recipient there are deeper implications. Other times it’s said as a joke, unknowingly losing a close friend in the crossfire of the laughter.
Just go on any mommy Facebook group to see the drama that happens between husbands and wives, neighbors, best friends, mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws. It feels like a boundary-less world we live in.
Let’s face it — we are human and most of us will find ourselves hurt, angry, or sad for a whole host of reasons.
I’ve been dealing with strong feelings of what is “right and wrong” since I was a child. I have an entire diary to prove it. That diary became my therapy during my elementary and middle school years. It got replaced by poetry writing and a strong melancholy by high school. God showed me a better way – a healthier way to deal with the ocean which is my emotions.
Here is what I realized this year. And I will preface this by saying this was one of those epiphanies that shouldn’t have been … because it is right there in Scripture. It’s just it took me 30-something years to learn this little gem.
Satan will use anyway he can to guide you into sin. He will literally even use our own traumatic experiences, our own grief, our own heartache to hijack our faith. Seriously. He’s crafty. That’s why God gives us such clear instruction. It’s like the old cartoon of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.
- God tells us to forgive.
- Satan tells us we don’t have to.
- God tells us to love.
- Satan tells us it’s more fun to hate.
- God tells us not to hold on to our anger.
- Satan tells us that our anger is justified.
- God tells us to put others above ourselves.
- Satan tells us we deserve more.
- God tells us his ways are higher than ours.
- Satan tells us we are the masters of our own universe.
The problem is we live in a sinful-fallen world and we live in a sinful body with a heart, that, as my pastor put it last week, is an idol factory.
We all have a tendency to look after our own needs, to defend ourselves, and to, in many ways, put ourselves first. It’s not easy to write this because I’ve lived this and walked it too many times … so I know how painful it is to have people hurt us.
However, when we wallow in our own self-pity, let our anger turn to bitterness or self-deprevation – when we allow our hearts to darken, we take our eyes off of Jesus and we put them on ourselves.
I don’t care how messed up the other person is – or how mean they are. I don’t care what they do or don’t deserve or the laundry list of what they did to so and so.
I have been there before. Trust me, I have. I found myself so focused on how someone else hurt me that I didn’t stop to remember a key verse in Ephesians.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”Ephesians 6:12
To make this easy to follow, I put together 3 simple steps to remember when you get hurt or offended or angry
this year this week.
Friends, run to Jesus. When people hurt you, run to Him. Pray and pour out your pain and your frustration. Pour out your heartache and your grief. Pour out your heart and life to the one who created you.
He sees you. He knows you. He made you. He loves you.
Secondly, identify if there was a miscommunication, an accident, a slip up. Try to figure out the cause of your hurt. Was it truly purposeful?
If it was, pray some more. Remember that you aren’t battling against flesh and blood. There is a spirit realm that wants to entice you, wants to fluster you, wants to weaken you.
Pray against the powers of darkness and pray for the person who was or is trying to hurt you. Jesus himself tells us this in the book of Luke…
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.Luke 6:27-28
Thirdly, go to the person and share with them your frustration. If it is a friend or a relative, please be honest and share your feelings. Make 2019 a year where you don’t bury your resentment and allow them to simmer into a poison in your soul.
“In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.Ephesians 4:26-27
The thing that struck me the most is that someone else can choose to harm us or hurt us with their words or actions. That’s a sin. A weapon against God and man. But our response also gives room for God to work in our lives or for the devil to gain a foothold and cause us to stumble into sin.
My first thought when I realized this is — that isn’t fair. Why should the sin of others cause me to sin. The short answer (I found out in time) is that it shouldn’t. We need to choose Jesus. We need to choose grace. Choose mercy. Choose prayer. Choose love.
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.Colossians 3:14
And always remember:
God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.Matthew 5:11
Do you see? The Lord didn’t give us these instructions to punish us, He gives these to us because He loves us. He doesn’t want us to grow in bitterness and heartache but to grow in grace.