Thursday, March 20, 2014

Frozen-The Ugly Side of Unforgiveness

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24 NLT
And, verse 24 reads "And see if there be any hurtful way in me" (NAS)
It's said that "hurting people hurt people".
This is true, even if you are silent in your pain, you can cause pain to others.

This is a difficult post to write.
It's raw, real, and very ugly.

We try to present our best to people, fearing what they'll do if they see us at our worst, but my personal blog is titled "Sincerity and Hope". So, I will be sincere and at the same time I have hope that God is working in me and that my transparency will somehow cause others to experience freedom in Him.
This blog is on the "Brave Girl Community". I sure hope this helps somebody because I don't feel particularly brave typing this.

A simple Disney movie that my daughters love ("Frozen") has really brought a lot of truth into my mind lately. Hans Christian Andersen's original story of "The Snow Queen" has a lot of Biblical truth, if you have time to look it up.
I am personally feeling God cleaning house. I've been upset over the way I was treated by a friend.

Facebook has put me in touch with people I haven't seen for years. A friend asked me for forgiveness after years of harboring feelings of pain, bitterness and unforgiveness.

But, so much time had passed between my original offense and her apology, that it created a wound in my heart—while she felt healing. Due to the pain in my heart from a missed opportunity for reconciliation, I spent too much time thinking on it.
Truly? I was unaware of the pain I had caused her, and had it been brought to me immediately, I would have tried to right it then.
Faced with it now, all I could see was that my "friend" had been false with me. It stung and I reacted bitterly.When, through recent events, I realized I had been guilty of the same offense, I initially wanted to confess my wrong to her for letting it go for so long.

After discussing the situation with my husband, we both concluded that it would wound her the way I'd been wounded. If a person wrongs you, and you do not let them know they have hurt you, you fail to give them a chance to right that wrong.
I believe this is part of the admonition in Ephesians that states, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger."
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "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 4:25-27

I can recall a time in college where a "friend" began acting cold and distant toward me. I asked her if I had done something wrong. "Well, if you don't know, then I'm certainly not going to tell you!" For a peacemaker like myself, that was pretty hard to hear. It was evident that she did not desire peace.

In other situations, especially in our digital age when communication lacks inflection, words can be misinterpreted and "read into". I am so thankful for persons who have asked for clarification on my words in the last few years. Immediately I have been able to clarify my intent and explain what I said!

There is also another factor. The "in your head" factor. Maybe you're still bitter at them, or jealous, or anything you want to insert here.
Jesus taught that our ugly thoughts are just as sinful as our actions, and that is true. But, if you never spoke to the person about it and they are blissfully unaware, then you can actually cause great pain by "asking them for forgiveness". They asked forgiveness and you granted it. You've been smiling and friendly and yet inside, there is something else going on. It's all in your head. Telling them won't help them. It will hurt them!

If all the offense and wrestling has been in my head, then I need to get it out of my head. Write my apologetic letter, pour out my soul, and then ceremonially tear it up, or burn it, but let it go. That person is at peace with me now, and there would be a great wound caused by knowing I had harbored anger without giving a chance for reconciliation.

Unforgiveness is ugly and can destroy all that is beautiful.

Do you have unforgiveness in your heart?
Is your heart frozen?

Only an act of love can melt a frozen heart.
It may take sacrifice.

Your pride, most definitely, needs to go.
Let love take its place!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why Guilt is a Lie

After conversing with a friend last night, I felt prompted to write.
You see, we were discussing the challenges of balancing work and motherhood. Whether you work full-time, part-time, volunteer, or just go grocery shopping by yourself, there is constantly a part of you that feels guilty. As if you still aren't doing enough or being enough or something enough.

Enough already!

You see, it occurred to me that all of this "guilt" is unfounded. There is no freedom in guilt. There is a burden, a weariness, a heaviness, and a total exhaustion. You feel drained.

It's a lie.

If there is something you feel you've done in error or that you could have done better, it's okay to have a feeling of regret, but don't stay there! Don't focus on the things you cannot change. Can you change the events of yesterday, regardless of your desire to? No. Habits can change, however. New habits and processes can be followed and formed.

Guilt says, "God Ultimately Isn't Lord Today".
Lord is defined as "someone or something having power, authority, or influence: a master or ruler.

So, who has authority? The One who has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west? Or me?
Am I willing to accept that forgiveness that was debited into my account before I was ever created?
Or do I choose to linger in the ugly moment that has already passed by?
Do I want to change?
Or, do I enjoy the self-loathing and pity I am currently consuming and feeding on?

These are difficult questions. And temptation, contentment, those are wrestling against each other daily.
Find strength in promises. In truth. Find those truths that combat those ugly lies.
Who is enough for you?
Will looking like a size 2 celebrity bring you all the happiness you long for or will you still be obsessed with the high-maintenance you'd have to stay there?
Will you pass on that ugly body obsession to your daughters, nieces, granddaughters?
We tell each other that inner beauty is more important, but do we believe and practice that ourselves?

If you don't have the habits necessary to live with what you have, do you really think having "more" will change your habits or will you stretch beyond your means regardless of your means?

Many of my friends posted on Facebook that they were giving up something until Easter (for Lent). For this season, I have chosen to give up complaining. Instead, I'm embracing those challenges as more and more God is revealing the reason for those challenges-to change me. To develop a depth and beauty inside me that only He can bring about as he removes those ugly strongholds where I'm still trying to be the authority.

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." Philippians 2:14-15

This is the verse that motivated my goal. Will I be perfect in it? Maybe not, but I am going to do my best to use my voice to encourage and lift up and pray for others instead. There is enough negativity in the Facebook feeds without my exhausted contributions. When I am wiped out, I don't need to "vent", I need to be filled!

I would love to pray with you if there is an area in your life you're discovering has been a lie and you'd like prayer for. I have wrestled and continue to wrestle with the things I'm sharing here, so please know I will be compassionate and understanding. We are journeying together, dear friend!