This won't be much of a blog. I just wanted to get out some thoughts I was having and maybe offer them to you, hopefully to encourage you, even if its just one person. There is something so sweet about walking through a hard place with our faces down and loneliness creeping up on our hearts, only to realize the sound of someone else walking beside us, through a very similar season. It makes the burden half as heavy.
"He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends." Proverbs 17:9
I was thinking about this verse this morning, and marvelling at my own inability to do what it says. It's always a good sign that I need to invite the Holy Spirit to work on my heart when I read something like this and my first thought is, "Well, that can't possibly apply to this situation."
As I was wrestling through this in my mind, I remembered something I'd heard once, I can't remember where, about the Lord. Our Lord never asks us to do something for others that He hasn't already done, in some form, for us.
When someone says something, with or without intention, that hurts my feelings or hurts my heart,I react by trying to cover that wounded place in my heart. I immediately retract inside of myself to make sure I'm okay, to lick my proverbial wounds. But what if instead of reacting to cover that place in me that was hurt, I try to cover that person in my mind? What if I stopped analyzing the size and gravity of my wound, and just started speaking out a blessing on the person who inflicted it? What if I had faith for other people's lives, and believed in the very best of who they were? Because behind every offense, isn't the deepest pain the disappointment we feel that someone isn't what we thought they were? That someone we believed was our friend and confidant has suddenly become distant and maybe even mean-spirited?
I think God's heart is for us to give grace to the people around us. To look at them and see what the Lord sees...someone with divine purpose, eternal standing before the Throne, and a place in God's heart. Someone of so much value and worth that our Father was willing to sacrifice everything to win them a place in Heaven. Someone worthy of our love, hope, and forgiveness.
It's easier, probably, to do this with someone who didn't actually intend to offend us, or hurt our feelings. It's harder to do it we know someone meant to snub us, or exclude us, or ruffle our feathers. But that's when it becomes even more necessary. It goes along with the saying, "Hurt people hurt people". And that person might be one word of encouragement, one word of affirmation away from being lifted out of the pit they are stuck in. And how much more powerful would the encouragement be if it came from someone they'd just hurt?
When Chad and I fight, it basically is me fighting and Chad sitting back and listening, or laughing...depending on how ridiculous I'm being. Truly. But there isn't anything better for my heart then when I come back after ranting about something and calling him names that I don't really mean, to find that he still loves me. And not only that he loves me, but he still sees the woman he fell in love with and married and he's got the guts to forgive me and we get to start again. Sometimes its in those moments just after a fight that I feel closest to him. It's amazing what it does for my heart just to know that one person, perhaps the person whose opinion matters most, believes in the woman I am becoming rather than the woman I am.
Isn't that what Jesus does for us every single day?
Revelation 12:10 describes the enemy as "the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night". He's constantly bringing up my sins, even in the court of God, trying to get God to give up hope in my life. But 1 John 2:1 says: "If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." That word advocate is parakletos: summoned, called to one's side, especially called to one's aid, one who pleads another's cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate, one who pleads another's cause with one, an intercessor; of Christ in his exaltation at God's right hand, pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins,in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant.
When I was little and I'd get in trouble, I would burst into tears and start apologising. I guess I hated relational tension, even at a really young age. I can vividly remember a few times like that, where I just couldn't handle my mom being disappointed me. And she was the best about letting me know it was okay, and she still loved me. I've not really grown out of that. If I do something that I know dishonors the Lord, I gotta go to Him. I have to make sure He doesn't hate me. And despite the millions of times I've failed Him, He's never once given me the cold shoulder or told me to come back later when the wound wasn't so fresh. He just lets me right back in, and we pick up where we left off. He doesn't start rearranging my future because now He really knows who I am, and He's not so confident I will ever get to where He's planned for me to. He's not begrudging. He's got the most endless patience of anyone I know. And He wants us to forgive like He does. To handle offense like He does.
So the next time someone offends me, steals my joy, hurts my feelings, I want to show them the same grace Jesus shows me. To believe in my heart the best about them, to see the person they are truly, and to offer them immediate forgiveness, whether they've asked for it or not. It's going to take so much emotional effort to do those things I won't possibly have time to analyze how bad I'm hurt. And that's just fine, because I'll probably just bring infection if I start to try and fix it myself; the Lord is the shepherd and overseer of my soul, and He is my Good Physician.
*Disclaimer: Since posting this, I've had a few precious friends start asking if they offended me or if I am offended...and I feel awful! I wrote this during a quiet time, when I was reading that verse and with no particular time in mind. I just was thinking about how the Lord wants me to handle offense, and how I've failed in the past at it. As a general rule, I never want to blog out of venting or pointed at anyone person or time or event!! Please forgive me if I caused any confusion! It was unintended, and I'm so sorry!