Doing forgiveness is more difficult than talking about it. Full stop.
And yet, it’s one of the only cause and affect activities Jesus talks about, based on Matt 6:14. This is where Jesus says that if we forgive others, our Heavenly Father will forgive us. And Lord knows that I needs heaps of forgiveness! I suspect you might need alot of forgiveness as well 🙂
So what does it look like when we don’t forgive? Here are a few things for your consideration. When we don’t forgive, we:
nurse and rehearse the offense / wound in our thoughts & other people who will sympathize with our pain
look for opportunities to lash out or pay back the hurt
refuse to let the person “off the hook” or recognize and accept God’s grace for them
At the same time, when we forgive it doesn’t mean that we:
position ourself to get repeatedly hurt
excuse, dismiss or ignore the hurtful behavior
continually bring up the offense with the person who was hurtful
Even though forgiveness can be tricky, we need to be forgiving people and we need to keep our forgiveness fresh!
Over the last few weeks, various members of my family have come down with some congestion, a sore throat, runny nose, etc. And in full disclosure, it likely all started with me back in November, when I’d finished an intense travel season and my body was tired and run down. So it’s highly probable that my family caught the crud from me.
I think this idea of being contagious rings true in lots of ways. For example, I’ve noticed that hurt people often hurt people. To this end, hurt can be contagious particularly when there’s an absence of forgiveness. On the positive side, let’s stay committed to genuine love because there’s a good chance that genuine love is also contagious. Indeed, I think we are the most healthy when we receive and express genuine love 🙂
In the last few weeks, I’ve learned of various people who have committed suicide and it’s heart wrenching. A few of these individuals have been pastors, which hits even closer to home considering that I’m a pastor’s kid, I’m married to a pastor and I am a pastor. These events have also made me reflect on various people over the years who have committed suicide.
As much as I want to be articulate in this post, I feel so deeply about this subject that I can’t seem to get my words or thoughts into some semblance of order or cohesive progression. So maybe I’ll just free flow with this post and pray that it’s helpful to you, somehow.
More than anything, I hope that you will be gentle, tender and kind with others and yourself, regardless of any external veneer. When we are in a car and see a handicapped license plate, sticker or a “baby on board” sign, we will often give that person a little extra consideration, grace and space because we know there’s a vulnerable / fragile person inside that vehicle.
May we also have the same mindset with the people in our lives, appreciating that each person with whom we interact, has their own internal struggles regardless of what the exterior looks like or how they behave. Let’s be purposeful to:
Dislocated shoulder, Cambodian spider bite, concussion & maybe a hairline fracture: these are some of the injuries my doctor has diagnosed over the recent years. So whenever I book an appointment, I grimace as I anticipate their amused facial reactions. And I’d prefer to skip the whole experience & be on my merry way, injury free. But life has a way of serving up some hurtful maladies.
Thankfully, we have a Divine Physician who specializes in healing & repairing bodies, emotions, memories, injuries, hurts, etc. Let’s be careful that we don’t allow our tendency to be independent to sabotage Jesus’ healing work. Compensatory behaviors can interfere with divine healing, just sayin’
If we don’t feel pain, we run the risk of being unfeeling, insensitive, cold & apathetic. But for the people who live with chronic pain, feeling pain isn’t good. It’s also difficult to see people who are in pain. So what do we do with pain? Anesthetizing pain with entertainment, booze, exercise & other stuff turns out to be a very destructive way to cope w pain. So rather than anesthetize pain or run from it, let’s consider that we can ask Jesus to take away the pain & help us know Him better through the pain & suffering. Consider what Paul says in Phil 3:10-11, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
skme of the greatest potential for intimacy can happen through the shared experiences of pain & suffering. Even though we don’t like the idea, it’s true nonetheless. Think Gethsemane. Pray when there’s pain & watch what God does.
I hate to fall but moreso I hate the possible injuries that come from falling. We can all remember those times as kids when we scrapped up our hands & knees from falling. And as adults, it’s even less fun to fall. Where – But falling happens. We fall physically & maybe injure our wrists. We also fall in other ways – like having a mishap / fall in a hostile interaction with a co-worker. Or maybe we fall from an emotional struggle & go back to some bad habits. We can fall when there’s an area of pride, possibly our work performance, achievements, intelligence, beauty, etc. Why – We fall because we aren’t paying attention to where we’re going. We fall because we didn’t see an obstacle. We fall because we might be in pride. We fall because we’re going faster than our abilities allow. Help – So when we fall, what are some do’s & dont’s?
Do clean out any wounds to prevent infection – don’t tolerate unforgiveness
Do get up & keep going – don’t quit
Do learn the lessons that come from falling – don’t repeat the exact same fall or mistake
Do keep trying – don’t find excuses for getting rigid & moribund
Do lean into the Holy Spirit to teach you how to walk together & prevent some mishaps & falls 🙂
“The devil would kill ya with a hangnail if he could!” My dad had lots of fun quotes like this. From my childhood, I remember people laughing at this quote & I smiled like I understood, but I didn’t get it. Now that I have some life tread under my belt, I get it.
The enemy of your soul is out to rattle your cage, poison your thinking & sideline you with anything possible, even a hangnail.
Don’t let him – full stop.
Some helpful pointers:
Keep your eyes in Jesus.
Keep loving wholly.
Feed yourself the Bible everyday.
Chose faith & reject doubt.
Never forget that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!
“I most certainly don’t want to hear THAT!” One of my kids said this to me a few days ago about a character flaw. We all have things that we don’t like or want to hear, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t need to hear these things.
Over the course of many years, I’ve had all kinds of feedback & input, some of which wasn’t kindly given & some of which was somewhere north of Jupiter, utter nonsense. However, I’m learning that negative feedback can often be more helpful than positive feedback, even when it’s given poorly or with unkind motives. We would be wise to remember that because our Heavenly Father loves us, He corrects & trains us not to be hurtful but rather to help us walk in the fullness of His design for us!
Remember Hebrews 12:5-6, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”
My physical therapist stretches my shoulder & that’s a nice way to say that she hurts me & sometimes I don’t like her, like today. I even used the breathing exercises with my children being born to manage the therapy pain.
But sometimes pain is good:
when it’s part of the path for improving & maturation
some conversations are painful because they’re working through hot zones
sometimes it hurts to get healthy
pain can be the process through which something new & wonderful is birthed
Not all pain is bad in the grand scheme of things 🙂
I’m coming to appreciate what it means to compensate from dislocating my shoulder in early January. When I injured my shoulder, I tore off some of the cartiledge from the bone so my shoulder muscles have been endeavoring to compensate and they’re getting very tired of doing extra duty for the last two months. It seems to me that we all try to compensate in various ways for things that we perceive as deficiencies, shortfalls and weaknesses. And here’s the honest truth: none of us are all of that & a bag of chips. We are all flawed, masterpieces in the making, rough cut & ragged on the inside & outside.
So rather than trying to compensate by amplifying our humanity, let’s lean into God, give up some control and trust that God is working in and on us, conforming us to the image of Jesus with the power & presence of the Holy Spirit 🙂
Recently, the controversial pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from being the lead pastor for Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Yesterday, the church announced that it was disbanding and dissolving all of its satellite campuses, giving each location freedom to chart it’s own path for the future. Being a pastor’s kid and having lived in church for most of my life, this announcement saddens me for various reasons:
as humans, we often fall into the trap of following people more than we follow Jesus
oftentimes the people we think are leading us closer to Christ are made of the same flawed flesh in which we live and breath
we struggle with how to keep each other accountable without being judgmental, intolerant or divisive
we are susceptible to many internal deceptions that stroke our flesh and poison our passion for Jesus
somewhere it talks about striking the shepherd and scattering the sheep
So here’s my point: there are lots of hurt, confused and disillusioned people from all of this fallout with Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll, many of whom have followed Jesus because of Pastor Mark’s leadership and influence, as well as the communities that had formed around the satellite churches connected with Mars Hill. In 1Cor 12, Paul talks about the how the body of Christ functions together, diverse parts and pieces working together in complementary more than competitive ways, promoting Jesus in all ways and opportunities. In Galatians 6, Paul talks about how we should bear each other’s burdens, restoring, assisting and being part of Jesus’ redemptive work.
So as members of the body of Christ, let’s be devoted to pray for this situation and moreso for the people who may find themselves floundering from all of these changes. Let’s pray:
that the enemy does not make progress with this opportunity for strife, dissension and conflict
for the body of Christ that has been a part of the Mars Hill fellowship – let’s pray for their hearts
A few of my kids went to school this morning after a heated conversation. Both had tears in their eyes & it rips me up as their mom to see this tension and strife. Which makes me wonder how God “feels” when we are yucky with each other. The truth is that any relationship worth it’s weight will have to work through conflict. So here are a few pointers to help with this challenge:
benefit of the doubt: assume the best rather than blame the worst
double standard: be mindful that you don’t just the other person by actions but ourselves by intentions
breathing space: sometimes a “cool down” can bring some clarity and options that aren’t available when we are in the heat of a conflict
be generous: seek to understand before being understood
forgive well: practice makes perfect
conclusion: sometimes the best outcome is to agree to disagree without being disagreeable 🙂
When I think about forgiveness, you don’t have to convince me that I need to forgive – I’m already on board with that. The tricky part for me is the actual forgiving. Here are some tips that might help you:
forgiveness isn’t a feeling. Consider the Corrie Ten Boom quote, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
forgiveness in the greek means “to let go or release”: when we forgive, we release the hurt, bitterness, judgment & pain
proficient forgiveness requires practice
forgiveness must be kept fresh – stale forgiveness can grow putrid in our emotions and thoughts
Here’s a cool & short video that could be helpful: forgiveness
“Eveybody likes you, Sarah!” That’s what my dad would always say when I’d come home from school, complaining that no one liked me. Now that I think about it, the truth is somewhere between the 2 extremes: everyone & no one. Rejection is tricky, but all of us have to manage it at various times & in varying degrees. Here are some thoughts that I hope you’ll find helpful:
rejection is universal: everyone gets rejected at some point (some of those points are linear, connecting the dots & some are hops & skips)
being rejected isn’t as important as what you do with it
is there a reason for you being rejected? Do you need to make some adjustments?
forgiveness redeems rejection & transforms it to something of great value (consider Joseph & his brothers who sold him into slavery in Genesis)
God never rejects you – you are accepted among the beloved – Eph 1:6
In Jesus’ life, His crucifixion (the ultimate rejection) came immediately on the heels of Palm Sunday
I had an interesting conversation with a friend this morning who expressed some observations about me that could be kind of scratchy. If you’re like me, sometimes when I hear things about me that I don’t like, I want to blow it off & pretend that these things aren’t true. But just because we may not like certain things that we hear or see about ourselves doesn’t mean that they’re not true – in fact, sometimes the truth hurts, even if a person is trying to be gentle, kind & gracious.
So just because something hurts, does that give us the permission to ignore or lash back? Nope.
When I step back & pause, what I really want in my life is for The Helper, aka Spirit of Truth, to be comfortable to speak with me and to engage in my daily living – even when it costs me some rough spots and scabs 🙂
So here’s to listening, growing & learning, with band-aids, neosporin & Help 😀
I haven’t met many people who enjoy being criticized. It’s not fun & can often be hurtful. But here’s some thoughts that might be helpful:
*listen & process – often times there is at least a grain of truth in some of the critical content
*forgive – criticism is usually hurtful & the most constructive way to deal with hurt is by forgiving
*grow – chose to grow & learn. Get better & not bitter
*intentions – when a person is critical of us they may have mean intentions or maybe helpful. What a person intends is not as important as what we do with the criticism 🙂
There are all different kinds of pain: a broken arm, a sunburn, rejection, aggressive words, neglectful behavior, perceived exclusion, disappointment, grief, . . . . . When we are in pain or have pain in our lives we don’t like it, not one bit. But in my mind, a significant challenge with pain is not that we have pain, but rather what we do with it & even how we manage it (rather than letting it manage us). Here are a few bullet thoughts that might merit some consideration:
*forgiveness can interrupt the continual cycle of pain in our relationships
*when we have pain, it’s important that we don’t perpetuate our pain by hurting others
*Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, He is our ultimate Healer
*we must be vigilent to ensure that pain doesn’t become our identity – a painful person
*focus is an important component with pain – it seems to me that the more we focus on the hurt, the worse it gets
*on the flip side, I’ve discovered that when I keep my focus on Jesus, The Healer, the pain decreases in the light of His majesty
May we experience Jesus as our ultimate Healer for every pain in our lives 🙂
At various times in our lives, we are all the targets & recipient of hurtful words. In elementary school, kids can often say things without thinking of how their words can be received. Then in Jr & Sr high school, it seems like we get more sophisticated with our ability to use piercing & hurtful words. By the time we’re adults, many of us have become very proficient at integrating sarcasm with our cleverly cloaked words so that we can slice & filet someone with very crafted and deadly words.
So what do we do with hurtful words? Here are a couple of helpful thoughts:
forgive – whether the words were intentionally hurtful or not, forgiving must be your first & continual action
dial down the emotions & see what could be truthful with the hurtful words
make a constructive decision to get better & not bitter – let the hurtful words give you motivation to make some healthy changes rather than letting them fester in your emotional memory being nursed & rehearsed
repay mean words with a smile rather than trying to craft a come back or pay back
take the hurt to Jesus & let Him bring His healing into that pain
Pain isn’t always the main issue. But what you do with pain will determine it’s results 🙂
I recently slipped in our big snow storm and hurt my ankle and no, I’m not any good at injuries of any sort. My norm is just to ignore them & keep going – no time to be gimpy! Unfortunately, this little ankle thing isn’t responding well to being ignored.
I think the same can be true with us spiritually. Sometimes there are injuries in our hearts that require some attention. Here a few ideas that could help:
ice: it cuts back on the swelling and the agitation; when our hearts are hurt, it’s helpful to cool down before making any decisions or having some conversations (cooling down doesn’t mean simmering to re-load ammunition or nit picking to fester the injury more)
elevation: lifting up our hearts to the Holy Spirit gives space and opportunity for divine involvement, where there is always healing, repair and rejuvenation
rest: sometimes we need to give our hearts a chance to recover and “breath”; heart trauma or injury often requires some time and processing to get to a place where there can be constructive progress (just be careful that rest doesn’t turn into withdrawal)
Now that’s a loaded question with all kinds of implications. I think that some people won’t allow themselves to be mad or disappointed with God for fear of being disrespectful. Other folk go so far as to totally alienate any contribution or participation from God in their lives because of their anger, hurt or disappointment with God. Is there a healthy middle point? Can a person be angry, frustrated, hurt, disappointed with God but still keep their relationship withHim?
If you’re in this difficult spot, it can be helpful to read Job to see how he dealt with his anger, hurt & disappointment with God. Here are a few things I’ve learned from Job when it relates to being angry or disappointed with God:
being honest with God is a necessary ingredient for intimacy with God
stay engaged – withdrawing or pulling away from God hurts you and is a dead end
give God plenty of space & time to respond to you
be willing to adjust, repent & change
arrogance undercuts any constructive dialogue with God
I had coffee with a friend the other day & this friend can be a little cranky from time to time & I was concerned that our coffee gathering was going to be “one of those times.” I didn’t feel like I could cancel the coffee date but I was kind of jittery about what path the conversation would take. So I thought about some different strategies I could use for this potentially volatile coffee time & here were some of my thoughts:
I could endeavor to keep the conversation shallow & discuss the weather, sports & all things surfacy. I decided against this option because she would know that I was being disengenuous.
I could arrive late & have to leave early before anything dicey could come up – again, that would be disengenuous
I could just brace myself for whatever might be said & keep a tough shell so that nothing she could say would zing me. With this option, I would guard myself from being totally present in the conversation
I could pre-forgive her – making the decision ahead of time to forgive her no matter what she might say, regardless of if she was trying to be intentionally hurtful or not. I decided for this option 🙂
So here was the outcome – our coffee time went well, we had a great conversation & there was nothing too zing-y that I had to work through & forgive. I liked the pre-forgiveness strategy so much that I decided to share it with you & use it again in other situations that have any hurtful potetial 🙂
Today in America is a day that we remember the heroes & victims of the destruction of 9/11 ten years ago. Many of us probably have clear recollections of where we were on that day & what we were doing. Such an attack on America hadn’t happened in almost 5 decades & our lives have changed as a result of the events of 9/11.
The destruction that occurred on that day has ignited many different responses throughout our nation & the world. But here’s my challenge: destruction can only be transformed with a constructive reply. Hurting someone who has hurt you doesn’t change hurt. Insulting those who insult you doesn’t change the insults. Let’s be mindful about our responses to hurtful things – let’s be constructive & decide not to perpetuate destructive & hurtful behaviors
I’m a big fan of being proficient with forgiveness – after all, we get to practice almost everyday! ,)
There are LOADS of benefits that go with maintaining a lifestyle of forgiveness, but the point for this blog is to refresh a few tips & to give you an opportunity to share some effective tips you’ve learned as well. So here’s a quickie sarah forgiveness primer:
be ready to forgive more than you’re ready to take an offense – sometimes it helps to have a forgiveness mindset
fast forgiving is easier than elongated forgiving: anytime I’ve nursed a hurt, the forgiving process gets quagmired & almost moribund before I know it :/
some people require more forgiveness than others; some of us are proned to the foot-in-mouth syndrome so please don’t make us squirm as we try to get better
forgiveness is about personal liberty: for those of us who are Americans, its hard for me to understand why we are so adamant about our external freedom, but we can be virtually oblivious to our internal incarceration
I want to be super generous with forgiveness because Lord knows He gives me more than I can comprehend; people who are stingy with forgiveness are usually mean & lonely 🙁
We often associate growing pains with childhood – when our joints were sore as kids or teenagers for some unknown reason. We might have been growing too fast for our bodies to adjust without some aches & pains. I think this is also true as an adult but in different ways.
Let me give you a few examples:
being less selfish is often a painful decision, but it is one that frequently reflects a level of growth & maturity as an adult
being more selective about when & how we communicate shows that we are making progress from “blurting out” whatever could be flying through our mind; this is a noble goal, but it can require painful discipline to shut our mouth when we have something really “zingy” to say
doing what’s helpful, constructive or even sacrificial when we don’t want to; I surrender “getting my way” for something I consider to be more important – for me this relates to letting Jesus use my life as a platform to express His will (hopefully, with minimal distortion)
getting good at something I’m not good at; there are lots of schools of thought on this idea: stay in your sweet spot, do what you’re good at, maximize your talents & minimize your liabilities, etc. But in my life so far, I find that I don’t get the luxury to do only what I’m good at – I’m required to LOTS of different things, many of which I’m not good at. So here’s my choice: do the things I’m bad at with ongoing sloppiness, using the excuse that I’m just not designed that way OR do the things I’m bad at with the intent that I’m going to try to get better at them each time I have to do these things.
Maturity requires growth & growing can be painful. But I’d hate to become increasingly older & remain as immature as I am now 🙂