Sisters and Grace

Growing up I had two sisters (also a lone brother, pity him).  My older sister is 7 years older than me so I mostly looked up to her, followed her around, and attempted to read her diary (unsuccessfully though because it was in cursive, and I was 7).

My younger sister was only a year younger though so we were incredibly close but fought like you wouldn’t believe.

32435_10152250634410074_184616146_n
We only looked sweet and innocent!

I’m pretty sure my parents considered adoption at points!

We’re both so much alike in that we are head strong, idealistic, and passionate.  We’ve gotten into many debates.  We’ve taken different paths.  At times those paths led us in wildly different directions.  We’ve done things to hurt each other.  I was the dutiful, worried big sister and she was the care-free little sister throwing caution to the wind.

But blood is thicker than water and we’ve always come back and managed to sort through our differences. cicisash

When you love people you find common ground.  You work things out.  You forgive.

Offense can sneak in and bring down families, churches, marriages, even ones faith.

I was wrestling with it recently (um, today, it was today) and I want to share how we can recognize it and deal with it effectively.

As soon as I realized I was upset with a certain someone I tried to quiet my emotions and keep my perspective.  But when you are offended your emotions get inflamed with hurt and anger and indignation and perspective can be quick to fly out the window.  My own tendency is to get offended and then try to figure it out on my own, like “why did that person do that?  What are they really saying?  What is their problem? (it’s always their problem, amiright?!)”…

But today I felt all that rising up in me and I stopped, dropped and prayed.  I did.  I put my hair dryer down and knelt right in my bathroom to pray.  “Lord, I don’t want to be offended.  I know it is a big deal to you.  Lord, help me to let this go.  Lord, please help this person.  Please give them clarity and grace and maybe a gentle smack up the side of the head with an anointing of perspective.  Amen.”

Normally I wouldn’t surrender it like that.  I’d analyze and over-analyze and get all tied up in knots over it.  I would sleep horribly and then feel even worse.  Because offense steals our peace.  It steals our joy.  It stops up the fountain of the grace of God from flowing freely in our lives.

But I did pray, and I felt so much better.  I let it go.  I didn’t pick it back up.

Often, people hurt us out of their own places of wounding.  Our insecurity causes us to act a fool at times.  It can control us if we aren’t careful.  I know I’ve sinned from that place.  I’ve needed grace a’plenty.  Why would I not being willing to extend it?

There are very serious warning about not letting offense come in and take over.

“Pursue peace with all men…that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  Hebrews 12:14-15 

Your bitter root is not staying contained.  That thing is going to wind its way around you until it chokes the life out of you and goes on to defile many.  Bitterness is something that we starve or nurture.  We need to pull it out by the root.  We need to deal with offenses as they come so that we don’t have any rotten roots growing wild producing rotten fruit stinking up our lives.

We’re all human so it’s safe to say that wherever we gather; stupid, insensitive things will be said.  People will feel left out.  People will clash.

We need to keep strengthening those forgiveness muscles.  Especially in those close relationships where you see people at their best and also at their worst.

There isn’t much sadder than the distance that results from a refusal to forgive.  People can genuinely love each other but lose years of precious time together because of the bitterness that took hold.

Also, (hello) it’s a major, major deal to God.

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  Matthew 6:15

God isn’t going to give you this beautiful and costly gift for you to hoard to yourself.  We don’t siphon grace.  We live it out.  He forgave, so we can too.

Advertisements

Let it Go

Lately I have had a couple oppurtunities to forgive.  My experience has been that the initial offense or whatever happens, I position my heart to ‘forgive’ mode, and forget about it.  Then later on, when I am minding my own business, the enemy magnifies the offense in my mind.  I get a fresh surge of anger and/or hurt.  I realize I have a right to be ticked about it.  Dangit.  Anyone else?

I usually don’t get too far in this silent conversation with my anger and unforgiveness before (thankfully!) the Holy Spirit starts chiming in.  Grace.  Forgiveness.  Love.  Not just words but tangible and earth-shatteringly powerful tools in the arsenal of the child of God.  I am commanded to forgive because HE forgives me, day after day.  I am commanded to forgive because bitterness is a poison that woull swallow me alive.

So I wrestle that offense down to the mat.  It’s sticky,  it’s sweaty.  It is tough to let go…at least at first.  The more you actively release the offenses the easier it is to get the muck off of your soul.

I figure it is just like working a knot out of a muscle.  It is pretty, uh, intense in the process.  Painful.  But some things have to be worked out unless you want to keep going on with a dull ache and tightness.  The process is hard but you feel so much better when it is over.

In this life we have to become skilled at the art of letting things go.  Granted, sometimes we genuinely do need to confront (in love) and sometimes there are bridges that need to be torched.  But 90% of the offenses we run up against are just people being people.  We can all be rude, selfish, inconsiderate at times and we all are going to need grace. keep-calm-and-let-it-go-598

And when people do intentionally hurt you, you can know that your Heavenly Father is on it.  Our business in the mess of it is to keep our own souls humble and right before God.  And if say God has forgiven us for an oceans worth of sin in our lifetime can we forgive someone for a buckets worth?

Forgiveness doesn’t make what they did ok.  It makes you ok.

Our hearts were created to stewards all the wonderful things of God.  Bitterness will choke the beauty out of your heart like nothing else.  So…forgive.  Release.  Bless.  Move on.

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Romans 12:14-15