People You Can’t Stand

People you can’t stand. The mutual friends that annoy you, the coworkers that are mean, the guy on the bus that gives you attitude because you sat next to him, and the people that shove you around in the crowded subways. Sometimes they are irritating blips on your life screen; other times you get caught up in a cycle of anger and resentment.

You pray and ask God to help you love them. Maybe you have to say that prayer repeatedly, in each moment that your heart rebels against the command to love them. It’s not easy to have the grace that God has. 

Just take a moment to soak that in. It gives new insight to the oft-repeated but rarely-considered line in the Lord’s prayer – “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others who have trespassed against us.” How easily we ask for God’s forgiveness yet we rarely think of the well of patience our Lord has for us.

There is a mind-blowing (if you really let your heart mull over it) lesson to learn from these interactions – how amazingly endless is the DEPTH AND BREADTH OF GOD’S LOVE & GRACE?!

*Image taken from:http://www.pktfuel.com/neighbourly-love/

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Struck down but not destroyed.

struck-down-but-not-destroyedYou know that awful feeling when you’ve done something wrong? That anxious guilt at the pit of your stomach? Or the nervousness of facing the consequences and not knowing how things will turn out?

We’ve all felt the weight of sin, regardless of whether we believe in God or not. Guilt and darkness and negativity – every human being is familiar with those things at some level.

We’ve all had those moments in life when everything feels impossible – when your shoulders are weighed down by the world in a way that feels worse than anything you’ve ever known. Or when you feel stuck in a cycle you desperately want to get out of but don’t know if you can. Some might say ‘it feels worse than death’.

Imagine choosing to take that feeling for someone else; for every single sin of every single person that ever walked this earth.

Jesus did that. A perfect and pure man took on every ounce of darkness, shame, guilt,  and hopelessness from all of us, onto himself.

Can we even begin to comprehend what that felt like? He experienced absolute separation from God, our Father- our connection to hope and peace and joy. His cry on the cross was raw anguish (Matthew 27:46)!

 

All for us.

All for love.

So that even when we feel like God isn’t there, He is.

So that we never have to be separated from God, if we don’t want to be.

So that we can be free from the shackles of everything dark.

 

The story we celebrate this Sunday is one of perfect love. A love of incredible sacrifice. A love that allows us to have victory, hope, and freedom no matter where we are in life, what we’ve done, or what situation we’re facing.

That feeling worse than death? It doesn’t have to be our reality. That’s what it means when we say that Jesus overcame death for us. That’s why we can say “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

Stand on the promise of Jesus’ resurrection and know that you can trust in God’s victory in your life.

Why Good Friday is GOOD

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During Christmas we celebrate the beginning of a love story and on Easter we celebrate “Happily Ever After”. Easter is all about you! And no, I’m not talking about the really cute outfit you’re planning to wear this Sunday 😉

I’m talking about the passionate love of God. Passion that is all-consuming and overpowering. Passion that caused Jesus to look at us and say the pain is worth it; the rejection is worth it; the brokenness is worth it. Passion that enabled us to identify with the Son of God.

Take a look at this author’s perspective on the good of Good Friday.

“490 Acts of Love!”

Word For Life Says . . .

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven,” Matthew 18:22, KJV

Gulp!  Yes, forgiveness in any form can be a hard pill to swallow.  But, let me ask you this.  How many times has God said no to us whenever we sought healing and restoration for the wrongs we have done?  Exactly, He hasn’t!

Forgiveness, much like love, is nothing to be played with.  It is not a lip service to please others rather, it is a heart service to the Lord.  It is, in a sense, showing to others the same grace and mercy that God showed toward us.

Immediately following this verse, so that there were no misconceptions about the seriousness of this point that He was making, Jesus sealed it with a story of one who showed mercy and offered forgiveness and one who didn’t:

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Struggle to forgive: Another perspective

Getting Our Hands Dirty Keeps the Flowers Purty! – An insightful post about forgiveness that I think you’ll appreciate.   

Also, here is my original “Struggle to Forgive” post.  

Struggle to Forgive

Betrayal is a difficult thing. Maybe it’s a minor incident, something small that was said about you. No matter how minor the issue, you’re in that “head space”. You’re questioning the foundation of your closest relationships and the sincerity of those who claim to like you and even love you. You wonder why you allow yourself to invest so much of yourself and allow people into your life who have the ability to hurt you. What is it all for? Why do we allow ourselves to believe in others and to trust in them when it all just ends in disappointment and anxiety? Perhaps you even doubt your own like-ability. After all, if someone could talk about you that way, then they didn’t really like you in the first place, right? And if those closest to you don’t actually like you, then what does that say about you?

There are several important struggles you’re facing – one to forgive, another to stay vulnerable, and another to deal with the insecurities that come up in the midst of it all.

The struggle to forgive is one that I am now rather familiar with. The things I’ve had to forgive are actually not even that serious or earth-shattering in the broad scheme of things. In fact, given the powerfully painful impact of these “smaller”, less serious incidents; it’s scary to even consider how crippling anything “bigger” could be. How much more would I doubt the sincerity in every word and every action? For how much longer would I have to wrangle that doubt into submission so that it didn’t turn into cynicism?

In the past year, the act of forgiveness has taken on new meaning for me. As has the act of forgetting. It’s as if you are in a never-ending cycle of attempting to forgive, feeling guilty for not being able to let go, and getting angry all over again. And when you’re repeatedly faced with the same offense, it feels like you’re not allowed to move on.  On top of that, you’re mourning a loss; the loss of something that was once pure but is now tainted; the loss of the ability to be lovingly tolerant and patient.

Forgiveness, for me, was quite a long process. I prayed for God to help me forgive and let go. And then I prayed for God to forgive me because I knew that my attitude was wrong. I read articles, read the Bible, and fervently listened to sermons in which I felt sure God was speaking to my heart. I tried to submit every negative thought to God and asked him to give me guidance as to what to do and where to go with these relationships. In the process, I learned a lot. I grew in my relationship with God, I became more acquainted with the meaning of submitting everything to Him, and I matured as a woman. However, I knew that I hadn’t quite achieved “the goal”.

My perceptions of others were still colored by doubt. It was exhausting (it is exhausting). I didn’t like who I was becoming in reaction to these incidents and I was tired of the cycle. Finally, after numerous attempts to “forgive and forget”, I decided that the best thing to do would be to pull away. In this particular situation, neither pulling away or staying was easy, but staying was getting to be too difficult. I was sure that the only available solution, the only way to love as God would want me to, was to love at a distance.

But God had other plans. Circumstances brought me to a place where it became clear that instead of pulling away, we were meant to try again. He called us to “stick it out”, talk things through, and figure out how to move forward in a healthy way. This time around, we would work on honoring God in our relationships and we would rebuild what was broken. Conversation helped remove the bitterness and in an incredibly short span of time, things are turning around rapidly. It’s still tough sometimes, those colored lenses still manage to interfere on occasion but I recognize them as the devil’s attempt to get me back into a negative space. God has so definitively intervened that I’ve decided he clearly wants me to fight temptation and work on improving these relationships as well as myself.

Recently, I experienced a setback (hence this particular entry). What happens when you’re faced with it all over again? When yet another person close to you does something to put you back in that negative mindset? When you feel like you’re starting all over again.

This past Sunday, the visiting priest gave a particularly relevant (in many ways) sermon about healing. I found one of his points particularly salient – that it’s God’s prerogative how he chooses to heal. We may expect him to act in a certain way – some formula we’ve seen in others’ lives. But it’s not up to us! We can ask for healing or we can ask for his intervention but how that plays out is up to Him. (As it should be! I certainly don’t know how things should play out nor do I want to make that decision because I’m sure to mess it up.)

So far, I’m seeing God act in a different way this time around. I find myself letting this incident go much sooner than I anticipated and instead, focusing on my reactions.  I’m not sure how everything will work out but I believe the lessons of the past are serving me well. I believe that God will heal my heart, help me forgive, and take me somewhere unexpected the way he did before.

**A good article that touches on this topic in a different way – A Wonderful Absurdity

A Grace-Dependent Life

We all fail – and I don’t mean in the “achieving a goal” way. I think we all reach a point in our lives when we look at ourselves and think, “That is not the way I should be acting or reacting. It’s a wonder that God can not only forgive me but LOVE me; not define me by my weaknesses but see who I really am.”

This article speaks to that realization of what grace is really about.

A Grace-Dependent Life