Photo credit goes to Owen Mann of Ithaca, New York, a friend
I have been through enough in my life to know that sometimes it’s better to part ways with people who are bent on hurting you than to pretend to get along. Say you peace, be sure to tell them about Jesus and then limit contact. I am not talking about marriage, that’s different. Vowing to God that you will continue to love and respect someone as He works to refine you is a different matter. You can choose whom you marry but as far as sacrificing to be around others in order to feel like a good person is not necessary. Even Jesus had an inner circle of friends, of those who wanted to follow him. I am no one’s savior. I’m not confused. I say my peace, set clear boundaries and if you can’t respect that and you consistently demonstrate your desire to harm me, I will be Abraham and you can be Lot or better yet, I will be Jacob and you can be Laban and we can say our farewells, because I do not need to be fake and frustrated. I am honest and I like to help people but I am not the doctor. Call me if you want to talk seriously about accepting Christ and his conditions or you want to hear the truth as far as I can help direct you to it, but until then though, I have to insist, I do not do drama unless you’re the entertainment.
As an adult and a Christian I know better than to continue allow anyone, besides my children, to exasperate me or to bind me with their issues. My children are the most important people in my life and defend my God-given privilege of being their steward. They are my husband’s and my responsibility, a point which has caused contention in my extended family for sure. My mother-in-law hates me. I kid you not. My husband has his issues concerning this but he admits that I have done a better job than he’s been willing to do. This is a husband who says he does not love me or in my estimate, just doesn’t know how, also not having grown up with a godly example of what familial love looks like. His actions more often than not are consistent with that profession, however; he is slowly improving as he surrenders to the word of God. I grew up with men who were not my natural father so I too did not have a lifetime of learning how to recognize or enjoy unconditional love. Being a sexually abused child, I became confused and was often deceived by my own perceptions and so I made dumb mistakes as a teen and as an adult and even as a Christian. My life has not been a total mess. I have a mother who loved as much as she could being a child of abuse herself, and an older sister who cared for me often as a parent would. My brothers for the most are distant either by miles or by occupation. Friends are few and close friends even fewer and in the past if I thought about it long enough, emotional struggles would get me really depressed, even suicidal but I hold on to Christ with both hands. I am ever learning and being transformed. I am here.
Bitterness comes from holding onto hate and believing that you can rearrange the cosmos, direct the universe and change the path of another person’s life to make that someone pay for whatever they’ve done to you. You and I are human and we are limited in our perceptions. At best we can only assume that we know someone’s motives for doing anything. We have a hard time even when it comes to knowing our own true motives but God knows everything, whether it has been intentionally hidden through self denial or whether it has been lost and forgotten, he knows. He knows every person’s deep thoughts, the darkest secrets, the strangest desires and he knows the heart and what it takes to change each and every one forever.
We, in all our self righteousness want to exact punishment swiftly and without an ounce of mercy and yet we so often ignore the fact that someone may have something against us and may very well feel the same vengeful, angry passion. Not that anger is wrong. God made us with the ability to emote. God himself gets angry. He also hates. If it wasn’t for his mercy and grace, we would all be lost. Anger can be an indicator signaling that something is wrong. And the Bible tells us to be angry (with an righteous anger) but to sin not. Always remember what God said in his word about mercy. “…So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2: 12,13 And Paul explained in 1 Timothy 1:15, 16, “…It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” In being gracious and merciful, we are displaying God’s compassionate character to those who need it.
God does not sin so he does not need to be shown mercy or grace nor he does not need anyone’s forgiveness. And although there are many who rebel against his righteousness and many who consider themselves to be God’s judge, no one can judge God. “…What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.” But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.)…” Romans 3:3-5 He is able to judge every situation without being a merciless hypocrite. “…What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, ‘I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.’ So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy… Romans 9:14-16
When this King pronounces a sentence, he has known from the time before time began that the person who offended you would offend you. He knew the events which led up to that choice and he knows the consequences that will follow. He knows how far the aftermath will reach and how long it will last. His mercy and his grace have to do their work for the best possible outcome, for the most possible, at the right time possible, for the longest time possible. He doesn’t make mistakes but we do. We have all said and done things that we’ve regretted after having had time to review the circumstances in hindsight. Forgive now because what you’ve done to your God is far worse and he forgave you completely. He is washing you in his word and is taking you to be with him forever. Holding a grudge just isn’t worth the energy. “I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven; and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 God was not just telling Peter this. He who built his church on the confession and answer to a question he posed to the disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” And we all believe and confess like Peter did, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Forgiveness does not remove consequences. Remember the theft on the cross next to Jesus. “…And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:42,43 “Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ 34 The criminal who came to believe continued to suffer the consequences of his actions and he died. “
The Bible says, “Be on your guard! If your brother sins,” meaning another Christian, “rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him,” however; this doesn’t mean that all relationships will be salvaged. Sometimes, for the sake of peace, friendships cannot be maintained and yet we know that all things work together… (Romans 8:28) and the things with which we are ‘disciplined’ by are run through God’s filter before we enter the ‘classroom’ where we are refined. It is he do the work of separating his children from sin and so we must comply reminding ourselves that the comfort we receive from our Father, while we suffer all kinds of things which are designed to refine us, can be paid forward to others going through similar sufferings. In other words, all these things have a purpose beyond our understanding. God has all things covered and so we can simply rest from our own inner struggles of trying to figure things out and trying hopelessly to save ourselves. We can just rest in his very capable hands knowing that he’s got it. He forgave all those who have come to him for salvation. If anything needs to be done, God will deliver the appropriate treatment. Vengeance is God’s. Forgive.
My husband and I have reconciled out of obedience to God and I am working on my relationship with my mother-in-law. She needs Jesus more than I need to completely avoid her.