Displaying items by tag: Women's Ministry
Anger wells up when life seems unfair. Recently, a memory snaked its way back into my mind. That waitress was so rude, why didn’t management get notified. Instead I sat there and took it. Rehearsing the speech, I wish I gave I laid awake for hours. Friends that incident occurred years ago. Why did it slip in now? I don’t know but it was something I needed to get rid of.
After laying there for a while I heard this whisper “Why are you holding onto that offense?”
“Well, I don’t know.”
“What are you supposed to do?” The whisper continued.
“Forgive. I forgive that waitress for her insensitivity and the frustration she caused in me. Forgive me for hanging on to this memory like a dog with a bone. I’m so sorry Lord.”
Culturally acceptable, this emotion can cripple us. We allow the imagined argument to swirl around in our heads, feeling justified by the cause.
Ephesians 4:26-27 is a well-known verse among church goers. “And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” It is known but seems so hard to do. It is easy to point out in others but difficult to apply to ourselves. Sometimes we don’t even see the bitterness we are hanging onto.
Sweet old ladies welcome everyone, the mood of the room lightens when they are present. Without complaint emotions are faced and dealt with. Forgiveness can get easier with age but only if it’s regularly applied. Unforgiveness leads to bitterness which leads to an inhospitable environment.
There is a woman at my church who has survived a traumatic childhood. Her teenage years were spent in Germany during World War II. She lost a great deal. She came to the United States as a young woman and became a citizen. Now as an elderly member of our church she calls all of us family. She loves the Lord and lives in gratitude for the life He has given her. She is always ready with a hug and word of encouragement. She gives honest feedback but always delivers truth in love. Her presence invites others in as a strong example to those around her. She is a role model for me but scoffs at me when I tell her so.
When I am angry, I need to remember.
God is good
Vengeance belongs to Him.
The other person who made me angry is made in the image of God
The other person deserves God’s grace as much as I do.
Extending forgiveness benefits both of us.
Choose between a lighthearted or bitter future.
It seems easy yet human nature naturally embraces the trap of regurgitating past hurts. Return to the top of the list fight the urge to hold on lay it at the feet of Jesus. He reminds us that His burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30) Always ready for us, He call us, the weary, to Him.
I clenched my hands in my lap as my daughter slipped into last place after swimming a difficult race. Once out of the pool, she sunk to the floor, her body heaving as she struggled to catch her breath. Come on girl, it wasn’t that bad. Teammates gathered around her. Should I go down there? I’ve never seen this in her before.
I’d just witnessed my child having the first of many panic attacks. It was a surreal experience, and it reminded me that as a parent, my ability to control my child’s world is an illusion. We could not fix this for her. Seeing my child spiral in her own mental health magnifies my own temptation to worry. As we escorted her back to health, she saw doctors and counselors and gained tools to battle this beast.
As a senior in high school, fear of the future fed her anxiety. Feeling pressured to determine a lifelong career, she struggled to balance her current responsibilities with the best choice to continue her education. We watched as her battle ebbed and flowed, her triggers unpredictable. Unbeknownst to us, this inner conflict had been brewing under the surface for years.
As senior year progressed, her growth in health and faith complemented one another. She took control of her diet and exercise. She questioned promises in Scripture, pressing into the One who created her. She began to understand the Holy Spirit guided her daily through this difficult journey.
She left for college one year into the healing process. Far from us, I cried myself to sleep. Could she do this without our daily support?
As her parents, we prayed and determined to trust Jesus. On particularly bad nights, I lay in bed and repeated “I trust you. I trust you,” until my own fears quieted and I drifted to sleep. Hebrews 11:1 reminds us our “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Our hope rested in Jesus: Even when we did not see her healing, we knew Jesus was at work.
Our faith rested in Jesus.
Our faith hoped for healing.
Our hearts knew Jesus was present even when we didn’t see the evidence.
His presence brought peace when our world seemed so dark.
Today, she is a thriving college junior. Her battle continues, but she wins most days. The healing we hoped for is gradually occurring. Her struggle developed her independence and growth in her own faith.
Our current world circumstances push at our faith to anger and fear but our faith doesn’t rest in what we see. Trust Jesus in the waiting. He brings peace and hope when circumstances feel out of our control.
Our perspective influences our truth. I hear you yelling at me as you read this, “but truth is absolute!” I agree but culture, whether liberal or conservative, Christian or otherwise influences our beliefs. Stay with me here, as fallible humans we make mistakes. That includes the information we take in and process. There is no need for teachers and preachers if we knew everything perfectly. The Holy Spirit teaches us daily, our job is to learn, understand and apply the wisdom we gain. If we don’t the Bible says we have hardened our hearts.
You won’t find the phrase “soft heart” in Scripture. A normal beating heart listens and learns when it is surrendered to God. When we give our heart to God, He renews it to flesh from its hardened state. (Ezekiel 36:26). Over and over we need to allow this softening process because each of us can get stuck in a hard place.
Recently my husband and I vacationed in Virginia with the sole purpose of visiting historical sites. We visited Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown and Fort Monroe. Each location whispered truth to us from the past, their residents became real people as we learned their stories. The cultures clashed when people from European, African, and Native American descent struggled to live life. Each came with a different view on life and each reflected the events of their day through that lens. Now it is relatively easy to look back and determine that truth of their existence. Slavery is bad, slaughtering of people that are different is wrong, yet building a new life in a new home is courageous.
My first ancestor along with his wife, baby, and man servant, landed at Jamestown in 1623 to begin life in the new world. He developed a tobacco plantation and he owned slaves. Processing this information as I walked the land of historic Jamestown was difficult. How can a person own another person? How did he justify it in his mind? The sobering thought seeps from my head to my heart, this was his acceptable truth at the time. People used Scripture to justify the owning of slaves, yet they ignored James 5:4 (NLT) “For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
Am I accepting something because of the time and place I am living in? Do I use Scripture to justify any actions? We must each examine our truths and recognize what the justifications we make. Daily we must seek God for soft, healthy hearts that God renews.
History cries out to us to not make the same mistakes. “Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance” Proverbs 1:5 (NLT) I hope you don’t see this as depressing but inspiring sifting information through the sieve of all of Scripture. God desires relationship with all people and we are called to love all people. Whatever your political bent recognize the face of the person on the other side, remember your identity and truth rests in Jesus, not in a voting record. Ignore the agenda, dodge the motive, and look for the heart beating life that reflects the image of God. No matter how hard their heart looks, don’t let it harden yours. Remember the words of John “Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].” (1 John 3:18 AMP) We reflect the heart of Jesus when we love those around us.
Dear Lord: Help us to see our own heart as you do. Whatever is hardening our hearts soften it. Anything in this world that influences us away from you bring it to light. Our hearts belong to you. May we each reflect your love to the world around us. We love you Lord! In Jesus Name, AMEN