Hey friends! Sorry that I left you hanging – I said I would be back Friday but I didn’t get back Friday so instead I am here on Sunday! Thanks in advance for your graciousness:)
There is so much running through my mind today and so many topics I would love to hash out BUT I figured I would stay on track for at least one more post & tell you another step to living a freed up life!
Live Unoffended. I am sure that I have read the scripture associated with this instruction and I have probably heard this actual phrase before but sometimes you just have to be in the right space to truly hear. Recently, I went on spiritual retreat with a few friends and it was in that setting that the leader in one of my breakout sessions said “live unoffended – be hard to offend” and it really hit home. Before we go any further, did you realize that spiritual retreats really exist?!? I never did and it was so funny to me because during my husband’s addiction, every time he went to rehab I would tell people he was on a spiritual retreat so the fact that I was actually getting to go on a spiritual retreat was a hoot! A free piece of advice – be wary of spiritual retreats because it likely means camping, port a potties and no showers. Like Woodstock but for Jesus. Jesus and I are such good friends and I love Him like no other. He is the one who created me and when He created me, he also gave me a desire to be clean and fixed up so I need a shower & hair dryer every day and I need an actual toilet because I have a really small bladder. Incredible overall experience but by night 3 me and my crew were in a hotel room. The local Best Western looked like the Magic Kingdom. Thank you, Jesus.
Okay, let’s get back on track. Like we talked about last week, our feelings are fickle and it is easy to let them rule over us but feelings were never intended to rule. Choices lead and feelings follow. There are so many things in life that we cannot control but we can always control our attitudes and our response to other people & the situations we encounter. I know that people do offend us sometimes and it is like a reflex to say “can you believe she acted that way?” or “can you believe she said that to me?” or can you believe they treated my child that way?” What if we asked the Spirit to help us be offended less and to begin to live life unoffended. Game changer!
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines offense as something that outrages the moral or physical senses. Have you been there? Have you ever felt outraged or even sick to your stomach because of an offensive comment or action? People hurt us and so we begin to build walls around our hearts. Walls are no good because they not only keep the bad stuff out but they also keep the good stuff out. Nothing can get through a wall. I learned the difference between walls and boundaries years ago through a book I picked up in a local Alanon meeting. Boundaries are just like drawing a line in the sand and not stepping over it. Boundaries are healthy. Walls however, are tall and thick and they keep us completely separated. There can be no growth where we plant big cement walls but if we just draw a line, then we can still grow and flourish even around the people who are not our favorites. Because of our broken world, we will always face offense but that is when we have a choice to make. Are we going to blow up and live offended or are we going to forgive, turn it over to God and go on about our way seeking the abundant life? The latter option sounds so much better! None of us will do this perfectly all the time but just recognizing that there is a choice is half the battle.
Romans 8:28 reminds us that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. God loves you, He is for you & He wants to see you prosper. Don’t let feelings dictate your day, you have power over them! Until next time, get out there and live your best life! #freedup
The F word. Forgiveness. Sorry to get all heavy on you so soon but forgiveness is one of the first steps to living a freed up life. Forgiveness can be a little scary at first. It can make us feel vulnerable & the world teaches us to avoid vulnerability at all costs. But I want to tell you that vulnerability is powerful. So is humility but we can talk about that another day. I was not planning to write about forgiveness today but it is fresh on my mind as I prepare for my small group tonight and if you want to live in freedom and wear the #freedup t-shirt then you gotta get your heart right and forgive where forgiveness is needed.
First, let’s talk about what forgiveness is NOT because there are many misconceptions. It is not condoning the other person’s behavior or actions, it is not minimizing the offense or forgetting it happened. It is also not reconciliation. You can forgive someone and never see them or speak to them again in your life. How cool is that?!? We can probably all think of at least one person that we’d never like to see again. Sometimes we think if we forgive a person then we are declaring that what they did to us is okay and it was not okay so it is not fair to forgive them and let them off the hook so to speak. That seems like logical thinking but here’s the thing, you are a sinner too and if Christ has forgiven you then who are you to withhold forgiveness from others? You probably don’t want to start talking to Jesus about what’s “fair” because his life and death on the cross was definitely not fair but he went through it all so he could bear our burdens, forgive our sins & give us an eternal home. Truthfully, we are all grace takers & if we want grace for ourselves then we can’t dole out what’s “fair” to Susie Q down the street because she offended us. She deserves forgiveness same as me. You have probably heard someone say something along the lines of “you are only harming yourself by hanging on to that resentment and harboring unforgiveness in your heart.” Isn’t that something? You are the one reaping the consequences of unforgiveness, not the person who offended you! They are going about their lives and meanwhile, you are being poisoned with unforgiveness. Don’t let that junk spread all throughout your body! You can stop it in its tracks if you acknowledge it and deal with it.
Did you know that love is a choice? Many people think love is a feeling but any honest married person can tell you that it is most definitely a choice. Young love usually starts out as a feeling. There is physical attraction and lots of hormones. I can remember the butterflies in my stomach when my handsome guy would pick me up for a date or when he came to visit me at college and probably right through our honeymoon it did seem like a feeling. It was easy to love him. Fast forward two years into married life & it most definitely became a choice. Some days all I felt was hurt and anger but thankfully I had heard this feeling/choice argument before so I made a choice to keep loving him and continued to make that choice over & over again for the next eleven years. See, feelings are fickle. Feelings are constantly changing and can’t always be trusted. Just like love, forgiveness is also a choice. My pastor has a tag line that says “Choices lead, feelings follow”. Such a true statement! God doesn’t just suggest that we forgive but rather he commands it. If you are in Christ then you are forgiven and quite simply if you are forgiven then you should also forgive. Christ freely forgave us and thank goodness we didn’t have to earn it & because of that we cannot require others to earn forgiveness either.
Genesis 50:20 says “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Wow! I think about ways that people intended to harm me in the past and it did hurt but all the while my God was in the background saying “it is gonna hurt for a bit but I am going to make this mess beautiful and I am going to use it to grow you and prosper you” Wow! There really is no other way, we learn our best lessons and have our best God experiences when we walk through a tough time because it is at that time when we realize how badly we need the holy 3 – God, Jesus, AND the Holy Spirit! In this broken world we are going to be harmed sometimes and we are going to experience hurt but we can always have the sweet promise that God is with us and He is going to work it out for our good and His glory. If Brad and I had not walked the hard path of addiction then we would not be qualified to do what we get to do now. There was purpose in the pain and through God’s work in us, it has been the privilege of our lives to now walk alongside hurting people & be able to share healing and hope because of our redemption story. Without that story, (the bad parts and the good parts) Cross Roads Recovery would not exist.
If you feel like you are struggling with forgiving someone or folks (plural sense as in lots of peeps) you are not alone & you can forgive & overcome this road block on the way to freed up living. You just have to change your way of thinking. That sounds easier than it is but just know that you have to be intentional and disciplined to change old thought patterns. Meditate on the truth of God’s word, ask him to take the unforgiveness you have been harboring and to free your heart. Read the truth of scripture & read it out loud because there is power in His word.
Go ahead. Forgive. Cause just like your Momma told you when you were a toddler, sometimes you gotta do what you don’t want to do. Do it anyway.
I’ll be back Friday – God bless!