When it comes to offense–
Christ says to turn the other cheek. He says to forgive.
He says to LOVE. Even our enemies.
As I apply this in my own life, I am finding that these are hard, but freeing truths.
When we choose forgiveness, when we choose to love instead of hate, when we desire the good of those who have harmed us deeply, a shift happens.
Slowly, but surely, we are released from the shackles that pain has placed on us. We are freed from the prison of our own bitterness and anger and unforgiveness—things that only poison us, after all.
And if Christ can hang bloodied on a cross and forgive those who have brought about his gruesome death, can we not, with his help, forgive the hurtful comment or deed? The thoughtless action or selfish motive?
I heard someone once suggest to try and remove yourself from hurtful situations. To attempt to observe it as a bystander. And then contemplate the hurt/pain/frustration/dysfunction that would lead another person to behave poorly toward you, from the outside. We never know what difficulty they may be facing that has caused them to snap. They very likely are not in a good place themselves.
This really helps, you guys.
I was wandering around downtown Boston yesterday and had a person throw a rude comment at me. This comes with the territory of living in a big city. I once had someone physically attack my car, from the driver seat of their car!
Yet, yesterday, when I removed myself from the situation and began to imagine what the person’s difficult street job must be like, I felt empathy for him, and I didn’t feel one bit of anger.
I definitely don’t do this perfectly. I am learning too! In fact, I was reminded of this when I began sharing with someone how a person on a recent flight had been impatient with Abigail. The friend graciously commented that, oh, that person very likely was going through a difficult time. So true. It was exactly what I needed to hear!
Living this way, where we extend love and grace and forgiveness to others, can be more challenging when the offense comes from a close friend, or family, or our church—from people we trust and care for, people we expect more of. Right?
But this is where we need to practice it the most! Here is where we will experience the largest return for our effort. Our friendships and marriages and families and churches are only as healthy as we are willing to practice this—as we are willing to become like Christ.
I will be bold and say that if there is conflict, there is an absence of love, an absence of forgiveness, an absence of grace–in some degree on both sides. Always.
Acting in love in the face of offense is something that requires discipline. It requires practice. It requires prayer. It requires humility.
But it does get easier over time. And living this way makes life simpler, freer, and more beautiful than you can even imagine. It has for me
It is what has carried me through breakups and rejections, spirit in tact on the other side.
It helped me recover when we were drug through the mud by religious people for not furthering their agenda. On multiple occasions.
It healed me when friends and coworkers and acquaintances have hurt or betrayed me.
And it is what helps me overlook the countless minor offenses I face doing life.
Practicing love and forgiveness and grace is one of life’s greatest gifts to YOU. With it, you can climb steep, steep mountains. For real.
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