When I Don’t Want to Forgive

Push-back.

Nothin’-doin’.

No way, no-how.

Alternatively, smooth sailing. As easy as  1-2-3.

The choice is ours.

To forgive another. 

Ouch. I’m sure someone comes to mind for you as it does for me.

A friend.

A colleague.

The parent of your child’s friend.

Even in our own trustworthy circles where offenses ideally, shouldn’t take place, they do, and we may find ourselves needing to extend forgiveness. Perhaps we’re holding a long-standing grudge over a conflict that has gone A-wall and left unresolved. Maybe it’s frustration at the driver who cut you off or the teacher who gave an unfair response to your child at school.

Sometimes I hold on to anger, especially when it is rooted in unfairness, betrayal or inconsideration because honestly, in some strange, crazy way, being steamed feels better than cooling off.  I guess I feel justified, after all, I was wronged! What’s there to forgive? What’s there to feel good about?

Jesus.

He sacrificed His life so I would not have to pay the price for my sins nor suffer through deserving judgment for all the days of my life, including, eternity.

Hanging on to anger is not God’s way. His way is opposite, based on right action, not poor-me, pity-party inaction.

A forgiven sinner forgives others–a truth not always convenient  to be reminded of because that means we have to be accountable and that’s not always easy but yet what the Prince of Peace calls those who have received and accepted His gift of peace and forgiveness to do.  In order to experience full freedom and model Christ-centered behavior as moms and as women, we have to give out in obedience what we have received in acceptance.

Forgiveness. Grace. Mercy.

It was given to us as quickly as 1-2-3.

God’s act of forgiveness to us by dying on the cross for our sins and mistakes is enough for us to act with the same kind of unselfish love. Even when it’s hard. I have to remind myself that my feelings about the person or situation will just have to catch up with my taking that  step of obedience to forgive and allow the offense to fall wayside not stay afloat in my spirit. I can’t wait for my feelings before I act  because truthfully, I may never act…those feelings may never develop and then I am following myself, not the LORD.

Jesus forgave so why do I have to? asks the child deep down in my spirit. That same one who finds it easier to hold on to anger as if it were melting ice cream that I needed to devour before gone.

We forgive so we can  live and benefit from the affects of forgiveness and be released from the power  that anger, bitterness and resentment holds in our spirits, hearts, minds and relationships.

We forgive to eliminate having divisiveness in our relationships. Jesus died to bring peace between Him and mankind. How can I act any differently? I am His child and that means irritation and anger have no lasting nor permanent place in my heart.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

We forgive to be connected to God, not separated from Him, for it is HE who commands us to forgive others and live a life where our relationships are rooted in love, mercy, calmness and grace.

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

Not always easy to do. Jesus knows that.  What He endured was surely no picnic nor anything related to easy.

God will deal with all people accordingly and hold each person accountable for their actions.  Let’s leave the judgment of peoples’ hurtful actions to God and the choice to move forward, to us. God will equip and enable us to overcome the sorrow of anger when we invite Him into our angry mess that only He can clean up and restore to a right and beautiful condition.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (Acts 1:8) We receive the power to forgive others through Jesus and only Jesus. His power to do so can be in your spirit as quickly as 1-2-3 when you call upon Him.

Who might God be calling you to forgive this week?  Can you make the process as quick as 1-2-3?

 

 

Handling Nellie Olesons

Those of you might remember Nellie Oleson, the sassy, outspoken classmate of Laura Ingalls in the book and television series, Little House on the Prairie. She was ruthless, heartless, self righteous, lacked compassion and never hesitated to put down another. We’ve all had face to face tine with Nellies.

Talked with them.

Been in relationship with them.

Hurt by them.

Their names may not be Nellie, they may not have blonde hair nor the snootiness that went along with an ungrateful upper-class lifestyle,  but their spirit, demeanor and attributes might bear a close resemblance.

It’s one thing to deal with the pains from people in our own lives as grown adults, or be challenged in putting to rest the unwanted hurts that came from the Nellies of yesterday, but when it comes to helping our children handle the Nellie Olesons in their lives, how do we best encourage and direct them to be God-centered when dealing those difficult people?

Our teaching must first start with our own clean and solid foundation. Perhaps we need to ask, “What are my responses in dealing with difficult people? What are my children seeing and overhearing as they observe my reaction when it comes to dealing with the offenses from others? What am I carrying or what filter am I projecting a possible negative attitude through from my past?”

Ouch!

You mean FIRST take the plank out from my own eye before removing the speck from someone else’s? (Matthew 7:3-5)

Yes.

Do I have to?

Yes, mama.

God calls us to do that. First.

When we can clean up our personal grudges, bitterness, and hurts and release the Nellies from our lives into God’s hands, including the hurt and frustration or perhaps sin we have committed from those pains, we can better equip our children to take the same approach and action. Do we really want them to hang onto those hurts others have caused or allow the affects of painful acts from people to tear down their beautiful spirits and all that God has for them and created in them?

No.

But over time, that pain of rejection can tear down spirits and cause discouragement and despair. Time brings healing but it can also be the catalyst for a snowball of bitterness and resentment that leads to all sorts of negative voices that speak into our minds.  You don’t want your children to have that kind of echo playing nor the kind of life that has harbored anger from years gone by.

Neither does God.

If we have tension, anger, are reactive and angry, we may very well parent and coach our kids from the same foundation and our children will take our cues. If we haven’t released  our resentment, our instruction might very well be tainted with the emotional charge that comes from our personal pain. We may subtly be teaching our children that holding a grudge and hanging onto resentment is the way to react and the direction to go. Ultimately, their relationships could greatly suffer later in life, and their ability to resolve conflict, never attained.

So let’s move them and ourselves in another direction.

Easier said than done, I know.

But God enables us. His strength, not ours.

I had a few Nellie Olesons as a child who definitely left scars. I wish I had then, known a God who could help me process that pain and to show me who I truly was by His design. Better late than never, and thankfully, my children will have a different view of themselves other than the perspective of their own vision and the vision of others. As long as I point them to God, I pray that their identity and self esteem will be founded on who He is, not determined by someone else’s opinion.

How about you? If you take that past hurt or problem and process it with God, you may very well be surprised as to how He can empower you through those spots where you feel vulnerable, release you from victimhood and replenish you with His perspective on who you are and who He has called you to be. You are no less of a Godly person because someone mistreats you. Your identity is in His care…not the care of others. People, bosses, friends, colleagues didn’t design you. God did. How you handle that mistreatment may very well be make the difference between healing and suffering and taking in love while releasing hatred. You might teach someone about the person of God through yoru ability to forgive and you (and your child), just might be the light somone needs in their lives.

So now that we have you taken care, how about your children? Like I said, when you start with yourself, that’s the first great step because now you are a source of credibility in knowing and understanding their pain. The difference is, while being empathetic when your child shares with you his/her pain, you are going to take the high road in your speech and not react as much as it might be hard to resist.

How?

You are going to first, understand. When they start expressing their emotions, you will of course listen with empathy, compassion and understanding. “Tell me about that.” “That must have been really hard.” I would be so frustrated and angry, too!” Be real with them. They are humans. This is human, yucky stuff. Being a child of God does not mean we don’t experience emotions.

And then help move them forward.

You might:

Pray with your child about their feelings and ask God for His direction and counsel–together.

Offer to pray with your child for that person who has hurt them (a hard one but nonetheless that person needs the power of God in their lives, yes?) Your child’s prayers might be the best thing that ever happened to that Nellie.

Decide to read through God’s promises together as a reminder of who God is (He is “an ever present help in times of trouble,” for example, Psalm 46:1). In situations like these, we have to study the character of God and give Him the focus in our troubles.   In return, He gives us His promises of strength, power and wisdom. He gives us peace. God needs to receive just as much attention and focus from us if not more, than the Nellies in our lives. Afterall, He is worthy of our praise and focus. Nellie is not.

Read about God’s people who experienced suffering at the hand of others (age appropriate, of course.) There are people in scripture who are encouraging examples of how God used their pain for something greater and how He empowered them to overcome their hardships (for example, Joseph, Gideon, Moses, Mary, Jesus Himself and so many more who were ridiculed, hurt, ostracized or met with opposition from an unfriendly foe.) But God took care of them. He also took care of their enemies. He is the ultimate judge…and in His time, He will act justly and accordingly with all of us. Everyone gives an account. (Romans 14:10-12)

Pray and ask God to give you and your child insight and wisdom. A level-headed response and a pure heart are the ways of the Lord and ultimately, the ways that make YOU and more like HIM. And you are not a Nellie. (“Create in me a clean heart Oh Lord and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10)

Hopefully, our children will have more Lauras in their lives than Nellies, but when those Nellies do show up, they don’t have to tear down our souls. If they do, we need to ask God for His power and over our abilities and where we feel weak. He will equip us and strengthen us.

And that truth you can take to any prairie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking with Our Own Eyes

Image credit: branche / 123RF Stock Photo

“Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan.” Deut 3:27

We can often look at ourselves or our children through the lenses of others.   I’ve got them. You’ve got them. We’ve all got them….people in our lives who have something to say about the way we are doing something or perhaps how we are parenting.

At times we are influenced by the insights and opinions of others…and they can be well-meaning, well-intended and significant people who have wisdom and perspective worth considering. We also need to temper those opinions with what God is showing us as He did with Moses when He had him go to the top of Pisgah and look down at the Promised Land. We need to look at our lives with OUR own eyes and not completely depend on the sight of others.  God may only show us a glimpse, the whole picture or something in between, but when we walk by His side, He WILL show us as we go, what He wants us to see.

God’s Best or Mine? The Price of Being a Wanderer

13375627_s

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22

Do your children ever wander? Maybe at Target or in the grocery store? Have you had a moment when you couldn’t see them or a moment when you could and you could plain as day tell that they were heading in the wrong direction?!  Maybe your kids are older and are wandering down a path that has you concerned. We all WANDER…sometimes we wander with good intention, other times out of ignorance or simply because WE WANT WHAT WE WANT.

The Israelites wandered off course willfully. God had a plan for them, instructed them how they should go, but  they went their own way and by their own method(s).  God STILL blessed them with His plans of providing a new land and gave them what He said He would, but not until they came back to His side and re-focused their attention on Him. Sadly, they did not, and as a result, God’s very best plans were delayed in their lives.

God couldn’t give the Israelites what He had for them until they were ready to choose Him. Hhhmmm…sounds like a parallel relationship we have with our kids at times! Making poor choices can have its consequences. The thing to note is that even in their waywardness, God still cared for His people and led them through their journey.  He still provided for them and made sure they had what they needed. But it wasn’t His best. I often wonder,   In what ways am I going my own way and missing out on God’s best plans for my life?  As moms and as women, we can have hope that even in those moments of wandering, God is there to redirect us and breathe new life into old steps so that we are walking at His side in a new direction where we are certain to receive His very best for our lives. Wander no more, moms. God is your faithful guide.

How has motherhood made you aware of your own tendency to wander or to stay focused? What might be God asking of you so that He can give YOU His very BEST?

 

 

Image credit: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/photo_13375627_image-of-a-an-old-bearded-man-walking-with-a-lamp-in-a-woodblock-print-style.html’>xochicalco / 123RF Stock Photo</a>