Bulls-eye

blogimg_3892-3It shocked me.

Utterly shocked and pierced me right in the heart like a swift arrow hitting the bulls-eye.

One Sunday afternoon, alone in peace and quiet, I decided to plunk myself down and try to conjure up some blogging ideas on our office desktop computer. 

Nothing came to me.  I felt totally devoid of ideas or even coherent thoughts.  So I logged off, drifted into our family room, settled myself on the comfy couch, and picked up my iPad mini thinking maybe I’d just play a game or read something on my Kindle app. 

Each time I fire up that tablet, it shows me app updates/notifications which I generally ignore.  But not this time.

This time, I actually blinked at the very first notification that presented itself right there in front of my eyes.  Blinked. Opened my eyes again to read it. And blinked again.

“Are you listening to what God’s Word is telling you?” it said.

Say what???? Arrow to the heart.

I have a Bible app downloaded on my mini, but it has never given me a notification like this one before.

“Are you listening to what God’s Word is telling you?” Bulls-eye.

All I could do was stare at that question so plainly stated on my tablet’s opening screen and believe in my heart of hearts that God was truly speaking to me.

You see, I’m mired in an ongoing struggle and it has derailed me enough to make me feel just like a freight train wreck sometimes. I have never really grappled with such negative feelings in the past. I may have run across people a time or two who I didn’t necessarily like, but never have I experienced these kind of feelings. Until now.

I have struggled daily for quite some time with ill feelings of…take a deep breath, wrestle with the guilt, and admit it boldfaced in writing…loathing for one person. Someone who lied, betrayed trust, and deeply hurt people I love.  

And I ashamedly admit that I have succumbed to too many truly negative thoughts about this person and I’ve even uttered them out loud.

As a life-long believer in Christ, I KNOW this is wrong. I KNOW it!

I KNOW this a vile emotion and I KNOW that as a Christ follower, I should do all things with love.

I KNOW that my Savior told His believers to love our enemies and pray for them.  He plainly spoke these words in the Bible – Matthew 5:44: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

And I KNOW I need to forgive.

I tried. I really did.

I fought to dispel my passionate emotions and show this person love. I prayed daily for weeks and weeks for that one soul. But as weeks turned into months and even years went by, I just stopped. The offender demonstrated no remorse, no apology, and no signs of even remotely caring about the sorrow and heartache that person’s actions caused.

As a result, disgust and abhorrence engulfed me. I found this fellow human utterly despicable and in doing so, ugly, hideous thoughts of anger filled my heart at the mention of the person’s name. 

Those feelings have shaken me to my very core. The thought that I could harbor such animosity towards another human being shocks me because never, ever in my lifetime, have I felt this way towards another. It’s proved to be a daily battle and I have prayed, I have wept, I have retreated, I have discussed it with those closest to me until I am exhausted.

And then that Sunday afternoon, my iPad confronted me. “Are you listening to what God’s Word is telling you?”

Am I listening? I’ve tried to. But that’s the thing.  I have tried to do it on my own. I have tried to sweep this ugliness away myself but haven’t allowed God to truly transform my heart as only He can do.

Why did this hit the bulls-eye with me? Because on that same Sunday, just a few hours before my tablet asked the question which seared my very soul, our pastor preached a message called “Clarifying Love.”  

Real, honest to goodness love. Not the giddy, fuzzy warm feelings of love, but love that is an action, love which is the “non-negotiable fundamental of Christian faith,” according to my pastor and I agree.

Sacrificial love. Love that is deliberate.

As I sat in worship listening to Pastor’s message and reading the scriptures he cited, I found my thoughts centering yet again on that person who I still harbor ill will against. That one who proclaimed with words to exhibit this kind of love yet, when the price of love was difficult, didn’t manifest it at all, and wouldn’t even try to make amends to the ones hurt most.

And I realized that I wasn’t exactly manifesting sacrificial kindness myself. When my pastor reminded me that this kind of love – or the lack of it- reveals the state of my heart, I knew his message was for me.

My heart surely has been in an awful state. I felt that check in my spirit as I read scripture that I have read many, many times before in the book of 1 John, Chapter 3 and 4:  Anyone who doesn’t love is in death.  If you do not love, you don’t know God.  Yes, yes, I knew that!

But the next passage was a full frontal assault on my heart and spirit. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer. A murderer?! I tried to brush that off.  I’m not a murderer. This person who so willfully wronged my loved ones is the guilty one.  But yet, wasn’t I “slaying” this person with my negative words and unforgiving actions?

I thanked my pastor and told him it was a great message – which it was – and then jokingly told him that I knew I needed to take heed to it but I still wanted to punch this one person in the nose. And my pastor, being the great person that he is, laughed with me. He didn’t chastise me or give me that righteous look that makes one feel condemned. No, he laughed. That’s why I like him so much, he’s real.

Pushing that message to the back burner of my mind, I searched for something distracting to do later that Sunday afternoon. And that’s when my iPad challenged me.  

“Are you listening to what God’s Word is telling you?”

No, I must admit, I have not been listening to what God’s Word tells me. But it’s time – actually past time – that I do. When I don’t speak love with my words, I am wrong. But I’m even more wrong when I don’t love with my actions and in truth.

It’s not an easy task – a work in progress. I must willingly submit myself to the Lord every day to help me rid the malice from my heart and to forgive with sacrificial love even though the offender has never asked for that forgiveness and maybe never will.

Someone once told me that to be unforgiving is like drinking poison and waiting for the wrongdoer to die. I’ve never forgotten that and I’ve even used those same words in a women’s Bible study on forgiveness that I once led.

Being unforgiving doesn’t hurt the one who wronged you, but it does great damage to your own soul.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” ~ Lewis B. Smedes

How well I know. I have been forgiving so many times in my lifetime, but this one has been the most difficult ever and I don’t understand why.

But this I do understand – God promises to help and guide me as I apply His Word to my daily life –  “Are you listening to what God’s Word is telling you?” – if I allow Him to do so. 

Just like He did when I opened my Bible app that Sunday afternoon and discovered the verse for the day:  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” ~ Psalm 32:8

“There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.” ― G.K. Chesterton

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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15 responses

  1. Oh, how I love this today! I’ve been praying for you regularly in this area… because I’ve also been there and I’m still there with a certain someone today. I haven’t and won’t be sharing the situation anywhere online, but it’s really bad and definitely something I never could have dreamed we would face with this person… going on four years now. Just know you are not alone, sweet lady, but only let that give you a little comfort. Whenever I find those hard feelings coming around, I try to stop and speak audible words to God to take those awful thoughts and feelings from me and give me *his* love for that person because mine will forever be flawed. My deepest desire is to model God’s love to this person, and if I’m harboring resentments and hate, I will never be able to do that. I want this person to know God’s love because I don’t think he’s ever seen it in anyone close to him. It’s not about me, as much as think it is at times, but it’s all about helping God, not standing in God’s way at this point. I can’t help the feelings at times, but I can make the choice to do better every time, and it helps me a lot to turn all this over to God every time and not feel like I have to accept the burden of this person’s actions and lifestyle. I hope this helps to let you know you are not alone. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dearest friend, thank you for these words of encouragement and the many prayers! I know from some of the things we’ve shared, that you understand where I’m coming from with this one. And yes, it helps tremendously to know I’m not alone in my struggle. I actually wrote this many weeks ago and agonized over it too. It has sat in my ‘to be published’ file for a long time and I just kept pushing it back and pushing it back and changing the scheduled publishing date on it. Believe it or not, I had forgotten to change it last week, so it automatically published today when I actually did not intend for it to happen and I was surprised to find that occurred when I opened up my blog today. Do I think it was my human error causing it to get published today? No, I think it was the Lord saying, “It’s time.” My hope and prayer is that it helps someone else who may be stuck in that prison of unforgiveness.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am not as deeply religious as you but your message is a Universal one. I, too, have struggled with a deep ‘hatred’ towards someone who wronged me (well, three someones actually, as a group) and have (gradually) come to realize that until I forgive them, I cannot be free of the pain and deep hurt they caused – and until that happens, I will always be a victim. I’m working on it and getting better at it, one step at a time. I wish you all the best on your own journey to letting the anger go and allowing your soul heal.

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    • Thank you for sharing this with me, Margo. It helps to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. We have to stop drinking the poison! Our anger and pain don’t even affect the one(s) who wronged us, but instead cause distress to our minds, hearts, and souls. And yes, it takes time to work through forgiving, one step, one day at a time. I too wish you well on your ‘escape from this prison!’ And if it’s okay with you, I’ll pray for your emotional healing. Be blessed.

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  3. It takes great courage to write something in such an honest manner! Someone very close to me is going through a similar situation and I can see it IS very hard to truly forgive when you or a loved one has been deeply hurt. BUT, it is essential that little by little we do forgive others. Remember each one of us is on their own personal life journey. With that said, we can only focus on ourselves and our journey as we do not have control over other’s actions. Think of yourself FIRST and forgive, so you can be healthy in every aspect of your life.

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