Last night I had a really tough discussion with our youngest son. He challenged me regarding my attitude toward a member of our family who has hurt me a lot in the past. I thought I had dealt with my issues and so I was a bit defensive (actually more than a bit) when he confronted me. He asked me if I thought that was the way Jesus would handle the situation. That only turned up the heat of my reaction.
At first I responded, “Well, who are you to talk. Here’s what you have done with this person in the past. Your reaction was even worse than mine.” He readily admitted it had been, but then went on to share how Jesus had dealt with his heart and he had repented. His answer was, “Neither one of us was responding correctly, Mom.” He was right.
When our hearts have been hurt, we can justify all kinds of words and reactions. I learned that long ago when I was standing, but that doesn’t mean that I always recognize when I’m slipping back into that pattern. Sometimes it takes someone who really loves us to confront ungodly behavior in our lives. It was a hard conversation, but it was an honest one filled with love. In the end I knew he was right. I had given lip service to forgiveness, but I had hardened my heart against that person to protect myself from further hurt.
Jesus is the only one who can protect our hearts and keep them healthy at the same time. When we choose to protect ourselves, we can only do that by walling ourselves off from others.
I remember years ago during a counseling session the Lord showed me a line of weak little men dressed in underwear. Each one had a pie plate on his head for a helmet and carried a stick in one hand and a garbage can lid in the other. They were running frantically to and fro in a state of panic. I had to laugh at how inept they seemed.
I asked the Lord what on earth they were and I will always remember His reply. “They are the army you have established for your own to protection.” That day I realize that compared to what Jesus had to offer, my own resources were pretty pathetic. And yet here I am today discovering that I was amassing that same debilitated group to once again protect my heart.
Hurts never stop in this life and the lessons we learn as we stand for our marriage can serve us again and again if we let them. As we talked last night, the pain of all that has happened with this person came flooding back to me. I realized that I had not taken it to Jesus, but had stored it away in my heart thinking there was nothing I could do to change things. And, in reality, there probably is nothing I can do to change things, but then why do I need to when Jesus is the one who does that best?
No other human being can ever truly understand the pain we each suffer. Others may have had similar experiences, but there really is no way to convey what we each uniquely feel as we experience trauma. In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter because Jesus understands completely what we have experienced. Scripture tells, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
Often we think of being tempted to sin in association with lying or stealing or committing adultery, but is not the desire to strike back against those who have wounded us also a temptation? Isn’t speaking evil of someone who has treated us poorly also sin? Isn’t harboring unforgiveness and a desire for retaliation also sin?
Last night after my son and I finished talking, I talked with the Lord for a good while. He always tells us the truth when we are willing to listen. He showed me my heart and I realized that what my son had seen on the outside was only a symptom of what I was harboring on the inside. Out of the abundance of our heart our mouth speaks.
The holidays are an especially difficult time when we are standing. I pray today that you can take your hurt to Jesus. He knows what has happened and He knows what you have experienced. The condition of your heart can make or break this time, first for you and then for those around you. With Jesus there can truly be joy in the midst of pain, there can be healing in the midst of hurt. And I also pray that you have someone in your life who loves you enough to confront you when your reactions are not godly. It hurts to hear the truth sometimes, but if we are honest with ourselves and with the Lord, it can bring great healing. Love, Marilyn
“For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.” Proverbs 21:2