Guest Writer: Kelly Balarie
There, I said it! It felt good to finally get those two words off my chest. It meant I could rest. I’d done my part.
The person looked back at me and muttered, “I forgive you.” But, soon their actions spoke a different story. Every time I asked a question their response was quick and short. When I tried to make eye contact, they looked away. When I walked next to them, they directed conversation elsewhere.
I felt like the woman everyone hated. Remember her? She was the one caught in the act. She was unredeemable. She was unworthy.
““Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.” (Jo. 8:4)
What do we do – with her?
There she was…the bad lady.
There she was…the one caught-red-handed.
There she was…the one who should have done better, but she didn’t.
There she was…right in the open, for all to see – her shame on display.
I wonder, did this woman feel like she was being convicted 1,000 times? Like she couldn’t get off trial?
What do you do – when someone refuses to let you off the hook? For days? For years? For decades? When blame is still coming your way? When you can nearly feel the judgment?
What do you do when your mind spins out of control because you don’t know how to fix things? When their treatment hurts your insides?
I don’t have all the answers, my friend. I certainly don’t have everything figured out. But, I can share what I am still learning. Here it is:
1. I am not responsible for other people’s interpretation of events, their actions or retaliation.
After I have apologized to them and to God, I have done my part. I get in trouble when I take on another person’s burden as my responsibility. If they don’t want to forgive or release me from the offense they carry – that is not my duty to make them. That is between them and the Lord. I forgive, love in a healthy way, release the convicting work to the Lord and pray.
I think thoughts like, “God gave abundant grace to me, so I can extend abundant grace to them,” “I can be loving without being co-dependent. I do not base my worth on their response,” “I am responsible before the Lord to love others as I love myself. If I need to have some space, that is okay.”
2. Jesus experienced mistreatment, but He despised the shame.
Indeed, if Jesus was misunderstood, mistreated and hurt, and He was The Son of God, we cannot expect our life to be without these issues.
Jesus endured the worst pain, but scripture tells us, “He despised the shame” (Heb. 12:2). There are moments when we will have to endure suffering or go through harm. There are moments when we will have to die to us to become more alive to Him. At the same time, we don’t have to take on or absorb the shame. We can reject that, like Jesus did.
Think this way. Say to yourself: I am not shameful; thanks to Jesus’ work on the cross, I am holy and blameless in His sight. I don’t soak in people’s judgments, mean words or issues, I cast off that shame and I walk by His truth.
3. I am responsible for my own actions, words and responses.
Here, I think this way: I am powerful. I am powerful to change. I am powerful to apologize and to do a new thing. I am not obligated or trying to please man, but I seek to please the Lord. I speak the truth in love. I exhibit the fruit of the Spirit by the grace of God. I, then, extend grace to others. At the same time, I am not a door mat and I use my voice.
It can be hard to walk in the world, when so much comes at us. I get it. Not everyone will understand us. That is hard.
But, at the end of our day, we have one goal in our life. It is this:
“but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.” (1 Thess. 2:4)
How does God want us to think? What does God want us to speak? What pleases and glorifies His holy name?
Sometimes, we figure we have to do something because it is the loving thing to do, but it is not love at all, it is obligation laced with bitterness. God calls us to authenticity and wholeheartedness. As we are honest and true before God, we can be honest and true before men. And, while it may not always be comfortable to do,it will always honor God. Why? Because we trust Him more than we fear men.
“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10)
In my case, even if man doesn’t forgive me, God does. And, that’s enough. I keep love and carry peace, trusting God to take care of the other person. I let go and let God.
I pray that you are able to let go and let God too, when situations with people feel beyond control!
Prayer: Father, relationships can be hard. Forgive me for trying to control. Forgive me for fearing man. Forgive me for taking things into my own hands. I trust you. I let go today. I believe you will defend me. I ask you to move in the relationships that I am struggling with. I ask you to help me to authentically love. And, if I need to create some space, give me the right words and the courage to do so. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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