Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

5 Things You Should Do If You Want to be Rejected

  1. Always wear a mask – Your mantra should be to never let anyone know who you really are or how you truly feel. That way you’ll appear to have it all together and no one will be able to relate to you.
  2. Never show your softer emotions – This means that you should never cry around anyone or appear to be moved by anyone’s pain or feelings. When you practice this strict discipline, you’ll appear to be either a cold, distant robot or a perfectionistic control-freak. Either way, you’ll have people running for the hills in no time. I’ve tried this. I promise, it really works great!
  3. Judge someone’s motives – Now this is easily achieved when you’re in the heat of debate. But please don’t make the fatal mistake of mentioning their behavior. After all, they can prove you wrong in that realm. So focus only on what you cannot see—their motives—then they’ll never know what hit them. Of course, rounding it out by casting a pious look their way adds power to the punch.
  4. Never apologize – This is like a gunfighter dropping his weapon in the middle of a dual—how crazy is that? Unfortunately, admitting how you were wrong changes the dynamic on a dime—so avoid it like the plague!
  5. Never forgive – This is similar to “never apologize” except that it can be done covertly. This means that the awkward distance they are feeling with you can only be felt and never identified. It’s the perfect way to keep people from coming back, or for that matter, coming toward you in the first place! It’s a true win-win!

Although we may laugh at this and not take it seriously, looking at rejection from this angle makes it a little easier to see our tendency to do many of these things—unintentionally, of course!

So take a minute and score yourself on these 5 issues (or if you’re brave enough, have someone else score you!) — rating a “1” for not at all to a “10” for this is me to the core! Then take the time to work on the area(s) where you scored highest.

I have to admit, I really need to work on number 2—and just so you know, I’m crying now as I admit this! (wink! wink!)

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Does Mel Gibson Deserve a Break?

Is it just me, or are there so many male celebrities in 2009 and 2010 who’ve sunk to despicable levels? Maybe there have been years where we just didn’t know about the misdeeds certain celebrities were committing, or maybe there are just more people spinning out of control.

Now there’s this whole Melodrama with Mel. How could it be? He’s the “Patriot.” He’s “Braveheart.” He’s the grieving “Father” in the movie “Signs.” He’s even the only Hollywood star who dared to make a realistic movie about Christ.  Mel Gibson has tried to appear to be the good guy throughout all his movie-making years, but now we see him as the ultimate bad guy.

To tell you the truth, I’m tired of hearing the recordings with Mel’s raspy, ranting voice. I don’t know if he really said those terrible things to his girlfriend and the mother of his child, although it seems quite likely. But if those recordings are authentic, then I would hope that the judicial system would bring justice and protection to Oksana and their daughter.

So if he really is a villain, then . . .

  • Do we write him off and never go to another one of his movies or rent his DVD’s?
  • Do we shake our heads in disdain whenever we see his wrinkled mug on television?
  • Do we ignore his rants, chalking it up as just another celebrity gone awry?
  • Do we learn a lesson from his temper run amuck?
  • Do we pray for him and his family?

I must admit, as of yet, I haven’t prayed for the guy or his family. And even though I don’t have all the facts, I have a whole lot less respect for him than I did just six years ago when the “Passion of the Christ” was first released.

I’m not saying we should crucify him (pardon the pun). I’m not saying we should let him off the hook. I’m also not saying that we need to make a list of fallen celebrities to pray for—after all, we do only have 24 hours in a day! I’m just wondering what you, the reader, think you should do?

Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. Waiting to fully form my opinion about the man until more is known.
  2. Asking myself why I should or should not pray for him, and if God convicts me to pray for him, determining how to pray for him and his family.
  3. Using his public humiliation as a reminder that I need to surrender my anger to God on a daily, even moment by moment, basis.

Tell me what you think!

Don’t Lower Yourself

We all have a bad habit from our childhood.  I’m sure you remember it.  And if it’s hazy, just watch your kids for a minute or two and I’m sure they’ll provide a much needed trip down memory lane! Some kid slaps, pinches, or simply touches another kid and the victim feels compelled, even duty-bound, to hit the other back.  It’s one of the oldest games of all time—the game of “Tit for Tat.”

Allow me try to illustrate what this looks like for us, as adults.  Let’s say you’ve had a really bad day.  If something could go wrong, it did.  Your kids were extra needy and messy and . . .  mischievous.  Finally the evening rolls around and you and your husband have a chance to relax.  But instead of pleasantly chatting, he criticizes you for how little you picked up around the house that day.  You can’t believe his nerve!  So you immediately shoot back at him, “Well, if you’d help out a little around here, maybe it wouldn’t be so cluttered!” You feel an instant rush of justification and the high that comes from venting your stress and frustration (a powerful and intoxicating combination!). But instead of it setting your husband straight, it instantly ignites a long and heated argument.  Just what you needed to end your long, hard day!

Do you remember the old motherly saying, “If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” It makes perfect sense when you say it that way.  No one wants to do something stupid simply because someone else did it first.  But we do it all the time. We do it in hopes that our offender will learn his lesson.  But they never do.  And we never do—at least as long as we play this awful and destructive game.

The biblical story of David is a great example of refusing to play this game.  In 1st Samuel 24:1-22, David was being pursued by King Saul who erroneously and arrogantly believed David was out to get him.  So when King Saul went into a cave to relieve himself, he didn’t realize that David was hiding there in the shadows.  And instead of killing King Saul—something David’s men urged him to do—he chose to rise above the situation.  He chose to not return evil for evil.  Instead, he crept up and cut off a part of Saul’s robe without him ever knowing.  And when the king left the cave and was a safe distance away, David revealed his act.  He reminded Saul that he could have killed him, but he chose to trust God and be merciful instead.  This convicted the king beyond any point that a harsh and mean-spirited lesson would have taught.

David refused to play the game of “Tit for Tat.”  He chose not to lower himself to his enemy’s standard.  Instead, he rose to the standard of Christ—one of mercy and grace.  Remember that example above?  What if it went something like this instead, “This house is a mess.  What were you doing all day?”  “I know the house looks a mess, but it’s been a really challenging day.  Do you think we could do a little straightening together this weekend?” (Of course, you can’t say those words without graciousness on your lips and a prayer for compassion in your heart.)  It’s not easy resisting that urge to play the “Tit for Tat” game, but when you refuse to lower yourself, everybody wins.

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The Invisible Mark that Everyone Can See

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Recently I read a blog post by Mary DeMuth regarding “The Mark” that is left on a person who has been sexually abused.  It was very well-written and insightful, and I would recommend checking it out at the link I’ve provided above.

As I read her post, I felt that the mark she referred to is sadly very real, and not just for those who’ve been sexually abused, but also for those who have experienced any type of abuse, trauma and/or neglect.  People who have experienced significant pain develop the marks of codependency.  Most people think that codependency is limited to an unhealthy relationship with an alcoholic or drug addict.  Not so, since the cause of codependency is not due to alcohol or illicit drugs being used by one party in the relationship, but rather the presence of abuse, trauma or neglect in the relationship.

If you have experienced any abuse, trauma, or neglect in the past or present, then you, to one degree or another, send out unconscious signals to others that make you a target for more abuse or unhealthy interactions.  That doesn’t mean that you cannot diminish the power of that “mark.”  If you pursue healing and proactively make changes in your life through various means, then you can significantly silence the mark.

What are some proactive changes you can and should make?

  • Pray for God’s healing and pray for your abuser
  • Seek the help of a Christian counselor
  • Go through a forgiveness process with the help of God and your Christian counselor
  • Learn how to set healthy boundaries with others in your life—especially your abuser
  • Read about codependency and/or your particular type of abuse
  • Give back in some form of ministry to other victims

This list is not exhaustive, but gives a good starting point and foundation for a victim of abuse, trauma and/or neglect.  If you think you carry the mark and you know me, let me know and I will pray for you and, if you would like, talk with you.  If you do not know me, please consider sharing your story with a caring, trustworthy professional or friend.  Remember, “We are only as sick as our secrets.”

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

“He {God} heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

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Having Difficulty Loving Someone?

When I was a kid, there was a girl who occasionally came to my church that I did not love.  I would look at her and think that she was from wrong side of the tracksShe smelled funny and didn’t have the same nice clothes that my friends and I wore.  She even acted a little odd.  So I never reached out to her or accepted her as a friend.  I judged her.

There’s an account in the Bible that I read recently that reminds me of my judgmental attitude.  It is about a Pharisee, named Simon, who invited Jesus over for dinner.  Probably there were lots of clean, well-dressed people at this dinner—all but one.  She was an uninvited guest and out of her deep love for Jesus, she washed his feet with her tears and anointed him with rare perfume.  In contrast, Simon had neglected to do for Jesus the bare minimum of courtesies that were expected in that day.

Ironically, Simon couldn’t contain his disdain for this woman and slammed Jesus in the process by saying of him,

“If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him.  She’s a sinner!”

Jesus responded with a parable that clearly nailed Simon’s judgmental attitude to the wall.  And before the account ends, Jesus says something I found very important,

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love.  But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

I always thought that Jesus was being sarcastic about Simon’s state of sin, and perhaps he is.  But this time when I read it something else stood out.  I don’t think Jesus was sarcastically saying that Simon was innocent or had avoided the stench of sin.  I think Jesus was saying that Simon had not recognized the sin in his life.  He had not asked for forgiveness because he did not see that he needed it.  So he was “forgiven little.”  And when we do not seek forgiveness, we are unable to love.

Are you having difficulty loving someone?  Are you comparing yourself to someone and feel that you are so much better than they are?  Perhaps you have not smelled yourself lately.  A normal phenomenon happens when we live with a stink in our lives.  We get used to a smell that might have knocked us off our feet when we first took a whiff.  I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for me to take a bath—in Christ’s forgiveness.  Thank you God, for being willing to make me clean again!

*passages taken from the account in Luke 7:36-50 (NLT)

Reconstructing an Injured Relationship

Have you ever lost a document that you have been working on for hours or even days? I have, many times, and let me tell you, it is one of the worst feelings ever! And the hardest part for me is trying to figure out how to reconstruct that document. I often don’t know where to begin because the situation seems so overwhelming. For some of you who have an injured relationship in your life, this may be just a small taste of what you are feeling. You don’t know where to begin, and for some, you’re just not sure you even want to. I can’t give you the motivation–only God can. But I can offer you some strategies for rebuilding in the face of an overwhelming task.

At this point, I’m going to assume that you’ve already taken the step of working through the forgiveness process that I’ve written about in my previous posts before proceeding toward reconstructing the relationship. If not, don’t bypass that very important step or process. Your heart needs to be right before you can effectively address these very crucial relationship issues. And if you and your offender have already worked through the process of reconciliation that I wrote about in my last post, then some of these steps may seem redundant. So glean what is helpful and don’t worry about the rest.

Steps of Relationship Reconstruction:
1. Seek confidential and godly counsel and support to clarify what the offenses or boundary violations are in the relationship.
2. Once the violations are defined, consider what boundaries you need in your relationship. You may need the help of a counselor to determine what boundaries you need and how to keep them in place (Basically you’re figuring out what you want and don’t want in your relationship).
3. Compose a letter that expresses your concerns and boundaries in a non-threatening, grace-filled way. Then practice communicating it with your counsel/support.
4. Once you feel comfortable with what’s being communicated, invite the offender to meet with you to discuss the problem(s).
5. Expect that your offender will not welcome your new boundaries. But do not waver–only turn to God and your counsel/support during this rough time period. With time, consistency and prayer, you can gain your offender’s cooperation.
6. Again, through much prayer and trust in God, begin to watch for signs of improvement–not perfection. With each improvement you see, allow trust to be redeveloped little by little into your relationship.
7. Don’t continue to blame or remind your offender of his past offenses against you. Instead, pray for him, and continually surrender your hurt to God when you feel let down.
8. Make a habit of looking at your own negative or sinful contribution to the relationship and get busy working on ways you can improve.
9. Commit to forgiving your offender on a daily or, at least, weekly basis, using the steps I described in the previous forgiveness posts as a guide.
10. If you are married to your offender, ask your offender to go to counseling with you. You will both need the support and guidance that a counselor can provide as you reestablish new and healthier ways of relating. In fact, if your spouse has had an affair, one of the boundaries you will probably need to have before proceeding in the relationship is his commitment to counseling with or without you for guidance, as well as, accountability.

If you feel that your relationship problems do not need a formal boundary conversation, then, as my mother used to say, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” Instead, consider which of the steps would benefit you in your situation. Perhaps you still need to seek counsel or support about your problem to gain perspective or ideas on how to relate better to this person. Perhaps you simply need to pray for that person and ask God to help you love him and accept him as a flawed human being who may never completely satisfy you. Whatever the issue, be sure to seek godly support in order to break free from the cycle of pain that you are experiencing. Who knows, with the help of another perspective, you might just find out that you are the one who needs to change the most! I know that’s what I discovered in one of my troubled relationships recently. Now my frustration is gone and I can move on–and I pray that you can too!

Helpful related Bible passages: Prov. 19:19, Mt. 18:15-17, 2 Cor. 1:8-9, Gal. 6:1-5, Gal. 6:7-10, Col. 3:12-14, Heb. 12:1-3

What Forgiveness Is and Isn’t – Truth #4

Forgiveness isn’t reconciliation–reconciliation involves the cooperation of both you and your offender in the process. In other words, forgiveness of your offender can be done privately and simply between you and God alone. And forgiveness may be your step toward reconciliation, but does not guarantee reconciliation or require it. So if you are feeling like you don’t want to send the wrong message to your offender by forgiving them and therefore letting them off the hook, then you are confusing reconciliation with forgiveness. In other words, when you forgive you are not saying that what the other person did to you was no big deal. And when you forgive, you are not promising to drop your guard and let your offender abuse you again. In fact, you are not even necessarily inviting the person back into your life, but you are offering them a blank slate in your heart and mind. And the only way you can offer them a blank slate is by asking God to give you the grace and mercy to accept the consequences, the losses, or the debt that your offender has cost you in your life. At that point, you are able to fully surrender your offender to God–leaving the conviction and repair of that relationship up to Him.

True and complete reconciliation involves additional steps that I believe God wants us to strive for, but may not be possible depending on whether our offender cooperates or not. As the two of you strive toward reconciliation, many times, both of you may need to follow through on the steps of reconciliation for each other. However, depending upon your situation, the steps of reconciliation may only need to be done by your offender in response to you or vice versa. But a word of caution: remember that the offender must decide to take these steps on his or her own. Forcing the offender to take the necessary steps will lead only to more hurt, resistance and frustration for the both of you. Remind yourself that the Holy Spirit is better at convicting someone of their part than you are! In fact, you may be only getting in God’s way when you keep reminding them of what they need to do!

The steps toward reconciliation that must be taken are: an acknowledgment of the specific wrongs that were committed, an apology, a sense of genuine remorse, and corrective action that is taken to right the wrongs in the present and future. If one or more of these elements is missing, they must be worked toward by the offender otherwise the reconciliation will not be complete or successful (Mt. 18:15-35).

This does not mean that you, the offended, are off the hook and don’t have to continue to forgive this person–since the two elements are mutually exclusive. This also does not mean that God relieves you of the responsibility of continuing to do your part in encouraging reconciliation. But if your offender continues to hurt you or refuses to take steps toward the elements of reconciliation, then what you must do is continue to pray for yourself, your offender, and perhaps come to accept the fact that the relationship may never be “reconciled.” The good news is that you can always experience the freedom of forgiveness with or without your offender’s cooperation (Luke 17:4, Eph. 4:32, Col. 3:13).

If you are concerned about reentering this newly reconciled relationship–fearful that your offender will hurt you over and over again–then look for my next post on “Reconstructing After Reconciliation” This too is a delicate and somewhat complicated process that must be understood before proceeding in a relationship.