Wednesday, February 26, 2014

He's Given Me a Task

There are ways in which life is settling down a bit for us. It's a good thing.

One positive, and somewhat disorienting, consequence of this settling down is that my brain is a bit less overwhelmed. Some mental space is being freed up. And, as that happens, I'm hearing the Lord better and more.

So, God made it clear recently that He has a task for me to accomplish. It's the work of forgiveness. I told Him that I knew He was right - I have some forgiving to do. But, as a rule-following, checklist-loving, people-pleasing perfectionist, I have so very, very much of the time striven to do the right thing. 

What I mean is that too often, I have worked hard on this or that, and checked the box, perhaps made a rule for myself, but in reality, I did not process the problem at hand honestly or completely. Rather, I rushed through, avoiding the messiness and time these things often take. This has been especially true when it comes to emotional and spiritual work.

So when God showed me it was time to forgive another, I told Him I'd only do it if He could help me know it was real, and not something I completed artificially in my own strength. And I told Him that I just couldn't do it, truly. I recognize my weakness and that my heart really does want to hold on to the hurt and the anger and the self-protection. But He's bringing me to a place where I've finally begun wanting to be like Jesus in this area more than I want to be safe and in control and comfortable.

And I am overwhelmed at the Truth and the images that He is putting in my heart as I grow a willingness to do this thing. Leslie Leyland Fields' piece to which I linked the other day hit home for me when she pointed out Jesus' compassionate response to His murderers: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. 

Fields challenged me to remember the hurt and barriers that are in the hearts of those who wound us. Opening my thinking to this reality clears the path for compassion to be born: real compassion, not some drummed up version of it. Really, it's so ironic how God brings us to a place where we're just too tired to even try in our own strength anymore, so it's either trust Him to accomplish His good work in us, or it won't happen at all. And of course, there's this real and weighty and beautiful issue of how much and often I require forgiveness myself, and there are beams in my own eyes, right?

Another powerful image He's given me is that of sacrificing my feelings on the altar of obedience. I read this somewhere very recently, but its source is escaping me. My feelings are real and valid and natural, but when I hang on to them and relive hurts and feed the feelings, I'm strangling my very own heart, my very own potential to love, forgive, and offer compassion. I'm too busy protecting myself! I don't sacrifice the human blessing of having feelings, but rather the option of allowing them to control me or  to dictate how I think about and treat others. This is where the Holy Spirit whooshes in, so to speak, to transform my heart and to help me say no to hanging on to the hard feelings as a form of "protecting myself" from potential hurt in a relationship. It's work that Jesus and I are addressing together. He's all about conforming us to His image, and I am glad He doesn't leave me to myself.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Beth. Those are big and special and important things to be learning. xo