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Broken Relationships

Broken relationships. They are a painful reality. For some, it is a daily ache that shackles our every step, and for others, it is an ache that shouts and settles throughout time. Universally, however, the holidays seem to ignite and amplify the grief that resides in the hearts and minds of those carrying the cross of someone living in the world but lost from our lives.

Sometimes reconciliation is not possible. Maybe you have hurt someone, and despite your repentance and request for forgiveness, it was refused. Know this; we are only responsible for what we can control, an apology, but not an acceptance.

Sometimes reconciliation is not achievable because the pathology of the relationship is too unhealthy. The loss is still painful, nevertheless. I get it.

Although being reconciled is implausible, relinquishing resentment, retaliation, and further ruin is not. I realize and know that takes time. Often, a lot of time. A lot of prayers. A lot of dying to self and surrendering to the Savior. We cannot make ourselves forget, but we can pray ourselves to forgive. The two things are not the same. Forgiveness does not always look like an active relationship, but it can manifest as an intentional release of the toxicity that grows from the root of resentment.

In some scenarios, forgiveness is not a one-time event.

For some, it takes a daily recommitment. It is painful. I know.

There are other times that forgiveness is possible, but pride convinces us that we are justified staying stuck. It is then easy to find ourselves reasoning, “I cannot do it.” What that statement means is, I will not do it. Forgiveness of tender transgressions requires sacrifice. It demands a figurative death that feels real.

The antidote for my stubborn pride is always the cross.

I can try and run from its reality. I can try to deny its ramifications, but I have not found a comfortable place to hide.

The truth is, I am a sinner who was in desperate need of the greatest act of forgiveness history has ever known. It did require a literal death. It did require bloodshed. It demanded far more than my flesh can comprehend, but Jesus did it anyway. Like a lamb led to the slaughter He was my substitute, and He never articulated a word. No complaints. No poor me. No. Whining.

This holiday season friend, if you are in the league of the unforgiven, have asked for forgiveness from a well-intentioned place and were denied, I am sorry and pray that you find peace. I know the anguish will always be present to some degree, but remember pain is the best tutor, and it’s redemptive purposes are infinite.

And you, dear friend, if you are on the other side of the fence, carrying the weight of unforgiveness, that I sympathetically recognize is not a one size fits all scenario, I pray that your heart would soften because I wish freedom for you.

Sometimes the very things we are trying to escape, we cling to.

Holding on to the pain can oddly feel comforting. It is a counterfeit comforter. I know you must have been intensely wounded. About now you may be thinking; you just have no clue. No, I do not pretend to understand, but I have experienced a lot.

One thing I do know for sure, life is so very short. Once someone is gone, what was not spoken cannot be undone. Sometimes there are no second chances. No do-overs. If you possess the power to release someone, not necessarily reunite with them, I am praying for you. It is so very hard. I. Know.

I am not writing to you because I have gotten anything right. I am writing to you because I have gotten just about everything wrong and I am processing my realities, too.

This Thanksgiving may we all acknowledge the sadness of what is not, and then shift our hearts towards the abundance of what is.

You are loved. All of you.♥️

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Peace

I have been on a mission lately to identify and minimize or eradicate the things in my life that compromise my peace.  When I started putting ink to this stuff, I was surprised just how exhaustive my list is, and I have not unearthed it all yet.  One thing that was at the top of my list is the bad habit  I have perfected of assigning thoughts and feelings to other people.  Not many things steal my peace like this destructive practice.  You know what I am talking about, right?  When a friend does not acknowledge a text or email promptly, I can easily allow my thoughts to sabotage me.  My internal dialogue goes something like this,
“She must be mad at me.” or
“Maybe she didn’t like what I said.”

I have found that the overwhelming majority of the time I. Am. Wrong.

There are hundreds of scenarios like this that vandalize my sanity.  It is plain ridiculous.  When I get honest, though, it is much more about an unwise behavior.  There is a deeper root to the problem.  I want people to be pleased with me.  I want people to like me.  I am a forever recovering people pleaser.  There should be a support group for this kind of thing!  I am no expert but perhaps going even deeper this is about the sinful pride that lurks in my heart that I need to pray for the grace to see and uprooted daily?

In his short, but stirring book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Tim Keller says this;
“People sometimes say their feelings are hurt. But our feelings can’t be hurt! It is the ego that hurts – my sense of self, my identity.  Our feelings are fine. It is my ego that hurts.”  “Walking around does not hurt my toe unless there is already something wrong with it .” Well, a big ‘ole ouch and Amen to that!

When my identity, worth, value, and placidity are rooted in people, I am in trouble.  There will be no peace in my heart.  I continually have to put on the attire of Christ’s atonement that sealed all those things for me at a very high cost.  Otherwise, I am simply not living free in the abundance of my Father, but a prisoner to the perceptions and permission of people.

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Prone to Wander

There was a time when I thought I was a good person, (notice the emphasis on I).  Growing in grace has enabled me to see with my eyes, understand with my mind and confess with my mouth that there is nothing good about me alone except the holy, blameless, good and loving God who dwells within me.  Sometimes even my best intentions are peppered with pride.  It is when I remember my utter depravity that I became free to rejoice in The Lord’s unparalleled adequacy.  Lord Jesus, I confess I am a mess.  I am prone to wander, clothing myself in filthy rags and seeking perfection, approval, and satisfaction from the false God’s of idolatry.  Grant me the blessing of quick detection and correction when my heart turns from you, Father.  At the end of every road of obstinance is death; while the path of obedience leads to life.  May your truth be my compass so that all glory shines on you, my Savior, not myself.  Amen.