I have to be honest and share that in the years past, prior to having a desire to glorify Jesus Christ and Him only, I was not a very reliable source when it came to me and my faults. I would have to say that more times than not, whatever I did I did for my best interest … when I said things it was for my benefit and not so much for the benefit of others. My motives were not entirely pure. Though I have always been compassionate to a fault, I was always looking out for number one … ME! However, even during these years of self-centeredness, there would be occasion when I would say things out of love or concern for others just to have them thrown back at me with accusations of ulterior motives. What could I expect when I was living my life for basically me? This is what others saw so how could they believe that I said things for their benefit with sincerity.
Now, it is a different story. I strive very much to do what is right … to speak in love and not offend … to try to see all sides of an issue and not just my side … to pray and ask God for true discernment in matters and to show me my faults. I want to know where I am failing so that I can correct what I am doing wrong and learn from them. I no longer desire to walk a path of only my choosing, but to walk a path that will lead others to Him and make it only about Him. With that being said, however, I fail miserably at times and I find that I have to ask for forgiveness.
This is where the disillusionment and heavy heart enter … when you ask for forgiveness … when you say you are sorry … when you strive so hard to make things right and continue on … when you so desperately want to do what is in the best interest of the other party no matter how much humbling you have to do … when their best is all you want regardless of how it makes you look … and then, after all of this, the other person simply will not allow you to be forgiven, it leaves you drained and very much discouraged. They choose to remain in that place of negativity and ignore all the love you have shared in the past. I could understand if this was a new relationship. But, when it is one that you have been nurturing for awhile … when you have showed so much love and compassion … when you have shared fun times … when you have shared hugs and tears … when you have truly presented the fact that you are there for them and them only … then, it leaves you with this big hole in your heart and doubting everything you have done up to this point. The heaviness it causes in your heart seems to be more than you can carry at times, and you just sit in awe and ask WHY? Was what I did so bad that you will banish me forever? Was what I did so demeaning that you can’t see past it to the love we once shared? Was what I did so much all my fault that you can’t see your part in this at all?
I have always been a pretty direct, blunt, and opinionated individual. Yes, I am guilty of all that and more. In the past, prior to coming to Christ, I lost more than one relationship because of these character flaws and I caused hard feelings on many occasions. During those times, I can’t say I did not do this unintentionally because I would be a liar. In those days, as I have shared, it was about me. I lied to get what I wanted. I was very insecure and a very confused person. I was very scarred by others and by choices of my own election. I was floundering around in life with no understanding of why I did the things I did or how to correct them. And, at times, I choose not to correct what I knew was wrong. That was then, but this is now. I can honestly say that over the course of the past few years, I have never ever done anything to intentionally hurt anyone. I still have those character flaws, but God has altered my presentation, and He has taken those traits, remolded them, and is using them for His glory. To take away how He originally made me would defeat His purposes. He created me unique and for His glory … He doesn’t want to change me so much that I am not that individual, but He wants to reshape me so I can use those things for Him in spite of me. And, I can sincerely say that I strive to do just that. Again though, I fall so short at times.
Last night, I cried out to Him and I asked why???? Was I doing something so horrible in this certain instance that the other person could not see the love? Did I mess up so terribly in my presentation over the past months that this individual could not come to me? Was it so unreasonable to believe that I was ‘sucker punched’ by this behavior because it was never revealed to me at all … I never knew there were issues to be resolved? This is when He showed me a great deal … things that led me to share this in the hopes that it will strengthen someone else. Most of all, it helped me to understand me better and to quit brow beating myself over what I cannot fix … to put it in the perspective that He needed me to see. It was no longer about this one incident, but it was a puzzle of a lifetime coming together for me. As I watched the picture developing before me, I could feel the weight of the past few days dissipate and His peace overtake me.
He replayed for me in my mind the dream I had a few days ago (see my article entitled A Dream or A Message). I did not quite understand the significance of the dream at that time, or even as I typed my article, but I do now. This was in preparation as my friend knew what lied ahead … her message was clear to me now. My friend shared with me at the time, “… Do you remember when you used to tell me all the time not to allow what others thought of me to define who I was, and how if they did not accept the love I had, then it was their loss? Well, now I am saying that to you. Don’t ever change what you are doing or who you are. It is touching lives even though you don’t always get to see that.”, and “…Just don’t change no matter what others say, don’t say, or do to you. Keep your eyes focused on Him …”.
Then, as I am contemplating all of this, God brought another memory to me of something that happened not very long ago. I was in a group setting and this individual was discussing with someone else her plans to do something that I thought was unsafe. I said to her, “I would rather you not do that”. I said this out of so much love for her because I cared. I was scared for her. She obviously did not see this or hear this in my words as she gave me a look that basically said, “Don’t tell me what to do”. It hurt for a split second and then I just tossed it aside as one of those things that I don’t understand.
Again, as if wanting me to remember all these things prior to His explanation, He brought to my mind something that occurred just the other day. I was in a group setting and I was discussing something. One of the individuals in our party made a negative comment about what I was saying … sort of mocking me. It hurt, but I just let it go. Now I can tell you, I have come a very LONG WAY in my walk with Christ. Had these things taken place 15 years ago, it would not have been a nice scene because my big mouth would have made a big deal out of it and the damage would have, possibly, been irreparable. Now, because He has changed my heart and my motives, I am able to just allow things to go over my head. Sure, I think about them, but I don’t feel the need to justify myself. I have to sit back and question whether I am hearing them right or am I choosing to be offended and they did not mean it the way I took it.
Lastly, He had me thinking about a situation where someone confronted me because they were afraid that I would say something in defense of their love one. They were concerned that it would cause more damage than good. I got a bit defensive as emotions were running high anyway, and I said something to that effect. Their response to me was that they knew I would never ever do anything to hurt this individual, but they also knew that I was very passionate about the people I cared about. “Passionate” was never a term I would have thought of to define my motives, but it shed a whole new perspective on why I did some of the things I did … why I more than once put my foot in my mouth. When I love, I do it with all of me ... I become passionate about my mission in their lives. This realization, on top of what God was about to share with me, made me see things in a different way.
After all of the above reminders and visions, this is what He explained to me. At a very early age, say around 10 or so, I was placed in a position of responsibility that I did not ask for. It was more than a child that age should have had placed on them, but regardless of the why’s, it was. From that point on in life, I made it my personal responsibility to defend, to protect, to take care of, and to basically do anything I had to in order to protect people. I took on a mother role with everyone, and this opened the door for them to perceive me as bossy ... as intrusive ... as sticking my nose in where it did not belong. I appeared to them to be chastising them, when in fact, I was loving them. I did not realize this, but it just became a way of life for me. In so doing this, I became very direct at times and appeared to be the opposite of what my heart was saying. I never meant it like that, and because I was doing it with one intention in mind but was being received as another, there was always conflict. Add this to the fact that prior to living a life for Him I was self-centered and driven, it was easy for people to not see the true intent of my heart.
Alright, I understood this part, but this did not explain why people still took me the wrong way after all these years, especially knowing now that I am not that same person. This is how He continued in His effort to teach me. Some people are so damaged in life that they can’t see the positive no matter how you try to give it to them. Some people have a difficult time accepting that you have changed … some people are so full of pride that they will only interpret what you say as they want to hear it … they can see their own growth, but they hinder yours with doubts. It doesn’t matter how you have shown them your potential changes over the years, they choose, for whatever reason, to keep you in the past. Some people enjoy being the victims as it is easier than taking the steps necessary to be victorious. No matter what you do to appease them, they can’t get past what you have done, or what they speculate you have done, because they choose to focus only on the negative. They have all the answers and to forgive you would be in contradiction of this. For whatever reason, they can’t get beyond their past pains so they strive to keep you in bondage also. It does not make them a bad person any more than it makes me a bad person.
As for people choosing to see all the good you have done for them in spite of the setback, again, it is by choice that they refuse to accept the true realities of the situation. The damage done to them in the past just won’t allow them to even contemplate that your motives were only for their good and never meant for their harm. You can say I am sorry until you are red in the face … you can hug them until your arms are about to break … you could have told them 50 million times that you love them and how much they mean to you … you can do all of this and more, and it simply will not change it for them. They only see what they want to see. You have to brush off the damage and move on.
I am doing just that, but it still does not take away the pain and the regret of losing them. Now, however, I can only pray for them and allow God to do what He needs to do. This may very well happen again in the future, and it is more likely that it will then that it won’t. We live in a world with damaged people, and you cannot be responsible for them all. You can only give what you have to give and you can only understand what you know. The bottom line is that you don’t know what you don’t know. They will choose to think that you are the one in denial to justify their motives for holding back their forgiveness. I can only pray that they realize the significance of unforgiveness. It hampers everything that God wants to do in a person’s life if they hold any unforgiveness in their hearts towards another. Saying you forgive just to placate someone is not enough. God knows the heart, and your actions speak louder than your words.
I have “found” more people than I have “lost”, but that does not make the one you lost any less important. We have to accept what we can’t change and the wisdom to know the difference. I will continue to fail people and continue to rise above it. God will never be finished with teaching me right up until the day He calls me home. He has a plan for me and He is only molding me to fit that position. I get frustrated because I don’t see it all when I feel I need to, but ultimately, when I have slowed down long enough to take a deep breath and give it to Him, He shows me what the lesson was to be learned. He only has 54 ½ years left to prepare me for what He wants me to do here … yes, I am going to live to be 110. I just hope that the next 55 years does not go by as fast as the first.