Love like You’ve Never Been Hurt
This past week I had a humbling lesson in mercy, love and letting go. I’m sharing a picture of my flesh side rearing up and God’s lesson to me about it – so prepare yourself.
Rewind several months ago. . . Sitting in my office, I heard this strange noise outside our house. I went to investigate. I discovered a rainbow of colors that created an abstract piece of art on the side of our house. I was starting to get upset. As I looked down, broken balloons marked with paint fluttered across the driveway. As my eyes widened in disbelief, I saw little toy green men resting quietly. Now I was starting to get really upset. I looked to my neighbor’s house. Their balcony was perfectly positioned for this target practice on my house. But I saw no one. I stomped over and rang the doorbell – nothing. Knocked on the door – nothing. I lingered back inside and the noise started again. Looking out the window, I saw mischievous delight on my neighbor’s son face and his friends. I ran outside – no one. What a fun little game – errgg. As I looked around the little army men were everywhere – in the planters, in the top balcony, on the driveway! Now I was really upset. I’m going to call the police, the HOA. Stop. Breathe. I needed to calm down. Get some perspective. Then the noise stopped.
Days later, I finally got a hold of my neighbor and she said they wouldn’t do it again. Wow, it amazed me how frustrated I got. I mean they are just kids. Look at the stuff I did. In hindsight, my passion came from a deeper issue in regards to respect. (Our reactions are rarely just about the moment, but filled with the past) So, I got a little carried away in my frustration. But I remained civil with my neighbor and it worked out. But for weeks after as I found those little green men here and there, I tossed them back into their yard. I know. You don’t have to exhort me. I know.
Fast forward to recent weeks. A car sat in front of our house for days and nights. Occasionally it moved but rarely. There’s a “no parking on the street” policy in our neighborhood for residents. Visitors can but not extendedly. We don’t have a lot of parking space and it was taking up the little room we had for our visitors. Plus it was an eye sore and it’s kind of a pet peeve. Anyway, after weeks – I had enough and called the HOA security. They came out right away. Moments later the owner moved his car. The security guard said something about possibly a ticket . . . thanks officer. (I know it’s ugly, but the honesty is the only way to show the powerful lesson gained.)
Then this past week as I was returning from a walk, I saw smashed eggs – several on the side of our house (same side as the rainbow art) and several on the driveway. First thought – it must be those little rascals. Immediately my blood pressure rose.
I called my neighbor. . . she said her son didn’t do it but in fact they had an egg on their driveway on Halloween. I still thought it was them. I mean who else could it be? But I let it go . . . yeah, right.
Then the next day as I was taking out the garbage, I saw two more eggs splattered on the driveway. Those weren’t there yesterday! I took a deep breath and went inside to have my quiet time with God. This is what I learned.
When I called the HOA security about the car, I didn’t even think of going over to my neighbors and asking them not to park there, which would have been the neighborly thing to do. My first response was I’ll show them and call out the big guys. I hadn’t really forgiven them of pelting my house with paint and army men. So, my ill-will emotions just stacked one on top of another. It’s much like a wife getting upset at her husband for squeezing the toothpaste from the middle instead of the end – it isn’t about the toothpaste; it’s build-up from the past. So I reacted.
I’d been harboring ill-will toward them since the rainbow-army men event. Not that it was something I thought about it, but my reaction to the car revealed my heart. However, I didn’t fully realize what I felt until the egg episode. I hadn’t forgiven. God taught me through this that mercy is letting go and giving someone a clean slate; like you are meeting them for the first time. That means you aren’t harboring any ill will – anger, resentment, bitterness. So in a sense, each new episode is disconnected from the rest – emotionally speaking. Make sense? I never thought about it quite like that before. Forgiveness isn’t getting in harm’s way again, if someone harmed you. It’s establishing boundaries when needed, but it’s giving others a clean slate so your following emotional reactions aren’t fueled by the past. So there isn’t a seed of anger hiding in your spirit ready to jump out at the next opportunity.
When we give others a clean slate, then the love of God is able to flow through us to them. If there is no love flow, then we haven’t truly forgiven from our heart. And often those who upset us are the ones that need God’s love the most. Loving others is part of our purpose as God’s family because unlike the world we love with His love which is powerful in others’ lives. Love like you’ve never been hurt. It can change others. Now, unexpectedly, I feel love for my neighbors. Incredible! The blockade has been removed and love is flowing. I want to bake cookies or give them flowers for something. It’s amazing how when God teaches us a lesson He transforms our heart in the process to carry out His will and that is the power of HIS instruction and not someone else’s.
Psalm 18:35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
God has given us a completely clean slate always. We are pure, blameless and perfect in His sight and I’ve done far worse in my life than splatter paint, pelt army men or throw eggs. We need to give others what He has given us. But it isn’t us but God who cleans that slate for us giving us the ability to truly love. His love is real, powerful, and tremendous. Matthew 18:21-22
The world is about revenge, getting even, not letting someone off the hook. But that attitude is more damaging to us, than anyone else. Anger and the like eat away at our soul, verses love which replenishes and heals. Ill-will prohibits the flow of love. Whether it was my neighbors or not who threw those eggs I don’t know. But I called her and established a clean slate which from the sound of voice she appreciated the gesture. I’m thankful for this lesson. Because now in this new awareness I have some other people in my life of whom I really need to give a clean slate to, and I’m confident God will make that happen in me.
Psalm 18:25 With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
November 9, 2009 at 8:17 pm
That message really resonated with me because so many times I have acted in the same manner without first giving pause to extend a little grace to my offender. In fact, I think Satan taunts me to over-react to situations because I usually do. But there are the times when despite what someone does against me, I remember that God didn’t strike me down or turn me to dust when I acted wrongfully against him- the thousands of times I did! In his mercy, he led me from my rebelliousness. While there was a consequence to my action, I was forgiven through God’s mercy and he will remember my sin no more. I now try to act in all situations or wrongs done to me in the same manner of forgiveness and grace. And it is only by God’s power that I can!
November 9, 2009 at 8:48 pm
Marianne – how right your words are. Satan does use it as a huge distraction, which was true in this case with me as well – perhaps another blog? Thanks for sharing your experience. 😉
November 10, 2009 at 11:13 pm
Yes, how familiar this is. I recall a night a couple of months ago when I was forced to use the self scan-self checkout station (I hate those things) at our local grocery. It kept telling me that it couldn’t proceed, that something was wrong, and the attendant was nowhere to be seen. I pushed the call-a-human button about four times without any response, so then I hollered “Is anybody tending this machine.”
The poor man who was supposed to do it came rushing over and cleared up the problem.
I say “poor man” because, unknown to me, the clever store owners had given him three jobs to do at once. When I realized that was what happened, I felt like a heel, then of course my best friend, who was with me, told me that I was wrong and a bad witness to boot (uh, yeah, he was totally right). I just felt awful about it.
Strangely enough the Lord didn’t take me to task. I think it is because He knew that I would shortly be overcome by that strange hollow, yet sharp pain I get when I realize just how short I come up when compared to His perfection. With tears in my eyes and tears in my heart I repented thoroughly. He assured me that, bad as it was, this is how I am to grow, and that He will use this lesson in my heart later when I have to talk to someone with similar issues.
What a great God we serve, I act like a jerk and He makes something good out of it, not because of who I am, but because of who He Is, and how He Is.
I am amazed.
November 11, 2009 at 12:24 am
Nathan – thanks for sharing your story. How many of these fill our lives – our falleness and God’s amazing mercy in giving us something good in it. Those times are a good reminder of how much He loves us.
November 11, 2009 at 8:34 am
We must all learn to forgive others the way in which God forgives us. This is a hard concept. People will do whatever and could care less. We walk in the light. We see things and feel in ways that other ignore. Yes, we ask for forgiveness and we give it as well through prayer and The Word. God Bless you and all that you do.
November 11, 2009 at 4:59 pm
Dr. Lee – so true. And sometimes we think we forgive but haven’t because we truly can’t in our strength alone – but only by His love in us, which enables us. So though we may know we should forgive – it is by His grace that we truly do. And when He does that work in our heart – it is truly amazing.
November 13, 2009 at 2:02 am
I feel ya and can so totally relate, before I did alot of doing, before thinking, and later realized how I could have went about it in a beter way.
The flesh often tries to have it’s way, but when we can sit back and see the bigger picture, we know next time.
November 13, 2009 at 5:19 pm
Hi Lorie! – thanks for your thoughts. The flesh is so reactive isn’t it? And the spirit much more deliberate.
November 13, 2009 at 3:55 am
lol Why didn’t you just throw eggs or army men back at them? I bet they would have LOVED a food fight. 😛 But seriously I know what you mean. I’ll add you on facebook and you can see the dialogue on my wall about the stuff we’re going through right now.
November 13, 2009 at 5:20 pm
Sisterlisa . . . thanks for stopping by. I’ll check out FB 😉
November 14, 2009 at 4:26 am
Hi Rachel. I always think back to Matthew 5:45 along with the text surrounding it when such circumstances arise. And arise they do; often when we least expect it. In my case, a continual area of struggle is with our oldest daughter who brings much drama into the family and is involved with an abusive boyfriend. There has been lying, stealing, and much anger from Morgan and irratric; sometimes violent behavior on the part of Dustin. I’ve talked before about the situation but it’s a hard thing to deal with.
Oftentimes I have to stop…I mean…just stop. And inquire of the Lord to allow a glimpse of the bigger picture. To not see the behavior in front of me or wrongs commited at our expense, but to see the bigger spiritual battle in play. A battle that threatens to keep these priceless souls in darkness until their respective clocks run out.
It’s a thing that I battle day by day and sometimes hour by hour. Oftentimes situations arise in which we have two possible ways of responding and both ways seem wrong. (It’s complicated) But when one wades through all of the theatrics on the surface, the underlying battle is that souls are in the balance, which the enemy seeks destroy.
Thanks for a most relevant post as each of us have areas where we are challenged by such goings on. Blessings always in Jesus name.
November 14, 2009 at 8:54 pm
Timbob, how wise is that advice – to step back to look at the bigger picture. We can easily get caught up in the details that cause us to lose perspective. It is a spiritual battle at its core and we have to fight with spiritual weapons. I’ll be praying for your family this week.
November 14, 2009 at 2:25 pm
A good article. I agree with all you have said, particularly about our own hearts.
However there is another side which is so often avoided, that of actually taking responsibility for correctly dealing with the other side of the conflict.
To illustrate the point I include this recent article from the UK..
A teenager who raped a five-year-old boy days after being spared custody for a sex assault on another youngster has been locked up.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, attacked the child just eight days after escaping a custodial sentence for the rape of a seven-year-old boy, Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester was told.
Judge Smith heard the first victim’s family were committed Christians, had forgiven the boy and called for a “corrective” rather than punitive sentence
I am not giving a conclusion to this article, but if I was the parent of the second child, I would be mighty angry at the “christian” parents of the first child for their forgiving and protective attitude towards the rapist, which effectively set him free to repeat the offense.
Forgiveness which in the gospel context is largely about OUR heart condition should never lead us to abdicate our responsibility towards others or towards God.
If I had my wallet emptied by a “friend”, I might forgive him from my heart. However it would be a long time before I left my wallet around in his presence again. He would have to earn my trust, even though I forgave him from my heart.
November 14, 2009 at 8:50 pm
Frank, you brought up an excellent point. Forgivenes doesn’t mean you fall back into the hands of someone that is destructive by any means. It is about responsiblity. It is about the heart and not holding onto an offense that blocks love. Sometimes the most loving thing can be having someone go through the consequences of their actions because then they truly learn. Then other times more mercy is required. It takes a following of the Holy Spirit and His wisdom, counsel and discernment. Thanks so much for sharing your comments. And great example about the wallet.
November 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm
“BWhen we give others a clean slate, then the love of God is able to flow through us to them. If there is no love flow, then we haven’t truly forgiven from our heart. And often those who upset us are the ones that need God’s love the most.”
Yes! I understand this too well and I’m thankful you shared because transparency is transforming! The truth about God loving in and through us is so real to me lately, I’m understanding more and more the importance of dying to self and walking in the Spirit….not for my ‘own good’ but for His kingdom to share with others where the fruit of the Spirit I do have comes from: abiding in Christ! It is easier said than done though (at least for me).