It happened again. Someone said something in the wrong tone of voice and it resulted in a ripple effect of hurt feelings, anger, and disconnect. It didn’t matter what was said, what mattered was that we got disconnected from each other because of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and a myriad of outside pressures jabbing away at our wounds. Yip, not my finest moment or his for that matter. I suppose disagreements never really are.
What made this one worse for me was that I couldn’t get myself to reconcile quickly. I was too angry and too fed up with the year’s trials that we’ve endured as a family. (We did make up by the way :-)) In this whole messy situation called life and marriage and family, I found myself walling up my heart. I didn’t want to let anyone in or near me for that matter. No, I was hurt! My insecurities of not being good enough rising up like giants taunting me. I knew in my head, that God would want me to keep my heart open and soft but my anger shouted a defiant “NO!”
How do we do it? How do we keep loving people unconditionally without any reserve? Loving fully and unconditionally terrifies me in some ways. None of us want to be hurt. That’s why we protect ourselves with defense mechanisms, walls, and distance. The concept of loving fully in the middle of pain is contrary to our minds. We don’t enjoy being in pain or seeing pain, for that matter. This is why so many of us are telling each other, our spouses and our children to not be angry, tearful, sensitive, etc. It makes us uncomfortable and often reminds us of our own hidden aches and pains.
Love is messy. It doesn’t go the way we thought it would nor does it fit in our parameters. As we grow in our understanding and experience of God’s love for us, we messily apply that same example to our relationships with others. Some days we get it beautifully right; other days, more than just the wheels fall off our wagons. In those moments, God is smiling because he loves mess. Mess means that we are learning by trying.
Who are you really fighting?
Sometimes the person we are fighting is not actually our loved one. More often than not, we are fighting against the enemy. This was what happened to me this weekend. Out of nowhere, this attack came and took me for a long ride (I’m disappointed to say). I love Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
The enemy is after marriages and families. Marriages are a beautiful example of the depths of God’s love for us and the intimacy he longs for. Families illustrate the wholeness and belonging that comes when we are walking in the truth that we are God’s children. Of course, the enemy is going to come after us in these areas. Such attacks, if successful can bring about deep wounds and brokenness. By using families and marriages to fight against each other, the enemy attempts to avoid blame by getting us to blame each other.
At the end of it all, we need to stop for a moment to quickly ask ourselves and God: Who are we really fighting? That chaotic atmosphere may be the enemy playing with you; that unsettling stream of conflict in your marriage, may be the enemy too. Anything that is not in line with God’s idea of family and marriage is either our fallen human nature or the enemy. We need to ask God to increase our discernment (without getting paranoid and blaming the enemy for everything which just puffs him up).
Discernment is one of our weapons of spiritual warfare that we can use to protect the unity within our marriages and families as we stand firm in the truth of God’s heart and Word. This is the stance we take as we resist the devil. Still, we war on:
Take the higher ground – choose love
Often the wrongs we feel extended to us are legit. The challenge comes in not jumping on the I’m right, you’re wrong band wagon. This merely results in blame, anger, and strife. We need to ask ourselves, what is more important? Heart connection and unity in our relationships? or, being right? In my experience, being right often costs unity and heart connection. Being right doesn’t always give honor to God, our partner or ourselves. It comes out of a place of pride and selfishness.
but God gives grace to the humble…James 4:6b
Humility is part of taking the higher ground. We humble ourselves by letting go of our need to be proven right. We deliberately choose to love our spouse and other relationships because the person that God has made them to be is beautiful and deserving of love. We choose to stop partnering with anger, blame, disunity, and pride so that we can partner with God’s truth about the person we love.
We have to choose to love the way Jesus loves. Jesus loves us even when we are at fault. He never withholds his love nor does he give it to us in pieces or in reserve. No, he gives us his whole heart every moment of every day.
Forgiveness means to release yourself from any pain that you are carrying which is rooted in hurt, offense, or pain. Forgiveness does not approve or condone someone else’s behavior; it frees you from bitterness, resentment, and anger. The extent that people have wronged us should not dictate the frequency and readiness of our forgiveness. We forgive because we want to protect our relationships and keep our hearts soft yet full of love.
This is the part, where I go to Jesus for help. Here I sit with him and I ask him to help me forgive. I forgive until I feel that there’s nothing left to forgive.From there Jesus shows me that he doesn’t treat me in the same way that my loved ones do. He treats you and me with deep respect, honor, love, faithfulness, and kindness. His words are soft and gentle yet firm when needed. He reminds me of how he sees my loved ones – people deserving of unconditional love.
Once you have forgiven, put the incident behind you. Yes, you’ll still remember what happened but:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.1 Corinthians 13:4-7
We focus on the truth on how God sees our loved ones and us. We press the reset button every time we forgive. Forgiveness extends new mercies to those around us; a fresh start over.
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