Thursday, October 6, 2011

It takes bravery to follow Jesus

I’ve been struggling with an unseen force in an area of my life for nearly  two years.  Every time I show up, it seems as if I have some scarlet letter emblazoned on my chest.  I can’t figure it out.  I’ve blamed it on a bunch of different things.  I’ve soul searched and asked what am I doing wrong.  I’m a likeable person.  I like most people.  I am open to all sorts of people.  I am quiet unless you talk to me – that’s the “polite Norwegian” in me.  I do realize that sometime people take that for snobbery but I tried the best I could.  However, when the welcome mat is not out and an invisible sign says STAY OUT… you tend to just withdraw further into yourself.  I’ve realized that I appear to have a chip on my shoulder at times.  And I do, at times.  It’s been a painful experience.  It’s brought up all my insecurities and self-doubts.

I’ve found myself drinking at the well of self-doubts the last few days.  I’m exhausted.  I’m discouraged.  I ask daily what the point is in everything.  I’m smart.  I have many gifts and talents.  That’s not arrogance or a lack of humility.  It just is – these are gifts from God and have nothing to do with me.  I want to use them and the sound of doors slamming echoes in my brain through the day and night.  I hear often those words: "you're a loser."

This is often how I feel when I walk into the environment where
I've felt such pain and rejection.  Yet I keep walking anyway.
That's all one can do.
Yesterday I had one of those moments.  Someone told me the core of this rejection I have been experiencing for the last year and half.  It was one of those moments when the range of emotion went from What the ________?  To I want to rip someone’s head off (not the person who told me the truth, but the source of this pain)-To that’s so unfair and wrong-To why is it so important to someone to make my life miserable?-To I want to just crawl up in a ball and cry.  I honestly can't handle much more rejection in this life.

And ironically, this all stems from the words of Jesus about turning the other cheek and going the extra mile.  I shared what I knew about the scripture at a time when it had come up in discussion.  I didn’t say “Oh you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re all wrong.”  No I just simply pointed out that often this passage is misunderstood.  It’s not about being a doormat or allowing people to abuse you.  In turning the other cheek, you force someone to see you and treat you as an equal.  It's about asserting your dignity as a person.  It seemed harmless enough at the time.  After all, it was my area of expertise.  But I wasn’t cocky with my knowledge.  But the perception was different.   Perceptions were shared and people who never took the time to get to know me or anything about me formed opinions about me that have caused me very painful isolation.  I would forever be viewed through a filter different than the truth.

But that’s not the point of the this blog.  I am not saying “Oh poor me.  I’ve been so misunderstood.  Had I wrote this yesterday, which I was wise enough not to, I would have wanted comments of sympathy and an outcry for the injustice being done to me.  But not this morning. 

As I tossed and turned early this morning, my nemesis’s face and name were calling from my wounded heart.  I tried everything I could to put it out of my mind.  I tried thinking about my husband’s birthday and the cake I would bake for him.  I prayed about how hurt I felt.  Nothing helped.  Finally, I prayed for my nemesis.  I prayed that they would be blessed.  I prayed that they would do well in their endeavors.  Almost immediately, I fell asleep.

Now I’m not some super-spiritual person nor do I pretend to be.  I am very human and have long since given myself permission to be human.   While I’m not particularly vindictive, and I usually am fast to forgive, this was different.  I was praying for this persons well-being and blessing.  It reminds me of some other words of Jesus.  How ironic, they are part of the same passage that sparked this dilemma: 
Luke 6:27-31 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
This morning, I found a song coming out of my spirit.  It’s an oldie (of course). 
Lord, lay some soul upon my heart,
And love that soul through me;
And may I bravely do my part
To win that soul for Thee.
I thought, where did that come from?  And then the Lord said, that's your answer.  Just love.  Return evil with good. That's a hard thing. It does require a bravery I'm not sure I have.  There is still a part of me that wants to rip this person's face apart and say, do you know what kind of pain you've caused me?  But... I won't.  And with God's help, I'll love.  I'll turn the other cheek.  I'll go the extra mile.  I'll need a lot of bravery and courage - the kind that only God can give.

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