Today is Independence Day—for one I love deeply. But that independence has been blurred for so long—too long . . .
Hopes for family and a dog and a white picket fence—they can blur reality beyond just a bit.
Too many long and grueling years spent with one who is not meant for marriage yet, unless the definition of marriage is “my way or the highway”—unless the definition of love is “give me everything I want when I want it”.
And one thing was shouted loud and clear over phone and emails. Just because one calls themself a Christian doesn’t mean much, really.
By their fruit you shall know them.
Jesus said it.
Actions speak louder than words.
Sure, we all screw up. Sometimes badly. But there is mercy and grace and forgiveness we should give—because mercy, grace, and forgiveness have been given to each of us first by the One who needn’t give it at all.
We need to lay down our sense of entitlement—our perceived right to vengeance.
But how easy it is to see the speck in another’s eye and stay black blind to the plank in our own. How easy it is to turn human beings into blank screens where we project all our ugly, forgetting that it’s ours and thinking, surely, it’s only the other’s. Because that’s all we can see. That’s all we WILL see.
I have watched actions over the past years. I’ve read words—plenty of words from a believer in being a victim. I’ve read plenty of words from a professing believer who believes in blaming and shaming and conniving and manipulating and even using offspring as a power-play, a pawn moving one square closer to checking the mate.
Dirty work has been done through silky, forked-tongue. Lies and twists of half-truths which really aren’t truths at all. Word turned inside-out can make one crazy. And sometimes, after enough, you just have to seek shelter.
I have studied such personalities. I am degreed in treating such sickness.
And I have counseled the hurting and desperate and dying for direction in times where truth gets blurred by serpents coiled, ready and waiting and wanting to strike—to bite and inject venom from their own sinful souls, refusing to deal with their own dirt—because they can’t see through the their own thickness, shrouded in religion but void of Christ. And they demand repentance from others but won’t come close to repenting themselves.
We’re all prone to this sort of mindset and behavior, I know. We all need Christ to heal, to guard our hearts and minds so we are not swayed by such alluring evil, causing us to hate and hurt those we say we love—or once loved.
It’s tempting, sure enough.
Hate is easy.
And evil deceives us into believing we’re loving when we’re really hating.
Love is difficult and costly and so often deadly.
Love requires laying down one’s will—letting one’s pride and sense of entitlement DIE. And that HURTS.
C.S. Lewis said, “To render back the will which we have so long claimed for our own, is in itself, wherever and however it is done, a grievous pain.”
Such truth is why so few of us love like Christ, live like Christ. Because to LIVE like Christ is to DIE like Christ—Self, crucified willingly for greater good. True love requires crucifixion of Self and seeking all of God. And then, as Jesus promised, True Self will be found.
Too many of us Christians fuse and confuse.
God is all about growing True Selves—helping us grow up and into who He intended us to be—in the first place. True selves are healthy selves—not laying ourselves down for others to be used and abused, but laying ourselves down, willingly, for God to lift up to places of dignity—not because we deserve such, but because He has made us such.
But we get all twisted up, don’t we?
We want to be victims, because it’s easy.
We want to hate, because it’s easy.
We want to hurt, because it’s easy.
We want to think we’re great, because it’s easy—and it feels oh so good to the never-satiated ego.
SELF spurs on SELF . . .
“I DESERVE this—and that—and anything—and everything—I please Because I’m GOOD. I’m GREAT! I’m better than _______. Or, I don’t have as much as ________,”
But giving into entitlement perspectives and victim stances and bitter soul-states—these hurt only the one trying to hurt, sooner or later.
Sooner or later, the one who wants to grow will grow.
And they will do what they need to do.
They will say “I’m sorry”, when called by God to do so.
And they will ask for forgiveness of others when the Holy Spirit gently whispers in their softened soul—defined by God’s whole counsel—not by what another believes they’ve done wrong.
The religious elite thought Jesus had done them wrong.
Remember what happened?
It takes two to tango—or three—or a murderous mob.
So what do you do when you’re being hated and hurt by those who profess religious allegiance—by those who profess none—by all who hurt, knowingly or not?
You sincerely seek God through prayer and His word. You seek humans honest and healthy and courageous enough to help you see your own broken—your own planks in your eyes—and who will support you in doing right, in growing, which is not necessarily easy.
And you do all you can to make peace with those who try and harm, as much as you can, knowing the other may not join hands or hearts with you.
And then . . .
You let go.
You leave the hurting, the hating in the hands of God.
And you keep praying for those you once loved, for those you still love and will always love. You keep praying for their good—for their best.
So how else do you deal with a soul so intent on harming to get—to get what they think they so desperately want and need and are entitled to?
What do you do when you’ve become the constant projection screen of someone else’s soap opera drama—of someone else’s stoning with cutting, demeaning, falsely accusing words and behaviors?
You do as Christ did—as Jesus Christ does . . .
First, you always pray blessing instead of curse. The hateful soul is a bound soul in need of release and healing.
Next, you set firm boundaries. Love sets limits. God is love. God sets limits on evil.
Then, you trust God with your present and your future. He holds you firmly in both, safely and soundly.
Finally, you refuse to retaliate. Because God is the Great Judge of hearts, not us. God knows all. We do not. God knows the depths of the human heart and soul. We do not.
Such mindfulness and behavior is not for the weak. It’s not even for the human.
Our flesh is frail.
But God’s Spirit within the born-of-His-spirit is strong, beyond our wildest imaginations.
Nothing is impossible when we yield body, mind, and soul to our Savior.
Peace on earth starts here—inside our own heart, loving with action as well as word.
We need the Holy Spirit of God in such times as these, when we’ve been used and abused and slandered—when young ones have been infected with lies because they are still so easily influenced by those who are oh, so good at emotional manipulation—all in the name of Christ Jesus—with surface excuse of protecting but inner reality of using—as weapons.
But leave the future and His children to God.
Live this day prayerfully and courageously, even if weak-kneed, still bleeding and crying on the inside.
It’s raining today, here in the country. Our flag is sopping wet and barely catching its wind, like one knocked down-and-out, gasping for breath.
Sometimes the heavens cry.
Skies pour so ground softens.
Sun will soon shine again.
I can see new growth already peeking through, lit green.
Once rigid, proud lines have curved and bowed beautiful.
Once closed doors have begun their opening.
Weathered and worn are developing rich patina, never to be covered in suffocating paint again.
We need not become bitter, Souls of God!
Remember who you are!
Remember to whom you belong!
Remember where you are going!
Sit and rest and wait, just a bit.
New life will surely come, in due time. With God, a thousand years is like a day.
We can always grow, starting this minute.
We can always grow up, starting this instant.
We can yet become a blessing—a harvest that comes first from broken ground—from ground that appears barren and lifeless. Fear not! New life will surely come!
And the corn will feed the chickens who will lay themselves down to lay up new life.
All we must do is let Him have His way.
This is the Way to True Life with God.
I leaned over and rubbed a snout today. He—or she—loved the brief touch. She, or he, snorted delight. I laughed. It takes so little to love if one is willing to give but a little.
And I giggled when watching it twitch that curled tail.
We’re all so twisted . . .
But just a touch, just a tincture of God’s love, is all we need to live, to grow, to love—to love God, to love ourselves, to love others.
So for this one soul, still caught and bound in bitterness, with perceived and projected helplessness, I pray God’s truth and love that can and will set all free—whoever we may be—if only we are willing to lay down the arms of our rebel souls.
When pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Courage is fear that has said its prayers.
General Douglas MacArthur
There’s still time to grow. There’s still time to blossom. Why wait?