Ah empathy and zeal. You are both my greatest strengths and my greatest weaknesses.
I grew up often hearing these words, “Don’t be so sensitive.” Often I processed those words like this…you are too much. Stop taking everything so personally.
So I spent many years trying to press down my much-ness. I tried to be easy going a yes man, if you will. It made me an easy target. And truly, it gave others power over me to control the outcome, to control me. I would try not to push back.
But the fact is when you have something, as a deep part of your nature, it is very difficult to keep that down. It will rear its head. It will. What often would play out is this–I would react, I would say what I was thinking, and it would burn bridges and create so much scorched earth.
What got me thinking about this is a book I am reading–a book I am loving to take in, during this season of my life. It’s about to be launched in the next week. And I will tell more about it then, but one sentence really got to me. She had written that she hadn’t ever fought with anyone. And I thought, why is it that I end up with people, who want to fight with me? Why do I have people, and not just a few, who truly despise me? I have some, who do not trust me. I have some, who have spread untruths about me and about my words to them.
I have spent so much time trying to avoid these sorts of outcomes. But the fact is, I am not one of those people, who hasn’t ever fought with anyone. And it bothered me.
The enemy of my soul knows it. So he plays around with my mind with how I feel about these situations. He lies to me. His goal is to shut me up, kick me into a pit and leave me there.
I am zealous, which makes me want to set situations to right. I feel strongly about it, too. So I try to figure out the best path to take to make amends with others.
But some people do not want to be amended. Some even lie about what they are really thinking towards you–sweet to your face and surly and mean behind your back. So the relationships are never truly mended. It leaves me helpless and wounded.
That is precisely what the enemy wanted all along. If I feel this way, then joy does not shine through…rather, it is bitterness of soul. So, in effect, he wins that battle.
I think, though, that for all these years I have missed the point. The goal of our lives is not to try to avoid messy situations. Wait. Read that again. The goal is to proclaim and live like Jesus–to love like He does.
Do you think for one moment that He was trying to make nice with others? Oh no, he called them a brood of vipers, for heavens’ sake! He turned over their money tables. He came to set things to right, but not without being clear about His calling…He came to set people free, yes. To do that, He also came to bring those deep, dark thoughts and actions to light, so that people could repent and be right with God.
I’m not saying that in each situation I have faced that I have not needed to repent. When I needed to repent, I did so–I try to be daily about repentance, keeping short accounts with the Lord. But let me be clear…in some of those situations, especially the ones that got increasingly worse and made no sense whatsoever, there was darkness being covered up that they did not want to bring to the light. And that, my friends, is on them to set to rights with the Lord–and perhaps, someday with me.
Let me tell you, we live in times where coming clean and being pure of heart, before God and man, is going to be our lifeline.
We are heading for rough waters. Unless we tie ourselves to the One, who is Faithful and True–Jesus–we are going under. That means, in effect, that we need to say some hard truths to others. We need to forgive them, too. It also means we need to walk on from those, who will not be moved by anything we say or do. It is a HARD thing to do, but with God’s help, I have done it–so can you. You better believe I am not only praying for those with a heart of love, but I am telling on them to the Lord. I am asking Him to deal with their darkness.
The reason why I can be joyful in affliction right now is simply this…I am living out my calling to speak truth in love, to call that thing in our right hand a lie, to pray without ceasing, to believe that God has my best in mind…even on days when I walk around with the enemy sending me yet another message like this one: You’ve been blocked by another person on social media (seriously? not just one, but many). Wonder what you have done this time? You sure do attract conflict.
When he sends me that message, I now know what he’s after, just this: My joy and effectiveness to spread the fragrance of Christ where ever, I go.
I pray. And I release that person to the Lord with forgiveness in my heart for them, with love, and with a prayer that God will bring their struggle to light and bring them healing. For I know the good of it. I do. I have been forgiven so much by Jesus, it is easy for me to freely forgive others…and to lay down those sensitive feelings that lead to bitterness and instead to walk freely, feeling and caring strongly still–but feeling positively about them–Hopeful, even, that God will redeem even this.
I hope all my feels with be helpful to you today, friends. It’s been on my heart lately to write about it. So, here you have it.