Anytime I am having a deep, meaningful conversation with one of my girlfriends, one of us, without a doubt, will lean in, and that’s how you know it’s about to get good.
So here I am, friend, leaning in. And you can bet your britches it’s about to get good. And I think you’re going to be surprised by where this post ends up. Or maybe not.
This past Sunday, my family and I visited a local church. It was their annual homecoming celebration. Next to the church is a cemetery where quite a few of my family members have been laid to rest. And one particularly fresh plot with new dirt still piled high. Yes, that is where my step-dad, Richard’s, earthly body is buried.
He passed away in May of this year after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer. However, he ultimately won that war as his spirit resides in Heaven now. Thank you, Jesus!
And if you guessed that our pain is about as fresh as that dirt piled on top of his burial plot, you’d be right. We miss him, dearly.
This Homecoming Sunday, our family went to the church service and stayed for the luncheon afterward. We did not know a lot of the faces there. A lot of the people sitting next to us in that church building were complete strangers. Some were kind. Some pretended not to notice we were there. Some even protested to my cousin, telling her “That’s our seat. We’ve sat there for years.” I am not sure how my cousin was supposed to know that was their seat since she was not a member of that church but merely a visitor.
After hearing that this went down, I was pretty angry. I wanted to shake my fist at these people in utter disbelief that they would treat a visitor to their CHURCH in that regard. But I didn’t. Actually, I couldn’t. Because all I could feel for those people was compassion.
I don’t know their stories. I don’t know what they’ve been going through. Maybe those seats are the only constant in their lives. Maybe it’s the only thing that brings them comfort or peace.
I’ve learned that pain can make a person do unspeakable things.
A few weeks ago, I was suffering from some significant sinus pressure. It was so intense it was even radiating into my teeth. If you’ve ever had a toothache, then you know the desperate place that it can take you. I was miserable. That evening, instead of retreating to my bed and putting my head under a pillow for the next 12 hours, I had to put on a brave front and went to a sporting event with my family. The things we do for our kids, y’all.
But during this intense pain and discomfort, I was the last person anyone wanted to be around. I was miserable and, in turn, making everyone else around me miserable, too. My fuse was ridiculously short, and I snapped at even the tiniest offense. Eventually, I popped an anti-inflammatory and felt human once again. But not before I was a total grouch to everyone within a one-mile radius.
This is when I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Have compassion for people that are hateful toward you. You do not know the pain they carry.” #micdrop
I sat there, meditating on this thought. And it absolutely rocked me to my core. There are people who are in pain every second of every day. And I am not just talking about physical pain. I am talking about mental, emotional, spiritual. People who, every day, experience a struggle.
Sometimes, I wish I didn’t have such a compassionate spirit. Ha! I wish I could just be plain pissed when people do terrible, hurtful things. But I have been gifted with the ability to see things from different angles. And in that moment, when the Holy Spirit dropped that truth right into my heart, I knew I had to share it.
Not everything is as it seems, friend. Sometimes, there’s something way darker or painful underneath the surface. And we need to show others grace. We need to extend to others the same grace that is given to us from our Heavenly Father.
And I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it is simple.
I am so glad I wasn’t there to hear that person who told my sweet cousin she was in her seat. Because I am not sure in that moment if I could have held my composure.
Have you ever heard that saying “kill them with kindness”? It’s usually said in response to someone who has wronged us.
Maybe someone has been rude to us or said hurtful things to us (to our faces or behind our backs), but the response is the same… “kill them with kindness.”
I believe this is based on a biblical truth, but the enemy has taken it and twisted it ever so slightly (which he does well and often) to make it seem like it’s biblical truth. But friends—this is not biblical, and it’s certainly not the truth.
I was infuriated when I found out how my family had been treated at that church. I wanted to blast every single one of them on social media. Use all of my platforms to call them out. But why? What good would that do?
Or I could “kill them with kindness,” sure. But what’s the end game of that?!
The truth is we are called to extend grace to those who have wronged us. And not just that, but you may be called to even intercede for them. That’s right, you may even be called to pray for them. To dig in and really cry out to the Father on their behalf.
Being a follower of Christ isn’t easy, but it’s simple.
It’s not always choosing what feels good. It’s choosing what’s truth and following through. It’s extending grace when all you want to do is stone someone to death. It’s drawing a line in the sand and saying “No, more!” and moving forward in love.
Sure, I can justify why these people chose to be so crass and hurtful to my loved ones. I can see their pain and even fully understand why someone hurting could hurt others. I can even reference that “hurt people hurt people” quote. But even knowing all of that, am I willing to intercede for them?
What does it look like to be so down for Jesus that I lay my own pain and baggage aside to pick up someone else’s and carry it to the cross for them?
It looks like a man that’s been tortured hanging on a cross for me. It looks like Jesus
A few months ago, a man gave me a prophetic word for my life. It was given to me in a moment of raw obedience to the Father. You see, a couple of weeks before this event, I had made a firm resolution in my faith. I was going to be obedient even if it made me look like a fool. I was willing to risk humiliation and what others thought of me to lay down my own way and pick up His. And when I felt Holy Spirit stirring, I knew what I had to do. But I couldn’t do it. I sat frozen in my seat, terrified. And then in a simple act of obedience, I moved. And once I made the decision to move, once I made the decision to act out of pure obedience, my Heavenly Father took over.
It may not be easy, but it’s simple.
Carry Each Other’s Burdens
My beloved friends, if you see a believer who is overtaken with a fault, may the one who overflows with the Spirit seek to restore him. Win him over with gentle words, which will open his heart to you and will keep you from exalting yourself over him. Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each other’s troubles. If you think you are too important to stoop down to help another, you are living in deception.
Let everyone be devoted to fulfill the work God has given them to do with excellence, and their joy will be in doing what’s right and being themselves, and not in being affirmed by others. Every believer is ultimately responsible for his or her own conscience.
Galatians 6:1-5 The Passion Translation
Friends, I think I just got called out by the Living Word of God. Actually, I know I did.
If you think you are too important to stoop down to help another, you are living in deception.Galatians 6:3 The Passion Translation
Our Heavenly Father always acts in love. And make no mistake, there will be correction that comes your way. But if it is not out of a place of love, then it is not of God, your Father. How do you know? How do you know if it looks like Him or sounds like Him? How do you know it is God?
- Read your Bible.
- Develop a personal relationship with your Heavenly Father.
I am learning every day that it is really that simple, my friend.
You may be asking yourself, “Now what?” How do we move forward in this situation where we feel we have been hurt or wronged?
The truth is I’m not sure. But I have an instruction manual in hand that tells me what I need to do. And if you’re like me, you may not like what it has to say because it’s not going to tell you what you want to hear. It’s not going to cheer you on in your plot to “kill with kindness.” It’s probably going to call you out and even step on your toes. But it’s the gospel. And if it doesn’t offend you a little every now and then, then you’re probably not reading it. It won’t conform to the ways of this natural realm. However, it will hold you to a higher standard, a higher calling.
Not our will. But His.
Paul writes in Galatians 6:10, “Take advantage of every opportunity to be a blessing to others, especially to our brothers and sisters in the family of faith.”
It may not be easy, but it is simple.
Featured Image By Matthew T Rader