Starter Steps to A Better Place

I follow a Christian athlete who plays in the NFL named Benjamin Watson on Facebook.  He is such an inspirational Christian.  After the Dallas tragedy, his sister posted this really simple message and he shared it.  

 To her words, I added a bit of my own commentary. 

"Forgive. It's difficult to forgive someone who has wronged you and won't acknowledge your hurt or admit they are wrong. Forgive them anyway." 

While it pertains directly to the tragedies that America has seen over the last week and how no matter what race or background we come from, suffrage or privilege we've been handed, to move forward, we must shift our hearts to forgive, have humility and to seek love, it also pertains to every day interactions and encounters we have in our personal, intimate lives. We've all fallen on both sides of this line, but somehow the second we are wronged, we forget about all the grace we've needed in our lives and all the times we've needed forgiveness and a chance to show a changed heart to someone. We've all needed to be forgiven and we've all had to make the choice whether to forgive or hold a grudge. Who are you refusing to wholeheartedly forgive today because you've been wronged so badly or because you are too prideful, embarrassed to admit you were wrong? Maybe you don't know the entire situation like you think you do and are withholding love without all the facts. Start with that person you're thinking about as you read this today. Accept their apology or go to them and apologize, not through meaningless words, but loving action. All these big world issues out there and yet people are still refusing others forgiveness, grace, compassion, mercy, and love in their personal lives restricting unity and harmony amongst races, religions, and within friendships and families. We are human; we all fall down. We need to be better about picking each other up and loving even though there is pain, scars, and hardened hearts. You don't need their love or acceptance to forgive them or seek love.  There is no peace or love in a grudge. When are we going to realize that the only way to move forward is to seek love and forgiveness, extending it to others and accepting those apologies? It's not easy, but it's worth it. Adam and I have been nailed by betrayal in the recent years but the peace within the grace that we didn't know we had in us has been beautiful.


I read her post as the context in which she intended towards the recent tragedies, but I also saw more to it, especially in regards to forgiveness and seeking love.  I believe partly because the withholding of forgiveness is a sin in which I strongly struggled with in the past, but with God's strength, I have been able to mostly overcome....not perfectly, but so much better than in my past.  Also, this resonated with me because truly grasping and understanding the humility behind experiencing and learning true forgiveness and love {being on both ends:  the one who hurt someone else and the one who is hurting; the one is seeking love or the one refusing it} also brings the challenge of accepting that not everyone's hearts are softened to do or react in the same way.  This is hard for me because part of my personality is to over-justify both when I am right and even when I am in the wrong.  Sometimes, I feel the need to justify myself instead of just saying, "I am sorry" or I forgive you", especially when I know the full story isn't being told, but I am learning that it's not always the full story that matters.  The Lord has been so strong with me over the last three years in several unfortunate events and has kept me so, so still and encouraging me to keep my mouth shut and let Him do the work.  If it were left to me, I would have left a bunch of big ole messes trying to scream the truth when really, granting grace and understanding other people's perspectives tells more truth and character than words. 

For the majority of my life, I assumed forgiveness and repaying evil with love meant I would have to be a doormat, but over the years of several occasions of hardcore betrayal, I have learned that I had it all wrong.  In fact, when I would be the one who needed the forgiveness, I wouldn't even ask people to forgive me because I had such a hard, stubborn heart that I truly didn't care whether they forgave me or not.  Thank the Lord for salvation and the conviction to be humbled. It is those times I look on and remember when I'm wronged, that I have done the wronging towards others too.  Grace, love, and forgiveness doesn't have to equate to a friendship or doesn't mean you must fully trust someone again, or even have contact with those who hurt you, but it does mean that you're willing to love the person as God's child no matter how bad they hurt, wronged, or betrayed you.  Betrayal is a strong word and I've learned that I've used it way too loosely in the past.  Understanding the pain it can inflict means the urge to withhold forgiveness is so much more intense.  Intentional betrayal comes with no remorse and is the most devastating; Adam and I are lucky to say that it wasn't until our 30's that we ever experienced that level of devastation.  While I have had my fair share of hurting others in my life, I have never intentionally aimed to "betray" someone.  Hurt them?  Yes, guilty.  God used one particular situation in my life from when I was 23 to teach me grace {in which my guilty conscious prevented me from accepting until I was 29} and when I felt and learned of true grace, I was then able to give it out.  When I am tempted to not forgive, I think of what that person did for they forgave they taught me.  Needless to say when I read the above, I was really caught up in her simplicity of the importance of forgiveness while seeking love.  Holding a grudge does not seek love or peace or harmony or unity.  Forgiveness, though, does all of that.  Or one can say "seeking love" does the same too.  They go hand and hand no matter how grave or how little the situation is.  As this world turns more and more cold, we need more and more warm hearts constantly seeking love, even when people make it hard.  I don't understand the new age culture of our world, the entitlement, the "she wronged me more" mentality, but as long as I strive to seek love and forgiveness, I can live with no regrets.  It isn't easy by any means and doesn't happen over night, but it is necessary for a better place to live. 

I, too, need so much grace.  I   need   so   much   grace.  I need to bathe in it sometimes.  Many times in my life, still, I make it hard for others to love and forgive me, but I am so thankful for those in my life who freely give the grace and mercy that I may not deserve.  I wish more of the people would look at the big issues America is facing and instead of living in past hurt and suffrage, look to the future towards redemption and love, everyone with a heart to give more than they take.

I can't solve the world's problems, but LOVE can. 

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