I'm not sure why I woke suddenly at 3:00 AM and started thinking about it. But the tears came and I couldn't stop.
I wanted them to be happy for me. But they didn't even know about my good news. After so many months of rejection, I knew that calling would be out of the question. It was quite obvious that they just didn't want anything to do with me. With us. The hardest part was dodging my children's questions about why we don't see them anymore. Their innocence something I wanted to fiercely protect.
Here I was, embarking on a wonderful new path for my life, and I couldn't share it with the people who should be most excited for me-the most joyful with me.
A part of me wanted to reach out one more time. Just try to bridge the gap from my end and extend yet another olive branch. But deep in my heart, I knew that it wouldn't be well received.
I know that I am not alone in this situation. Perhaps you too have felt the sting of being turned aside from close friends, isolated from conversations with chummy co-workers, or down-right shunned from your family members. Maybe you too are missing out on the growing up years of little ones you love, or dread the holidays and birthdays because the void that broken relationships brings casts a cloud over what should be a happy celebration.
As a Christian, I want to understand. I want to find resolution. I want to have the kind of relationships that God designed-ones where we all recklessly forgive our grievances towards one another, think about others more than we think about ourselves, and go out of our way to do good to one another-no matter what. Relationships where everyone is patient, self-controlled, generous, peace-making, benevolent, and loving without any conditions. Relationships that reflect God's great mercy and grace.
But then the Lord reminds me that we live in a fallen world where even Christians, even life-long friends, or those who share your DNA, make their own choices and can determine that you are not someone they want to have anything to do with anymore.
They have the free will to decide that they just don't really like you so much.
Don't want to even politely mingle with you in common circles.
And the sin of it can cut to the very core. The outright rejection bores a hole straight through your heart-and Satan is delighted.
So what does a passionate Christ-follower do?
She does what she can on her end to make things right, and then leaves the rest up to God. She sometimes cries it out at night, and often prays for restoration. And she works really hard to set her mind on things above. To not return evil for evil. She prays that God will keep her heart soft enough to not be bitter, and strong enough to love her enemies.
Christ tells us in Scripture:
“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:38-48 (The Message)
It's hard to do, in our humanness, isn't it?
It's other-worldly, this God-given charge for us as believers-a radical kind of love.
Take the blows.
Give to them more than they want to take.
Be a servant.
Love your enemies.
Allow the painful situation to refine you and bring out the best in you.
Put on your big girl pants.
Live out grace.
That's exactly what God does towards us. He treats us with love and does not treat us as our sins deserve. If you, like me, are broken-hearted over fractions in your relationships, it's okay to grieve the loss. But don't let it defeat you. Let it deliver you. Let it deliver you from sin's grip and the cords of bitterness, and let it make you more like Christ.
In the dark hours of the night, the words of an old friend ring true in my heart. Sometimes, the only comfort we can take from a situation like this is to consider it “an opportunity to identify more with Christ in His sufferings”. He too was rejected. He too was betrayed by his friends. He too felt great sorrow and agony. And He also left us an example. He lived it out on the cross. He died for you and for me while we were His enemies.
How then, shall we not also do likewise?
YOUR TURN! Have you been rejected by a colleague, friend, or family member? What has God taught you through this situation? Are you the one who is holding a grievance towards another in unforgiveness, or cutting them off-what can you do to honor God in this?
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