I am in awe today. I have seen a level of strength, love, grace and forgiveness that is quite extraordinary….and very counter-cultural.
All week I have been pondering the thought, “To heal or to hurt?”
In each choice we make, we can bring healing or create more hurt.
In the words we use to our partner. In the way we discipline and teach our children. The decisions we make in our moments of stress. Our manner when we respond to our boss, or our employee, even the crazy driver on the road. What we say to our child’s teacher, to our neighbour, to the back-stabbing mum at school, or the conniving, competitive colleague at work.
And then – in the time after the inevitable, not-so-good choices – will we say sorry and ask forgiveness, or will we lay blame and hold on to anger and bitterness? Will we also forgive ourselves and allow the healing process, or permit guilt and self-criticism to continue to drive the hurt deeper?
The cultural stories I hear are: you are justified in your anger, get revenge, you deserve it, don’t let them tell you what to do, they have no right, they don’t deserve it, how dare they…and on it goes.
The story I also tell myself at times is: you failed again, you aren’t good enough, you’ll never measure up…
…but I have seen a different story.
A story that has all the lies, all the betrayal, all the deception, all the hurt – and yet I’ve seen a response that is full of strength and love and forgiveness. Where I expected to see angry outbursts, bitterness and contempt, I have seen graciousness. Yes, there is anger and deep hurt, but the love reaching out is so much more powerful. I thought it might seem weak and pathetic, but it is stronger than I ever understood.
My sense of justice wants to defend and protect (and I do believe there is a place for that when protecting the vulnerable).
I want to be angry. In fact I am angry. I want to blast and yell and question and get answers – now!
…but I have witnessed another way.
This other way started way back with a man called Jesus.
A way that beseeches us to desire healing not hurt, to seek reconciliation and understanding, to sometimes wait and always to pray. Yes – to hold accountable. No – not to submit to more unnecessary hurt, but also to inflict none of your own.
A way that says: ‘You do not strive in this alone. I, God, will strengthen you and fill you with a love, peace and understanding that is beyond your comprehension. I love you and you too can love others’.
I have seen this played out – for real – just today. Jesus didn’t give us his words as nice ideas that perhaps we’d like to try sometime (or not). His words are full of power and strength – because He is full of power and strength – and it is His desire to fill and equip us, as we look desperately towards Him.
Choosing healing over hurt is not just a case of setting our mind to it. It doesn’t tend to come naturally. Sometimes it just seems way too tiring. And of course we won’t always get it right. But it is possible – so, so possible.
So my prayer today: I want to choose to seek a different way. I want to put pride aside and ask for God’s strength, peace and understanding. I want to choose to heal rather than hurt.