Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Love, Pray, Forgive and Bless the Prickly Pears

This topic has been sitting on a document waiting for me to hit publish. I think it's something I'd rather not talk openly about, but the more I talk with people, the more I realize the deep rooted seed of bitterness, unforgiveness, and pain in people's lives, especially around the holiday season.

I recognize that in this season of life, things have changed on my blog. We've put a halt on running topics because we're dealing with life. 

It would be great if I could package life in a pretty basket with a big shiny red bow, unscathed, but life doesn't happen that way. We get bruises; we have wounds, they heal slowly and then they become scars. The beauty of what happens in our scars is what can take us from pain to joy if we let it. I want to touch on a topic that probably will sting for most of us, might even make us feel a little uncomfortable, which as I mentioned before, usually is something that makes me want to run.

The things that make us uncomfortable are the things that make us move us into growth. I hope you find this challenging because I certainly do. It's been on my heart for quite some time and why not share? 

Forgive.
Forgiveness.
Love.
Love your enemies.
Pray.
Pray for your enemies.
Wish them well.
Bless them.

It's super easy to love the people who I  agree with, who tell me what I want to hear, who aren't  drama mamma's and are a lot of fun. I can love these kind of people. Oh, and if you're crafty, a reader, runner, kid lover, downright hilarious, a cook, an advocate, or just good company, we can be friends. 

However, the prickly pears are the ones that get me in trouble EVERY. Single. TIME. These are the kind of people that are like sandpaper against my skin. We all have these people in our life, or at least I do. As I mentioned this, you're probably thinking of someone at work, church or even a member of your family.  I've got about 1, okay that's a lie, maybe 5? The real answer is probably about 10. We all have them in our jobs, churches, communities, neighborhoods, families, etc. And yet, I'm called to love the prickly pears. Forgive the prickly pears. Do good for them. The ones who offend me, hurt me, say insensitive things, believe they are always right, act superior to me, make me feel like I'm less than and yet they rub me the wrong way. Do you know what I'm talking about? Are you nodding your head? Do you have a person you're thinking about? If not, then you might want to ditch out on this party because I'm going to get spicy and real, FAST!  

Pray for them. Say WHAT? I'm SUPPOSED TO DO THAT?  Forgive them? HUH? WAIT you can't me talking to ME? Pretty sure it was the gluten I ate.

"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."Matthew 5:44-45


I find it so much easier to forgive someone I enjoy being around than someone who makes me want to throw things. Isn't that true? When someone I love or get along with offends me, I don't think twice about it. I forgive their offense and move on. It was quick, painless and not much thought was given to it.

When a prickly pear(s) offend(s), I stack the offenses, it's much harder to offer that same forgiveness. Then if that unforgiveness isn't dealt with it, bitterness begins to take hold. If that bitterness doesn't get dealt with, it starts to take root slowly, and before you know it, that sucker is growing limbs, branches, and we have a tree. Folks, we don't want a tree. Eventually, that bitterness gets ahold of other things in our lives. 


The tree(bitterness) masks other things that take growth in our life like:
Debt
Anger
Marriage Problems
Anxiety
Fear
Pride
Worry

These things ultimately lead to sin and quick. You're probably thinking it sounds harsh, judgmental and even unrealistic, but I can say this has been true in my life. As a result of bitterness, bad fruit has taken root that could have been easily taken care of if I would have dealt with forgiveness immediately. Why do we take forever? 

Here's the deal on forgiveness. First, it's a choice; it's not a feeling. Society teaches us otherwise. We choose to forgive. Second, bring it straight to God. He is the ultimate Judge, so bring the offense and the offender to Him. Work it out with Him. Let Him deal with it. Why do we carry the baggage around when He offers his arms out to us every single day. We need to go to Him. Why do we let a tree grow with branches full of nasty bitter fruit? We aren't in obedience to His word either, which is something that has broken my heart. He wants us to live free; that is why the Savior of the world was born in the Manger. He came to free us from the nasty sin and bad fruit, so we could grow the good stuff, love one another, live in unity and be at peace with each other. 



"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. " 
Luke 6:35



At Christmas, I imagine it's especially painful to walk into family functions, Christmas work parties, school events or even church because of unforgiveness towards people who have wronged you, hurt you, controlled, made you feel less than or fill in the blank. It doesn't have to be this way, nor should it. There is another way. I am walking this and can tell you, there is HOPE, there is JOY, and there is another way, something way BETTER.  Sometimes when it doesn't feel like you can't walk, crawl. After you've been crawling, stand up for a while. Then after you get your balance, start walking. I promise it does get easier with time. You'll find the more you bring it to the great Judge; the Spirit will help you search your heart. I'm not an expert; I'm just walking where months ago I had been crawling. Wherever you are, don't let another day go by where you don't make a choice in your heart to do something.

Crawl
Stand
Walk

Taking a step will uproot the bitterness in your heart and slowly, forgiveness will root and eventually, you will love, pray and bless those who hurt you. You will see them the way Jesus does. You may not trust them, it may take years to rebuild, but take a step today. Don't let your life pass on by without doing something.

My prayer is that you know you're not alone; you always have someone on the other side of the screen walking the road of "real life." It isn't always easy, fun or cute, but I'm always willing to listen and pray for you. There is someone who extends His arms, willing to offer GRACE; you just have to ask, His invitation is always open and isn't exclusive. I'm not perfect and mess up daily, but He continually ushers me back. 
Many blessings,
Sarah 

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