Sundays With Rae

a blog for women by a woman who is trying to get her life together while still loving Jesus

Say Something

Per usual, I was having a conversation with a friend about grief and I told her that healing doesn’t mean not feeling. I thought about all the times I walked around not feeling anything because I didn’t have the energy or time to do so. There was always something more important to focus on. Work, church, family, friends, always something. I didn’t realize my cup was full and this grief was spilling over into every area of my life. I didn’t notice how many plans I cancelled or didn’t bother to make. I didn’t notice how careful my interactions were with others, afraid they’d ask too many questions. I didn’t notice how quiet my dreams had become.

I told my friend a lot of stuff that she probably already heard or wasn’t interested in hearing, but I wish I told her about Job. When my dad passed, I turned to the Book of Job, for what I thought would bring me hope and solace, after all, growing up in church I always heard how Job was faithful to God even after he lost everything… That’s not exactly how the story went. Job was not praising God all the day long while he went through. He wasn’t pretending nothing was wrong. To put it quite frankly, Job was not here for what God was allowing him to go through and he didn’t mind telling his friends and God about it. Maybe Job didn’t curse God, but he cursed the day he was born. He had no problem displaying his grief by tearing his clothes and shaving his head. In fact, in Job 7:11, Job says he won’t be quiet, but he’ll talk about his anguish and he’ll complain from his bitter soul. Job refused to suffer in silence like so many of us do. We think we’re doing everyone a favor, including ourselves, by not grieving so loudly, but it’s killing us softly. Job was as faithful as they come, and even he acknowledged the pain he endured.

Everyone’s process is different but I’m of the belief we can’t talk grief out in our heads. For some it means going to counseling, for others it means going to lunch with a friend, for others talking to God out loud, and still others it means writing a book about it. Or you may be like me and have to do all of the above (a lot of times). Just because you can’t “feel” grief or maybe you ignore it, doesn’t mean it’s not there, begging for your attention, wanting you to share it so you don’t have to bear the load by yourself. Your display of grief may not be as elaborate as Job’s, but its affect on your life can be just as impactful. I’m going to tell you like I told the little girl at my school who wouldn’t speak up for herself: “you better open your mouth and say something.”

Chicago, IL (April 2019)

Commitment Issues

July 2018

What are you committed to? What cause do you give 100% to? I’ve had this conversation with myself a few times this past week and I kept drawing a blank. Commitment is being involved whole heartedly and consistently giving your best. I wanted to say I was committed to church because I’m there a lot but I realized a lot of times all I do is show up. I don’t give everything I’ve got simply because I don’t want to or it inconveniences me. I wanted to say teaching but if I’m honest, I could do so much more (I know teachers are underpaid and blah blah, but in a lot of areas, I could still do better). Then I thought about my friends and peers who have similar stories, and some of them don’t even know it. Sometimes we show up and we rationalize in our head that we’ve done our part but there are no participation trophies when it comes to commitment. You don’t get anything for showing up. You must do something and do it to the best of your ability.

A lot of times we’re committed to other people; sometimes to people who aren’t committed to us. We give them everything we got to fulfill everything they need. Whether it’s a significant other, friend, relative, we are committed to them. But when commitment does not have a face or a name or a quick reward or recognition, can you still be committed? Will you still be willing to plan the event that hardly anyone attended last year, but you know impacted the few who were there? Will you give more of your time and money to make it better than before? Or will you just “support,” like everyone else did? Will you participate in the conference calls? Show up early to help setup? Make whatever amends necessary to work peacefully with everyone?

I’ve said it many times before: I love doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. So the idea of commitment is the complete opposite of how I want to live my life. But a few caring friends have let me know it’s not about me and I’ll be the caring friend to let you know, “it’s not about you.” Anyone can show up and be counted as present, even have a good time while they’re there. It takes special people to do the work and do it well. I’m the best show-er up-er there is. I can even make it look like I’m doing something well, but in the end I’m only fooling myself. I’m all about being gentle with yourself and knowing your limit and self-care, but I’m learning that commitment means pushing my own feelings aside sometimes.

Jesus didn’t just show up on earth; He did something while He was here and He did it well. We should keep that same energy when it comes to our gifts and our purpose and our church and our jobs. I’m not saying hop on every committee you can or say yes to everything you’re asked to do to show how committed you are. Doing that will actually cause you to be committed to nothing. I’m saying choose something and truly be committed to it. Don’t just get by, don’t do just enough, don’t just support, don’t throw money at it; do the work. It’s a sad case when we’re always supporting our friends and families and what they’re committed to but they can never support what we’re doing because we’re not committed to anything. You may never see the outcome of your commitment, but like I said, it’s not about you.

Don’t Wait For Me

July 2018

“Wow!”

“That’s honorable.”

“There aren’t too many girls like you left.”

These are the responses I get when I tell people I’m waiting for marriage to have sex. They are amazed at such a declaration. As I was having this conversation with a new friend and we discussed relationships, I started to wonder was this the point guys I “talked” to realize we weren’t going to work. After all, no one has ever told me, “I’ll wait for you.” I’m grateful they didn’t because it would have been a lie and in all honesty, I don’t want anyone to wait for me.

Wait for me to get my food before you start eating. Wait for me to finish getting ready before you leave. Wait for me to wake up before you call me. But don’t wait for me to have sex.

I’m not waiting for marriage to have sex because I want to be seen as an “angel” and it actually saddens me that we equate not having sex before marriage with being a non-human. I’m waiting for marriage because God said so. It’s that simple for me. Are there other areas I struggle with and have to ask God for forgiveness? Yes. But I’m always striving to do what God says. We all fall short, but what are you striving for?

I’m striving to be holy and desire to be with someone who is also striving to be holy. Not striving to make me happy. Not striving to marry me. Someone who is striving to be holy. I always tell people I’m a lot to deal with. All day, every day. It’s going to take you striving to be holy, to be with me. Not because I’m unworthy of love. Not because I’m any more to handle than anyone else. Not even because I’m waiting until marriage to have sex. I’m a human striving to be holy, so every day I’m not wrestling against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). I don’t want to wrestle alone.

I don’t want to carry the spiritual weight of my relationship, all the time. There will be times I am spiritually weak, and will need someone to hold my arms up and pour into my life. If you’re walking around on empty talking about you’re waiting for me, you’ll have nothing to give. This is why the bible tells us to be equally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). I admit there was a time when I behaved as though I didn’t know what this scripture meant or I made it mean what I wanted it to. But by and by, after while, I realized there was no getting around it if I desired a Godly marriage.

There is the scripture in the bible that says the saved spouse covers the unsaved spouse (1 Corinthians 7:14) and you’ve heard love stories of how the saved man brought the sinner woman to Christ and they lived happily ever after. During that phase of my life when I was trying to skirt around 2 Corinthians 6:14, I settled on this being my destiny. I would meet a really nice guy who just needed Jesus and I would lead him to Christ and we would live an amazing life with a great testimony. I had no idea the trials and growing pains those couples go through. And, yes, every couple has their ups and downs, but did I really want to set myself up for such a relationship when I didn’t have to? No. A resounding no.

We’re called to draw all men to Christ (Matthew 28:19) but I would never want someone to come to Christ for me. I’ll be the light, I’ll be the salt of the earth, I’ll help them take that first step, but if we don’t work out, I would pray they are still moving towards Christ. This can only happen if you come to Christ for yourself. You’re not doing me a favor by waiting for me. If you don’t understand the purpose in the waiting (to be holy – set apart), your waiting is in vain. Wait for Jesus, don’t wait for me.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Empty Your Hands

I was babysitting my goddaughter, Safiya, and her sister, Naima the other day and Naima, who is two, found an eraser that looked like a strawberry. She did what all two year olds do: tried to eat it. I informed her it was not food and I told her we could get some snacks if she was hungry, but she clutched the strawberry eraser and ran away shouting “mine!” I had something better but she thought she had the best. Too often, we are Naima. We are so content with what we find, we ignore and sometimes run away from what God has for us, not realizing that what He has is so much better. If we would just empty our hands, God can bless us.

I remember being very unhappy at my job as a family therapist. I just did not like it. However, compared to most beginning therapists, I was making pretty good money and my hours were fantastic. But that did not seem like enough. I technically could have continued to work as a therapist as I applied to teaching jobs but something in me knew I needed to empty my hands. I didn’t think of it as that then, I just knew I was sick of being a therapist. I had some savings and I was going to live on that until God made a move. During these times of empty hands, I learned how to pray. I knew what it meant to put a request before God and trust He was going to make good on it. I would not have been able to experience this total dependence, had my hands been full of family therapist stuff. Maybe I would not have scored as well on my teaching certification exams. Maybe I would not have taken as many substitute jobs (which is actually how I got my full-time teaching job). I had to put down what I thought was best and trust in God’s better.

Fear kills. Fear cripples. Fear stunts growth. Of the million and one things I want to do in my life, if you ask me why I have not done them, my answer for the majority of those things would be because I’m afraid. I’m afraid I won’t do it right. I’m afraid no one will like it. I’m afraid I’ll look stupid. I’m afraid. So instead, I hold tight to all the things I already know how to do. I hold tight to my views of the world. I hold tight to my stuff. I don’t trust that what God has is better. What I have is good enough… Who really wants to live a good enough life? Not I. So as scary as it may seem, I NEED to walk around with empty hands, awaiting God to fill them.

We can usually tell when God is calling us to something better. It’s usually uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and relies solely on Him to make work. For me, it was a job. For you, it may be a relationship. Yes, y’all have been together for five years and of course you love the person, but it’s going nowhere. You know it, he/she knows it, and maybe the thought of being alone is scary and the thought of having to get to know somebody else is overwhelming (don’t even get me started), but it’s necessary for better. It could be unforgiveness that you need to let go of. You know they were wrong, they know they were wrong, all of your social media knows they were wrong. Empty yours hand of it, so God can give you forgiveness. As much as we want to believe we can hold unforgiveness and forgiveness at the same time, I assure you we can’t (I’ve tried, several times). Let your “secret” sins go. Maybe nobody else knows about them but we both know, God knows. He can’t give you everything He’s promised you because your hands are so full of sin. Free your hands up.

Today I challenge you to drop the strawberry eraser, with the belief that God’s better will fill those empty hands.

Believe the Hype

Raise your hand if you don’t know how to take a compliment… ::raises hand::

Those who raised their hand, know it’s not a matter of not being grateful, but instead feeling like you’re undeserving and just not that good. My response to a compliment usually involves a, “thank you, keep me in your prayers,” with a huge dose of awkwardness to accompany it in the form of a weird smile and me trying to scurry away and hide.

It’s not just difficult for me to thank someone for telling me I’m good at something, it’s difficult to admit to myself what I’m good at. I can tell you what I do (sing, write, teach, speak), but to say I’m good at those things or that I do them well, seems like a stretch. When people compliment me, it’s not that I think they’re lying but I explain it away by saying it was just a good day. My father figure once told me that if this is my idea of being humble, it’s annoying and unattractive. Harsh, but he was right. I’ve come to realize me saying “I’m not that good,” is just another way of saying, other people are better. This is not a reflection of my gifts but a reflection of how I view myself.

I teach fifth grade, mostly boys, and one day we started talking about basketball, and they were telling me how good they were. They didn’t say, “I’m pretty good,” or “Yea, I play a little bit.” They spoke as though Lebron James had seen them play in an AAU tournament, recognized their ability, and was working out with them during the off season. “I’m better than all y’all!” “You not blocking my shot, I don’t care how tall you are.” “But you can’t beat me though!” They went on and on about how good they were and what was amazing to me was none of them had seen each other play. But that didn’t matter because they believed their own hype. They were unconcerned with someone being better than they were; they knew they were good at basketball. And to my surprise, they were.

Now if a bunch of eleven year olds can have that much confidence in their abilities surely I can, right? Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” I have allowed this fear of destruction and falling keep me from acknowledging the gifts God has given me. I have made it about me and my ego instead of Him and His glory. I imagine every time I say I’m not good at something that I know is a gift God gave me, it is a slap in the face to Him. Instead of saying “Thank you for this gift,” I say, “well, You’ve done better with other people.” It sounds ridiculous to say out loud.

Jesus, the son of God, was our gift from God. Some did not believe He was the son of God, but it did not change who He was. Even when they did believe Jesus, it was not a surprise to Him. He knew who he was. The same goes for us: we are who we are, whether anyone believes it or not, including ourselves. It does not change who God made us to be. He’s a father who gives good gifts and that’s not to be ignored (Matthew 7:11).

There are some gifts inside of us that God may not have revealed yet, but there are others that we are well aware of. Not only do you feel the breath of God flowing through you when you use your gift, but other people notice. You can be humble and recognize the greatness of the gifts God has given you. It’s not about you, but what God is doing through you. Believe the hype, especially when it’s God serving as the hypeman.

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Psalms 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit

Speaking at a convention in Nashville, TN (March 2016)

In the Fire

As I get older, I realize I have the wonderful pleasure of sharing in the joys of my friends. From graduations to marriages to babies to new jobs to opening new businesses, just wonderful things happening. With these high highs, also come low lows. Just this past year I have had friends experience divorce, miscarriage, depression, bad break ups, death of loved ones, and the list goes on. It really just seemed like one fire after another and I’ve had to decide what I would do.

Jesus only had twelve disciples. He had many followers but only twelve walked with Him, day in and day out. So, I don’t believe we should be in the fire with everyone. It can be overwhelming to have that many people surrounding you when you’re going through, smothering almost. Sometimes we just need to be around the fire by checking in with our friends. Let them know you’re there if they need you. This is being around the fire. Now, being in the fire means consistently showing up. In fact, you don’t even have to show up because you’re already there. You’re asking the hard questions, you don’t believe them when they say “I’m okay.” Sometimes when they don’t want to, you drag them along anyway. This takes a special kind of relationship but it is necessary. How many people are willing to be in the fire with you? Better question, how many people are you willing to be in the fire with?

I recently told someone how grateful I was for my father figure (Raynard) because even at my lowest moments, he was there. As believers and followers of Christ we know God loves us and He’ll never leave us or forsake us but when we are going through, sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. But thankfully God uses people to remind us of His love.

In Raynard’s words, “You were in a pit and you didn’t want to get out. You grieved the loss of him (my father) and for a while you became your grief.” That would have been enough to make me take a step back and let my friend figure out their life. But Raynard still called and harassed me, asked me how I was doing, spoke life into me. He was there in the fire. Months after my father passed I was at church, and ran out of the sanctuary crying. Someone saw me and called Raynard. By the time I walked out of the bathroom, he was there. He wasn’t even at church (he was down the street), but when he heard where I was, he came. The fire of grief that was consuming me did not scare him. That’s a lie, he was terrified lol. But he did not allow the fear of the fire keep him from me. He stood with me in it.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about loyalty. This is an aspect of that same loyalty. We talk about going to war for our friends and loved ones over whatever against whoever, but what happens when they’re in a battle with themselves? Will you jump in the fire with them while they’re holding the torch, uninterested in putting it down? There is no water in sight and even if it were, your friend would light you up if you dare touch their flames. There is no time limit, there is no such thing as too hot, it is a temporary home that in the moment feels permanent. Will you be there in the fire with your friend?

I am sure there were many days Raynard prayed God would just send the water and quiet the flames but I learned, and at the same time Raynard learned, you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it, but you have to go through it. And in our going through, we see the hand of God. His love, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His wisdom. All because a friend decided to stand in the fire with us. Just as Jesus stood in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Daniel 3), be the friend in the fire and watch them come out, not looking or smelling like what they’ve been through.

Standing in the fire

But Are You Loyal?

Jazmine Sullivan has a song called “#hoodlove,” that expresses her loyalty to her partner (I would not recommend sensitive ears listen to it lol). There is a song by Emelie Sande called “Breaking the Law,” which tells of how she will steal, speed, and even commit arson to make sure her lover is okay. There is also a list of rap songs I don’t know that talk about loyalty (and even gives consequences to those who aren’t loyal lol). I say all of that to say, we talk about it, we sing/rap about it, but are we loyal? Do we jump ship when it gets uncomfortable? Do we run the opposite way when we see trouble coming?

Our world has painted loyalty to be this thing where “I’m with you when you’re right and I’m with you when you’re wrong.” Transparency moment: I can’t be with you when you’re wrong, because I’m not interested in going to jail or dying today. I’m not a ride or die kind of friend. I’m more of a ride and call the police for help. Although, I can’t be with you, I can be for you. There are different versions of loyalty. My brother would literally go to jail for me, no questions asked. He knows I don’t do the jail so I would not be able to go for him but he knows I would give my last to get him out. Know the kind of loyalty the people in your life have for you.

In the words of my older sister, “not everyone deserves your loyalty.” Too often we’re loyal to the wrong people. The people who consistently hurt you and don’t even bother saying sorry. The people who never show up for you, no matter how many times you show up for them. Those people do not deserve your loyalty, they’ve shown you they don’t have any type of loyalty for you. You don’t have to hate them, but you have to learn to love them from a distance. I’m talking about being loyal to the people who know you are a struggling mess but choose to love you anyway, you all share a mutual respect for each other; and even though sometimes neither one of you get it right, you can say sorry and come back together. It takes a certain level of maturity to recognize the difference between the two people. Some good guiding questions to help you recognize the real are the following:

If they hurt me, will they say sorry?

If I could give them nothing in terms of material things, would they still be around?

If I really needed them, would they show up for me?

Would they stand up for me?

Would they accept my apology?

While you’re asking yourself about your friends and partners, ask yourself about you. Are you loyal to the people in your life? We want everyone to have our back but do we have theirs? It’s easy to think you’re in a loyal friendship, when the other person is making all the sacrifices, they’re doing all the calling, texting, liking, they’re always showing up. You’re always saying thank you, never you’re welcome. My friendships and relationships are very important to me. And I really thought I was a boss in this area, until one day I realized I was just an entry level employee when it came to loyalty. I was there for my friends if they REALLY needed me, other than that it was a hit or miss. I’m not of the belief you have to talk every day, or every week, but share a link to a story they may find interesting, like a status, send a text, every once in awhile it’s cool to make a phone a call (my least favorite lol). Do something to let that person know, you see them and care about them. It’s not all about the “big things” (going to jail, flying across the country, midnight emergency room visit, etc.). The little things help us stay connected so that we’re comfortable enough to face the big things together.

You know who is the most loyal person ever? You knew where this was going lol. Jesus is the most loyal of them all. Even though He knows we will mess up and at times not be for Him, He remains loyal. It’s His nature. If we’re going to be loyal to anyone, it should start with Jesus. We have songs that speak of our loyalty to God. Travis Green’s song “Prove My Love,” (only the real Travis Green fans will know about this one lol), tells of how he will do anything to prove that he loves God. Jonathan McReynolds has a new album out (that you should get), and the title track “Make Room,” shares that he will make room for Jesus because Jesus is most important. There is a hymn that says “where He leads me I will follow, I’ll go with Him all the way.” Do we live out the loyalty we sing about? Am I loyal enough to go to jail for Jesus? To die for the cause of Christ? We take this type of loyalty and give it to people who will fail us and when they do we forgive them and maintain a certain level of loyalty. Why not invest this loyalty in a God who will never fail, who no matter what you do, won’t leave you, who will love you through it all? While we’re out being loyal to everyone else, never forget, God has always been loyal and always will be.

2 Tim. 2:13 If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is (NLT)

March 2018

Let It Go, It Doesn’t Fit

I have a friend who likes doing puzzles. Not the 20 piece puzzles, but the 500, 1000 piece puzzles. She tricked me into doing one with her, and I kept trying to put two pieces together that just did not belong. I turned them every way I could and they just would not fit. My friend finally yelled, “Jocelayna, let it go, they don’t fit.” And today, I’m your friend yelling, “let it go, it doesn’t fit!”

It could be a relationship, a job, a major, a friend, a grudge, a dress: Let it go, it doesn’t fit. You’ve reached the end of the road, you’re at the end of the course, you’ve hit the glass ceiling, there’s nowhere to go from here. You can talk about it as much as you want, you can be as quiet about it as you please, you can turn it any way you want to, it’s not going to change the fact that it doesn’t fit and it’s time to let it go. Pharaoh refused to let the people of Israel go, no matter how much Moses tried to tell him it was in his best interest to do so. He allowed sickness, frogs, and even death to come upon the land because he would not let go. What have you allowed to come into your life because you won’t let go? Sickness? Financial hardship? Stress? Weight? Sleepless nights? Low self-esteem?

You know the saying, “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.” We don’t want to let go because we know it won’t come back, we know it’s not supposed to, it’s not ours. Pharaoh knew once the children of Israel were gone, they would be gone forever, which is how his army ended up following them to the Red Sea and being swallowed up. You don’t have to get swallowed up, chasing something that doesn’t belong to you. That boy/girl doesn’t want you; if they did, being together wouldn’t be so difficult. That friend from elementary school does not want to see you prosper; she’s happy when you fail and y’all sin together. You hate what you do; I don’t care how much money you make (or don’t make), no one wants to deal with your attitude at 9am. You’re not over the situation; if you were, you wouldn’t imagine tripping the person every time they walk by. The dress is too small; if it fit, you wouldn’t feel light headed when you wear it. These are all signs you need to let some things and some people go.

We are under the impression that life now is as good as it’s going to get but I assure you that the lie detector test determined: issalie. If we would let go and let God and fit ourselves into His will instead of our own will, life would be better. I know you’re afraid because you’re not sure what life would look like without that person or without that thing. You’ve literally spent years of your life holding on and trying to make it fit but I challenge you to be free. It’s okay that you can’t see the future, God doesn’t ask us to. All He asks is that we trust wherever He is leading us and that the journey we’re taking to get there is for our good. Don’t be like the children of Israel and allow an eleven day journey to turn into forty years because of disobedience.

Isaiah 43:18-19 says Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Let go of the old stuff, the old people that no longer fit where God is taking you, so He can bless you with something/someone new.

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No matter how many times you try, sometimes it just doesn’t fit. I let go and returned these pants lol (March 2017)

Forgive AND Forget (Part 2)

My memory can be faulty at times, but if I feel I have been wronged, I remember every single detail like it happened this morning, doesn’t matter how much time has passed. So the idea of forgetting was (sometimes is) a hard concept for me to grasp. Even thinking about turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), has me side eyeing God. When I realized forgetting was a part of the process my conversation with God went like this:

“I’ve forgiven them and accepted that they’re just a horrible person and that’s how they choose to live life. Why would I forget that and end up in the same situation?”

“So forget and have people think I’m stupid?”

“Yeaaaa, not trying to do that.”

It simply did not make sense. But then I realized it did not make sense for Jesus to come down to earth to save us. It does not make sense for God to continue to love us in spite of all the wrong we do. It does not make sense for Him to show us grace and mercy. But He does. But Jesus did. And surely if God can forgive me and treat me as though I have never sinned against Him, for His own glory (Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins), I know I can do the same for His glory.  It’s not about me, it’s not about you, it’s not about the other person or the situation, it all comes back to God.

I know life is not like the movie Men in Black where we can wave a wand and erase our memory. Forgetting, just like forgiving is a choice you have to make daily. Forgetfulness will look different for everyone. In the Bible we have the example of the prodigal son, whose father welcomed him home with open arms after he had went out in the world and did whatever, losing all his money (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus instructed the disciples to shake the dust from their feet, if people refused to listen to them (Matthew 10:14). You have to figure out what forgetfulness looks like for you but it has to be from a place of love. You HAVE to consult God. And it may look different over time with different people.

People usually know when they have did us dirty and we’re feeling some kind of way about it. Sometimes it’s useful to have a conversation and let them know your feelings were hurt, and other times having a conversation with them, it’s like having a conversation with my 8 month old god daughter, who smiles at everything I say until she gets distracted by something else. Either way, it’s on you as a child of God to always choose to forgive and forget. You will be able to repair some relationships and bounce back like you never left, while other relationship may have reached the end of their season. The ending of this season will not be out of hate and anger, but it’s the path God has you both on. It’s okay to let go of things that are not good for your heart, and let me be the one to tell you, people who hurt you (physically, emotionally, spiritually), are not good for your heart (Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life).

So how do we forget after we’ve forgiven? I’m still working through this step but I attempt to live by the motto, “it’s not that deep.” Nothing is worth me missing heaven; no person, no thing, no situation, NOTHING! So if it takes me saying hello to the guy who never returned my phone call, “Hey! Hope all is well.” If it takes me liking a photo on Facebook because in actuality I really do like it, I’m click, clicking away. If it takes me “loaning” my cousin a dollar that I know I won’t get back, “just pay me back whenever.” If it takes me deleting a number and unfollowing them on Instagram, delete, delete, delete.

Forgiving and forgetting does not mean I trust that those who have wronged me will never do it again and we remain best friends while singing Kumbaya; it means I trust God enough to help me be able to treat them the way He treats them, with lovingkindness, meeting the need, doing good, and sometimes just letting them be. If a stranger were to see me interacting with this person, they should have no idea there was ever a situation. It’s not about being phony (even though sometimes I have had to fake it until I made it and I did make it) but extending the same grace that Christ offered to you; the same grace you and I might need from someone when we’re in the wrong.

I cannot be transparent enough on this post: forgiving and forgetting is still a struggle for me. I know some of my friends were reading this post thinking, “But you just called me last week about ____________.” Don’t do me lol. It is not very often that I feel wronged enough to start harboring unforgiveness in my heart, but when I do, I hold on tight. We don’t want God to hold on to our sins, so let’s start loosening the grip of others’ transgressions against us. In fact, let’s let go of it completely. Allow forgiveness to free you and forgetfulness to keep you free. And just a side note, Jesus said to forgive a person 490 times (Read Matthew 18:21-35).

Luke 6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

You can read part 1 here.

Forgive AND Forget? (Part 1)

I was the most forgiving person until I really had to forgive. It’s easy to go through the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors) until you have a face to put to that debtor. And not only do you have a face but you have a list of reasons why they don’t deserve your forgiveness and how right you are.

I may be the only one who’s ever experienced this but unforgiveness feels amazing for about a day. I go over the situation countless times, reinforcing to myself how right I am. I call a few people and we discuss the details, continuing to reiterate my rightness and how ridiculous the other person is. It’s awesome. Then the day goes by, and that awesome feeling fades away quickly. It becomes annoying. I obsess over the situation even though I no longer want to think about it. I go from not wanting to talk to the person to not wanting them to breathe the same air as me. People start avoiding my phone calls or if they pity me enough, they answer but keep the conversation short because all I want to talk about is this person and how wrong they are. It’s a terrible space to be in and unfortunately we let too many days, months, and years past by living in this space.

This was a hard pill for me to swallow because I truly enjoy being right; but my quest to be right was leading me to hell (Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses). And sadly I would convince myself I had forgiven a person but every time I got the chance to mentally respond to something they said, it would be filled with:

“Ask the girl who you were talking to while you were talking to me.”

“Go hang out with the friend you ditched me for.”

“Go ask your boyfriend, I’m sure he has all the answers.”

There was a point in my life where anybody could have caught this unforgiveness. Friends, family, guys I was talking to; I did not discriminate. And it wasn’t until recently that a situation had been annoying THE MESS out of me, and God finally asked me, “this is how you want to do life?” Did I really want to spend my life carrying the burden of unforgiveness and risk my soul on top of that?  Of course not!

For me, forgiveness started with praying for the person, like genuinely praying for their well-being. When I didn’t feel like it, when I remembered and got angry all over again, when I wanted to boast about how right I was, I prayed for the person. These weren’t, “God bless __________,” prayers. I prayed for their success, family, financial needs, goals, spiritual walk; I prayed for them like I would want someone to pray for me. And I really did want God to bless them but I also needed God to see my heart and break down this prideful wall I built. As time went on, I found myself not cringing when that person was around. I no longer thought about the situation as much and I was so proud of myself until I realized there was another step: forgetting.

Check back next week to read about forgetting!

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Let forgiveness free you (April 2017)