Perhaps you find yourself caught between words and actions— the victim of unfortunate happenstance. Maybe the relationships closest to you feel torn apart by misunderstanding or some pain-filled individual is throwing salt into the most tender parts of your heart, and then again, and again, and again.
The uneasy feeling of disapproval without knowing why.
Maybe the most bitter words have gone in one ear and stayed lodged in your chest, festering and waiting for a chance to explode and perpetuate the cycle. Maybe you’ve felt like you’ve been biting the dust and turning over backward and listening and giving the other cheek and nothing come back to you but another disappointment.
Maybe you’ve invested half your life into a person or committee, church or ministry, and it all comes back to bite you head on.
The harshness can become a part of us somehow. The stress becomes a habit somehow. Before we know it we’re explaining and irritable trying to solve the puzzle of intricate relationships with bare words. Panicking not to lose all we know, we become cynical and retreating. Resorting to doing our own thing and acting out our own Christianity, but inwardly still festering, explaining ourselves, and laying awake wide eyed into lonely nights.
We’ve all felt caught in the awkward formalities of wishing each other well, while not hesitating to gossip in private to soothe the hurt. We smile fake and act well to be safe. We find more distance, more seclusion, more unhealthy balm to spread on chronic sores. It feels like all we need for peace is an apology and the assurance that we are right, but the reality is we often won’t get those specific releases.
What do we do with the hurts that have no closure?
Biting the dust isn’t as bad as it seems. At the end of the day much of our power lies in how low we can bend and how honest we can be and how deeply we can repent. It isn’t just or fair many times, but I would rather be biting dust in peace than flying high in anxiety. That person or situation consuming your mind needs to be blown into a cloud so you can watch it float away. Take the high road of spiritual excellence by taking the low road of humility. You may never be fully understood or justly dealt with, but you will fully released to live peacefully.
And you might get less headaches and muscle tension as a bonus.
I watch a lot of faces in the city and many of them are cynical and reclusive. Other golden faces bear the marks of years of forgiveness and letting go. How comforting it is to sit at the feet of wisdom and white hairs and listen to calming guidance. I know they are at peace because they have learned the art of letting it all go, releasing the things and people they cannot control. I’ve watched them sit fearless through tense situations, and stay positive through harsh conversations because they don’t allow the outer tension to destroy the inner calm.
We live in a world of disconnect and we should take every precaution to develop and maintain close relationships. If you’re biting the dust in a relationship today don’t fight too hard to be elevated, you might be just where you should be. Stay low, pray hard, love well— and you’d be surprised who will come to you for connection and healing. It hurts, yes. It’s offensive, yes. But it might be the secret ingredient to deep healing and restoration of now strained relations. How many of us would cease from hours of dissecting people if offense led to prayer and petition instead of comparison and competition?
Let us be women who do not fear humility but grab it by the horns to push back in truth and prayer, and the oft needed repentance. We don’t have years (or even hours or minutes) of time to wallow in the sin of offense and dissect the people that have hurt us the most. I urge you now to think deeply about the people that have hurt you most and ask yourself two fundamental questions.
- Have I entreated them humbly to consider their wrongs?
- If they are not willing to reconcile, can I release it to Jesus?
We all know the world is full to the brim with bitterness and anger. We have all been hurt by systems and people, churches and institutions. It might shock us if we did a spiritual brain scan and saw how much brain space is taken by mulling over the people that have hurt us. There is a time to process and voice the hurts and a time to wash our faces and get up with a resolve to never allow another’s mistakes to dictate our responses.
Women consumed with other’s wrongs are usually not safe places for the vulnerable, or peaceful places for the storm-tossed, or spirit-led women for the faltering. If the devil can distract us with offense he will do everything in his power to keep us there. But how quickly he runs when we rise in worship and face the offense with praise!
He is the Father of offense and the enemy of joy. He is the designer of negative suspicions and the opponent of gracious forgiveness. He is the archer of arrows that divide and the distractor of communication that connects.
Be aware, women of faith that he will do what he can to cripple your mind from being able to engage joyfully in a pain-ridden world. When we retreat to always being right, and dissecting people to prove our point we automatically isolate ourselves and others and the devil has easy access to continue throwing in new offenses. As long as he can control you by making you a captive of other’s opinion, he will. You might feel justified and under control, but strangely lonesome.
But you can find a community down low, joyful women facing the pain of life with the power of the resurrected Christ living alive inside of them. Women groping for Jesus with the warmest hearts in the coldest corners of the world.
“Oh, there are things done in the world today would root up faith, but for Gethsemane.” A. Carmichael
When we find His face in our grievances we remember His Gethsemane. Our Jesus died unjustly. And what glorious life came from His death! Let us grope for Him, in this tearing of our hearts and in the dust ridden ashes of our humility. We will find Him and the sweetest balm of release.
He’s right down here with us.