What Weighs Can Pay
When I thought, at first about today’s prompt (Baggage Check), which asks us to talk about how our past has affected major life decisions, so many things came to mind and I struggled to choose from my divorce, my interactions with my eldest daughter, my decision (albeit forced) of work over family (this is a hard one). Then I got it. What has transformed me was one simple decision made about twenty years ago.
I had already been praying through a very ugly marriage with a man that was choosing drugs over family and refused to work. I had been praying through a very high-stress job that demanded a lot of time, energy and commitment working with others that all competed to be most-favoured, or top of the list. I struggled through being accepted into the marriage that I had made into a different culture. Some members of the family treated me as if I were not even close to who they were, and made me feel like dirt. In their own language, which I came to speak fluently simply through osmosis, they called me “the stranger” or properly interpreted, it can mean outsider or foreigner.
I made a decision to live a life of forgiving others. Just because we are told to do so in the bible. Not because I was ready to forgive or even understood how much that decision would impact my life, but simply as a child grudgingly obeys a parent’s command that they have to do whether they want to or not.
At first, I took this as a “pray for your enemies” attitude. I would, by rote, go through my prayers and in obstinate reluctance, mumble the names of those that had hurt me for blessings. Eeek, when I think of how ugly my heart was towards these people, I am surprised that God even listened at all to my prayers. I really did not like doing this.
As time went on, it became more a habit to pray for those who hurt me and the reluctance started to slip away as God was softening my heart towards obedience more than towards those that I would pray for.
At some point, I came to realize that I really was praying with an empty spirit towards these people and how wrong this was. How could I still not like them so very much and hold such bitterness and just say their names by rote obedience? Where was I conforming to the true commandment of “Bless your enemies”? This burned within me. I wrestled with it. Some of these people had lives that were so much better than mine and yet they were so mean. How could I put my heart into praying for them?
Again, out of sheer obedience, I prayed.. now specifically praying that God’s love would pour over them and that He would richly bless their lives. Ugh.. My spirit wrestled with my hurt, but I continued on.
I couldn’t tell you when, but there came a time that my view of each of these individuals began to change. I saw the insecurities instead of the bullying or the cutting comments, or the mean spirit. I saw the way that they used this aggression or control as a means of trying to carry their own difficult vision of themselves to make others look lower than how they saw who they were.
Some of these people, moreover, were Christians that were constantly making me feel unworthy although they meant otherwise.. They meant to help, but their words and actions were hurtful and made me feel less accepted and loved, as if I would never meet their standard.
Some of these people were family. These cuts are, I think, the deepest and truly have taken the longest to heal, but in seeing the hurt within their own spirit, I began to feel an obligation, as a child of God, rather than a disgruntled youth, to pray for peace in their lives.
I can say, in all honesty, that this has changed my life. Almost all of the people that I’ve prayed for, have either been shown to me differently so that I am not at all affected by their own hurt, or even better, our relationships have healed.
This has been a 20-year practice, but one that I am most grateful for. This has been my saving grace.
What I didn’t see, is that when I started this, I, myself was filled with bitterness at the hurt, even hatred towards those that continually hurt me. In softening my hearts towards them, God showed me my own heart. God softened my heart. God gave me the gift of being able to heal my hurts through praying for others’ hurts.
Try it.. it works wonders in your own peace of mind and spirit 🙂
Bless you lots and lots,