Put It On

I don’t know about you but forgiveness isn’t one of those spiritual disciplines that comes easy to me.

Two things that I struggle with in trying to apply forgiveness are my memory and my emotions.  Mix in some hormonal fluctuations and then some tough circumstances and it becomes the perfect storm for a tornado of unforgiveness to touchdown and mow myself and others over. Whew!   And I don’t know about those running in sneakers, but my high heeled life as a woman sometimes includes a whiny voice in my head that is perfectly content to repeat over and over again, “But that person__________ and then she did_________”

I spent some time after college living with a family who kindly opened up their home to me.  I was able to see the life of a mom of three up close and personal.  I would come “home” to their house after a day of work and on a tough day the mom would come up to me and say of her kids, “those people are driving me crazy.”  I found her wording “those people” very funny at the time, but now I’m not laughing quite so hard because I get it.

I remember hearing a popular radio host say that she would have her quiet time in the morning and she would be praising God, loving on the Lord, saying “Hallelujah”, her heart full and her spirits high…..and then her family would wake up.

Obviously, I am not alone in feeling sometimes like I could do all that God wants me to do and be – if the earth weren’t populated with other people too.

But God created me to desire fellowship and community and well… that requires other people to be around.

So what’s this high heeled child of God supposed to do?  Read the instruction manual for life.

Colossians 3:12-14 says, And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.  And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”

When I read the phrase “put on love” I have a mental picture of myself standing in front of my coat closet, putting on my coat.  Notice, I didn’t say “putting on my clothes” because that is important.

When I forgive someone who has snubbed me, when I choose a gentle response to an unkind remark, when I stay calm as someone else pours out his or her fury, I am still me.  Like the clothes I am wearing that day I still have the emotions, hormones, and the current circumstances in which I am living.  But with my will I decide to put on over my “clothes of the day” forgiveness, forbearance and patience.

God challenges us to stretch in this area even further.  He has us asked to go beyond forgiveness.  Well what does that mean?

Linda Dallow puts it well when she said, “As I prayed for Jana and asked ‘How can I bless her?’ God gave me creative ways out to reach out in love.  When she was discouraged about her ministry , I wrote her a letter of encouragement.  When her mother visited, I invited Jana and her mother to lunch.  Did I feelloving?  No. Did I feel like giving a blessing? No. But God kept prompting me to go beyond the act of forgiving into the action of forgiving.  To make secret choices in my heart, in my will.  My choices had nothing whatever to do with my feelings.” (Calm My Anxious Heart, p. 81)

Truly, nothing that happens to me is really about that circumstance, it is about my reaction and whether or not I will draw closer to God or furthere away.  Will I trust Him enough to do surgery on my heart?

I was annoyed with someone yesterday, my feelings were hurt and I was a bit sick of being the target of this person’s angst.  I can choose to walk away from this computer and walk around with a chip on my shoulder and bitterness in my heart, withholding love in the secret place of my heart.  Or I can put on a coat of forgiveness, love and peace knowing that yesterday’s “event” really wasn’t about that person anyway.  It was about my response.  Will I allow myself to “grow up” into a person who is more like Christ?

Will you try today to “put it on”?

 

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