One time, in my early teens, at secondary school I took part in a school production where I was to perform a solo piece whilst made up to look like Dracula. My make-up and hair was done at home, and arriving at school before I changed in to my costume, my friends and I were bubbly and running around in and out of the back stage area. I was happy and full of joy! I soon settled, changed and carried out the performance, which I thought was a lot of fun!
Afterwards, my mother told me I had ruined everything because people had seen my hair and make-up before the start. She told me I had been showing off and had ruined the impact of my performance. I was devastated. I had not intended to show off or ruin anything. Until that moment I was simply enjoying myself with friends, but my joy was stolen and I was left feeling really bad about myself.
The words were damaging and long lasting in my soul. Our minds often exaggerate the feelings we attach to an event. I am sure it was not my mother’s intention to have such an effect, but our words can be like knives, and the wounds they make can be more painful and take longer to heal than an actual physical abrasion.
When we say mean things, we are usually only thinking of ourselves – how we perceive a situation, and what we think. Cruel words are often spoken without thought of the other. Lashing out with the tongue, comes from a place of past hurts or fears, and words spoken out of jealously, greed or anger come from a place of selfishness.
People may misunderstand us, but when we are treated unfairly, spoken ill of or rejected, God knows our hearts. God knows our intentions, so we do not need to worry. God sees everything and cares deeply for us.
“You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle – are they not in Your book?” Psalm 56:8 AMP.
Criticism or rejection from anyone we love hurts. It means that we don’t fit in to their lives the way we hoped we would. The greater the difference between what we wanted and the reality, then the greater the disabling influence it can have on our lives. As each person has their own hopes, needs, dreams and desires, it becomes a conflict between two selves. Loving someone and suffering for it is then linked by our opposing free wills. But without free will there can be no true love.
Jesus suffered because He truly loved us. He gave up His life for every one of us, even those who have rejected Him. The cross simultaneously symbolises both great suffering and great love. By this act God shows us how He understands everything we go through.
“So do not fear, for I am with you,” Isaiah 41:10 NIV.
“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 NIV.
He can use our suffering for good. Suffering brings compassion for others. We are after all suffering the same human condition together. And if a door closes, it is because God has something better in mind. God does not want us to accept less than His best and His plans are better than our own (see Jeremiah 29:11). Sometimes what we think is good for us can keep us from realising what is God’s best.
“And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tender-hearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 AMP.
Our freedom is from living without fear, which comes by putting our trust in God and having plenty of forgiveness in our hearts for the wrong things that happen to us. We must not hold on to what hurt us, or internalise our feelings. These just build up, weighing us down and hardening our hearts.
If we let go of our own will and give it to God, then we can be truly selfless and live from a place of genuine love for one another. Then it becomes love that drives all of our actions and words. We would walk in love with one another and flourish as God intends.
“Those that be planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God.” Psalm 92:13 KJB.
Just as we are to not hold tightly on to the material things of the world, so are our minds to be loosely attached to the past. So let us be brave, let go and let God be God.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV.
Father God, thank You for Your everlasting love and presence. Let us not harden our hearts and help us to let go of the hurts. Let us open up our hearts to one another, and be vulnerable with the people who truly care and love us deeply. Lord, let it be Your will done on Earth as it is in heaven. Let us always act from a place of love and forgiveness. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.