The more my eyes are opened to Kingdom truths, the more I see how lost we are. I haven’t arrived to total freedom, by any means, but I’ve definitely grown. There is still so much of the Bible that I am learning… SO much. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, though, my eyes are just more open to the suffering we experience daily when we aren’t aligned with what God has for us. One of the greatest epiphanies I’ve had is that we spend a lot of time swinging with our eyes closed.
I’m a little embarrassed to say, but I used to get in fist fights… not when I was like 9 and 10 years old… like my last fist fight was when I was 20 years old. Ugh, there. I got it out. I can’t even imagine reacting like that now, but the thing is I refuse to be ashamed of my poor choices in my past because my growth from that place solely glorifies God. Plus, He is the ONLY person that can judge me and He doesn’t. Once I’ve gone to Him and asked for forgiveness, my slate is wiped clean from that. Thank goodness for that!
Over time, as I shed my need to show someone physically that they weren’t going to get the upper hand, I still struggled having to prove my point verbally. Sharp words would intentionally cut deep to cover my hurt and insecurities. The satisfaction of “telling someone about themselves” truly wasn’t satisfying, though. I was left full of resentment and hate.
I wasn’t winning.
That’s because it’s impossible to win when you’re not even fighting the true enemy.
Our NICU stay brought on a whole lot more than the obvious struggles. When we weren’t sinking, despite losing our baby boy and watching our girl in an incubator, it felt like the devil started shooting darts from any place he could, even family and friends. After a bad verbal blowout, I completely quit talking to two of my close family members. I started arguing with Brian because of the stress. He would tell me that him and Sophia needed me as I excessively mulled over the hurtful actions, over and over. I obsessed over the hurt. The resentment literally made me sick…my hair started falling out, I couldn’t produce even half of the breast milk I was before, I cried way more. Of course, I blamed it all on them. How could they add to my stress during the most stressful time of our lives? But at the end of the day, regardless of hurtful actions, I allowed myself to become sick because I turned my eyes towards them in that fight. I let the enemy trick me into who was really throwing blows.
I’m so grateful to say that Jesus eventually took His hands on each side of my face and pulled my eyes to His. “They are not your opponent. You know where your battle is.” It’s hard to let go of hurt, especially when you feel justified. I promise, though, you are swinging with your eyes closed if you are battling with a person. After over a year, I started finally allowing God to break apart the hurt and resentment. Fear still kept my heart closed off to them, though. I convinced myself I had forgiven them so there was nothing else for me to do.
God kept putting on my heart that I needed to move forward in love, without fear. I would meet his requests with earthly reasoning… “But then they will think it was alright”, “What if it happens again?”, “I wasn’t in the wrong, though.” When I finally did submit to God’s guidance, I felt the bondage of fear break off. It freed me. It didn’t matter what was to happen in the future because I moved forward trusting God.
Now I understand that you can forgive some people and still need to keep your distance. I am convinced, though, that the Holy Spirit gives us clear discernment on who to pursue full reconciliation with or not. Some people are meant to be loved by you from a distance, but still truly loved and forgiven.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 NIV
That scripture is pretty clear. Your coworker, your spouse, your family, your ex-friend, that rude gas station attendant… they are not your enemies. Maybe they’ve done or are carrying on in some hurtful, hateful behavior. Pray for them. I know, cliché… but watch how it frees you. Not prayers like, “Lord, forgive [so-and-so] for being such a jerk to me. They are miserable and can’t help it.” Noooo. Prayer for them like you’d like prayer, like you pray for those you actually like.
Even now, I have to pray for some people through gritted teeth at first. Watch how your heart will catch up to your mouth, though. Your gritted-teeth prayers will turn into heartfelt prayers. I remember one time praying for a friend I fell out with. What started out as eye-rolling, passive-aggressive prayers turned into prayers that were better than some of the prayers I prayed for myself! One time as I finished praying for her, I smiled with a full heart. I felt this surge of love for her and I could just feel the devil’s defeat. “In yo face, devil!” I haven’t perfected walking in love with those that offend me, but I refuse to just keep swinging with my eyes closed when I realize it.
I’ve fought physically, I’ve fought verbally, and I’ve fought spiritually. I’ve only ever won, truly won, when I’ve gone to battle in the spirit.
I don’t know about you, but I want to live this life with every ounce of God’s promises. I want to leave a legacy… not like my name being in bright lights. More like my name being in people’s hearts; that when they encountered me, they got to encounter the love of Jesus. That’s what we are meant for.
So next time you slide on those gloves?
Lace them up with love,
open your eyes,
turn towards the true enemy and…
HIT. HIM. WHERE. IT. HURTS.
Additional scriptures to meditate: 2 Cor. 10:3-5, Romans 12:9-21, Gal. 5:14-15.