I remember the first time I realized that my actions had caused someone important to me to experience feelings of deep hurt. It was a few months after the incident oddly enough. In the moment it occurred, I was very matter of fact about the harsh words that effortlessly spewed from my lips. I rationalized that I had spoken my truth and the person deserved to be put in their place. This woman considered herself to be a close friend of mine. It didn’t bother me one bit that she would no longer look upon me as the nice person she thought she knew. I didn’t have a filter, and for some reason my emotional register was low on empathy, especially when it came to certain unwise choices and actions that others had made.
Ephesians 4:32 (NLT) gives us the mind-and-heart-set that God expects from His children. It says, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving is a beautiful thing, but even though we might have been born-again for years, some Christians haven’t quite hit the mark on these, and I was certainly in that group. Deep down, I carried anger in my heart. I was angry because people had let me down considerably, including the men I had dated. And to be quite honest, I was a little angry at God as well. I didn’t understand why so much had happened to me, and felt like He needed to cut me a break.
The anger, for the most part, wasn’t overt. It was cloaked in all the Christian niceties that are expected of us. I believed myself to be kind, sensitive, and compassionate, but there were certain areas where all that went out of the window. There were certain characteristics in a person that brought out the worst in me, and for a long time I refused to be held accountable for it.
Galatians 6:7 (NKJV) says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” In other words, if you put it out there, it’s coming back to you. We tend to learn this the hard way. I sowed seeds in the form of hurtful words, and when it came back to me, it did so with a vengeance.
One day, as I was going about my usual business, I overheard a conversation between what I presumed to be two friends; they were sitting at a table behind me as I was having lunch. Their conversation had been initially very jovial, but turned to a subject that should have been a very private matter. One of them made a joke about it, and became critical of the other. She didn’t stop, but seemed to get worse by the moment. I was drawn to listen because there was something oddly familiar about her tone. It slowly dawned on me that I was having a déjà vu moment, and I didn’t like the feeling at all. It was very disturbing. I found myself wanting the other person that was being spoken to in this manner to defend herself, to say something that would cut through the mocking and terribly insensitive words from her friend. I turned around, partly because I couldn’t believe my ears, and partly to make an attempt to show a face of solidarity for someone being treated poorly.
I saw the face of the woman who had sat silently, and the hurt was evident. It reminded me of someone that has grown used to harsh words being spoken to them, and just shuts down when it happens. I got up to leave, and that’s when I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit say, “This is what you did to Linda.” It felt like I was moving in slow motion when the Spirit’s words hit my consciousness. I got weak in my knees and could hardly stand. The fact that I had injured someone in the way that this woman’s friend had injured her was too much. It pierced me like an arrow, and I cried violently all the way home, and all night long.
It wasn’t just that I had inflicted hurt on another person, but that I had felt no remorse for it. I had been arrogant and puffed up for a long time. I felt the eyes of Christ spotlighting my walk that day, and the remorse I experienced was exceedingly deep. I had been immune to my own propensity to act out of anger and resentment, to leave a trail of bitterness rather than love. I had let the Savior down. I repented of my sin, and he forgave me.
His forgiveness and my realization that I needed to repent were not surface level realities. Deep calls to deep. His forgiveness reaches deep into our hearts, and heals it, but not until we pave the way. 2Chronicles 16:9(NLT) says, “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” This verse helps us to better comprehend the omnipotence and omniscience of Heavenly Father. He sees all and knows all. He holds us continually before His face, and He’s looking for those of us with a certain kind of heart.
None of us are perfect. We all have things about us that we need to work on. We’re works in-progress, being perfected in Christ day by day as we trust in him, but we must realize that sometimes things like anger, resentment, and arrogance linger in our hearts. We must have the courage to ask God to show us what lurks beneath the surface, so that we can bring it before Him and repent. He’s looking for a heart that is wanting and willing to empty itself of these remnants of fear, so that He can strengthen us as we remain committed to walk in His love. ■
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
“What’s In Your Heart?” written for Overcomingdomesticviolenceorg.wordpress.com ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!