One of my favorite quotes that I’ve seen attributed to Dr. King is “I’ve decided to stick with love, hate is too heavy a burden to bear.” I wanted to look up the source of this quote, and this is … Continue reading
We seem like we have our problems solved. We are good. Life is good. All is good.
When, in reality we are dying inside. We are hurting. We are broken. We suffer from the same things that everyone suffers through. Doubt. Worry. Depression. Addiction. Dysfunctional families. Broken marriages. Debt. Everything.
But we are afraid to mention it because we have to perfect. Because we are Christian. And that charade gets exhausting.
Something happens, though, when we get real as Christians. It makes us human. And it shows that we aren’t better than or holier than thou. We are just real, normal folks, who have met an awesome Savior.
I’ve struggled recently with real life. And I really don’t want to share my story. I really don’t. I shared it Sunday in church, and to be honest with you, it kind of left me in a bad place.
It left me questioning the things that I know to be true. The things I’ve built my life upon. I don’t want to share it, and frankly I’ve avoided people because I don’t want to talk about.
But I know I need to, because when we share our story, we can help someone else.
So, in my life, I’ve been able to tell my story in a variety of places, always talking about how God can take something bad and make something good out of it. God has guided my life and brought me to this place in my life. The power of God is not that He stops bad things from happening but that He uses all things for good.
And I talk about forgiveness. How I’d learned to forgive my biological father. The role that my grandmother played in teaching me forgiveness. And how I truly believed I had forgiven him.
Until this Christmas. When he wrote me a letter. First time he’d contacted me in many, many years.
I wanted to pretend it didn’t happen. I wanted to ignore it. I wanted to just go about my merry way. But I couldn’t. Too many things came flooding in. Too many things that I pushed down, and don’t want to talk about.
But I have to.
I and I fell into a hate-filled rage. I don’t know what hatred really feels like, but I guess how I felt at that moment is what it feels like.
I became so angry. I was confused. I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I wanted to get away.
I wanted to change my son’s name because my son is named after me, and my biological father named me. And I wanted nothing of him to have anything, anything to do with my family.
It sickened me that my son had a name that was attached to him.
I questioned the very beliefs that I hold so dear. My entire life and ministry has been built on mercy and forgiveness. But now all I felt was rage. How could I be a preacher, much less a Christian feeling like this?
Is everything that I’ve held dear and true wrong?
I literally did not know what I wanted to do. I gave the card to my wife and I told her not let it into our house. He had put money in the card I and I told her to throw it away, don’t even give it our children. I didn’t want them to receive any benefit from him.
I wanted to run as far away as humanly possible. I was angry and I was fully of hurt.
And I still am.
But here’s the thing. As much as I want to give into that hatred, as much as I really wanted to, I just can’t. I can’t. It will destroy me. It will.
It will destroy my family. It will.
It will destroy my ministry. It will.
I can’t do it. Because nothing good comes out of hate. I’ve been confronted with my brokenness in a way that I honestly thought I’d never be. And I struggled through it. Still am.
But God is good. Even when life is hard. We choose right, because the wrong will destroy.
We choose grace, because it’s the only answer.
Hate destroys. It does. I understand that. And now, I’ve felt it. And I cannot and will not choose that path.
Because life is too precious.
I don’t know where you are in life, but I know, even if you question it, even if you doubt it, even if you don’t want to believe it, God is good.
And he loves you.
Don’t give into hate. Don’t give into the darkness. Choose the path of grace and hope and belief. I know it’s hard.
But you can do it. And I can do it. Through God’s grace, we can do it.
If you’d like to hear the message I preached where I talked about this experience you can click here.
Today, instead of my normal devotional thought, I wanted to pass a long a devotional from the Upper Room. The Upper Room is a daily devotional guide that my home church used to get that I read my all my childhood. And now you can get the daily devotional emailed to you each morning. These daily thoughts are written by folks from all over the world. You can learn more about the Upper Room by visiting their website.
Here’s is today’s devotional. Hope it touches you like it touched me.
Whoever hates another believer . . . walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.
– 1 John 2:11 (NRSV)
While praying about abuse in my childhood, I felt intense hatred for those who had hurt me. Then I felt guilt–believing that as a Christian I’m not supposed to hate. Later when I came across the above passage from 1 John, I became even more convinced that if I hate, I’m walking in darkness.
In time I came to understand this differently. The feeling of hatred is neutral, as all feelings are. And feeling hatred as the memories of past abuse surfaced is natural. It’s what I do with those feelings that matters. Do I dwell on the hatred? Do I hold a grudge or grow bitter? All I wanted in my heart was to be like Christ. I realized then that if I didn’t ask God to help me let go of the memories of abuse and forgive those who had hurt me, I would be walking in darkness.
I struggled a long time with my feelings of hatred, rage, and bitterness before I could give them to the Lord. But eventually I realized that hating others hurt only me, not them. When I relinquished these feelings, God’s Spirit mended my soul and replaced my hatred with love for others.
Wanda Viola (California, USA)