A little less than a year ago, I sat blindsided in a then-friend’s kitchen, getting insults hurled hastily in my face. This woman was enraged. And wrongly so. I sat there, however, dumbfoundedly taking in every word like another dagger to my heart. “And you call yourself a Christian?!” She screamed with disgust.
This isn’t a story about all the mean things that were said to me. This isn’t a story about justifying my side of the story, or even explaining the backstory of the turn of events that led me to sitting there that bleak January day.
This is a story about why being called a fake Christian pierced my heart that day, and what I realize now about those words months later.
I started off 2016 in the word everyday. Each morning I would have 45 minutes of quiet time, and the time never felt quite long enough. Like most Americans at the turn of the new year, my resolutions were in full force. I was exercising. I was talking to Jesus. I was organized. My bed was made every morning (go ahead and pretend like you don’t have some lame resolutions, too). I was killing it in 2016. (I’m not actually bragging. Mind you this was only 7 days into the new year.)
It felt ironic, at the time, that once I started consistently having lengthy, rich quiet times, I ran into some trouble. But today it makes perfect sense. Because what does the devil want with people who are lukewarm and stale in their faith? It was one of the first times in my adult life I had faced (albeit mild) persecution for my faith. And today? I take it as a compliment. Because this woman knew my faith was strong, and important to me, and a priority in my life. Let me rephrase that – the devil knows.
And he will attack.
And you know what? There were a lot of tears, and a lot of pain. And a lot of wrestling with forgiveness, and needing to let that particular person, and her whole family, go. Did I mention this woman was also my employer? I quit on the spot and never looked back. But it doesn’t mean I didn’t forgive.
And guess what? Two months of unemployment following that January morning created space for this blog to flourish and grow. And I’m so, so grateful.
Forgiveness means a lot of things. It’s never easy, we all know that. It’s ok to take your time. It’s ok to be angry or upset or bitter (at first). You don’t always need to continue a relationship with someone once you’ve forgiven them. And you don’t have to trust them right away again, either. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you agree on the past. And it doesn’t always mean the other party reciprocates. But it does mean your anger is replaced with love, and that you’re resting in God’s providence instead of plotting retaliation. It means you’re free from your own chains.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Colossians 3:12-13 ESV
So friends, take heart. When words crush you, when you’re hurt by a friend, when you’re struggling to forgive, when you’re undergoing any form of persecution – big or small, it doesn’t matter – remember who’s fighting your battles, and don’t give in to the devil’s schemes. God is always up to something much, much bigger.