There are three people in this world who I can honestly say have caused the most damage in my life. I know, that’s a harsh opening sentence. But, it is a reality. People hurt people all of the time, and some people aren’t willing to make amends it’s just that simple.
Yet I have felt God call my attention to being vulnerable and honest with all three.
This has been met with some resistance. It is entirely unreasonable to meet an enemy with your own personal vulnerability, am I right?
And yet… I knew in my soul I couldn’t not obey these callings.
The first was to a person who hurt me in the deepest way. I recognized this person was very much a hurting person themselves, looking for healing in the wrong places. I took a book to this person about beginning again, I hand wrote a personal Scripture inside the cover, and I showed up face to face to deliver my message of forgiveness, love and peace.
It was rejected. Like, totally rejected. As in the book was actually thrown into the garbage in front of me, rejected. But that was okay, because I walked away knowing that I had tried, and when each of us face God as we all will, I will be able to say “it didn’t go the way I had hoped, but I did it just like you asked…”
Next, a person who shares genetics with me. A person who’s own heart is deeply troubled by the faults of their past, and the experiences they have endured. This person was kept away from me as I became a Christian and grew in my faith, and then I realized I can’t show them the love of Jesus from afar, and so I began praying hard for God to bring us together. And He did. And again, I tried.
I think I had more success this time, I was able to shares some intimate beliefs, show a major change in my attitude, even preach a sermon to this person. It seemed as though many deep rooted chains were becoming broken, until suddenly they weren’t.
I was given a vision from someone I love that I was carrying this person’s chains, and it was slowing me down. The person who had the vision said “in front of you both is Jesus, and if the offended party would just look up they could run to Jesus, but they won’t, and it is holding you back as you continue to pick up what that person is dragging.”
It was like a lightbulb moment. Not only was I striking out again in trying to bring the truth of the gospel to an other incredibly hurt person who had caused me so much pain, but it was holding me back in my own journey of healing and growth. I dropped the chains (and eventually the person) and ran to Jesus.
2 Strikes. But again, I tried. God knows I tried.
For the past two years, I have felt God call me to the third person. I have argued this tooth and nail, for I was still far too hurt to put my own feelings of anger aside to be vulnerable. I have even written a few letters, but my anger seeped through, and that made the vulnerable side look almost hypocritical.
But, I finally did it!!! I wrote this person from the depths of my heart about the healing I had found, and invited them to do the same. I even offered to help if I could. I almost had a panic attack sending it (I’m not even joking.. this person has caused years of toxicity and can be quite intimidating), but I even obeyed to the point of actually sending my letter!
And then I began to pray, “Lord, don’t let this be the 3rd strike and I’m out kind of scenario. Give me a home run please. But also, I trust your timing and I trust you to protect me.”
Well, you can guess where this is going: I struck out. The letter was met with a seemingly sarcastic response, followed by a complete shut out – this person has made it so I can no longer contact them again. And that is okay, because again, I tried. I obeyed and God knows my heart, and theirs.
But, I felt discouraged. Three times I felt God ask me to reach out, to be humble, vulnerable and honest. Three times I obeyed. And, three times I seem to have failed. I started to pray about my discouragement and really did feel like I have struck out, I’m done. Don’t ask of me to do this kind of thing again, Lord!
As suddenly as the feeling of discouragement swept in, it went away in prayer. I realized God was trying to tell me something: It’s a good thing this isn’t baseball! 3 strikes doesn’t put you out in the real life playing field. Instead, it makes you stronger! Maybe the 4th try will be the home run hit?
But, I also felt God tell me that though I feel like I struck out – I still won the game. I won because I faced three people who caused me great pain, and I offered each of them compassion. I stood before all baring my honest convictions, sharing my love for Jesus, and how it has impacted my weaknesses and burdens. I truly went into all three scenarios hoping to free each person from the bondage they are ensnared in.
Except I couldn’t, even if they had have reacted warmly to me, it wouldn’t have mattered, because I am not capable of changing people’s hearts, only Jesus can do that. But, maybe, just maybe, these weren’t three complete strike outs, and maybe one day each or all of these people may remember some part of what I had said and consider that maybe this Jesus character I mentioned can actually penetrate the hurts they carry.
But, either way, I did what I was called to do. And when I tried to find purpose in what I perceived as failures, I realized you can’t harbor resentment against someone when you try and offer them healing. You aren’t letting their poison affect you when you have the guts to tell them about your innermost thoughts, pain and healing. You forgive freely when you can be vulnerable especially with someone who has caused you deep pain. And I have done exactly that, how can I consider that a strike out? I didn’t get the response I had wanted, but I got to model God’s character, and find personal healing in the meantime.
I will continue to pray for all of their hearts. I will continue to rejoice that I have found healing in Jesus Christ. I will continue to pray that someday, somehow their hearts will find the same, and in the meantime I will smile at God knowing even in what seems like a failing moment to a person is a win for God.
I am free from hatred, and that is the best lesson that God has given me in all of this.