So where is the real struggle? When you are in a situation where you feel deeply betrayed; where people you considered friends have stood up to publically speak against you; where people that you had poured your heart and soul into serving treat you like a disposable piece of trash . . . there is so much room for anger. It is understandable. It would seem like the real battle is with those who have turned against you. To get caught in this is where the real danger lies.
What is life really about anyways? It is about the shaping of our soul. Yes, there are times when anger is both good and justifiable –after all anger tells us when something is wrong and it gives us the energy to do something about it. Anger can also turn so easy into bitterness. Anger can so quickly close and harden our heart. It can lead us to forget that those people who betrayed and attacked – are human in need of great compassion and love.
The real struggle is always for our heart. Will we let evil win in us? Will we become bitter? Will we close our hearts? Will we allow fear and hatred enslave us? Will we dare to open our hearts to love? To have compassion? To risk again? To dare to follow God again? To hope again? To forgive?
When Jesus was being crucified what were his words? “Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” – Wise words.
Don’t worry, forgiveness does not mean that one needs to trust those who hurt you. It does not mean that abuse should be kept secret or that healthy and safe boundaries should not be set. What it does mean is that we are set free, so that our hearts are not trapped in the wrong done, nor can evil claim our soul. Forgiveness means that we open our heart and those who hurt us again to God’s love.
So what do you do when the battle rages and your heart is being drawn into hate? Allow you hurt to have it say. Listen for its wisdom, but then set a limit so that it does not slip into bitterness or hate. When it keeps dragging you down? - Pray. Breath deeply. Sing a hymn. Pay attention to those around you and indulge in loving them. Go for a run. Soak in the beauty of God. Do what ever it takes to bring your mind and your heart back into peace, into love and into a taste of joy.
Then when you get dragged down again – repeat – again and again. It will feel like a battle, like one more struggle you don’t need. Remember that life is a struggle, that is just the way it is. It is also a gift. It is our struggles that can enlarge our hearts, so that they might more fully contain the love and joy of God.
This is the real struggle of life – that our hearts might grow though suffering into eternal life, and not be dragged into the hell of hate and bitterness.
So tomorrow I will wake up and try again.