Tag Archive | church conflict

Christians: Are We Taking The Easy Way Out?

This weekend, I watched a movie that was very good – gut-wrenching, actually.

Movie clips of this particular movie were shown here as well https://www.life.church/watch/ during Pastor Craig Groeschel’s annual teaching of At The Movies (every year at Life.Church, they teach on a different movie each week during the month of July).

If you haven’t seen Hacksaw Ridge, you truly need to.

As I was watching one particular scene, my heart broke in excruciating pain…tears just rolled down my face.

As Life.Church showed this clip, it was used to show the importance of saving the unsaved…which is very important. My mind went beyond that to each person who has ever went through grief – especially those who felt abandoned, betrayed, or wounded by the Church. My heart immediately thought about those who nobody went to check on or those who nobody “went back” to help save them. I hear more stories than I can count of how nobody took the time to love hurting people back to life.

As a grief specialist and grief group leader, I hear the most heart wrenching stories people have experienced. For almost 10 years now, helping people for 20-50 hours each week, these stories have caused my heart to truly go out to those who hurt…stories about death of loved ones, grief over wrong personal decisions or a loved one’s hurtful decisions, adultery, abuse, military grief, PTSD, abandonment, extreme hurt and conflict in families and churches, church abuse, suffering, heavy guilt and regrets, illnesses, addictions…I literally hear every story that has wounded a human heart.

Before a person comes to me for help, many times, they’ve already sought out help from church leaders, family members, and friends. The hardest – and most taboo – situations of grief (suicide/suicide attempts, the after effects of rape or murder, all situations of abuse, death of a child or young person, church/spiritual abuse, etc.) are the most challenging to help.

Something that has happened time and time again, and has been said numerous times, is this:

“I went to my pastor (or fellow church staff or church member) for help, and they never got back to me…I felt I wasn’t important.”

Or worse….

“My pastor, church staff, and/or fellow Christians knew about my situation…and they ignored me. They never even called to see how I was after I reached out for help.”

Watching Hacksaw Ridge, when the main character is courageously sacrificing himself and bravely doing everything in his power to save as many as he can…and pleads, “Lord, help me get (save) one more”…my heart sank.

Just like a physical war, when someone goes through heartache, grief, or pain and they are wounded, if someone does not go and help them…the alternative is to leave them for the enemy to devour. This is beyond true spiritually, too. When a Christian is wounded, and the Church doesn’t take the time to care, the enemy is more than happy to delightfully devour them, too.

Watching that scene of Hacksaw Ridge, all I could think of were the several people I know who have quit going to church, and the ones who have turned to atheism – or even other religions – because they went through a harsh life challenge and felt like nobody cared.

We as Christians have got to demand higher of ourselves. 

Yes, everybody is busy. 

Yes, it may not be someone’s specific responsibility because, after all, they did not cause the pain. 

Yes, it is totally time-consuming. 

Yes, it truly is messy.

And there will always be people in the church or on staff who will make excuses by saying things like, “hurting people hurt people”…”we won’t help others who aren’t taking responsibility by taking the first steps to help themselves”….”nobody is perfect.”

But, the example of Jesus Christ is to deny yourself and pick up your cross…and part of picking up your cross is to actively love people back to life – especially those who are unsaved or those who have been hurt or who have left the church.

And it’s not just church members who have been hurt by the church. There are many who are (or who were) on church staff (or their spouses/families) who have been deeply wounded by either fellow church staff members or members of their congregations, too.

Jude‬ ‭1:22-23‬, “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.”

  1. Hurting people do not hurt people. Hurting people help heal people because they understand what being hurt feels like. Jerks hurt people and then refuse to make it right.
  2. The attitude of “I’ll help people once they help themselves…” is very flawed. I am so very thankful that God doesn’t treat people that way. He loves…He gives grace…He initiates healing…He lifts us up and carries our burdens for us.
  3. The argument of “Nobody is perfect…” fails what God commands in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Of course, nobody is perfect, but God certainly gives us some very sobering and serious responsibilities as believers on how to treat others – especially reconciling with those we hurt or those who may have something against us. He even instructs us in Matthew 5:23-24 to leave our gifts at the altar until we actively go make things right with those we have hurt or offended…and says to not come back until this is done first.

God doesn’t give us these responsibilities of how to treat others – or how not to treat others – to be difficult; He gives us these precious responsibilities so we will be careful with each other’s heart and spirit. He understands the potential terrible cost if we are not careful with His instructions.

I heard the most profound statement this week from a young person who had been deeply wounded and wronged by their church:

“People always knock certain shady TV evangelists, but all they do is steal money. What about the pastors at churches who hurt people in their congregations? They steal peoples emotions and spirit. Money is readily replaceable…trust is not.”

To hear someone young be so wounded and jaded by the Church really concerned my heart. Hearing their story…and then hearing how the leaders at their church knew about the hurt they inflicted — yet didn’t show good character by going to them and working things out…there just are no words. 

Satan loves taking people out. The enemy knows if he can get Christians or church leadership to wound someone, the likelihood of additional generations being spiritually destroyed will ensue:

Proverbs‬ ‭27:23-24,Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.”‬ ‭

When someone is deeply wounded, it doesn’t just affect the individual who was hurt. It affects everyone they’ll ever come in contact with…and future generations.

•You may be reading this, and you may be one who has been deeply wounded. On behalf of every Christian, I apologize profusely to you for your pain. You should never have been left alone in your time of hurt, somebody should have cared enough to reach out to you and loved you back to life. Please, please, please know that God wanted for you to be treated with love, kindness and respect…it’s not His fault – or His Will – when people disobey scripture by mistreating others or not helping them. I humbly ask you to please forgive the Church. God loves you and has not forgotten you!

Isaiah‬ ‭40:27-31‬,Why would you ever complain, O Jacob or Israel, saying, “GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. Butthose who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

Isaiah‬ ‭49:15-16‬, “Can a woman forget her nursing child? Will she have no compassion on the child from her womb? Although mothers may forget, I will not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. Your walls are always in My presence.”

•You may be reading this right now and you know for a fact you’ve wounded a fellow believer, but you never made it right. I strongly plead with you to go to that person (or persons) and courageously apologize for your wrongdoing…Most importantly, for them. Secondarily, for the judgment that can fall onto you:

Matthew‬ ‭5:23-24, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”‬ 

Colossians 3:25, “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”

Proverbs‬ ‭17:13, “Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good.” ‭

•You may be reading this right now and you personally know of someone who was wounded by another believer. If you know of someone who is wounded, please consider being the one to make a difference. 

Matthew‬ ‭25:40, 45‬, ““The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.’…and…“He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.’” 

 I don’t think most people drop the ball purposely, but it does happen unfortunately. An apology, or genuinely caring for others from the heart, goes a long way.

My heart is for the hurting, the grief stricken, and those who have been spiritually wounded. I know of many Christians who this is so very important to their heart, too.

Majority of the Christians I know are really amazing people who genuinely care about others. They actively love people and truly enjoy serving others. When others hurt, they genuinely hurt for them, too!

We all (totally including myself) need to do better and become more mindful of others.

When we’re tempted not to make things right with those who we have hurt or offended…or we are tempted to leave it up to someone else to do our part…or we believe the lie that we are too busy or things are too awkward or messy to get involved…I really pray that we each will consider how we can make these situations better for everyone we know.

I know I can do better.

The rest of this year, let us prayerfully consider reaching out to those who used to attend our churches or those who were once in our LifeGroups, Sunday School class, or Small Groups – those who we never see anymore. I pray we consider the people we know who quit going to church because they were hurt, deeply offended, or wounded. 

Consider calling one person a week to check on them to see how they’re doing and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them. May we each choose to love people back to life.

As a Christian, we never want to be known as someone who took the easy way out… Especially since Christ never did.

Be the example of Jesus to others that you would hope someone will be to you and your family.

Jesus’ example is very, very clear:

Luke‬ ‭15:4-7‬, ““Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

I love how God used sheep in this passage of scripture. I don’t believe it’s coincidental that the above scripture and the following verses deal with sheep and lions. Think about this:

1 Samuel‬ ‭17:34-36‬, “David replied to Saul, “I am a shepherd for my father’s sheep. Whenever a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and rescued the sheep from its mouth. If it attacked me, I took hold of its mane, struck it, and killed it. I have killed lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them because he has challenged the army of the living God.””

1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

The above verses speak of sheep and lions. Just as David vigilantly looked out for his earthly father’s sheep, how much more should we as Christians look out for, and help and defend, our Heavenly Father’s sheep? The enemy’s goal is to challenge and hurt God. If we don’t actively care for those in the Church…yes, even those who have left it…then we are part of the problem.

When people waver in their faith or leave the church, or when we know of people who are hurting or who have been deeply wounded, or when there are leaders (or church members) in the church who have hurt people and not made it right – yet no one corrects them or holds them accountable – we really need to start addressing that in our churches. When no one seems to care during these situations, we must ask God to soften our hearts and also for wisdom to know how to effectively reach out to those who have been wounded.

We have got to stop taking the easy way out…..we have got to expect more of ourselves and do better.

If a family member of ours stopped attending family functions and quit communications, would we simply shrug our shoulders and have an apathetic attitude of, “oh well?” Would we merely accept it and just move on? Would we think that it wasn’t our problem or responsibility? Absolutely not! We would call them and we would fight for that precious family member and our relationship with them. 

God considers Church family relationships to be of utmost importance…they’re a reflection of His relationship to us, His Bride. That is something we all need to deeply consider.

The only response a Christian should have to those who are struggling is this: Snatch them from the flames…help and encourage them…be the best version of “Jesus” to them…meet needs wherever possible…and love them back to life!

We have got to do a better job of focusing on helping people in their spiritual walk, being deeply concerned with their eternal destination, as well as care about peoples hearts, their hurts, and what truly matters.

Galatians 6:1-2, ““Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

John‬ ‭13:34-35‬, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Never discount a person’s hurt…or their potential. There are some people in life who have been deeply wounded, but they will blossom greatly when the right people genuinely take the time to care about them. There may be weeds, but please understand that underneath the hurt and weeds is good soil. All they need is for someone to take the time to rinse the mud off of their heart, and water them with compassion, so the Sonshine can work miracles.

Luke 10:2….“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

Tell God you’re willing to be a worker for Him in building people back to life. Ask God to grant you the gift of seeing people how He sees people, and to love people how He loves people. Ask God to impress on your heart, and every believer’s heart, to deeply care about saving both the lost and the hurting.

I’ll always be grateful to the people in my life who had a deep burden for the harvest. They saw an ugly, dying weed, but decided to care about me and love me back to life.💕

Please take a moment and soberly watch this video and listen to this song. Then pray and ask God to show you who you can love back to life. We each need to make a strong commitment as Christians to stop taking the easy way out.❤️

Movie clip from Hacksaw Ridge: https://youtu.be/Oy6kwogmhRY

Song by Keith Green: https://youtu.be/8yJd0JMzq7k


Who can you love back to life today?

If you have been hurt or wounded by the church, I highly recommend Saddleback Church in California. If you don’t live in California, they offer online services, too. Life.Church also offers online experiences.

http://www.saddleback.com

http://www.life.church

You are so very valuable and loved!

Gratitude & many blessings,
Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

For more encouragement:

❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

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The Challenge of Unspoken or Hidden Grief

Some of the most difficult grief experiences to heal from are those that are unspoken.

The reason unspoken grief experiences are so difficult to heal from, is because of the nature of the grief – and the choice to isolate oneself.

As I was helping an anonymous young lady on an online grief forum last week, my heart sure did go out to her. She – unknown to her parents, family, church family, and friends – had gotten pregnant and miscarried her first child 8 weeks into the pregnancy. Fearing judgment, she didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone except for the father of her child. For three years, she’s walked the road of grief all on her own. 

Isolated. Heartbroken. Alone.

With unspoken grief, some grief events have happened recently, while some happened decades ago.

Some may have believed that time would heal their wounds, only to find that time hasn’t healed anything.

There are many grief experiences that are “unspoken” or “unknown”…experiences someone may not feel comfortable sharing with others:

  • Unplanned pregnancies that end in miscarriage, secret adoptions, or abortion
  • A sexual assault 
  • Medical diagnosis such as HIV
  • Mental health diagnosis 
  • Adultery
  • Family or marital issues
  • Abuse
  • Conflict with adult children or other family members
  • Addictions
  • Mistreatment of others or conflict that you never had the chance to make right
  • Church conflict/church abuse
  • Suicide issues that remaining loved ones have to go through
  • Suicide attempt survivors

There are many life challenges people go through. With unspoken grief, they’re just not at a place they feel comfortable sharing with others the tremendous heartache they’ve been through. 

Unspoken grief presents a big challenge for the person going through it: if they keep their grief concealed, they may never find the help or healing their heart needs.

So how do you heal from unspoken grief experiences?

Please realize God never intended for us to walk through grief alone. Community, as well as the many resources available, are very powerful gifts when going through heartache, challenges, and grief.

There are many confidential options for finding help and healing when going through an unspoken grief experience:

  • Seek out confidential help with a trusted pastor, grief counselor, or therapist
  • Find encouragement through a local grief group (GriefShare, The Compassionate Friends, local funeral homes who offer grief seminars, Grief Bites conferences, etc.). Many grievers do not realize their grief situations can remain completely anonymous at these meetings, conferences, and seminars. Outside of introducing yourself, you don’t even have to talk if you don’t wish.
  • Utilize online grief resources (blogs, YouVersion’s grief related reading plans, grief related Facebook pages, GriefShare daily emails, The Compassionate Friends private groups, Grief Bites blog, etc.)
  • Talk to a trusted family member or friend…keyword: trusted. When choosing who to confide in, always realize that two listening ears are also attached to a talking mouth – meaning, they can share what you confide in them, so be very selective in who you choose to trust!
  • Go to your local bookstore or favorite online bookseller and purchase books on grief. 
  • The best place to go with your broken heart is to God. He is always there 24/7, He cares deeply for you, and He has the power to heal your heart and spirit.

If you are going through an unspoken grief experience, please know there is hope. You can find relief and healing. Seek out the help you need today so your heart has the opportunity to truly and fully heal.

May God bless and encourage your heart!

Gratitude & blessings,
Kim

©2017 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.

❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others!

⭐️For more encouragement:⭐️

❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net

❤️Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 

❤️Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

❤️Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com

❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:

1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 

2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 

3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 

4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays

Wounded: 7 Steps To Free Your Soul

Wounded. 
One of the worst feelings in the world.

Everybody will go through multiple times of being wounded during the course of their lifetime. 

Because most situations of being wounded stem from vulnerability, and being vulnerable is a part of everyday life, it is imperative for everybody to understand how to favorably respond to being wounded.

There are limitless ways you allow yourself to be vulnerable each and every day:
  1. You develop friendships
  2. You go to church and trust the leadership and relationships you develop there
  3. You pour into family and friends
  4. You share or pitch professional ideas at work
  5. You trust someone by confiding in them
  6. You invest in or mentor others
  7. You date, consider giving someone your heart, fall in love, and/or get married
  8. You share details about your testimony or life story
  9. You achieve something significant in life
  10. You fail at something or a relationship in life
  11. You make a poor decision in life
  12. You share your dreams and goals with others 
  13. You strive to achieve something great
  14. You write about your life and/or your hobbies/interests in life
Yet, you end up 
burnt…
devastated…
disappointed…
wounded.

Yes, everybody, at some point in their life, will end up being deeply wounded. 

Did you know being deeply wounded can change who you are as a person?
It can bring out an anxiety or ugliness inside you that you never knew existed.
Ultimately, it can plant a seed of bitterness that, if not dealt with, can harvest a huge crop of unending discord, disappointment, dissatisfaction, or even create deep depression, hatred, or resentment in your heart.

Being wounded is a terrible experience to go through, yet, being wounded is one of the most significant spiritual opportunities God can allow you to experience.

I wouldn’t have thought this to be true a few weeks ago, right before finally experiencing a major breakthrough after being incredibly wounded. What God has taught me through being deeply offended and wounded opened my eyes to the significant opportunity woundedness offers, though. 

Just for the record…no one in their right mind would cheerfully sign up for being wounded to learn any spiritual lessons…and no one will be skipping through fields of flowers after learning those meaningful lessons…but if you ever find yourself wounded or offended, you may as well learn the powerful lessons it has to offer.

If you gotta GO through it, you may as well GROW through it!

The last few years, God has been working in my life and showing me how to handle being wounded.
Multiple situations have arose that have given me, and my family, the opportunity to learn quite a bit through being unfairly wronged.

It has not been an easy road to be on. 
In fact, there were many moments of anger, despair, frustration, and many tears. And to be completely honest, even some not-so-godly thoughts towards the offenders/wounders.

Many people I know, including myself, do not initially always pass the test when unfairly wronged or wounded. It’s easier to react than to respond favorably after someone has greatly hurt or offended you or a loved one…especially if it significantly altered your life. 

What do you do when an offense is so great that forgiveness is not easily accomplished? 
What is your plan of action when the resentment you feel brews stronger than the blackest dark roast coffee? What about when you see the person who wounded you or you think about the incredibly damaging effects their offense has had on you or your loved ones?

It can be super hard to forgive some offenses. 

The greater or more costly the offense, the harder it is to genuinely forgive and move forward in peace…but to forgive and move forward in peace should be the ultimate goal.

I want to share with you a few things that helped me through some tough times in forgiving others.

Some steps I took helped me tremendously and I hope they are a big help and encouragement to anyone going through being wounded or wronged, as well as anyone who may be battling bitterness.

Some at this point may be nursing deep wounds. They want to move forward but the offense was a lot to bear…it may even currently still be a lot to bear.
Many times, an offense can have lifelong consequences.

A wounded person really only has three choices:
  1. Push back the emotions and try to act as though the offense never occurred…basically ignoring the issue
  2. Feed any resentment or bitterness
  3. Work on forgiveness as you grow through the situation and move forward in peace

Someone who has been wronged can choose the typical responses to being wounded: 
  • get mad
  • dislike or resent difficult people 
  • have bad thoughts or pray against them (hey, King David harshly prayed against his enemies throughout the book of Psalms)
  • tarnish their reputation through speaking lies, exaggerations…or unflattering truths…about them
  • be revengeful 
  • ultimately plant seeds of bitterness in their heart 
These actions will most likely make a wounded person feel better at firstbut at what cost to their own heart and soul?

Booker T. Washington once said, “I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.” 

Isn’t that the truth? When we hate others, it belittles our own soul…it does absolutely nothing to the person who was wounding.

A very good friend shared with me something similar, “Being bitter towards your offender is like you drinking poison but expecting your offender to die.” 
Ouch!

It’s true…Bitterness hardens and poisons YOUR heart, damages YOUR soul, and changes who YOU are as a person. Trust me, I know this personally after becoming bitter towards people who deeply wronged and wounded my family and me.

You may think to yourself, “Won’t I know if I’m becoming bitter?”
Bitterness creeps in very slowly. 
No one plans on becoming or being bitter, but without major self reflection, you won’t immediately realize or see the true effects.

Most people do not recognize their own bitterness.
I speak from personal experience…I didn’t realize how bitter I was until a friend called me out on it. 
While nursing some deep wounds after going through a very tough situation with a loved one who was wronged, I took up a major offense towards the offenders involved.

Was it wrong to want justice? Absolutely not.
Is it wrong to expect people to do the right thing or apologize? Not at all!

It becomes wrong when justice…and a well fed grudge…becomes more important than God and good character.

We all know we should forgive others, but are you worried you won’t be able to truly forgive and move forward because the person(s) who wounded you (or your loved one) isn’t even remotely sorry for their offense(s)?

Don’t worry…you can take these steps whether your offender is sorry or not.

I learned that forgiveness, resolution, and/or restoration did not have to take place for me to clean out my own heart and do the honorable thing in God’s eyes.

Don’t get me wrong: it was not easy to forgive, but I had a “fork in the road” decision to make:
  • I could hold onto the hurts and offenses 
OR

  • I could have a healthy relationship with God and peace in my soul
I found I could not have it both ways.

It took time and forgiving this particular situation was not instantaneous…and there are still days a bad thought will pop into my head, prodding me to renew my grudge.


So how do you get an offender out of your head?

For me, it was helpful to put my thoughts into proper perspective and to look into the motives.
Some offenders do not care that they wounded another person. Thoughts of the people they’ve hurt or offended are non-existent to the offender. They couldn’t care less.
With that said, when an offender has caused major loss in life…I began to realize that I was not going to allow additional loss by allowing them to live rent free inside my thought life.
 
Other offenders may not realize the depth they have wounded others. A simple conversation can clear things up quickly.

As I prayed about how to best deal with multiple situations (the original offense had a domino effect, creating additional situations), God was good to give me solid insight into freeing my soul from being wounded.

The following steps were life-giving to me and helped me to overcome my bitterness. 
Praying these steps are of great help to somebody today!

1. View your offender through God’s eyes~

Yes, this can be a tall order. After all, shouldn’t God be on our team and dislike our offender as much as we do?
God loves and adores each person He created…equally. There is no favoritism with Him. From Billy Graham down to the worst person on the planet, God wants what is best for each person. All are deeply loved and incredibly treasured by Him.

When we view our offender through our own eyes, all we will see is the ugliness they have done. We will no longer see any of the good they have in them. We stop viewing them as a whole, we instead only view their terribly wounding offense(s) as well as every character flaw they possess.

It’s important to realize that no matter what they’ve done to us personally, they still have great value in God’s eyes. 
God has a big purpose and plan for their life…no matter what they have done…and He greatly desires for them to have an abundant life.
He created them, and He has a plan for them to do wonderful works, too.
Their offense is not the totality of who they are as a person; it is a very poor choice they made.

What if I still can’t remove the resentment or bitterness I feel?
It personally helps me to remember a quote my son once shared with me: “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”
I remember that I am deeply flawed and remind myself of the mercy I need daily.
I also make sure I remember and fully realize what God has done for me and how He forgives me.
Many testimonies have stemmed out of deep heartache. 
Today’s heartache could very well be tomorrow’s testimony that helps many.

2. Truly seek to understand~

What is the entirety of the situation? Is just one party at fault, both parties, or multiple parties?
Ask yourself, “Did they intentionally wound me on purpose?”…”What was their true motive or intent?”…”Were they reacting?”

Sometimes, the people who wound us did not truly intend to wound or offend us.
Thoughtlessness is prevalent in the self-saturated society we live in. Most people only look at a situation through their own eyes…and most do not even attempt to put their own self in the other person’s shoes to
see how truly hurtful and offensive their actions were.

People are fallible, flawed, and do not always go into their decisions thoughtfully, and they don’t always have the maturity or the life experience to know how to best handle relationships, situations, or decisions. 
Not everybody has developed good character or wisdom for each and every situation in life either.
Everybody needs mercy…ourselves included.

Think of all the times you offended or wounded others. Did you truly go into it thinking how you were going to wound, wrong, or offend someone?
Also consider, were the offending person’s actions due to taking up an offense for someone they perceived was wronged?

You might be thinking, “This chick doesn’t know what she’s talking about…some people are just jerks,“…I wholeheartedly agree that can be completely true about some people.

So many factors go into the wounding actions of others.
Seeking to understand truly is key.


3. Look at how your situation personally applies VERTICALLY to God~

Majority of the time, we are doing to God, or somebody else, exactly what another person is doing to us or a loved one.

When you genuinely ask “How have I, or any of my loved ones, betrayed, hurt, or wounded God or others?
This vertical question turns a wounding reality into a convicting reality as one thinks about how many times they have hurt God or not been loyal or faithful to Him. 

Idolatry and choosing to be bitter are both sins…yet we don’t always view our offenses toward God in the same manner, or as seriously, as we view our offender’s offenses towards ourselves.

When we train ourselves to see life challenges or offenses through a vertical lens, no matter the topic, we clearly see how universally we have hurt God and others in similar situations.

Next time you’re offended, truly check to see if you are doing the same offense towards God or someone else.

In some situations, that totally is not the case, but many times, the answer is unfavorable.


4. Seek to see what you can learn through the offense you are going through~

Offenses can teach us important  life lessons. An offense may even prevent something worse from happening in the future due to the wisdom you learn from a previous offense.

We must be open to God so He can show us how to wisely navigate through offensive or hurtful situations. Without His guidance, we might miss crucial wisdom.

Tough situations in life will either make us better or bitter.
When we choose to be better through a challenging experience, rewards eventually come our way.
When we choose to be bitter, we will most likely go through additional loss…and will go through a similar situation to learn the lesson we missed.

As I was at coffee with two very good friends…friends I am very authentic and vulnerable with; both ladies are trustworthy accountability partners to me…I asked for advice on how to get over the feelings I was feeling. No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake the bitterness I felt after a situation of deep offense and woundedness.
I prayed about it…went through the steps of forgiving the offense several times…tried to let it go…even invested kind words into some of those who were responsible for the wounding offense…but nothing seemed to have any lasting power.

I couldn’t shake it.

After a time of deep prayer, I began to clearly see that God allowed the deep offenses so I could learn how to overcome bitterness when others are not sorry…and this is greatly helping me to help others in my grief ministry who are going through situations where they have been deeply wounded.

It’s easy to forgive someone when they come to you and apologize. It’s a bit more challenging when they’ve created an extensive amount of damage, and then are aloof, uncaring, or insensitive to the situation they created.

It is beyond important to understand that God will sometimes allow a wounding situation for a specific reason….not cause it, but allow it…and good can come out of any situation, whether the offensive party is sorry or not.

Not saying it’s easy…because it usually is not...but there are very specific lessons we can learn through being wounded…lessons that will ultimately free us and eventually help us later in life. It can also help us to be a source of encouragement to others who are going through a similar situation.
We also learn the value of waiting on God and trusting Him to genuinely work out difficult situations in His perfect timing.

I can assure you that the heartache and struggles you are going through are not in vain. Like Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church says, “God never wastes a hurt. We sometimes do, but God does not.”

So while you are waiting, what about your offender?
You can be sure God will hold your offender accountable. God never allows anyone to get away with wounding others…ourselves included.
One day, EVERYBODY will give an account for the ways they have wounded and wronged others. Everybody will also have to give an account for how they handled wounding situations, too.

This next step was the most important one. I found this step to be the ultimate step that gave me freedom from bitterness…And, it was my least favorite step to take! 
When my friend suggested I do this next step, that one day at the coffee date I told you about earlier, I remember seriously cringing. 
I’m so grateful I did this next step though, because it brought me the peace I needed to genuinely move forward.

5. Pray God BLESSES your offender and invest in your offender’s life by praying for them~

You may be thinking, “ABSOLUTELY NO WAY!!!!”
I mean, who wants to ask God to bless an offensive, hurtful, wounding, or problematic person?

Most do not want to ask God to bless their offenders. The people who have wounded you most likely have created havoc or greatly altered life as you knew it due to their wounding actions and decisions.  

If most people are truly honest, they want God to do the OPPOSITE of bless their offenders.
I know I initially felt this way, especially since my family and I continue to experience consequences of the offender(s) actions.

I felt that way until I realized a harsh reality..what if God had the same attitude towards my family and me for all the times we have wounded His heart?

The fact that God chooses to forgive, love, and bless me is reason enough for me to choose to forgive and bless an offender through praying for God to bless them.

I had to remember that the offenders who wounded us were created in God’s image. They are deeply loved by Him.
God has incredible life purposes and plans for their lives.
And since they are also believers, we are all going to be living in the exact same Heaven someday.
We are on the same team, but we were all deceived by a greater enemy to engage in hurtful conflict.

I try to continually choose to be the mercy today that I want to receive tomorrow…because I’m in need of mercy, too.
Someone, most likely, could have authored this same blog post about me at some point in my life.
Everybody has been wounded because we all wound others.

We need to look to the One who has been wounded more than anyone else…and learn how to love, forgive, and bless others from His incredible viewpoint and example.

So since we are all fallible, does that just give everybody a hall pass to wound others and expect forgiveness no matter what?
Not at all! Each person, including ourselves, should make it a goal to be mindful of how we treat others.
If we offend someone, it is our responsibility to make things right. The ultimate goal is to treat others with such honor and kindness that wounding others never becomes an option in the first place.

So after you forgive someone, it’s instant and permanent, and you’ll never be challenged to resent or dislike the person ever again, right?
I wish! The truth is, forgiveness is a choice. Even though forgiveness is instant, it may take time for the heart and feelings to catch up. 
I have found that forgiving is a daily choice.

Whenever a bitter or wounded thought comes to my mind, or a negative thought comes to mind about the offenders, I immediately use those thoughts as a signal to pray for them and the situation of conflict. 

Pray God outrageously blesses your offender and pray He genuinely works through the situation of conflict in His way. Be sure to also ask God to heal your heart!

God proves Himself faithful in the toughest situations when we do things His way and as we look at our offenders and our tough life situations through His eyes! It isn’t always easy but it is rewarding.

6. Realize that majority of conflict is simply a decoy to what God wants to do in the lives of the people affected by the conflict~

We are in battle with an enemy…but the enemy is not who we think it is.
We faultily think the enemy is our offender, when in reality, our enemy is from a completely different realm.
This is especially true when conflict happens between families, fellow believers, and in churches.

Ephesians 6:12, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places”

If you have experienced conflict with a family member, a fellow Christian, or in your church or with church staff, you can be sure that the enemy knew the positive potential the people involved in the conflict could have.

Now I am not advocating condoning another person’s poor choices or behavior, or excusing the wrong they did, and forgiveness does not mean we foolishly throw ourselves into unwise relationships or bad situations. Forgiveness is simply a loving courtesy we extend to others because God extends that same love and courtesy to us. We must ultimately trust God to deal with the situation and people involved in His own way and His time. 

So, what if you STILL do not want to forgive an offender?
Consider Job and Joseph in the Bible.
God shows the importance of forgiving others through both of these men’s lives.
Although both experienced excruciating hardships and unbearable heartache, both chose to trust God and take the higher road after being wounded.
As a result, both reaped incredible blessings and favor from God for doing so…in fact, Job only found favor through his grief experience after he chose to forgive his friends and interceded for them in prayer. That is the exact moment God restored Job…and gave him a double portion of favor. 

There is no sane explanation, but freedom usually comes only through forgiveness, and praying for the offender(s).

7. Realize that being wounded (and also conflict…even rejection) is necessary to make us more like Christ~

The most trying times in life are usually what brings about the most spiritual growth.

When life is going great, nothing is tested. It’s easy to be good and kind to others…when they are good or kind to us.
But, when those around us are wounding, offensive, rude, or unkind, it truly tests our character. It also reveals what is in our own heart, too.

Think of all of the people who were absolutely awful to Christ. How did he respond to them?
What was His example?
What would have happened to you or me had He decided to put His offenders in their place by zapping them?
We wouldn’t have known the beauty of the cross or ever realized His incredibly awesome love for us…we wouldn’t be positively changed forever.

Being wounded offers the chance and opportunity to use situations of conflict as “sandpaper” to our heart and soul.
When we choose to go to God with our hurts, He can gently “sand off” the impurities held in our heart as we look at the situation through His eternal perspective and ways.
Ultimately, times of conflict or being wounded are opportunities that allow God to remove hidden sin from our heart, to trust Him through tough situations, and to allow Him to minister to our heart and heal our woundedness through His love and encouragement.

Am I suggesting to let offensive people steamroll over you or blindly let people off the hook? To immediately forgive and love them?
To turn a blind eye to their offense?
Absolutely not.

I believe that if someone has significantly hurt or wronged you, they should be held accountable in a Christ-like manner.

If after you have deeply prayed about a situation and you feel God is leading you to confront someone who has wronged you, I highly encourage you to follow the biblical blueprint for doing so; and as you do, go in a spirit of humility and self reflection, maintaining good character. (Matthew 18:15-20; Galations 6:1-2; Colossians 3:13; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Matthew 7; James 5:19-20)

Sometimes, during a confrontation, it is obvious that someone intentionally offended or hurt us…other times, we find out that an offender truly did not mean to hurt or offend us at all. In fact, they were oblivious to the entire situation…this is why it is so important to go into confronting others in a right spirit as we seek to understand the overall picture of the situation.

If you don’t think you can confront someone in a right spirit, wait until you can.

If there are people you feel you should confront, it is important to wait on the right timing, as well as a time where you can truly trust your words and keep your attitude in check. 

Do NOT confront someone unless you can trust yourself to not make the situation worse. You may have forgiven an offender, but you may need to work on sorting the situation out further in your heart so you are able to go in a right frame of mind and with a right spirit. 
Also, do whatever is most minimal in confronting someone. Many times, a spark is more powerful—and more effective—than a big out of control fireworks show. Only do that which is necessary to move forward in peace.

Ultimately, and ideally, when we confront a person who has been hurtful, we shouldn’t confront in an attitude of “telling them off” or to punish them…it should be from the mindset of genuinely seeking to understand with resolution for both our self, as well as them, so both parties can clear their conscience and move forward in life…better than before the confrontation took place.
This isn’t always achieved, but I think this should be the ultimate goal.

What if a confrontation and/or resolution simply are not possibilities?
I truly believe in resolution when it is possible, but resolution isn’t always obtainable…and it isn’t always in the best interest of the wounded party either, especially if the offender continues to be hurtful and offensive.
A great book to read on this topic is Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend.
I also think in situations where there is a great amount of damage, it can be necessary to meet with a trusted pastor or a professional counselor to personally help work the situation out spiritually and emotionally…and they can also give wise counsel on the matter and discuss if it is wise to even confront someone.
It isn’t always best to confront an offender.

I chose not to confront the offenders because I never felt a peace about doing so. I instead chose to trust God completely in the situation and entrusted the details to Him. 

When you trust God with the details, I feel it is important to make sure to be mindful in self-reflection so as to see any blind spots that can possibly be in a situation of conflict or woundedness…and learn as much as you can so you don’t miss any vital lessons. 
It’s very important to be honest with yourself during times of conflict or woundedness because it does no good to look at another person’s faults if we are being oblivious to our own.
Beware of no man more than of yourself, for we often carry our worst enemies within us.” 
~Charles Spurgeon

No matter the details or outcome of a situation, I believe that forgiveness is vital…it is just as much for our own heart as it is for our offender(s). Forgiveness must be pursued and resolved within our own self. If it isn’t, the quality of our life, testimony, and our own heart will never become all it can be. 
Unforgiveness ultimately harms the vessel in which it resides…and doesn’t harm the person it is aimed at. It’s like loading a gun and aiming it at our own spirit.

As you trust God with working out the details of any situation of woundedness you are going through, give the ENTIRE situation to Him. God has the power to smooth out the rough spots of any situation and work it for our good and His ultimate purposes. As you submit to and obey God, trust Him to give you treasures out of the darkness of the conflicts you face.

Today, make the decision to trust God through any situation that is paining you. Pour your heart out to Him and entrust your problems and cares into His more than capable hands.

Tap into the power of Christ’s strength to make truly forgiving and investing in others through prayer genuinely possible.
With Christ, all things are possible.

Let me leave you with a few verses to encourage you. God is faithful and keeps His Word. I pray He meets you right where you are and brings healing to whatever you are facing today!


© 2015 Kim Niles/Grief Bites. All rights reserved.

Psalm 56:8-11, “You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they listed in your book? The day I call to you, my enemies will be turned back. I know this: God is on my side — the Lord, whose promises I praise. In him I trust, and I will not be afraid.”

Genesis 50:20, But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God thought it out unto good, to bring to pass that which we see this day, to give life to many people.”

Psalm 37:3-9, “Trust the Lord and do good; live in the land, and farm faithfulness. Enjoy the Lord, and he will give what your heart asks. Commit your way to the Lord! Trust him! He will act and will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like high noon. Be still before the Lord, and wait for him. Don’t get upset when someone gets ahead— someone who invents evil schemes. Let go of anger and leave rage behind! Don’t get upset—it will only lead to evil. Because evildoers will be eliminated, but those who hope in the Lord, they will possess the land.

Romans 12:17-19, “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.”

Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭23-25‬, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.”

Matthew 7:1-5,Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

Isaiah 45:2-3, “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.”

Isaiah‬ ‭55‬:‭8-9‬ , “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:15-24‬, “See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.”

‭‭Gratitude & blessings,

Kim


©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.


❤️


Resources~


Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (book): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617 


Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com


Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief

FREE YouVersion reading plans:


1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships 


2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed 


3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites 


4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: (Coming November 4, 2015)