Back when I was twenty-four I did some things that led to me being ex-communicated from everyone I knew as close friends and family. It was a very confusing and painful time. It has taken me many years, prayers, reading, meditation, missteps, mistakes, trials and triumphs to work through it all. Get the picture? It was hard work. Relationships are hard work. But I’ve found that the benefits far outweigh the effort.
The people whom I once trusted to speak into my life were no longer in it. It’s been seventeen years. In that time I’ve built new and stronger relationships which I cherish. There was a time when I was relieved that no one was checking on me. Now I look for, hope for and welcome it…
Often we hear people say, don’t judge me whether asking you to overlook their slip of character or compromise, or to rebuff your critical reaction to their actions. But are you judging them? If we’re family or friends is it judgment to offer words of warning, or correction for their redirection? After all, if we are wise, we will have somebody in our circle that is stronger than we are and able to lift us up, come get us when we veer off course, and walk with us as we get back on track.
If our actions are never called into question by our conscience or others, when do we know we are doing something wrong? How do you determine what’s right or wrong? Whose values do you trust and adhere to? Well for me, I’ve placed my trust in Jesus Christ and that’s whose values I strive to live by. So that’s the place I’m speaking from. I know others have their own, that’s the power and privilege of choice.
When I think of judgment, it’s final. There’s no turning back. You’re labeling a person as being their action and condemning them to dire consequences. So it’s understandable that no one wants to be judged. And, yes God is the ultimate judge and holds final authority for judgment. So it’s healthy and beneficial for me to fear judgment. However, God is also the God of another chance and another and another… As long as we’re still living, we have opportunities for getting it together. So heeding his discipline and correction is vital to whether we stay where we are or move forward.
So, on the other hand, there’s accountability. When someone I have a relationship with speaks to me out of concern and holds me to a higher standard, that’s a part of showing love. Maybe that’s why we hold back from speaking critically of each others actions. We’re afraid of being held accountable for our own actions; when what we really should be fearful of is judgment.
Being held accountable is part of being in relationship. Those who tell me what I want to hear don’t truly love me. I’m constantly asking God if I’m doing things his way and listening for his answer. At times that answer comes through the loving nudge or rebuke of someone who loves me and wants better for me and expects better from me. Even in my thinking I have to check myself. Is this from me or God? If their words line up with what I know to be God’s Word, I should receive it no matter how much it stings, because it comes from a place of love. There have been times that someone has spoken to me about how my actions or words were perceived. Even if they were wrong, I know their words of correction came from a place of love. Because I want people to speak into my life, I can receive the love, even when the words are out of place.
I’ve been struggling lately with this. I’m learning to pray first, listen and, if led to, speak. It is hard for me to watch the people in my life, my loves, travel down roads I’ve already found lead to dead ends. I’m living the consequences of my mistakes. I want better for them. When I know the road they’re on leads to failure, I want to warn them. Sometimes it is accepted, others not so much. Then I have to just pray more, because it is their choice. It still hurts. God’s grace enters my heart through my prayers allowing me to extinguish any ill feelings or anger towards them. I can only imagine how hurt God feels watching us head away from his plan and purpose for our lives. We’re so easily distracted. He loves us so much anyway and lovingly remains there for us to get us back on track, but only when we’re ready. Only if we choose to…
If I speak into your life, I’ve invited you to speak into mine. That’s when we both go deeper, planted in each others hearts, growing in love. I even do this with my daughter. Though it stings for a ten year old to tell me when and where I’m wrong, I receive it. It is a valuable lesson in relationships, love and humility that I hope she takes with her along her own journey towards reflecting Christ. ❤