Repentance: Feel the Love
by Mindy Kiker
Love your enemies, do good to them….Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35-36
Love is tough. It’s gritty and glorious. I struggle to love people when I’m disappointed in them, or in myself, or with life in general. Sometimes I come across less like a lover and more like an accuser. You don’t want to know me when I get into striving mode with a long to-do list and a tight time schedule with little margin. I inevitably start to feel the strain, but instead of dealing with my own heart before The Lord, I like to start first by blaming others:
It’s the kids’ problem–they’re so disobedient. Why did I have so many children?
It’s my husband’s problem–he’s not at all helpful. Why didn’t I stay single?
It’s my many obligations–why didn’t I say “No!”? What was I thinking?
You know the routine. Hunt for the scapegoat. Search for the one to blame. Make others the enemy. Point the finger at the circumstances. Anything to avoid taking a look into my own heart. Anything to drown out the voice of my conscience which reminds me of a truth that I know well: “The only one you can force to kneel in front of the cross is yourself. You can’t drag anyone else there.”
Unfortunately, when I’m in self-justification mode, offended-at-the-world mode, I’m not ready to admit this truth. Instead, I usually take one more dangerous step of blame-shifting. I unconsciously tap into places of unforgiveness in my heart and add to the offense that I harbor against my close family and friends. Lest this sound strange and unfamiliar, let me give you an example from married life.
Remember how much you loved your husband or wife before he was your husband or she was your wife? Recall those happy days when he or she could do no wrong? Now follow the years forward to the present day, and notice the gradual accumulation of offense that builds up over time. These oughts gather so quietly that we often do not realize they are there, until we find ourselves responding with angry words or sullen silence. Mercy has vanished.
When a bitter ought exists in your heart against another, everything about that person becomes less and less pleasant. Even the sound of their voice can stir up irritation. So sad. When you realize that your communications are strained, your hackles are up, step back and ask God to let you see into your heart. Invite him to speak. We know that the word of God is faithful to expose our innermost thoughts and desires (Hebrews 4:12).
Be encouraged! I have prayed with many people who have found themselves bound up with offense against their husband or wife, and I have been there too. With a dose of humility and repentance, God will turn your attitude around.
The good news is that repentance allows you to remember what you loved about that man or woman when you first met! Throughout our lives, maintaining unity and love with our husband or wife is critical to our well-being and to the emotional health of our family. I pray that you find the way of humility, discover the freedom that comes from rejecting the voice of the accuser, and release more love for the precious people in your life.