Just a heads up…this isn’t some cliché letter about how I love you anyway despite the fact that you don’t like me (although I do). Instead, I want to tell you … I get it. Yes, that’s right – I said I understand. Just hear me out.
A few months ago, I was driving home. As I approached a street close to my house, I saw a former classmate from high school. They were sitting on the ground at an intersection. I continued driving. Don’t judge me, I was so close to home and it was a long day, okay? Immediately God spoke to my heart… turn around. I turned the car around and began clearing things off the passenger seat when He spoke again, yes… move that stuff because they WILL be getting in this car. Although God’s voice wasn’t audible, there was still a certain tone to it that really caught me off guard. I smiled. Okay, Lord.
I pulled over, got out and walked toward them. As they caught my eye and stood, their face lit up with delight and they hugged me with the tightest hug and warmest embrace I have ever felt in my life. It took everything within me not to cry. I was just so overwhelmed by how much joy my simple and unexpected presence brought them. In that moment, I surprisingly felt the unconditional love of God in a completely fresh and exiting new way. I wondered is this how people are embraced when they cross over into Heaven? It was as if the world stopped in that moment and all that mattered was my arrival! Meanwhile, I couldn’t believe I almost drove on by and missed out on this incredible blessing. Once they finally released me, I took a deep breath and managed to offer them a ride. They said they were originally waiting for the bus, but accepted my offer. Even though it was a while ago, I still often find myself reflecting back on that moment. God’s love was ever so present right there at that busy little intersection.
During the ride to their house, they jokingly reminded me of some of the comments I’ve made in the past (even some from 5th grade). I envisioned myself…little “Nikki” with her horrible attitude. My heart ached at the thought of ever hurting them and that beautiful, gentle soul of theirs. I honestly didn’t even remember any of it. Nevertheless, their comments about how I use to treat them really opened my eyes, especially the more and more I thought about it in these past months. As imperfect humans, sometimes it’s easier for us to remember the positive impact we’ve made on others than it is to remember the negative ones. And sometimes, we just tend to write people off as “haters” and totally skip over the grey area.
When I first became a Christian, I made it a point to apologize to everyone I could think of for times I fell short. Unfortunately, I’m not even aware of every single time or person, but I did my best. As for the rest, I can only pray God brings opportunity just like He did in the particular situation mentioned above. If you are someone I have hurt through my words, actions or even both, I truly am sorry.
I want you to know that I recognize my own imperfection.
I want you to know that I cringe in regret when I even think about some of the things I have said and done in my past. I’m not just referring to my life before I accepted Christ either, but even after Him. I strive to be better than the person I was yesterday, but I don’t always get it right.
I want you to know God is always working on my heart.
I want you to know that if you don’t like me, I’m open to the fact that hey, maybe your reasoning is valid.
There have been plenty of times in my life when I expected apologies, but struggled to forgive and there have been plenty of times when I demanded grace but wouldn’t offer it (this is especially true for the beginning of my marriage).
The only thing I stand by are the times in which I was being obedient to God. There are times He asks me to speak up and stand by His word and/or His people and so I do. There are times when my anger is righteous anger. Maybe I haven’t always spoken in love the best I could, but my heart behind things is for Him and I regret nothing I do for Him. I don’t want any of my brothers and sisters in Christ to be turned away by Jesus as they say “Lord, Lord but didn’t we do all these things in Your name?” I never want to be in that position either. My heart is for us all to intimately know and fully live, for Him.
If you are not in fact someone that I have ever made a negative impact on, I pray you can still take something away from this. In fact, I just want to wrap this up by praying for all of you. Please stand in agreement with me.
Father, thank You for who You are, all that You’ve done in my life and in the lives of those reading this. Lord, I pray that if there’s anyone else out there I have wronged, you reveal it and show me how to make it right – even if it was back in the 90’s. I pray the same for every set of eyes reading this post right now. Search their hearts too and reveal anything to them that they might have forgotten or are missing. I also pray for anyone out there who knows they have wronged others and are struggling with forgiving themselves. Remove the guilt and burden and teach them how to stand tall and confident in You with a brand new, fresh start. Wrap them in Your loving arms and show them they are completely forgiven and unconditionally loved by You.
In Jesus name, Amen.
Well, my sweet friends (and possibly foes), I pray you were blessed and encouraged.
May you settle into 2018 with more joy, strength, courage and wisdom than you ever expected!
Until next time…