As I try to navigate life independently, but not independently of Jesus, I am beginning to understand the importance of my mental health, inner well-being, and the wellness of those around me. I am also working on being mindful of my behaviors with friends; I want to be present for them during their struggles, as most are with me. We are not independent of what we go through. We are independent of what we choose to grow through; I want to grow in Christ Jesus’ likeness.
Furthermore, I had to learn from hard-Knox how I affect the lives of those I come into contact with can be life-changing or energy-draining. Jesus is the Living Water. However, lately, I felt as if I had been energy-draining. Although this may seem like an excuse, I give myself grace for lack of knowledge; old behaviors aren’t easily detected and broken. Now that I know this behavior, I know what I can work on for growth instead of beating myself up by ruminating about all my could haves, should haves, or would haves. Also, God is not a God of condemnation, but it does not mean we continue harmful behaviors; even small offenses can be harmful if we continue misleading ourselves.
For instance, I visited with my friend recently, and while she shared with me, I unintentionally flipped the script. I had no idea that I gaslighted her until later when I had time to reflect on my day. I was horrified, for I did what I hated to her! But the Holy Spirit reminded me of what Paul said,
"For we know the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. Therefore, if I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me, that is, nothing good dwells in my flesh; for to will is present with me, but I do not find how to perform what is good I do not see. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. So now if I do what I will not to, it is no longer I do it; but sin dwells in me." Romans 7:14-20
Heavenly Father, Creator of the universe. I don’t look to the universe as my God; You alone are God, the Creator of the Universe. Therefore, deliver me from the sins that lead to death, and give me the direction of the Holy Spirit, which leads to life in Christ Jesus, Your Son, amen.
I felt horrible, and I immediately called her and asked for forgiveness. I also asked her if she would call me out if this happened again; I am sure I had unknowingly done this many times before, and she gracefully forgave my trespasses against her.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, I also had not called my sweet cousin dealing with cancer; she calls me at least once a week. She called me out! I love my cousin’s boldness.
Their actions stirred me up to reach outside myself. Some people self-soothe through other means; I self-soothe by isolation. I don’t think it isn’t good because I am also an introvert and enjoy solitude. I believe too much isolation can be harmful, though.
Also, because I am aware of my co-dependent traits, I set boundaries for myself not to trespass against them with my co-dependant behaviors, such as trying to control others’ behaviors and outcomes. We can only control our behaviors, and I remind myself of these weaknesses not because I am condemning myself but because I am human and a work in progress. I am also aware that Christ is with me, and He will help me when I ask according to His will.
“Heavenly Father, like a beggar, give me the gift of self-control; this I know I cannot attain on my own strength and power. In Jesus Name, amen.”
Most importantly, I learned while reflecting on these words from the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive me, as I forgive those who trespass against me.” I realized how many times I trembled while praying the Lord’s prayer and that it was terrible to pray so idly because I had unforgiveness in my heart. I wonder how many blessings I lost because I asked God to forgive me the way “I forgave” instead of first humbling myself before His throne of grace with my bitter heart wide open and asking Him to help me forgive others as He has forgiven me.
Dear Lord, please heal my bitter heart and give me the grace to forgive as You have forgiven me. Heal me from the inside out, and make me an instrument of Your Peace which surpasses all understanding.
However, please be aware that forgiveness is for yourself more than those who have harmed you. Unfortunately, some people intentionally trespass against us by crossing our boundaries to bring harm, while others subtly enter through deception to control, manipulate, damage, and deceive. In these instances, self-preservation is imperative; get out, get help, and go into no contact with these types of people for your sake and the sake of your children or pets. Should we forgive? Yes, but this does not mean going back to the abuse. So many abusers use this verse of the Lord’s prayer to manipulate us into believing that the Lord wants us to excuse oppression and affliction. God hates abuse. Also, victims need time to heal from their trauma and, in most cases, the multiple traumas they endured. I did not rush myself into forgiveness simply because I needed to process the grief stages.
After healing, I forgave my abuser/abusers because they lost all power over me. Like Joseph forgave his brothers, he named one his son’s Manasseh, which means the Lord took away the pain of my past. Abusers want victims to forget the past and act like nothing ever happened. That is unrealistic because Jesus will judge everything done, said, and thought on judgment day. Also, validation is vital to healing. Victims need to be heard without reservation, condemnation, or prejudice.
Father, Abba, we come to You, our shield and fortress. Spread Your Wings around the afflicted and oppressed. Protect them from wicked people who desire to harm them. Jesus, You say to pray for those who persecute us. During pain, Lord, we want to scream, ‘Why have You forsaken me!” Yet, You don’t look away; instead, with mercy and compassion, Your Spirit intervenes on our behalf. Lord, Help us in our time of need. Provide, Protect, and Reveal Your Presence as our Redeemer to our enemies. We are Your Children, and You are our Father through Your Son, Jesus Christ, amen.
Links to Domestic Violence Help:
Call: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Text: “START” 88788