The Switch: Moving Past The Hurts
The following was written by a man who is a minister and always has been with the United Pentecostal Church. This was originally posted on an apostolic board in more than one post and has been brought together here and slightly edited. The author wishes to remain anonymous.
This comes from the perspective of a minister who has been hurt himself and understands what others may be going through who have been likewise hurt in a church setting. I requested permission to post it on this web site as he shared some good things which will hopefully help others in their journey to healing. Perhaps it will also help others to understand that for those who are hurt, the pat response of "just get over it and move on" neither helps nor shows true understanding of the matter.
I can't believe I am doing this but it keeps coming up and I cannot shake it so here goes:
Some of my friends and I exchange e-mails that can sometimes be barbed. We discuss just about everything including politics. Our group includes some very conservative people as well as very liberal and moderate/independent people also. Well last week the discussion escalated over the course of a couple of days and I sat there and watched two good friends really cutting each other up via e-mail. It got nasty on both sides. Then last week I see this board blow up. The escalation was eerily familiar.
I spent the entire weekend thinking about how people can get so caught up in what somebody else is saying. Crazy thing is, it brought back some really bad memories. Memories I had placed under the blood almost eight years ago. Almost ten years ago, around the time I got married, I got into a bit of a spot with a UPC preacher. Now I am sure to all you seasoned ministers out there, this isn't that unusual for a couple of preachers to end up on opposite ends of an issue. But this was the first time I had run into something like this.
Over the course of a few months, I was very wrongly done. It hurt. I mean it cut me to the core. I was sick, ashamed, devastated. In three months I lost 25 pounds and I only weighed 150 to begin with. I looked like death warmed over and on my best days that is exactly what I felt like. I even moved 300 miles away! I wont go into any details but let me say very clearly that I was done horribly wrong, lied on, and terribly mistreated. I couldnt even face friends that I KNEW didnt even know about the situation.
I fought bitterness for two years before I came to a place of forgiveness. I warred with this. It was a constant struggle every day. How do you get a thought out of your head? How do you struggle with life knowing the struggles you are going thru are because of someone hurting you?
It was ..I'm sorry. I cant even put it in words. It was bitterness bordering on hatred. And it was a preacher. Somebody that is supposed to take care of people. Somehow after warring for two years, I found myself looking at me instead of this thing that had been done to me.
I started asking myself why after all that time I was letting this dude win? Letting him have this control over me. He was gone from my life, but for two years what I was, was still being controlled by him. I made a decision to make that stop. I would no longer be controlled by others. That I would face everything in my life head on. No more allowing someone else's ideas or words or even actions determine my life. I gave the whole thing to God in one package and let go.
Occasionally the whole sordid affair pops into my head but not with bitterness nor with malice. This last week I've been thinking about how I survived it. How I overcame it. The very fact that I am still in church when so many others have fallen because of similar stuff. God has truly blessed me.
Now I said all that to say something to all of you.
You cannot stop people from being bone heads. You cannot stop people from being hateful or having attitudes or doing or saying things that cut you. You do have control over how you react to them.
Every day I wake up and make a conscious decision not to allow anyone to hurt me. That does not mean I dont get close to people or that I insulate myself from connecting to people. No way. I have good friends. I love my wife with every fiber of my being. I believe we need to be close to people. But I control the switch that allows someone's words or deeds to affect my life. Things get said and then things escalate, then someone gets mad and the whole thing can spin out of control and it happens because someone makes a decision to take real offense to what has been said.
People struggle for years over hurts they have suffered. Some loose out with God over what they have seen other people do. It all happens because they didnt control that switch. Life has taught me some tuff lessons, most of which I would have preferred not having to learn. None the less, learn them I did. This is one of them: I control how I feel about what others say and do. I control it. Nobody else. No matter how devastating it is. I control the switch.
I spent a good part of last night thinking about it. I am wondering if the Lord has some intention here. I hope this helps.
It is very interesting to me that there are only 2 places in the scripture that Jesus talks about having faith enough to toss something in the sea. The first one in is Matthew 17 and you can find it in verses 14 thru 20. It begins with a story of a very sick child. Jesus says that this kind of thing can't be taken care of without prayer and fasting. Interestingly enough, he wasnt too happy with the disciples for not having faith enough to deal with it. He calls them faithless and perverse. Even a mountain can be tossed in the sea if you have only a small amount of faith. Faith is the key but there are some things attached.
There is another place in scripture where Jesus says your faith can toss something into the sea. In Luke 17 verse 6, Jesus says a tree can be plucked up by the root and cast into the sea if you have faith the size of a grain of mustard seed. It is interesting to me that the same faith that tosses mountains into the ocean, also tosses trees. No more, no less. Hey, mountains are BIG. Trees aren't so big. Now most people will look at this and say if you have enough faith to believe God for the little things, you have enough faith to believe God for the big things. I see it differently.
I believe what Jesus was saying was that sometimes the trees in our lives (roots and all) are as big an issue for us as the stuff that we all agree are mountains. Some of the things that others will say "oh you just need to move on" really are big issues that require FAITH. That whole mustard seed thing is interesting. Jesus wasnt saying have a little faith in comparison to your doubt. Faith can't exist where there is doubt. What does Light have to do with Darkness?
I have been in services where faith was so strong you felt like anything could happen. Some good stuff happened, but really how long does that last? On the other hand, I have been in situations were the only option was getting ahold of God. No bouncing off the walls. No crazy stuff going on. Just some people getting down to the gritty work of touching God because there was no other place to go.
You know what? The biggest miracles I have ever seen have been in that second type of atmosphere. Faith the size of a grain of mustard seed is powerful stuff. Ever put a mustard seed in your mouth and bite it? I suggest you only do it once. It's tiny but one bite and it permeates everything. It spreads like molasses.
Trees are interesting. Those roots .I dont think Jesus picked a tree and its roots to illustrate the point by chance. Any problem in ones life that has roots can be devastating. Every time you attempt to deal with it, it can be like those roots are rapped around your heart. You pull on the tree and it feels like you are tearing your own heart out. Devastating. But Jesus says by faith it can be done.
You know how this whole exchange with Jesus started? Where he starts talking about tossing this tree in the sea? Jesus starts the conversation off with "offences will come." He is talking about people hurting you! "If your BROTHER trespass against you." The disciples realize just how devastating this can be because they ask him to increase their faith! Offenses that often come to us can rap their roots around our hearts and any amount of tugging to try to dislodge it only cause more harm! Its like pouring salt in a wound. The more you work to get over it the more you feel like your heart is being pulled out.
There isn't anything easy about tossing trees and their roots in the ocean. Its tuff work. It often requires quiet desperation. It is a work of faith. The same kind of faith you have when there is a mountain in your life.
Like the night my mom got healed. She couldn't even use her leg. Dad and I had to carry her into church (really just dad because I was so young but I tried to help). Facing a second surgery where the first left her in a full body brace for 90 days, she was beyond desperate. It was be healed or die. That kind of faith. That kind of mountain. Trees and their roots are like that. Those disciples said "Lord increase our faith!". And Jesus said no, it isn't a matter of increasing your faith to remove the sting of a brother doing you wrong. It is simply a matter of faith. Mustard seed faith. Your own faith. Remember? You control the switch.
Some might think because I use the analogy of a switch that I mean you can just turn it on and off, rather nonchalantly. That could not be further from the truth. The switch simply means that you have the capacity to have control. It is to say dont let someone else have control of your life. You possess all you need to make it. To pluck up that tree, roots and all, and toss it in the sea.
You know how I know you have it within you? Romans 12:3: For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
The measure of Faith. God gave it to you. He put it there. It is enough. Once you get to that place where nothing else matters. Just healing. Just getting rid of the tree that is sucking the life out of you. Just moving on and being free of those roots that want to squeeze your heart until it bursts. Then its like that mustard seed you bit into. It spreads all over and then all the sudden you realize it's gone.
FAITH. Faith is the only answer. And it is important enough that Jesus HIMSELF dealt with it. He didn't leave it to the apostles, he didn't leave it to subsequent church leaders to talk about. Jesus did it himself. Jesus didn't even lay out the plan of salvation. He told Peter to do it. But when it came to dealing with the hurt that can only come from a brother, He personally spoke about it and he used specific illustrations to show us how important it is.
You know what? He finishes up by saying it is our duty as his children to get beyond the hurt. It is our duty as his children to forgive. Duty. We must because we are his. Grab that switch.
May God's Love heal every hurt...
Added September 30, 2004
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