How to Find Peace After Betrayal

Disclaimer: Absolutely no disparaging comments about anyone or your comment will be deleted! Also, mild triggers for talk about abuse and bullying.

This is a blog post that I wish I wouldn’t have to write, much less, experience, time and time again in my own life.  I wish people would never have to experience betrayal in their lives. However, even my Savior did, when Judas betrayed Him for a paltry sum of money.

I know many of you have also experienced betrayal—whether it be by a family member, a close friend, a trusted person who held authority over you, or any number or varieties of people.  Many of you are, or were, very angry and hurt by their betrayal.  You may have been blindsided by it, as you did not expect this of them, or you did, but didn’t think it would be you. Whatever the case may have been, I know it can be absolutely very painful and difficult to pick up the pieces and live fully again.  However, we must not let the betrayers in our lives control us or keep us from accomplishing our dreams. Here is what I have learned about how to find peace after betrayal:

First of all, it is absolutely essential that you have or build some type of support for yourself.  –You will not heal very well or quickly if you have to deal with the aftermath of betrayal alone. This is especially true if you have just been abused and/or bullied by someone, and the wounds, whether it be physical and/or emotional, are still fresh.  If you or a loved one has experienced some type of criminal abuse, do not be afraid to report it to the proper authorities—police, attorneys, medical personnel such as therapists and doctors, etc.  The betrayer, as well as their supports, may dissuade, or even threaten you if you report the abuse. Do not be afraid of their threats!.  I know it may be easier said than done, but if you have the power to stop their cycle of abuse, even to the risk of your own life, to me (and to many others), you are a hero or heroine!  This will help others who may be also suffering at your abuser’s hands, and will help the abuser to repent of their actions and stop hurting others.  Besides reporting the abuse, make sure you seek out support for yourself to help you heal from the trauma of the betrayal and/or abuse.  This may include trusted family members, loved ones, friends, and therapists and clergy.  Make sure they will support you and will not either vouch for the abuser or play the devil’s advocate and blame the betrayal and/or abuse on you.  If access to these supports seems nonexistent for you, there are many online groups that support and validate people who have been betrayed and abused by others.  Please contact me privately if you would like to know a few of them that I’m a part.

Second of all, make sure you are having adequate self-care. –When I am betrayed by someone who I thought was trustworthy, I often delve into depression and self-pity. It is also very difficult for me to eat and sleep well, or even be kind to myself, as I tend to blame myself for the betrayal.  I think in order to get out of this pit, one needs a.) adequate outside supports and  b.) good self-talk. Good self-care includes educating yourself on the effects of abuse and betrayal and telling yourself that it is NOT your fault. Because when someone else abuses or betrays you, it is never your fault! That the person even schemed and thought to attack you means that they could have controlled their thoughts and temptations, but they chose not to!  Also, try to be kind to yourself by engaging in hobbies that you love to do. Of course, do not do anything that is against the law or that is not true to your moral beliefs. Doing something you love, should help you find peace and purpose in your life again, and not be held back by the betrayal you experienced.

Also, don’t let your experience of betrayal diminish your love for others. –At least for me, I have found that after I have just been betrayed by someone, I tend to snap at others more easily or even become paranoid of everyone.  I don’t know if this is normal or not, but I have learned that I should not let my experiences color my perceptions of everyone.  Not everyone is like your betrayer, even if it may seem that way.  Remember the betrayer is the one responsible for his or her actions, not everyone else, especially if they had nothing to do with the incident.

Also, continue to cultivate positivity to the other people who didn’t betray you.  Do not hold back your love or kindness from them because of the actions of someone else.  First of all, it is not fair to take out your anger and hurt on them because they did nothing wrong. Second of all, you will ruin the good relationships you have with them.  If you are angry and hurt at someone for betraying you, try to only focus your anger on them, not on everyone else.

Finally, forgive your betrayer.—This does not mean you have to reunite and reconcile with them. I read somewhere that it takes two to reconcile, but only one to forgive.  How true that is!  For instance, even though Jesus forgave the people that cruelly beat and taunted Him, He did not necessarily reconcile with all of them.  Also, though I am willing to forgive people for their betrayal, it does not mean that I will give up my trust so easily to them the next time.  You don’t even have to give your trust to the betrayer ever again.  Not only is it not wise to do that, but, if they haven’t earned back your trust, I learned that you are setting yourself up for more betrayals and heartache, as they will most likely take advantage of you again!

Forgiveness does mean letting go of your anger and bitterness towards them.  This is not for their benefit. I repeat; this is not for the betrayer’s benefit, but for yours!  When you let go of your anger and bitterness against your betrayer, you are, in effect, saying that you will not be tied down to or controlled by them.  You are saying that you let go of the need for avenging yourself, and that you will trust the proper authorities, whether it be police, the law, or God, to make this situation “right”.  You are saying that you move on with your life, and you will not let the betrayer tie you down to pain, anger, or bitterness.  You are saying that your love is stronger than their hate against you!

Betrayal is very painful and difficult to go through, but when one comes out of it and begins to heal, I found that inside of that person comes a very strong, determined, and compassionate person that will shine like the sun and fly like a butterfly.

 

image courtesy of: www.LumoProject.com.

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Letting Go of Past Hurts

I know many people who hold onto grudges and the darkness of the past for dear life.  For a long time, I was one of those people.  Sometimes, I still glance at the past darkness, but it no longer affects me as much as it used to, and I am finally healing from the people that have hurt me in the past. Because of so many great people that I am blessed to have in my life, I have learned to let go of many of my past hurts. Here is what I learned in the process, and I am still learning, day by day:

A) Dealing with Past (and Present) Rejection

I have heard of many instances where Person A is rejected by Person B in, let’s say, a long-term friendship, and Person A has a very tough time letting go of Person B.  In some cases, the person being rejected even takes vengeance against the person rejecting them, with deadly consequences.

Being rejected, starting at the tender age of two, at a daycare center, I know how it feels like to not be wanted. I was also often the last to be picked on a sports team, or any group, growing up in school. If I had the attitude of some people in society about being rejected so many times, I would probably be a miserable, cruel person, similar to people who abuse or hurt others regularly.

Thankfully, I learned to let go.  I learned that though rejection is painful, I don’t need a particular person (other than Christ) to make me happy or fulfilled in life.  I learned that people always come and go out of our lives, and that my goal in life is just to make a positive difference in as many people’s lives as possible. If I am only with the same group of people my entire life, yes, we would be very close, but I wouldn’t be able to make as great an impact to the world, as if some of them chose to or had to leave me. Tell yourself, “I can live without them.”

Also remind yourself of your own value and worth, even in the face of rejection. Repeat after me: I am not a less valuable person because someone else fails to see my worth to them.  Truth! Your value does not change based on how popular you are, or how many people love or don’t love you.  You are infinitely valuable, no matter what people say about you. Remember that.

Finally, ask yourself what you can learn in the face of the rejection. If someone rejected you because you did not treat them well, resolve to learn how to treat others better, so you won’t be rejected in that way again. If someone rejected you for superficial or other flimsy reasons,

don’t take that personally. Use that experience as a lesson in how not to treat others.

B)Dealing with Past Hurts

When someone hurts you.—I’m sure almost everyone has experienced someone hurting them in the past. Some of you have even experienced some horrific abuse by the people who were supposed to love and protect you.  For those people, I am sorry, and I hope you will be able to heal from that, at your own pace and timing.  For others of us, however, we may have been hurt emotionally by someone who isn’t even that close to us, but for whatever reason, have not been able to fully let go or forgive them.  This following advice is more for you.

First of all, if I was dealing with someone that hurt me emotionally that didn’t live in my house and was not family (and even if they were family),  I would try to remind myself of all the times that I was shown mercy  when I hurt someone else.  Sometimes, when you are able to put your hurt into perspective, it alleviates the pain a little bit.

Second of all, intentionally strive to be kind to your offender. This is what I did for several people at work when they had hurt me emotionally.  Important to note: You cannot have a “martyr’s” attitude (i.e : the “I guess I’ll be nice so they know how much it costs me” attitude) towards them, otherwise this doesn’t work the way it should.  Being kind to them must be from the heart.  You must have some compassion and love for them, even in your hurt.  What I found when I intentionally tried to be kind to them from my heart, they eventually softened towards me, and in many cases, we were even able to be reconciled to each other!

Another thing that can be useful, especially if you believe in God, is to pray for your offender or offenders.  Praying for them is different from praying against them. Do not pray, for example, that they will get cancer or die. Pray instead for their success in life, their repentance, their joy, and positive things like that.

If you hurt them.—We also all have hurt someone else.  When someone tells you that you have hurt them, or if you know somehow that you have offended someone, seek forgiveness from them. Offer them a contrite and humble apology. Any so-called apology with “but” or “if” in it is not a real apology because it excuses or blames, and does not take full responsibility for one’s actions.  In an apology, never blame the victim. Also, always be willing to do anything you can to restore the situation and make amends for your wrongdoing and hurtful actions.  For instance, if you slandered someone else out of envy, you could try to amend the situation by admitting to all those you bad-mouthed the victim to that you lied about the victim, and asking for forgiveness.  However, if the forgiveness is refused by any of these parties, then you need to let go. Demanding forgiveness is evidence of a proud, unrepentant heart.  Forgiveness must be given freely in order to be genuine.  Don’t try to force it out of someone.

C) Dealing with Fallen Dreams

If I got a U.S dollar for all the dreams that I had for my life, beginning when I was five years old, that failed, I’d probably be pretty rich.  We all have had wishes and goals that never have come to fruition, or plans that have changed.

Several people I know have had their career dreams cut short or been changed by a certain event or events.  I know I have. For instance, when I was a little child, one of my career goals, was to be astronaut. However, that fell on its head when I had to get glasses a few years later. (They don’t allow people to be astronauts who don’t have 20/20 vision, at least, as far as I know.).  Also, when I was in college, I wanted to do something in biology, until I realized that chemistry and physics were required, and they were not my strong suits.

One thing that has helped me deal with these (and other) fallen dreams is to see the good in my current situation. For example, I believe I am able to make more of a difference at my current job as a sales associate, rather than I would as an astronaut with maybe ten other people (max) in the shuttle. Yes, astronauts do make a world of difference still, and I am not discounting that. Rather, I am saying that for me I am better suited in my current job than I would be as an astronaut.

Another thing that has helped me overcome fallen dreams is learning from my mistakes.  For instance, I failed a course in school, but later relearned the concepts again to the point that I would be able to probably pass the course if I had to take it now.

Also, if a lot of your dreams are shattered, sometimes you can get so discouraged that you quit trying. That is what happened to me with driving. Luckily, I found my mentor J that encouraged me to try again. Find someone who will encourage you to persevere, and don’t quit.  Try not to set too lofty goals, at first, but set small, reachable goals, and do whatever it takes to reach them. Be determined and believe that you can accomplish your dreams… because you can!

 

These are the ways that I have let go of my past hurts. Yes, I have been through a lot in my past, and yes I still carry battle (emotional) scars, but my past has only made me a stronger person.  Your past doesn’t have to get in the way of being who you were meant to be.  Letting go may not be easy, but it is worth it.

Finishing Well: Living and Dying Without Regrets

There has been so much going on, in and around my life, that have shown me the frailty of life and how much we need to make sure that our lives are counting for something positive.  People all around us are hurting, begging for love and attention—Someone to give them a hope and a future. According to an article in the Business Insider, Bronnie Ware, who was an Australian nurse, asked dying patients what their regrets in life were. Here is what they said:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

(Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/5-things-people-regret-on-their-deathbed-2013-12, article written by Susan Steiner of The Guardian)

 

And here are some things that people typically think of or are concerned about that, though may have lasting life effects, have absolutely no eternal effect on anyone.

  1. Outer appearance—Our bodies on earth will decay, and I believe, we are getting new bodies. Either way, regardless of how you believe religiously, how you look like now, will not be how you will look like after you die.
  2. Money—Money may be relevant to our lives now, but there is no way to take money, or any other material things with you when you die.
  3. Popularity—Many people aspire to be famous, but how long will it last? I don’t even know my great-grandparents personally! Even though one of my grandfathers was a prominent member of his community when he was still alive, he died when I was a small child. I, unfortunately, don’t remember him at all.  So, why are some of us chasing after popularity? It doesn’t last as long as we wish it could.

I don’t know about anyone else here, but when my race in life is over, I would not want to have any of the five regrets that Bronnie Ware’s patients are reported as having, before they died.  Here is what I have learned in my life so far that can help each of us keep our life regrets to the minimum:

  1. Tell your loved ones—family and friends—how much they mean to you.—How many times have we (including me, unfortunately) rush out of our homes we share with loved ones without telling them how much you love them, or how much they mean to you? I, think, we have done that far too many times.  What if it were the last day you saw them alive, or the last day they saw you alive, and they didn’t know how much you loved and cared about them? In Darrell Scott (father of my faith hero—Rachel Joy Scott), he relates to us how someone asked him what he wanted to say to Rachel if she came back. Scott said, “I said everything I had to say to Rachel. I told her exactly how I felt about her, and I told her how much I loved her. We left no stones unturned.” (Scott, 98). May we tell our loved ones exactly how we feel about them and that we love them. Let us leave no stones unturned. Let’s not be afraid to do that. You never know when and how your loved ones will be or could be taken from you. Let our love for them, triumph over our fear and busyness.
  2. Invest in people, not in projects—As I have often implied or reiterated, sometimes we are so busy with work and different projects, that we forget about people whom we are serving. Yes, we should always be diligent at our jobs in life. However, do not become so diligent that it becomes all-consuming, or an obsession.  We can invest more in people by being willing to learn their life stories, instead of being quick to judge them. If you are having lunch in school and/or at work, try to get to know the people around you, whether in your office or lunchroom.  When you spend time with even close friends and other loved ones, listen (really listen) to their concerns and stories in order to a.) learn more about them b.) Love them better and more.
  3. Don’t listen to naysayers.—Unfortunately, I listened to my share of naysayers for over 15 years, until, finally my mentor J believed in me and helped me to turn a deaf ear to them. For more on how I overcame the naysayers in my life and followed my dreams, see this post.  In order to live and die with minimal regrets, we should refuse to listen to negativity. Though we should listen to constructive criticism, so we can improve on our flaws and become better people, we shouldn’t listen to people who don’t believe in us or our God-given abilities. For instance, if I continued to listen to some of the people that said I could never drive, I would have never been motivated to learn how.  However, once I stopped listening to them, and my negative inner voices, I was able to drive myself.
  4. Don’t let petty stuff get in the way of our lives and legacies.—First of all, let us strive to forgive, forgive, forgive, and let the little things go. One of my friends sometimes says, “Don’t let [the little things] rent space in your head.” For instance, if a friend of mine doesn’t say “Hi” to me one day or if a customer gives me a dirty look because he or she thinks I’m beneath them, I can either be frustrated with them and let them ruin my entire day, or I can tell myself that they are having a bad day, and overlook their sour attitudes and go on with my day, not letting them affect me. When someone hurts us, either accidentally or on purpose, yes we can be angry with them. In fact, it is a natural and normal reaction to an injustice done to us!  However, don’t let the anger fester and have it turn into bitterness and resentment.  Being bitter and angry does not only affect you and the person who hurt you, but they also affect everyone around us, including people having nothing to do with our hurt and pain!  Also, do not value the superficial over the eternally important.  That is, don’t place a supreme importance on things that will not last. For instance, though we should value our finances, we shouldn’t be so obsessed with it that we are willing to rob others and/or fight against others in order to get more money for ourselves.

 

If we want to live life without the big five regrets that Bronnie Ware’s dying patients were reported as  having, we should always strive to tell our loved ones that we love them, and how much they mean to us; we should always be willing to invest more in our personal relationships, instead of projects at work or school. We should not listen to naysayers that hold us back from our God-given dreams. Finally, we should not let the small stuff of life get in the way of living a fulfilling life and a lasting, positive legacy.  What are some things you can do to leave a lasting legacy? May we live, and finish the race of live with much joy, love and minimal regrets!

 

Sources:

Scott, Darrell and Rabey, Steve. (2001). Chain Reaction. Tennessee: Thomas Nelson.

Steiner, Susan.  5 Dec. 2013. “The 5 Things People Most Regret on Their Deathbed.” The Guardian, via Business Insider.  Retrieved 3/25/2018, from the World Wide Web. < http://www.businessinsider.com/5-things-people-regret-on-their-deathbed-2013-12&gt;.

 

Practical Life Lessons From Ephesians For Everyone

I realize not everyone believes in the Bible, though I do. However, these life lessons that are drawn from a book of the Bible called Ephesians, I think can apply to most anyone, regardless of religious belief.  These lessons are drawn from my own life experiences, and occasionally, also from those around me whom I have observed and heard.

Without further ado, here is the passage where I will focus:

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Neither give place to the devil.

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Ephesians 4:25-29 (KJV)

 

Here are some of the life lessons that I learned from these verses:

  1. It is better to be honest, because honesty unites, but lying separates close friends.–Even gossip can be a form of lying, as I have realized the hard way at work. A lot of people have spread rumors about certain people at work. Most of them were not founded in an ounce of truth! I have seen these rumors influence how others thought and acted towards these people, without finding out from the source as to whether these statements were true or not.  To think we acted or spoke in hurtful ways towards another because of unproven rumors we heard about someone! What I learned from this is to a.) Try not to listen to rumors, especially if you don’t know the truth in it, and b) Try to verify from the source or sources of the rumors themselves the veracity of the rumors. It is often not as dramatic and bad as it has been related. For another example, when we learn people’s life stories (Post on that is at this link) and people are vulnerable and honest with each other, I find that these things often unite people. Before I really knew one of my managers, I hated him.  I didn’t understand why he had aggravated me so much. However, one day, when he told me about some of the pain he went through in his life, and God intervened in our lives, the hate and aggravation that I felt for him began to melt away and be replaced with only love and compassion.  When I honestly tell other people my life story, people also begin to act with more love and compassion towards me.
  2. Don’t let anger fester in your heart for more than a day, lest it turn into bitterness and resentment later. –Because, in the past, I had held grudges against certain people for a really long time (literally, years), my spiritual and emotional growth were stunted.  Yes, I did grow, but not as much as I should have.  I now realize why I had trouble applying some spiritual principles to my life at the time.—I held grudges, and thus couldn’t receive God’s (or anyone else’s, for that matter) forgiveness in my life.  It was only when I let go of these long-standing grudges and intentionally began to act with kindness and grace towards my offenders, that I started to grow spiritually the way God (and, frankly, I as well) wanted to for so long.  Now, my policy is to try to resolve issues that I have with a person within a day, or a week, at the very latest.  However, I try my very best to follow the day rule prescribed in Scripture. This way, my anger dissipates quickly, and I can be at peace with that person as soon as possible.  I wish everyone followed this principle because this can have practical benefits to not only other people, but also our own emotional growth as well. When people succumb to bitterness and resentment towards others, and hold grudges, I find that they get discouraged and disgruntled more easily than those who let go.  These grudge-holders are often the first to complain, and the last to say “thank you”.  Don’t let resentment and bitterness rule over you. Let. It. Go.
  3. Live to encourage others, not put down others.—There is a saying that goes like this: Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Nothing could be further from the truth! I’m sure each one of you has been hurt by the sting of condescending and demeaning words before. Almost twenty years ago, one of my teachers almost destroyed my motivation to live and help others. He never beat me up physically, but I still feel the sting of his words today.  Some of my peers, who bullied me at school, also said things to hurt me.  Though I  wish these people nothing but the best, words can still have a crippling effect on me.  Because I know the pain of hurtful words, I strive to encourage others as much as possible. Yes, I fail at times at encouraging others, as we all do, but we must do our best.  I want to only speak words that will help and/or uplift someone‘s spirit.  I want others to be able to see that I value and care about them, especially through how and what I speak to them.  If we live to encourage, and not tear down, we may be able to save the lives of people that have almost given up emotionally, as we revive their spirits.

These are some of the life lessons I learned from Ephesians 4. When we are honest, and not deceptive with one another, when we resolve our anger and problems quickly to be at peace with others, and when we live to encourage others, I believe we will lead more spiritually and emotionally successful lives.  May we live with love and compassion for one another!

What I Learned From Peter

The apostle Peter was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, and the writer of 1 and 2 Peter. To me, he is a dynamic example of how God can use the ordinary and make them extraordinary.  These principles I have learned from Peter are so universal that anyone, no matter religion, race, class, ethnicity, gender, or any other human identifier, can apply these to their lives!  I’ve had a tough week, and more and more, I have been thinking about how the apostle Peter also had tough times- -Times where he was hypocritical in his character, so his actions betrayed what he believed;  times where he was persecuted against and rejected by others, times where he felt inadequate to God and to others. All these I have also experienced in my life, and I can bet, some of you have, too.  However, I have learned these following things from the life of Peter that has helped me not only to understand him better, but also to encourage myself and others in our life’s journeys:

  1. Think before doing or saying
  2. You don’t have to be perfect to make a difference
  3. Never give up.

One of the mistakes that Peter made throughout his life, was he did a lot of things without thinking them through.  This is something I struggle with as well.  For example, in Matthew 26, Peter is recorded as saying that he would die for Jesus even if he were being persecuted! We know that he didn’t think about what that really meant, because even when three different people, including a servant girl with no power to do anything bad to Peter, asked if he (Peter) had been with Jesus, Peter denied even knowing of or being with Jesus, all three times! In another instance, the apostle Paul writes in Galatians 2 :11 (KJV), that  Peter “was to be blamed, “ meaning he was to be corrected, because he separated himself from eating with the Gentiles (non-Jews). Peter did this only because he was afraid of what some other Jewish people would think.  Peter did not think about the implications that his actions would have on the Church, as a whole, nor on the example he was setting for the rest of the Jewish believers.  From these two instances, I learn from Peter that it is better to think things through before saying or doing anything. For instance, when I am upset at someone, I want to say very mean and hurtful things to that person as a way of making them “feel” my rage at the time. However, when I really take the time to think through the implications and consequences of my actions, I often am successful at not saying those things.

Another thing that I learn from Peter is the fact that one does not have to be perfect, or even saintly, to make a positive difference in this world.  As I noted before, even the apostle Peter, was far from perfect! However, some weeks after Peter denied Jesus, Jesus encourages Peter by reinstating him to ministry and preparing his heart for this endeavor by asking Peter if he loved Him. Jesus reinstates him to ministry by basically telling him to “feed His sheep,” meaning to encourage people (the sheep) to follow God’s directives by “feeding” them His words and His teachings.  Even though, Paul had to reprimand Peter later, Peter still made a huge difference in helping the early Christians be able to withstand persecution for their faith, and to be able to stay mentally strong despite these persecutions and other life trials.  We know this, through Peter’s writings, where he encourages the churches he lead to stand firm in their faith and persevere.  Sometimes, the perfectionistic-me thinks that when I fail morally or in another way, that I can’t do anything worthy for God or for others. However, through learning about Peter’s life, I am encouraged that this is not the case.  I believe that this is not the case for any of you either. No matter where you are in life, or what you have done or failed to do, you still can make a positive difference in this world. You just have to believe you can!

Lastly, and perhaps, most importantly, I learned from Peter never to give up.  Even when Peter made, what I think to be the biggest error of his life—denying even knowing Jesus, Peter did not give up on life or on himself.  As noted in John 21, Peter went back to hanging out with Jesus and, eventually, accepted his mission from Jesus. Peter did not avoid Jesus or the other disciples that were left, but faced his mistake when Jesus gently confronted Peter with the issue of his love for Him.  In contrast, another disciple (Judas) that betrayed Jesus, went and committed suicide, giving up on life and on everything else.  Also, in several biblical passages, Peter is recorded casting his nets all day, or all night, for fish, but not getting any. Peter could have given up until Jesus came to him, or waited for another day, but Peter persevered.  Eventually, in John 21:11 (KJV), it says, “Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.”

Many times in my life, even several days ago, I have felt so overwhelmed with life, that I just wanted to give up.  However, my faith in God and the hope of a better future, prodded me on.  When I look to the apostle Peter and see his perseverance, I am also inspired to keep going, because I know the reward can be great for me, if I don’t give up. I’m sure the rewards you can get, both in this life and in the next, can be very great, if you don’t lose hope and if you keep on, keeping on!

Why I Love

I will fully admit. –Since I love, I wear my heart on my sleeve.  Some may say it is foolish to love so hard, and I understand where they are coming from, but , from my understanding, that is the power of true love.  Love goes all out for someone.  As it says in 1 Corinthians 13:5-7 (KJV): [Love] beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (bold italics emphasis mine). Here is why I strive to love so hard:

1.Because of God’s love for me—God has been actively orchestrating my life since the beginning of time! Even when I wanted to give up on myself and my life because of the difficulties I have I had to endure in my life, I firmly believe God has never given up on me. He loved me even when I didn’t feel good enough for anyone and had a self-pity party.  He has showered me blessings way beyond my comprehension and my merit!  He has shown me care and compassion, even when I have forgotten His goodness and God Himself.  That is true love!  That is why I strive every day to love God, through loving others. Yes, I may fail at loving others at times, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get up and try again.  With God’s love, there is always hope for anyone, even me.

2. Because of my life’s purpose—One of my life’s purposes is to love others as God has loved me. I want to share this great love with others because I can believe true love can change the world for the better.  I found that when I want to give up on loving someone, I feel depressed and even suicidal at times! That is because if I refuse to love others, all other things that I do are fruitless and meaningless.  It even says that in 1 Corinthians 13: 1-4 (KJV), where charity equals love:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

3.Because it gives joy—I strive to love others because it not only gives me great joy, but because the joy in love and being loved is contagious! I find when I strive to love others the way God has loved me, it brings great joy to everyone involved. For instance, during the Christmas season/holidays at work, I made it a point to give every salaried member of management a Christmas card to let them know, in essence, that their hard work and dedication to our company does not go unnoticed.  All the managers seemed appreciative and joyful upon receiving the cards.  It also gave me joy to be able to make the managers feel loved and appreciated.  When I have the difficult task of loving someone that I’m either upset with or that I don’t particularly like, and I do, it’s like a burden is lifted off me.  However, when I do love these people, I don’t only feel better about myself, but I often feel like there is hope for restoration and healing in our relationships.

4. Because it is better than the alternative.—Today, as I write this, I am deeply troubled and saddened by the hatred and anger in this world, as I hear of another mass shooting in my country. However, today is also Valentine’s Day, a day that we are all supposed to love and care for each other.  Over and over again, hatred always creates destruction and dissension.  As hard as it is to love certain people, we must be diligent in at least attempting to be kind and love others.  Don’t rely on feelings alone to love someone; otherwise, we may fall woefully short.  However, love because your very life and your very legacy depend on it!

This is why I strive to love others every day. Yes, there are times when I fall woefully short of where I should be in loving others, but even in times when we fall short; we must not give up on love.  When we give up on love, we lose our lives, both spiritually and emotionally.  However, when we do love, we can turn the world upside down for its good and preservation.

The Greatest Revenge: Loving Your Enemy

What do you think about when you picture your enemy or enemies? It could be someone that hurt you deeply, or it could be someone that, for some reason, you just despise.  It could be someone that hurt your loved ones or friends.  What if I told you that you could get revenge on them legally, but it would not be the “revenge” you expect or want?  What if I told you to love them?

I’ve been reading the book, “Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian missionary who was martyred during the World War II era.  He says in the aforementioned book, “The only way to overcome our enemy is by loving him.” (Bonhoeffer, 147).  Or her.  This is why I found that this is true, and why I consider loving our enemies the greatest ‘revenge’ ever:

  1. Because of the Burning Coal Principle. –What I call, the Burning Coal principle, is derived from the Bible in Romans 12:20-21, where it says, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (KJV-emphasis mine).” The Burning Coal Principle is where one consistently strives to love his or her enemy by serving or doing kind acts on their behalf.  It shows the greatest kind of love, agape love, which promotes their well-being. This is the greatest “revenge” because when one loves his or her enemies like this, it does one of two things to the enemies.
    • These people will change their attitude and/or behavior towards you and repent of their evil towards you. They will appreciate that you are trying to be merciful to them despite their mistreatment of you. They will know that you love them and are not trying to take worldly revenge on them, but will get a glimpse of divine love from you.
    • If these people (enemies) do not change their ways and continue abusing and inflicting heartache on the person loving them , it will place a greater judgment on them. I believe God will punish these people for eternity if they don’t repent. Even on earth, they will most likely still suffer repercussions for their evil acts because if they see they are returning your good by being evil instead of good, people will most likely lose respect for them until they repent and show kindness to you.  They may also be disciplined by authority accordingly, if their offense is serious enough to warrant that.

2 )Because loving your enemy changes you.—Loving your enemy changes you, I believe, for the better. It takes a very strong and courageous person to be able to even consider loving an enemy. But when you do, it changes your attitude not only towards them, but also towards the whole world. When you become strong enough to even consider loving your enemy, you will discover that you have a more positive image of your enemy. No longer will he or she be just this evil monster or witch-like persona you had in your mind, but a hurting, needy soul will emerge in its place. You will be more motivated to serve them because compassion and love takes over the dark image you have of your enemy. It may take some time for this more positive image to emerge, so don’t rush things, but take one step at a time, if you want to really love your enemy, as Jesus did, when he was dying on the cross.

At first, loving your enemy may feel like you are “faking nice” to them, but as time passes, you will be more able to serve them with a genuine heart of love and compassion. Furthermore, loving your enemy forces you to look outside just yourself and your own physical and emotional needs and gives you a servant’s heart.  In general, you will love more and judge others less.  You will be more tolerant of others’ shortcomings, including those you love, but also your enemies’, as you strive to understand all people better and get rid of the entitlement mentality—which holds on to your rights and doesn’t really consider others’.

3.) Finally, loving your enemy changes the world around you.

a.)Loving your enemy can restore broken relationships.—For instance, off and on, I  had several people at work whom I would consider “enemies”, or at least, I was not on friendly terms with them.  However, when my pastor (and, frankly, God) inspired me to put the Burning Coal Principle to practice, what I found was that the relationships were restored. In some cases, God restored it to the point where I had an even better relationship than with them before I they were my “enemies” !

b ) Loving your enemy can bridge divides—In  Rwanda, when the Hutus and the Tutsis hated each other. The Hutu majority were trained to hate and kill Tutsis. Entire Tutsi families were murdered in this genocide. Some Tutsis wanted revenge, but some of them actually forgave the Hutus and eventually helped end the genocide-war.

c) Loving your enemy shows genuine love.—Loving your enemy shows genuine love because it is love that is not controlled by emotion or favor. It actually goes the distance and is supernatural. We do not naturally want to even consider loving our enemies because it goes our mentality for justice and our notion of fairness. However, when we strive to love our enemies, I find that we don’t focus on that as much. Instead we focus on not just our enemy’s good, but also the good of the world around us.

 

Loving your enemy is something that is very difficult to do. We (me included) fail at this, time and time again. But if we view our enemies as hurting and broken people, instead of the devil incarnate or just an evil menace, maybe we can change not only them, but the whole world