Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When someone says your decisions are wrong...

People have an opinion about everything these days. People have always had bold opinions about the way each other's lives should be lived, the only difference is that now in our solical media controlled world, people have become very very vocal about these opinions. They feel the need to argue and berate and tell others just how wrong they are. So, what do you do when you find yourself in the line of fire? What CAN you do?

First off, decide if it is someone even worth arguing with, I know this may sound a little harsh... honestly some people just like to stir up trouble and their ultimate goal is not to change your opinion, they just want to see you rattled and upset. I feel like most of the time you are better off just ignoring these taunts and irritations... Let them get their "jollies" elsewhere. Odds are when they see they aren't getting a response, they'll move on to someone else they're suddenly offended by. 

But what if it is someone that is supposed to be on your side? What if it is someone who is supposed to be a close friend? What if it is even a family member? 

Let's go one step further, what if they even use the "word of God" against you?

If you've followed us on this journey you know just how much God has been a part of every single aspect of our decision making. We have not made one single choice without first seeking God's will and wisdom. But should we have to defend this to the people who already know or should already know our relationship with God. 

Friends, the truth is this... If you find yourselves on a similar journey, you do not have to justify your choices with anyone... That is, if you are following what you know God has laid upon your heart. I can assure you that everyone will have an opinion of what you should and should not do, and often those that have never stood or even come close to standing in your shoes will have the loudest opinions of all, but does their persistence make them right? Does their perception of the word of God trump the word that God has given to you? No surprise here, I have an opinion of that myself, and I say no. At this point in our lives I feel as if we've heard it all. I know at probably isn't true, because I find myself continually shocked at the lengths people will go to in order to cause others heartache and pain because they feel that their way is the only right way. 

What is God telling you to do? 

Are you hearing Him or are you only hearing what you want to hear? 

This I can assure you, no one in their right mind would ever put themselves through the rigorous testing, injections, procedures and surgeries just because it's fun. I couldn't do any of it without God on my side. I can't even count the number of days I've spent lying in the arms of God and submitting myself completely over to Him because there was simply no way I could endure anymore on my own fragile earthly body and mind. But still the critics abound. 

First off, try talking to them. Ask them to respect your decisions. Tell them that the things they are saying are causing you pain and feel unloving. 
Most people who love and care about you will do simply do that, problem solved. 

If they choose to continually make you feel bad about your life... What then? Well... That's what I'm walking through at the moment. Above all I know I must forgive them for causing what feels like intentional hurt and pain. Easier said than done right? In our human form people can only push us so far until we reach our breaking point and become bitter and angry towards them... But I know this is not what God wants from me. It is our Christian duty to forgive. 

"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as The Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32

You are not the only ones that have ever walked through this mess, and Jesus gives us specific instructions about patience and forgiveness. 

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'" Matthew 18:21-22

It may happen repeatedly. But as a Christian, you forgive and keep forgiving. Hanging on to anger and bitterness hurts you way more an it hurts your offender. 

Forgiveness does not mean submitting to their way. It is ok to stand your ground. If you know that God is supporting you in your endeavor, there is nothing anyone can do or say to change the outcome. I can assure you that God's will for your life will be done. 

At some point, you may feel that you have to step away from that person (or persons) for a time. Take the time to cool off (however much time you need), it's much better than lashing out and making the situation even worse. Keep your eyes and your heart on your Savior. Once a relationship has been damaged in this way, you may find it difficult to look at the person in the same light that you once did, trust must be built back up over time. Being open with your life and your choices makes you vulnerable, and they have taken advantage of this vulnerability by inflicting feelings of pain, guilt and grief. It will be hard to trust them or to even discuss your life with them after this type of offense. Eventually you have to find a way to let go of the hurt. It's going to take time and it will not be easy... But it will be worth it. You may not be ready to reconcile yet, and that is ok, but work on it, pray on it. God will lead you the right way. Pray for their hearts as well as your own, if they continue down the same path it will just lead to a vicious circle which leads to more bitterness and resentment. Seek God first and the rest will fall into place.

If you find yourself disagreeing with a Christian friend or family member's decisions, know that:
It is OK to ask "why do you feel that God is leading you in this direction?" 
It is NOT OK to say "God told me to tell you that you are wrong." 
It is OK to ask your pastor and/or elder leaders if it is proper to tell the other person how you are feeling.
It is NOT OK to confront the person and tell them that they are living apart from The Lord because they  aren't making the decisions you feel they should be making "if they really were a Christian and living right".
It is OK and responsible if you ask God for discernment of what you should do or say. 
It is NOT OK to use God as a scapegoat to justify saying anything you want in any manner that you choose to say it. For example, "don't get mad at me, they're God's words, not mine." You have to take responsibility for the things you say and the manner in which you say it. Persistently ridiculing someone else's life is not the way to a healthy relationship.
If you do choose to have this discussion, do it in a non-confrontational and loving manner. Do not do it in a text message, email or any other non-personal manner. Accusing someone of living apart from God is a big deal, and can be the ultimate insult, especially if you have already insulted other aspects of their life repeatedly. Have a heart. Showing love and support can change someone's life. Tread carefully, especially if you are trying to talk about a circumstance in which you have never walked through yourself. Above all, be compassionate. (Compassion, noun, a deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.) Try to imagine your life walking in their shoes, you can never truly know what it is like, but it may give you a different perspective on the matter. 

"Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37

Friends, remember above all... You are not alone. You are not the first or the last to face this part of the battle. Find those that you can relate to, the ones who have been there, seek their counsel and remember God is always there for you and with you, even if others believe He isn't supporting you. This is your battle not theirs, let God fight for you and don't waste your time fighting with those who disagree.

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