In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.
But if we are to share his glory,
we must also share his suffering."
Romans 8:17 (NLT)
It can be extremely difficult to have compassion upon others unless we have experienced similar pain and struggles. This morning, a friend told me about the tragic death of her dog. She broke down in tears and apologized for crying.
Having lost a family pet in an unexpected way myself, I knew what she was going through. I didn't have to pretend to understand or try to stir up compassion, it came automatically.
Last week, my oldest daughter was feeling left out. Her younger siblings were having a great time playing together and weren't interested in including her. Unfortunately, her way of responding to their behavior was with anger. Obviously, her actions and words did nothing to improve her situation.
Of course, it's always easier to see the details from the outside. And so, I set about to share my thoughts on her current conundrum. ;-) Ah, but the compassion piece was missing and my input was not—in the least bit—appreciated.
Wouldn't you know, God wanted to use this experience to teach a lesson. Guess what I'm struggling with this week?
Feeling left out. Sigh.
Since I wasn't able to teach Chelsea with grace, God has also been revealing my pride and allowing me to experience humility.
You see, there's a situation in my life where some good friends of mine are able to do something really special. Circumstances in my own life are preventing me from being able to be participate. It's not the first time this has happened. This time, however, it's hitting me especially hard—and I'm feeling left out. So much so, that I've been fighting off tears all week.
In the past, I would have allowed bitterness to build up, not recognizing that I actually have a choice in how I respond to my feelings. After watching Chelsea go this route, I was encouraged instead to turn to God with all of the ugly feelings that were starting to surface.
(Actually, my first reaction was to whine to my husband. Thankfully, God gave him the grace to respond to me in love!)
Once I finally turned the situation over to the Lord, He began revealing new truths to me. It's always important for me to begin first by taking an honest look at myself.
Whenever I bring a situation before the Lord in prayer, His Spirit reveals to me areas where I personally need growth, healing or refinement.
Honestly, it's easier to point the finger at the other person and blame them for my uncomfortable feelings. Past experience, however, has always proven this reaction to be a BIG mistake! Once I see my own need for God's mercy, the other person's actions seem so insignificant!
There are times when the people in my life choose to be hurtful on purpose. In that case, it's important that I share my heart in love.
Most of the time, however, they truly aren't aware that their actions or words are causing me to feel hurt or left out. If that's true, the very best thing I can do is to give them grace.
In this situation, the Lord has allowed me to suffer in order to help me become a more compassionate wife, mother and friend.
Instead of getting angry and saying or doing things I might regret, God has been helping me to process through the pain. Guess what? It's working!
Today I feel 99% better. I'm still disappointed to be missing out on the fun, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, I've been able to pray blessings upon my friends and wish them well.
I trust that God has other plans for me this time around, and, that His will is always the best for me. Perhaps it was simply to refine me just a bit more. If that's the case, the blessings will be enjoyed over a lifetime, rather than a short weekend.
Relationships can be so hard. Sometimes feelings can get the best of us and before we know it, we've hurt people we love without even realizing what we were doing.
The best thing we can do is to remember that when it comes to feelings, we actually have a choice. We can either manage them—or—we can allow them to manage us. Sometimes it takes awhile to recognize who is managing who.
Thankfully, God is able to teach us through our mistakes and help us make different choices in the future.
This time, I was able to heed His guidance, and I'm so thankful that I was. Next time, however, I may go bungee jumping into the world of unmanaged emotions and learn yet another lesson the hard way. :-)
Until then, I think I'll enjoy the peace I have today and thank Him for allowing me to be LIVING A BLESSED LIFE! I pray you are as well.
God is SO good,