A Call to Love
By Renee Schultz
August 22, 2016 ©
How long is long enough to hold a grudge? How much time do we take to make people pay for their mistakes in life, or the things they’ve done to us?–And have we thought about by taking this plan of action, what repercussions we will bring on ourselves or our families? These are questions I found myself asking in the last few years.
As have all of you, I have been through some potentially devastating things in my lifetime. We all have a story (or more). I have had the choices I referred to above and I admit, I’ve lived in those choices! I’ve lived with anger and revenge, and yes, bitterness in my heart! I’m just being REAL right now, because I know this is for us ALL!
My father came from an abusive home, where he was told that he would never be anything. He was even discouraged from pursuing a high school education, because the tradition of his family was that they work in their fathers’ and “family” businesses, if you know what that means. He chose to go to the military, and come back and marry my mother. He changed his name to avoid association with his relatives, but he never got over what was sometimes literally pounded into him. He held anger and resentment in his heart toward his dad, and even when he finally addressed it, he never was able to be completely freed of what damage was done to his mind and spirit, and ultimately, his heart. He knew the Lord when he passed away, and I’m thankful that he is in Heaven today. But, what more could his life have been if he would have grasped on to the Love of God, and the freedom that He brings to us when we fully accept the sacrifice that was made for us by His Son, Jesus Christ!
My mother came from a much different background. Born at home, she had loving parents, and a close knit Catholic family. They all lived in one house until they married, and even my Aunt (my Gramma’s sister) lived with them and never married or moved away. Her mother, my beautiful Gramma Rose, was the kindest most loving and forgiving woman I had ever met in my life as a child and a young adult. But, my mother and father experienced hardship in their life together. When they married, they moved into a house just 3 doors down from my grandparents, who purchased the house for them. But, my mother never really wanted to live there. She despised the house her whole life, especially because they never had the financial ability relocate. They had many financial set-backs, and one of my brothers had serious medical problems from birth that compounded that hardship. I watched my mother grow discontented, and eventually jealous of others’ gain. She confessed that she would never get off of the street she was born on, or the house she hated.
At the end of 2010, my mother was suddenly diagnosed with colon cancer. She underwent emergency surgery, and woke up with a colostomy bag, until she could have surgery to remove the cancer, and then had a very long recovery time. Just when she thought she had beaten it, she found herself unable to hold down food. After a few months of attempting to feel better, she finally went to the doctor, who found that she had stomach cancer! She opted not to have treatment, because she was too weary to handle another surgery, and over the course of about 8 months, in April of 2015 she went home to be with the Lord. From the time of the first battle with cancer, my mother examined her life, and made some changes. She learned how to be thankful for what God had done for her. She always loved God, but He became REAL to her like never before. She made her peace with all that she had endured in her life with my father, and she wrote letters to people who she needed to make amends with. She wrote to all of her children and grandchildren and encouraged them all in her way. I know my mother is in Heaven today, reunited with my father. But, again, how much more could my mother’s life have been, if she found contentment earlier on. How much joy would she have had, and passed on to each of us along the way! My mother’s confession became reality, and she died in the house, just as she said. The saddest part of these two examples I have shared with you is what my parents’ choices left in the hearts of their children. My siblings and I suffer very strained relationships, with each other, and with others outside of our family. Though some of us recognize the need to change, we still haven’t moved forward in it, yet. I pray that will change.
As I have written in earlier posts, Last October, we gave up our house. Ironically, the house we gave up is right next door to the house my parents lived in. When my husband and I were married, that house was available. I had played in that house as a child with the girl next door, and the price was right. However, the house was already about 80 years old, and so much work was needed to restore it. We also experienced financial challenges along the way, and unfortunately, we never got ahead of the repairs that were needed. We refinanced it too many times trying to keep it, and finally we knew we had lost the battle. As I have also mentioned, we had lived there for 35 years. Many memories were made there…some good…some that could have destroyed us.
With the passing of my parents, and the process of losing our house, I personally dealt with a lot of depression, something that I thought I had overcome for good. The peace that came with moving from that house distanced me from memories of things that I had experienced in my life until that point. Some of those things, I know I have come to terms with, and God has healed and restored. Some of them, I am realizing, I am still in the healing process, and He is showing me so much goodness and mercy. It has caused me to reflect, and to take notice of my own response to life, to people, and to circumstances. I hope this is helping someone, and I trust that it is!
I could sit here and quote Chapter and Verse to back up what I am saying, but I am just speaking from my heart today. I feel such a burden to share my own thoughts and experience. My hope is that where opportunities come to others, they may take them, and be blessed and freed.
As Believers, we are called to love one another, and forgive those who do us wrong. We are called to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. However, somewhere along the line, these principles have been distorted! We can find ourselves loving only those who love us, and sometimes we find that who we thought loved us were the ones who hurt us the most! So, we become offended and hold grudges. Why should we forgive those people when they aren’t even sorry? In turn, we then treat others as THEY have treated US, and the hurt and offense just continues! This is where the problem comes in. With the hurt comes anger. The anger becomes unforgiveness, and eventually bitterness.
The Bible clearly tells us the consequences of bitterness.—that we cause others to stumble, and we ourselves become defiled or corrupted. We also see an indication that when we become bitter, we become sick. Although some may debate this concept, there are many Biblical references (and teachings), showing the root of sickness being related to conditions of the mind and heart. It’s believed that anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, rebellion, and more, are the place where diseases begin. I don’t know about anyone else, but in all that I have seen in my own life, I am convinced that it is important for us to avoid and remove any of these things from our lives. I can, and I have allowed circumstances to affect my decision making and my response to situations if I am not careful! I’ve allowed myself to hold things in my heart that should have been long discarded! I am learning to love more, I am learning to forgive quicker, and I am learning to take a moment before I react. Someone once told me that in situations, we can choose to REACT in the moment, or we can choose to wait, and then RESPOND. There IS a difference.
A most recent situation has caused me to ponder more on the subject of forgiveness, and though I am not able to share details, I am overwhelmed. I realize that we as humans have wasted so much time being consumed with hurt and offense. We have shunned others for things they have done to us, holding them accountable and wanting revenge. We have withheld charity from those we “feel” don’t deserve it, because we “know” things about them. We have allowed others to speak ill of someone because they haven’t “done it the way THEY would”. We hold others in judgment for these things, when we have our own issues we haven’t dealt with. Even in the church we see this happening, and this should not be.
We need to realize that we were created for relationship. We were created with the need to love and be loved. With being human, come the following: Issues, conflict, disagreement and potential for strife, among many other things! We deal with cultural and racial differences, and the potential for intolerance. Though we have a responsibility to live Biblically, and those principles are clear to Believers, there is ONE Commandment, that we are to LOVE. When we choose to walk in love, and be motivated by love, we become more able to understand that God is our ONLY judge. He knows the hearts of men! He knows all of our mistakes, whether those mistakes are made out of ignorance or whether they are intentional sin. Yet, He still loves us. He still forgives, and He still is more than able and also WILLING to restore each and ever one of us! He would not withhold any good thing from any one of us who puts our trust in Him. He said that, I didn’t! There will come a day when He WILL judge and He WILL reward, but until then, neither is our job!
We are called to serve God, to love people, and to bring others to Him. If we all answer the call, think about the possibilities!
I pray this is a blessing to anyone who reads it. I pray that if you are reading it, you know the God I speak of, and you are in a personal relationship with Him. If you haven’t yet experienced this relationship, I invite you to simply call on Him. Ask Him to show Himself to you, and teach you how to live for Him. I guarantee, He will answer, and He will change your life forever! That’s a promise, and He keeps His promises!