I went to sleep last night with what I planned to say about today’s comic strip, but when I woke up, I sensed a rewrite was needed. So here goes…This was prompted by some of the posts that I’ve read on WordPress regarding abuse, and so I hope that these words are for healing, not hurting.
This week, Rob suggests a different list idea, still hoping that Laura will think about things a little differently. Laura’s Essential Life List for this week is titled “People I Have A Hard Time Forgiving and Praying For.”
What a brilliant and extremely Essential Life List to have! Why not start yours today!
So what do you think? Shouldn’t we pray for people who hate us and despitefully use us? Won’t God refuse to forgive us if we don’t forgive others? This is what Jesus said.
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:44 (NRSV)
“but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:15 (NRSV)
Here is where the rewrite starts because this comic strip has made me come face-to-face with my own Legalistic-Minded Self. (Sometimes I think of myself as a “recovering fundamentalist,” but more of that another day.)
There is evil in this world. That evil causes people to be mentally abused, physically abused, spiritually abused, verbally abused, sexually abused.
I can’t tell anyone who has been abused “Pray for your abuser. You must forgive that person or God won’t forgive you.” If you have had hatred poured into your body and heart and soul and mind, you know that is much easier said than done. I know too.
So my Legalistic-Minded Self would want to use the verses above to clobber you, me, and everyone else, but that could very easily make things worse. That’s because if you are recovering and healing from abuse, those words can just add more guilt and shame and separation from God. If I’m not careful, my Legalistic-Minded Self will say to me, “See how bad you are? You won’t do what Jesus told you to do. You deserved that and worse!”
Yet my Spiritual-Minded Self insists that I use these next verses for balance and to prevent making the hurt greater by adding more guilt and shame.
The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 (NRSV)
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 (NRSV)
If you have been a victim of abuse of any kind where a considerable amount of healing must occur, I believe Jesus totally understands that.
He can bring you to a place where you can pray for those who abused you and forgive them, but it takes time, and He Knows that. His Cross was the greatest abuse of all time; He is the Greatest Healer.
My prayer is for the healing of us all.