I woke up that morning feeling as though I had been hit by a truck. My body ached, still in desperate need of relief from physical pain, but this was something else, something more.
I couldn’t articulate what I was feeling and the more that my husband asked me to explain myself, the more frustrated we both became.
I felt deeply sad and yet passionately angry.
The pull between those two emotions was so overwhelming that I spent the day doing the only thing I know to do when things fall apart…
I pulled inside and remained there. Furiously trying to reconcile these feelings, begging God to do something…anything.
The night before I sat in my own living room, across from a friend, a sister in Christ, a member of my own church family–and listened as I was accused of something I did not feel I had done.
I was told that in an earlier encounter I had been “severely harsh,” in my tone. I have long been told that I am “direct, assertive, authoritative, forward,” but never harsh. Not once has someone told me that my tone was “severely harsh.”
Now, I sat feeling as though I was being reprimanded by two other individuals and was asked to apologize for my tone. Not the content of my words, not the feelings those words had perhaps wrongly induced, but for my tone.
And so I did. I apologized for something I did not feel I had done. I asked the Lord to bear the fruit of gentleness in me and to never allow me to get to a place where I excuse bad behavior with the line “Well, that’s just how God made me.”
It is an especially hard thing when hurt comes from within the Body. But it does and it will.
This felt like being sideswiped, however. As if I were sitting quietly in a car, minding my own business, only to be slammed into at full speed by a semi-truck.
I awoke battered and bruised, mis-trusting and uncertain. No longer wanting to speak or ever open my mouth again, for that matter. And I awoke feeling pulled between hurt and hope, between my flesh and the Spirit, between being overtaken and overcoming.
You know those moments when God is so obvious that it is almost laughable? When His fingerprints are so clearly all over a situation that no one can deny it was Him?
As I sat feeling hurt and a bit betrayed, I started to read a book that I was asked to review. It was a book by one of my favorite people, the ever-brilliant and forward-thinking Frank Viola. But, I did not want to open the book and begin reading. I wanted to crawl into bed and feel sorry for myself.
But I read and as I did, this is what God had scrolled out across the page:
If you are a Christian, you too will face rejection. You will face it from those who don’t know the Lord and who are hostile to His ways.
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
But the rejection that cuts the deepest is that betrayal which is inflicted by your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. If you choose to follow the Lord seriously, you will face rejection from some of God’s people.
I read on and felt as though God had written these very words for me, in this very moment. You know those moments? When the Creator of the Universe, drops into your bedroom and makes Himself comfortable?
I continued reading and was reminded that in following Christ, I am choosing to share in His sufferings. I was reminded that my Lord knows rejection and was rejected in the house of His friends.
I was reminded that: “Criticism and rejection are God’s tools for liberating His servants from human control and the desire to please men.”
I was reminded that I could allow this experience to create a wall between myself and the Lord, between this fellow saint and myself, or I could choose freedom.
I could surrender my will, my self-serving flesh, my stinking pride to the hands of God to re-shape and mold me to look more like Christ…or I could not. I could seek to please man or to please God. Fear man or fear God.
And with my flesh writing and screaming at me, telling me to just give up, to forget this whole “church is a family” line, to run–hell sprint in the other direction…I paused and grieved. I cried over what had been lost, but also felt the smallest flicker of hope for what was to come…
Christ glorified. Hopefully in me.
Now and always.