What To Do When Your Wounded By Others - Daily Devotion: April 29, 2016
I recently had someone I care about deeply do something that not only caused a rift in our relationship, but it also diminished my trust in them. I found myself thinking afterward about all the ways I should have seen it coming, how I should have been less gullible.
In those moments of pain, after we've been hurt by other people, it's easy to want to put on our armor, and become less vulnerable--to shield ourselves from further hurts. Or we can become cynical and hardened, which is often my go-to defense mechanism.
A few months ago, my Facebook "time-hop" feature reminded me of a year-old Facebook post from a church member who had just angrily left the church. One year prior to leaving in a huff, they gushed in a message about how much they loved me and loved the church. As I read it again, I kind of snorted. "Figures." I said bitterly.
The fact of the matter is that people will always let us down. And the even more sobering fact of the matter is that we will let people down, too. We can try to guard our hearts by withdrawing into a shell or we can become cynical, but if our focus is on others for validation, affirmation, purpose and meaning in our life... we'll still be let down.
Jesus had this conversation with his disciples where he tried to impart to them an incredible truth about where their focus needed to be. He told them that he was going to go away for a while, and told them, "And you know the way I am going." Then we get this:
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”Lots of people try to make this verse into something that it isn't. This isn't an exclusive verse. It shouldn't be used to draw a line in the sand about whose in and whose out. To say that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life... To say that no one comes to God except through Jesus... these are some of the most inclusive and expansive ways to speak about God's grace and mercy.
The way that God is saving the world is through Jesus. The truth about who God is, and what God wants is found in Jesus. The abundant life that God wants for us and for all Creation is magnified in Jesus.
When our focus is on Jesus... when we look to him alone for our affirmation, validation, purpose, meaning and redemption it helps to bring a lot of other things into proper focus. When we look to Jesus, we no longer need the affirmation of others. We don't see them as objects, glimpsed only in the light of our own reflections.
Quite the contrary, we see them as children of God, just like we are. We also have a greater capacity for mercy, and grace toward them, too. When we finally realize how easy it is to lose sight of the way, the truth and the life we find that we can forgive others more easily for doing the same.
May you fix your gaze upon Jesus today, focus on who he is to you and to everyone around you--the way, truth and the life. May you find grace to forgive, and may you receive grace when you need to be forgiven. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.