I’m here at the NANC Biblical counseling conference here to learn about helping others, here to bring back a wealth of knowledge and spiritual understanding to my life in NY, here to soak in the depth of the teaching in order to apply it to my life’s ministry, whether that be through this blog, at church, or through a variety of avenues the Lord has given me.
Little did I realize what a revolutionary week this would be.
I can’t even believe how inspired, how changed, and how exhausted I am with the depth of this Spiritual cleanse. How was I so blind to my own self-righteousness, lack of forgiveness, and overall lack of understanding/appreciation for the Mercy of Christ for my own life for so long?? I want to change, I want to grow… I don’t want to go home and go back to status quo.
I don’t know where to start nor how much detail to divulge. For the purpose of protecting others, I will simply say that I am currently involved in the toughest relational conflict of my entire life. People that I love are no longer in my life after some very long years of passive conflict. I never believed it would get this bad.
Adam and I have been to counseling with multiple pastors regarding dealing with these parties and knowing how far we should be pushing for reconciliation, how we should alter our responses, and how to show love to those who push you away. It’s been a long road.
Interestingly enough, three out of the handful of pastors we have counseled with are here at the conference with us. Yesterday, at lunch, we had one of the hardest group discussions to date. I didn’t hear much new counsel, I didn’t get told anything that I didn’t know already. However, the encouragement Adam and I received to not give up was almost overwhelming to me.
I have pushed for so long to fix this! I have wracked my brain for ways I could have done things differently! I have tried for contact and been pushed away or manipulated. I have .. I have… I have… I can’t.
As Adam and I debriefed together after this lunch meeting yesterday, we discussed our heart attitudes. We realized something I had feared but never wanted to have to realize was actually a part of my heart.
I’m bitter. I’m angry. I’m so hurt I’m losing an eternal perspective on dealing with pain and loving “the unlovable”. This is damaging my ministry because I’m consumed with this pain. This is pain has altered my ability to process interactions. This pain has given me the opportunity to go the same direction they have gone with their lives by not dealing with past pains and bitterness.
Once again, I’m convicted by the sin of my own dirty heart. Here I was so sure I had done things along the way to “keep my account short” in the aspect of not having things to apologize for. I’ve been good in our direct interactions. However, my spiritual response to this trial is so much more than my direct contact with these people. My spiritual response involves even more so, the inner workings of my heart and soul. My vertical relationship with the Lord needs to be so changed to understand His purpose for this, to modify my perspective on the length and severity of it, to adjust my understanding of suffering and the Glory of the Lord, and even, although so “elementary”, to radically alter my understanding of God’s Love for me and what it means to demonstrate that to others.
The last session I was in was Elyse Fitzpatrick‘s discussion on service and looking at it in the light of Christ’s service to us. Despite it being on that topic and not on love, I found myself with direct application to my situation:
- Jesus never stops praying for us. Therefore, I should never stop praying for them.
- Jesus loved all the disciples despite His foreknowledge of Judas’ betrayal.
- Jesus lowered Himself to do the most menial job of washing the disciple’s feet. How can I wash their feet?
- He loved and saved and healed expecting nothing in return. I can shower them with love and expect nothing in return.
- Jesus was confident in His Love despite the lack of honor He received because He knew and was confident in Who He was. He didn’t need them to recognize that fact for Him to be okay. I have my worth, my foundation, and my security in who I am in Christ. I don’t need anything in return for my love.
- Although it would have been easier for Christ to walk away in the Garden of Gethsemane, He endured the harder option for the sake of the unsaved (for the sake of ME!). I have the easier option of “giving up” or “moving on”. However, for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of the spiritual needs we see in their lives, we are refusing to give up this opportunity to point them to Christ, to show them His Love, and to speak the Truth into their lives.
This is incredibly hard to process. This is incredibly hard for me. These are people I love, yes, but these are people that make life hurtful. These are people that… I could go on, but honestly, does it matter? Does it matter what they’ve done to me? As I look at all that Christ has done for me, I am humbled by the opportunity I am faced with to be the ungrateful servant…. to be forgiven of so much, pursued despite my lack of interest, and loved despite my spiritual apathy and yet to turn around and not offer forgiveness, endurance, love, and pursuit to someone who has hurt me more than I can even describe, yes, but not half as much as I have hurt Christ.
Please pray for me. I am fully aware that this will be the hardest decision of this year. I am fully aware that my flesh is angry at myself for not only considering this but committing to this spiritual journey. I want to be faithful, I want to grow, and I want to not waste this trial but to let God radically revolutionize my understanding of Him and therefore, the expression of my gratitude through my day-to-day life and interaction with others.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
3 thoughts on “I died today: learning to take up my cross and follow Him.”
Wow. Thank you. You have my prayers, and I covet yours.
Ashley, just wanted to assure you that you are not alone in facing this kind of deep, painful relational trials. I have been up and down on the same sort of road…one thing I would say is, give yourself time. There is an element of grief involved as who we are, or who people thought we were, and who others are, or who we thought they were, are dead and dying. It takes time to process these deep, deep relational wounds. I pray you will find healing and covet your prayers for my own journey…
our growth never comes without pain…it hurts when christ peels back the layers of our own inner self and shows us where we need “fixing”i didnt know untill this week how much i struggled with foolish pride…..