Life gets hard. If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that fact. Sometimes it happens in unforeseen ways, giving a sucker punch to our gut. Other times, our own dumb mistakes can bring on heartache and pain. I know for me, both are true. I’ve faced storms throughout the past year and this year has been a fight as well. I’ve made mistakes, let my anger take over in moments of weakness. It’s a challenge I’ve always had, anger. Anger against those who hurt me, anger towards those who hurt others, and anger towards myself. I hate that part of me. I seek peace and a laidback nature, but when I don’t let God have control, I lose it. I’ll say things I can’t take back, whether true or not, the words will hurt. I share this because I struggle. I’m not a perfect person and neither are you. Maybe you struggle with anger like me, or maybe your thorn is of another kind. Addiction, holding on to grudges, pride, judgement, abuse; all of these many of us struggle with on a daily basis. All of these can cause a fracture in our relationships, hurting our families, friends, or our overall persona that people perceive of us. The funny thing is, we expect everyone around us to be the perfect person we are not. The dichotomy becomes our expectation of others perfection to counter our imperfection, thus creating the fracture. The only thing that can counter our imperfection is God’s complete perfection.
I love the relationship of Paul and Timothy. Paul being an experienced leader in the church, writing letters of teaching and encouragement to his friend and brother Timothy. Both of them were just like you and me, people who had a vision for something greater and something more powerful than their own, and they struggled. They were imperfect people serving a perfect king. In the book of second Timothy, Paul gives a charge to Timothy. He speaks to him saying that he has faced all kinds of struggles in his time of evangelizing. He says he endured everything, and the Lord rescued him from all of it. 2 Timothy 3:12-14 says, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.” And continues in verse 16-17 saying, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” We will all fail, we will all be persecuted, and we will all make mistakes. There is hope for restoration. By the truth found in God’s word, we will find healing, wisdom, and forgiveness. We just have to persevere when it gets hard, in order to grasp onto restoration in our lives.
Be careful with your words and attitude.
Words can hurt, and our actions will amplify those words. Contrary to what you might think, I often say dumb things. I say things that hurt, because I am not perfect. I say things that hurt others, and I hate that about me. I hate it because I have felt the hurt of others words in my life, I was bullied and cast aside by words. Why then do I choose to do the same? It is a foolish thing to do. We must be careful with our words. We must also be careful with our attitudes, often these can speak louder than the words. In one of my communication classes, we were discussing the idea of acknowledgment and how each person needs it. It’s not a pride thing, or a “hey everyone, look at me!” It is simply the fact that we as humans need to be acknowledged, we all need people to say, hey, that person exists. We need this because we are human beings, our lives hold value. Every single person has a purpose and should be valued. Even in our imperfections. The funny thing about acknowledgment is that it isn’t a stopping of everything to listen and talk for an hour, it’s the simple glance, a wave, an embrace of a friend. It is simple. Words can give life, and our actions can show that we actually care. When we fail at upholding these, we cast others away, and we push people into the feelings of loneliness and unimportance. Restoration requires your words to be godly, and our actions to be encouraging. We have to make the effort to persevere even when others fail at this fact.
Be worshipful in your mind.
You can’t control the actions of other people, but you can control your own actions. We need to be filled with worship. We need to be reading the word every day, meditating and praying on the scripture. This will change and shape the way you treat others and the way that you approach conflict. Worship is something that will take your selfish heart and make it open to healing and restoration. When we focus on negative and angry thoughts, we become negative and angry people. When we focus our thoughts on positive and worship-filled thoughts, we become positive and worship-filled people. When we alter our minds in this way, no matter how people may have perceived us in the past, or how people perceive us in the present, we have a chance to prove them wrong. Only you have the ability to change the way others see you. If people think you are negative, fill your life with worship and combat them with a positive nature. If people think you judge them, fill your life with worship and combat it with an open spirit. And if others put labels on you that are untrue, prove them wrong with a spirit filled with love. Meditate on worship-filled thoughts and persevere to a state of restoration.
Forgive others, and take ownership.
This is the hardest part about seeking restoration, often the other person will not be sorry for their actions. In these moments, take responsibility for the damage you have done, and forgive the other person even when they may never seek restoration. You are one person, not God. If there is one thing I’ve learned for sure, it’s that you can only be responsible for your own actions. I’ve made dumb mistakes, hurt people, and done things I wish I could take back. One thing I always will do, and that has taken me a long time to learn, is that I need to seek forgiveness from God. We need to apologize, even when not accepted, and we need to step into the grace that only God gives. Take ownership for your actions, understand that everyone is a sinner, an imperfect person, and change your actions. Don’t let the foolish choices of others control you, seek restoration, but understand that it may take time. Lots of time. Always be forgiving of others and take ownership of your actions, only then can you find restoration of your soul.
We are imperfect people. I wish I could say that once you begin your relationship with God, you become wise with all of the answers to life’s questions, but that simply isn’t the case. There is a reason for this, God wants us to be dependent on him. When we act independently from God, we fail and make mistakes. When we choose to follow God, we have to give him trust in all things. We have to work on ourselves, fixing that which is broken, restoring our soul to the way it was meant to be. I wish I could say that people won’t hurt you or that you won’t make mistakes, but there is hope. Relationships will hurt, life will try to sucker punch you, and you will want to give up. There is hope, there will always be hope. I’m writing this for me, I’m experiencing the strife that Paul speaks on, and I’m holding true to these points. I need to be careful with my words and actions, I need to be worshipful in my mind, and I need forgive others while taking ownership. So do you. So does everyone around us. Be dependent on your creator, the only one that can truly save us, because he is perfect in all ways. This may have sounded scatter-brained, but it’s the truth. I want to leave you with something that encouraged me last year when I found out someone in my family had addiction struggles. In the moment I found out about it, I was in a state of shock and hurt. I got in my car to drive around and clear my head. When I got in my car, a song came on that only God could have placed, and even now when I think of it I am filled with tears. It seems silly, but it was a song of promise and encouragement. It was a song that helped me know that restoration is possible, and that I can persevere through anything. The song was O-o-h Child by the Five Stairsteps. I’ll leave you with the lyrics that helped me. “Ooh-oo child, things are gonna get easier. Ooh-oo child, things’ll get brighter. Ooh-oo child, things are gonna get easier. Ooh-oo child, things’ll get brighter.”
You can persevere and have restoration, no matter what.