What has caused you to be the person you are today? Who is to blame for the anger, hurt, or bitterness that lurks inside of you? Whose fault is it that you have exchanged your innocent and gentle spirit for meanness and quick-temperedness? Who left you, hit you, mistreated, or abused you? Who is the reason for your struggle? I can answer that question for all of us, no matter what our individual journeys have looked like. The only person to blame for your sin is you.
Though we may hold various people of our past and even our present in contempt for the manifestations of our experiences, the only person responsible for what we’ve done with that pain is the person we see in the mirror each day.
I was blessed to spend three days with some awesome young women this past week during a Princess Project retreat. The evening of the first night, we all sat around a campfire with S’mores and blankets exposing those very ugly truths about our lives.
“My dad left us.”
“My mom never wanted me.”
“My younger sibling is treated better than I am.”
“I am jealous of my friends who seem to have it all together.”
“I am broken.”
“I don’t know who I am.”
“I hate being alone.”
“I wish I looked differently.”
Almost every one of us, including myself, could trace the hatred we felt for one or both parents to many of the choices we subsequently made: promiscuity, partying, idolization of achievement, unhealthy attachment to relationships, etc.
The last young lady to speak blew us away by reminding us where all of these sinful decisions ultimately come from, our own filthy hearts.
“I grew up in a Christian home. My dad loved his wife and he loved his children. I was picked on and bullied because my dad was strict with us. I hated my dad because he was there. The only difference between me and you was opportunity.”
So many of us imagined lives that would have been better if this person would have done ABC or if this other person would have never done XYZ but the truth, which was revealed to me that night, is that our stories are just an opportunity to release the evil inside of us so that we can see ourselves as sinners in need of a savior, repent, and accept Jesus Christ. The way we found ourselves at the feet of Jesus may have looked differently, but we were destined to find ourselves there. It is our very sin nature to hate and destroy and when we feel others have hurt us, in their actions we find an excuse to do what we desire to do anyway: sin.
Please understand that I am in no way pardoning those who hurt you. They will have to answer for every thought, word, and action. What I am encouraging you to do is take responsibility for your responses to what others have done and forgive those who you’ve blamed for so long. You don’t have to be angry. You can choose and to allow the peace of God that surpasses all understanding to cleanse the wounds of your heart and to allow the love of God to mend it from the inside out. Lastly, if YOU will allow it, the joy of the Lord will strengthen you for the days ahead. The difficult days when you want to turn back. The lonely days when you feel like giving up. Let go of the excuses. Your trials have come to make you strong by getting you to see yourself in your wickedness and to chase you into repentance so you can begin your journey back to the person you were created to be. It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it. Won’t you join me on the path to healing and restoration? Do you want to be made whole?