My former spouse made choices that unfortunately impact the lives of my children to this day. It is because of these choices that we cannot have “normal” experiences. There are huge barriers for us complicating what should be everyday tasks. Things that others can take care of in 30 minutes take my children weeks and sometimes months if the government has to be involved to address the barriers. I have to keep forgiving my former spouse every time one of these incidents arises as the enemy works hard to fill me with resentment. I can now understand when Jesus says to forgive someone “seventy times seven.”
“Then Peter came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him, up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you, not seven times but seventy times seven!'” Matthew 18:21 – 22 NLV
When I first read these verses, I thought, “That is a lot of forgiveness for one person, and why would I be such a ‘welcome mat’ to allow that person to keep sinning against me?” The Lord has since shown me that forgiveness may not be one specific moment in time and then it is done. The enemy will continue to try to bring up what has been done to us to cause us to retreat to places of unforgiveness. We must take those thoughts captive.
Forgiving someone does not mean condoning or agreeing with the behavior. Forgiving means shedding our chains of resentment versus carrying them around when we do not forgive. I need to forgive my former spouse literally every day and sometimes multiple times a day. As a result, I have forgiven him hundreds of times. For clarity, I have taken every step necessary to protect myself and my children from further harm; Jesus does not condone anyone repeatedly hurting anyone.
If constantly forgiving those who hurt us is not enough, we have an enemy who knows exactly how to attack us. Recently, I lied because I felt like I had to protect my child from my former spouse. Lies are a sin, and all sin is a statement to God indicating, “I do not trust You to make this work.” In the moment, I thought the lie was the best way to protect my child. After the lie occurred, I confessed it to God and thought about why I lied. One thought was that if my former spouse had not done the things he did, I would not have had to lie. But that thought is, in fact, another lie. It is irrelevant what my former spouse did; God is capable and powerful enough to protect my child from anything. And I did not “have” to lie. None of us “have” to lie. We choose to lie because we think it is easier, better, faster, etc. Perhaps sometimes it is easier to lie, but followers of Jesus are not called to take the easy path.
“Since Christ has suffered in His body, we must be ready to suffer also. Suffering puts an end to sin. You should no longer spend the rest of your life giving in to the sinful desires of the flesh. But do what God wants as long as you live in this world.” 1 Peter 4:1–2 NLV
Following Jesus can result in suffering of all kinds. However, whether it is forgiving someone 490 times or trusting God even when a lie is easier, we are to obey what God commands us to do. While any suffering is limited to our brief time in the earthly realm, our eternal reward for following Jesus is His love. No matter what the enemy or former spouses or other dark influences may try to throw at us, we fight from victory.
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Romans 8:35-37 NLT
When abuse occurs, tell someone immediately please. If that person does not believe you, try another person – please. I know this is very hard, it takes tremendous courage. Please do not do what I did and stay silent. Remember that we have the Holy Spirit in us who raised Jesus from the dead. In Him, we can do this! He wants you to begin the journey of healing. If you are not comfortable telling anyone in your life, The Victim Connect Resource Center lists many hotlines that are situation-specific (children, military, women, teens, rape, domestic violence, trafficking, etc).
After you tell someone that listens, find time and give yourself space to truly understand and process that what happened to you does not define you. What does define you is how you react to what happened to you. Pray a lot. Pray specifically. Find a prayer partner to pray for you. This journey to healing takes time and there are days when you do not want to or feel like praying. This is where you need at least one prayer partner who will pray for you faithfully daily.
Realizing that God does love you, despite what happened, was also a journey for me. I had index cards with prayers and verses to help me when I needed reminders. Examples include:
“May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:18-19
You are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). You are precious in His sight.
“Long ago the LORD said to Israel: ‘I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.'” Jeremiah 31:3
“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. […] But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:5,8
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
The prayer I pray:
“Lord, I submit every corner of my life to You. Show me what I have yet to submit to You. Help me to release my need for this to feel fair or to see (him/her/them) punished. Rip out any bitterness in me. Show me what I can learn and how to grow closer to You through this. I need your peace. Help me to heal and forgive. Rain down on me the powerful healing of the Holy Spirit. Replace my pain with a focus on You and Your love. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.”
When I first started to pray this prayer, I meant only a few of the words. I begrudgingly prayed it every morning. I did not want to forget or let the ones who hurt me “off the hook.” I had to keep reminding myself that God will take revenge. I needed to focus on His love for me and who He wanted me to become as a result of all this. I had to believe that this was not my fault. I also had to see that dragging around unforgiveness was only robbing me of the abundant life that God came to bring to me. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” As for the people who hurt me, I can tell you that they did not care what they did to me. They never thought about it again; I was the one who was caught in my cycle of reliving it and not healing.
As I forced myself to pray this prayer, I began to mean more of the words. Any step towards obedience, God will bless. It is okay to pray a prayer like the above one if you do not quite mean every word; you are obeying by crying out to God, trying to release the hurt and trying to forgive. Healing takes time and patience. It takes help from God, prayer partners, professionals and support circles. I read books, I journaled, I cried, I was angry and felt every other emotion you can think of. There is no right way to heal. There is no timeframe that you “should” heal by. But heal, brothers and sisters, please heal. Allow yourselves to heal.
NOTE: Today’s guest blog deals with sexual assault and its repercussions. While we pray it is edifying, the material may be upsetting to some readers.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault or other violence, please seek help. The Victim Connect Resource Center lists many hotlines that are situation-specific (children, military, women, teens, rape, domestic violence, trafficking, etc).
When I was growing up, we lived a 30-minute subway ride to a major US city. Each year, Mom would take me on the subway to the city for Christmas. All the stores were decorated and there were special lights up and Christmas shows. The city was so beautiful and so full of light and love. It was an amazing trip that I looked forward to every year. On the year that I turned eight, Mom and I did not sit together on the subway. I do not recall why; the subway was not crowded. There was plenty of room for Mom and I to sit together. Maybe she wanted me to feel independent or that I was a grown-up. I cannot say. While I do not recall the specifics of why we were five rows apart, I know we were. I also know Mom was on the opposite side of the subway. She was facing forward, so her back was to me. These are details I do remember.
As an 8-year-old girl on a subway heading toward a major city at Christmastime, I was focused on the lights I would see, the music I would hear, and the lunch I might be lucky enough to have. I loved the hustle and bustle of the city, everyone walking quickly because they were on their way to the most important thing ever. The department store windows would look amazing with scenes of Santa, Christmas presents being gift-wrapped with red ribbons and scents of pine. . . . Then it happened.
A man I did not know sat with me. He had a light tan long coat, wool. He was a white man, definitely older than me by a few decades. As an 8-year-old, I cannot say that I was taught to be leery of strangers. Maybe I was. Even if I felt uncomfortable, my ability to exit the subway seat was blocked by this man. He sat next to me in a way that nobody sitting around us could see what he was doing. It all happened so fast. I could not scream, I felt like I was under water and I could not breathe. I could not think. While I will not recount the details here, that was the day I saw a grown man’s penis for the first time. It was the last day of my innocence. I would never be and have never been the same since.
There is nothing from that day that I can remember about the city. Not the lights, the music, the hustle and bustle or whether we even had lunch in the city. I genuinely have no recollection of the trip after the subway ride. That evening, Mom was in the kitchen cooking. I went up to her while she stirred something on the oven and said “Mom, today on the train, a man sat with me and he had his penis out and. . . .”
She said to me, “Nothing happened. There is nothing to talk about. We do not need to bring this up again.” She never turned to look at me, she never stopped stirring. I did not know what to do. I left the kitchen. Out of all the events that happened that day, that moment is what became burned into my brain. That was a life-changing moment, and I had no idea the impact that moment would have on me for the rest of my life. Yes, what that man did to me was incredibly horrible and wrong and I have my opinions about the justice I want God to serve upon that man. But what scarred me more was my mom’s response.
This story is not intended to belittle my mom or anything remotely close to that. My heart’s plea is that we learn from what occurred that day and what could have been done differently. If someone comes to you and shares with you that they have been assaulted or touched without consent or anything like that, please listen. I plead on behalf of all victims, please listen. It takes incredible courage to come forward and try to share what has happened. There is fear, shame, and guilt. There are questions of, “Did I ask for this? Did I do something that invited this into my life?” There is a lot of self-blame. “This is my fault. I deserved this.” Or questions of, “Why did God allow this? Why am I suffering?”
If you are a victim of any kind of abuse, know this: It is NOT your fault. You did NOTHING to invite it, you do NOT deserve it and God does NOT want you treated that way. He died for you and how dare someone treat you as anyone less than the child of a risen, all powerful King! God will deal with the ones who hurt you. Deuteronomy 32:35 says, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their will feet slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.” This is a promise of God. You may not see the Lord take revenge, but do not doubt for a second that He will avenge what was done to you in His time and in His way. Hebrews 10:31: “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
I know what it is like to want to hurt the people who hurt you. But please do not allow the enemy to gain a foothold in your heart or mind. When bitter thoughts come, take them captive, focus only on things that are true, honorable, right and pure (Philippians 4:8). I also know what it is like to have a gaping hole in your heart, to be walking around with a fresh wound that gets salt poured into it daily. When the enemy comes against me, I use the name of Jesus. I let the enemy know, “You cannot have me or my thoughts, I belong to Jesus.” I pray against the enemy telling me that I am not worthy of love. I listen to worship music when I feel attacked or discouraged. One of my favorite songs to turn up during those times of discouragement is by Tasha Cobbs Leonard and featuring Nicki Minaj, “I’m Getting Ready.”
It took years for me to begin to heal. I first had to realize what happened was not my fault. I had to truly believe that God loves me. I had to forgive the ones who hurt me, and I had to heal. It took me many, many prayers to realize that I am worthy of love. I also needed someone who would listen to my story, pray for me and believe me. To this day, the enemy will try to pick at that wound and reopen it. It is a scar I proudly carry because it is healed and my story can now help others.
Heavenly Father, we lift up Esther and all survivors of childhood sexual assault. The innocent whose lives are forever changed. Lord, we ask that You give them peace. That You bring into their lives any help they need. That You ensure their voices are heard. That You help them to use their stories for good. We know You are Love. We also know that You are Justice. We ask for Your Justice for these survivors. This is a dark, broken world. Please use Your children to shine Your light. In the blessed name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
NOTE: Today’s guest blog deals with sensitive subjects, including abortion, in a candid manner. While we pray it is edifying, the material may be upsetting to some readers.
In the city that I live in, there are multiple abortion clinics. A simple Internet search provides you with all you need to know to select one. The location, the reviews, whether to expect picketing, where to park and so forth. The date was January the 6th. I had eaten breakfast and asked my best friend, who was also my ex-boyfriend, to drive me to my appointment at the clinic. He asked me if the baby was his, I said “No.” I did not discuss my decision to terminate the pregnancy with the father of the baby. I determined that it was my body, and so it was my choice. My decision was based on me feeling that I was too young to have a baby, the lack of relationship with the father of the baby, and that my mother would not be supportive.
I had not envisioned that my first pregnancy would be like this. I thought I would be happily married, and it would be an occasion to celebrate. I thought that both families would be filled with joy, and there would be so much love. At the time of my visit to the clinic, I was legally married and the father of the baby was my husband. He was dating another woman, he was possibly with her the day I went to the clinic, I am not sure. I was not thinking about him or what I was doing. I needed to not think about anything, just be numb. This was no big deal.
We pulled into the parking lot and maneuvered past the picketers holding up various signs, such as “Baby Killer.” They were pro-life Catholics. Instead of saying awful things, maybe just maybe, if one of them had said something compassionate. . . .
But it was my choice, I take responsibility for the decisions I made that day and leading up to that day. I entered the clinic and checked in. I was told to go into a room and strip down to just a paper gown. I was given a little bracelet that had the key to the locker where I would place all my items. I was to wear nothing, no jewelry, no watch and have no phone of course. Just the paper gown that covered some things and the little bracelet. I entered a holding room, full of pregnant women. There was one girl in there a few years older than me. I am sure it was obvious that I did not know what was going on and that I was scared. She had pretty blond hair and told me not to be nervous that she does this all the time. I asked what she meant. She shared with me that abortions were her birth control. She did not choose to use any other forms of birth control. She assured me that all would be fine, it would be over quick, and I would just feel cramping afterwards. We sat there together in those paper gowns, her comforting me and me trying to pretend this was no big deal.
I had been sexually active about a year at that point with two different men. My ex-boyfriend who drove me to the clinic was my first and the man I married was the second. I was not comfortable with nudity and certainly was still trying to figure everything out. The paper gown left little to the imagination, which made me uncomfortable. The little voice inside me was screaming, “Leave!” I was alone and scared and felt that there was no other path. I was called into the exam room where a female performed an ultrasound on me. She shared that I was 13 weeks pregnant and that I may be “too far along” for them to proceed with the abortion. I joked that I had “a big breakfast” and did not think that I was that far along. I had no idea how far along I was.
After my husband and I split up, I lived alone in an abandoned house. I had no furniture, no anything – just me sitting on the floor curled up in a ball as Christmas approached. I wanted to die, I did not attempt suicide to be clear, but I certainly wanted to die. I knew that I was pregnant, I knew that my husband was dating another woman, and I knew that I felt utterly alone. It was during that dark time that I decided to terminate the pregnancy. I reached out to my ex-boyfriend, and he promised to take me to the appointment.
After the procedure was over, I stumbled back to the room with the lockers and tried to find the one with my clothes. My head was spinning, and the locker number on the little orange coiled bracelet seemed so hard to read. I was pouring out blood and felt incredible pain. The nurse who assisted the male doctor during the procedure gave me very thick and long sanitary pads because she said I would “bleed a lot.” She recommended Tylenol for the cramping. I was embarrassed to have my legs spread wide with my feet up in the stirrups as a male doctor whose name I did not know was tugging hard on my insides as I lay there naked for all to see. I just wanted the procedure to be over at that point. I wanted the tugging to stop, and I wanted to put my clothes on and never think about any of this again. I kept thinking about what the beautiful blond girl told me. She had done this six . . . or was it seven . . . times. Why was I acting like a baby? Why couldn’t I be strong like her?
My ex-boyfriend stood up to hug me as I re-entered the waiting room. I was bleeding so very heavily, felt dizzy, and the cramps were bad by this point. He helped me out to the parking lot and into his car, past the picketers – shielding me as best he could. He knew I did not want to talk about it, so he talked about everything under the sun during the drive home to distract me.
In about a month, I recovered physically. I began to date someone new as the divorce proceeded. After the experience at the clinic, I went on oral birth control (I was not taking birth control prior). With my new boyfriend, I began to drink, a lot. So much that I would sometimes get alcohol poisoning. We were having fun and enjoying each other in every sense of the word. Life went on.
Sometime later, I had a friend who was a Pastor at a Presbyterian PCA church. He was always talking about Jesus and the Bible. I would listen, but not grasp what he was saying or really invest the time to try to understand. One day, I learned that there was an unwed young lady who was a regular attender of that church. She was pregnant and the church ex-communicated her. I wondered, how can a group of people who said they love everyone and are “pro-life” kick someone out who needed them now more than ever? I had to wonder if she had quietly gotten an abortion instead, nobody would have been the wiser. Nobody knew about my abortion, except the father and my ex-boyfriend who drove me. I never told a soul.
It was shortly after this incident that I met Jesus. I realized many things. That He is with me always. He forgives me for everything, yes, even abortion. He loves the pregnant, unwed lady in the church, too. He creates every life. A baby is alive at the moment of conception. He loves me. Yes, even a terrible sinner like me.
You never fully heal from an abortion. Your body may recover, but the scars are there. You carry them daily. It is not the easy way out; it is riddled with pain and hurt. There are also “what if?” questions. What if the baby I carried was a boy? What if the baby I carried would have cured cancer? You think about how old they would have been and what their life might have been like. You think about what your life might have been like. The pain that you carry will always be there, and nobody but Jesus can understand what you went through. We must give our pain to Jesus, because it is too much for us to bear. 1 Peter 5:7: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
In Jesus, we are forgiven. I am sorry if you have experienced a decision similar to mine. I am sorry for your loss and for your pain. I am sorry if you have been hurt by “the Church.” We are all sinners and mess up. Please do not turn your back on “the Church” if you have had negative experiences. Ask God to show you a new church that He would have you connected to.
Ask Jesus to forgive you, for He will. 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Once He forgives you, forgive yourself. Do not hold yourself in chains that the Savior has freed you from. Journal through your pain, open up to someone who will hold you while you cry and pray for you. There is hope and healing and power in the name of Jesus. He will bind up your wounds and give you the strength to carry on. All you have to do is allow Him to heal you.
Father in Heaven, we lift up all of the Esthers of the world. May they find forgiveness in You and themselves. May churches remember that You are love, that all of us are sinners, and that You love and forgive us all. May we all find You and walk closer to You. In the blessed name of Jesus. Amen.
Thank you to Esther for having the courage to share her story. If you are in need of a personal prayer, please contact Wounded Butterflies. We commit to praying for you and walking with you.
The life that I have known for over two decades has been completely blown up – some of it by choice, some not. It is interesting that God did not change or remove a few pieces of my life, but all of it. Every piece has been gutted. So that leads me to ask, “Why does God wipe a slate clean?”
Whenever I have a question on my mind for God, I look to the Scriptures to find answers in both the New Testament and the Old Testament. He is a God who does not change (Hebrews 13:8), so the examples we see in the Scriptures apply today, just as when they were written.
The first example I thought of in the Bible was Jesus. He wiped our slates clean with forgiveness when He died on the cross. Why did he wash us clean of our sins? We are commanded in both the Old and New Testaments:
“‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
from Matthew 22:37-39 NLT
In this context, our slates are wiped clean to focus solely on God and loving others.
A different example, found in the Old Testament, is when God commanded Abraham:
“Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.”
from Genesis 12:1 NLT
The objective of God wiping Abraham’s slate clean was to bless him and all families of the Earth to come from him:
“I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2-3 NLT
Sometimes God wipes our slates clean to prepare us for blessing. The trouble with God removing pieces of our lives is that as soon as a relationship concludes or a job ends or an illness arrives, we want the answer or the next step right away. He may not provide that insight immediately, though. He may want us to rest in Him or learn to trust Him more or refine the skill of remaining joyful during trials:
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10 NLT
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Proverb 3:5 NLT
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” James 1:2 NLT
The goal of every Christian is found in Matthew 6:33, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (NLT).
This means seeking Jesus, who is the Word of God, the Path to God, and the Giver of the Holy Spirit. Seeking first the Kingdom of God enables all else to fall into place. We are to seek Him and live righteously, and He will give us everything we need (not everything we want).
This is what we do while waiting for God to reveal our next steps. We focus on seeking Him and drawing closer to Him by spending more daily time with Him, more daily worship of Him, and more time listening to Him. James 4:8 says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you” (NLT). Drawing close to God also means we will hear the Holy Spirit clearer, which is what we ultimately want and need.
In order to obtain our next steps after God has wiped our slates clean, we must be still and listen as we draw closer to God. He has a plan for renewing or changing our lives.
Being a single parent/guardian is not easy. For starters, you are the spiritual leader of the home. You are the sole provider for the children God blessed you with. There is a lot of pressure to keep food on the table, clothing on their backs, and a roof over their heads. You cannot just “take a break” when you need one. The more children you have, the less time you have to yourself – including trying to shower or get any sleep.
Please do not misunderstand me, I am incredibly grateful to God for my children. Throughout the years of abuse endured at the hands of their father, my kids were the only things to keep me going. And even more so since we left their father.
My kids are each funny, full of laughter and have different perspectives. One of my children has multiple cognitive disabilities. She has taught me more than I could ever teach her. The way she looks at life and how she processes information is incredible to me. I consider each of my children a gift and her “disabilities” are also gifts to our family.
While you might feel alone raising kids, I have learned that I am not alone. Jesus is with me (Deuteronomy 31:6). He is the One who holds me at night when I am scared. He is the One to whom I bring problems and fears. Daily, I pray earnestly for His wisdom to help me raise the kids in a manner that glorifies Him. Through the storms of life – illness, tragedy or job loss – we simply must trust in Him.
If you are a single parent/guardian, know that you are not alone. God is right there with you, co-parenting. You may not always feel that way, but He is. God loaned us His kids, we are the stewards of His children. He loves them more than we do. We must trust in His love and provision for the kids and for us. If you are raising kids alone because of the choices of others, forgive those people. Forgiveness does not mean you agree with what they did, but instead you are freeing yourself from their control over you (Colossians 3:13).
We moved out of the house to escape an incredibly toxic environment. We no longer have interactions with their father except when he reaches out demanding money. We are surrounded by thoughtful neighbors, and God has certainly blessed us! If you are not a single parent/guardian, please consider making dinner for a household that is. Or in these times of COVID, a gift card for pizza or other food delivery would be incredibly appreciated. In our new place, we have a neighbor who cooks for us. I am grateful to him for giving me a “night off,” so to speak, where I do not have to cook. We have another neighbor that has given the kids gift cards for pizza delivery.
If you know someone who is a single parent/guardian, please pray about how to help. Maybe place a gift card (for pizza delivery or for a grocery store) anonymously in their mailbox. Or perhaps cooking them dinner if everyone feels comfortable during COVID. Babysitting is a bit tougher depending on how well they know you and COVID, etc. Offer to pick something up for them if you are running to the grocery store. I can tell you that I have another neighbor that does that for me, and he is a God-send.
I come from a long line of single moms. We are stubborn and independent, which is what has protected our children through the generations. If that is you, please consider this. Some of the people that help me are saved and some are not. Perhaps me accepting their help will pave the way to have a conversation about Jesus. God sends people to help His children. While it may be hard to accept help, pray about it and see if God wants to use you to speak into that person’s life.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV
2020 was a year of loss and hurt for most people. Between the pandemic, the economy, job loss, illness, and the inability to see loved ones, 2020 was a mess.
As believers, we cling to the fact that God is in control. Everything that enters our lives passes through the fingers of our Lord. So what are we to learn from the pandemic and its impacts?
It seems many people believe when the calendar flips to January 1, 2021, all will return to “normal.” At the risk of seeming negative, I think we must seek a new normal. The current generation of 2, 3, 4, and 5-year-olds have been taught not to touch each other, share toys, or sit with each other. They have been taught hugging is not a good idea, nor is touching others at all.
I am not saying I disagree with what we have to do as we battle a pandemic, but it does indicate possible future tendencies of that generation. This was not just one country of kids taught this, but the global population of kids. What does this mean for these future leaders? This remains to be seen.
We have re-wired ourselves and our children to not touch or hug, except certain people that are “safe.” There are people that have not felt human touch in almost a year. For some, they are grateful to be left alone. For others, it is a struggle. Humans are created for touch. We are created to love each other and comfort each other. There are so many verses that command us to love each other. Here are just a few:
“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” John 15:12 NLT
“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.” 1 John 4:11 NLT
“Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” 1 Peter 3:8 NLT
We have a choice, as a nation and as a people. Do we invest our time and energy into arguing about masks, politics, and myriads of other things or do we follow the Bible and love each other?
I do not have to agree with you to love you. Jesus loved everyone, even those who murdered Him. He asked God to forgive them as they drained the blood out of our Lord and Savior.
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’ And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.” Luke 23:34 NLT
That is our bar to strive for – love everyone. He loved those that caused His death and were gambling for His material possessions as He prayed for them to be forgiven.
Snow and I talked about grudges recently during a devotional. There have been many people who have inflicted or spoken hurt into our lives. We are faced with a choice, just like all believers, hold a grudge or love.
The way that God has taught me to release grudges, hurt, anger, or resentment is to pray for that person. Pray for the person to be forgiven and blessed. Regardless of your political affiliation or how you feel about wearing masks, pray. We need to pray for each other and we need to tell people we are praying for them. Pray for the future generations that are being taught not to touch. Pray for the neighbors and loved ones that are suffering from loss, loneliness, job loss or anxiety. Pray for them by name and tell them you are praying for them.
The great thing about God is that He always knows whom you are talking about. You can pray for the “lady down the street whose name I do not know” and God has her. He knows who she is and what she needs. Drop a note in her mailbox: “I am praying for you.” You do not need to sign it or even interact with her. This is a spiritual touch. We must find new ways to touch people to show love. Prayer is one big way. Telling people we are praying for them is another way to show love.
There have been many analyses over 2020 about what the world needs: Vaccines, herd immunity, economic recovery, and so on. We need prayer. We need to pray and tell people we are praying for them.
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT
The above verse tells us a list of things to do now and in 2021. For those of us who feel hurt, confused, or unsure about what to do – look to this verse and love.
Love however you can, whoever you can, whenever you can.
During this time of limited physical touch, we must find new ways to show love using technology, handwritten notes, or “smiling” with our eyes when our real smiles are hidden behind masks.
Be humble with those around you by showing patience, kindness, and sensitivity. If you have been untouched by the virus, praise God! Please keep in mind that most of the people around you have been touched by it in some way or other.
Instead of losing patience with people, pray for them. It takes literally two seconds to lift someone up: “Lord, I pray that person drives better” or “Lord, I pray that person becomes nicer.” Seek His face on their behalf and pray.