From the day we are born, we have to deal with and lean on people, in the most literal sense. We depend on our parents for provision and survival and for the rest of our lives we encounter several groups of people that help us along the way. Whether it’s doctors, teachers, friends, family members, classmates or co-workers, it is inevitable that we will interact with people. Sometimes in this process we get hurt, offended, or even betrayed. I found myself at a point were there were a few people that really hurt me with their actions. Whether they meant to or not, it was still a source of pain. I try my best to be mentally tough, and I work really hard to forgive and move on, but occasionally it’s easier said than done. So much time can pass and you think you’re over something, but then the harsh reality sets in that you’re not.
The hardest type of offense to overcome is when the other person is actually in the wrong. This is where a verse had to come in and change my mindset. Hebrews 12:14, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” I have heard the second half of the verse quoted many times and I’ve read it in an attempt to understand it, but this time the first part reached me right where I was. “Follow peace with all men.” That means everybody, even people that have done you wrong. I have a hard time forgiving someone if I feel justified in being upset with him or her. It’s their fault, they messed up, and no one else is to blame, so obviously they should pay. They truly deserve me to be ugly with them, disregard them altogether, or remove them from my life. The only problem with that is, of course, if I don’t forgive I won’t be forgiven, but also this causes unending strife with someone. If the word of God commands us to “follow peace” then holding grudges is unlawful and downright sinful. If after someone has apologized and you’ve expressed how you’ve felt to him or her, you have no right to hang on to even the pain, no matter how much it hurts.
So when I was trying to figure out how to handle certain people especially within the confines of unavoidable situations, I had to keep repeating to myself, “Follow peace with all men.” For me it meant picking up the phone to call someone, or shoot a text, or just be open whenever they reached out. It may mean something else to you, but the objective is doing whatever it takes to seek and maintain peace. No matter how much we feel someone deserves our “ugliness”, God is requiring us to be at peace. I decided that I was going to follow peace and ultimately I enjoyed freedom from anger, bitterness and holding on to pain in an attempt to hold people to what they did to me. They didn’t deserve my kindness, and my peaceful nature/reactions/responses but that’s exactly what they got. In turn, I enjoyed the privilege of quitting what truly seemed like a daily job of making sure they knew I was still upset. I sought out peace with them, not for their benefit, but for mine. They were recipients of my kindness, and I received an atmosphere free from the inability to forgive.
“We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom” ~Dwight D. Eisenhower
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