Conflicts: Dysfunctional. Abusive. Boundaryless. They can happen to anyone including Jesus followers who daily spend purposeful time with God through reading the scriptures, in-depth Bible study and consistent prayer. You may be a godly person and a good neighbor, boss, employee, co-worker, parent, spouse, child, sibling, relative or friend finding yourself in an unwanted and uncalled for difficult relationship or circumstance.
I have had relationships in which I interceded for the other person through prayer by asking Jesus to heal them of their dysfunction, mental illness or sin. Most scriptural records of Jesus healing a person were instant, complete and permanent. Even though the person I prayed for had not asked for the help or healing and I could not physically take them to Jesus; I could spiritually bring them before Jesus.
I previously witnessed Jesus provide in ways that seemed impossible to me relationally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and even legally. He is so like that. When I have been at my wit’s end believing there was no possible way, no hope, no healing, no relief, no safety to overcome an obstacle; Jesus did the impossible. My mind had not previously conceived what He chose to do on my behalf. It was so out of the box that only He could have done it. There lies the beauty; Jesus has no box and I cannot put Him in one. Whoop — whoop!
That being exclaimed, I must also add that I have known Jesus long enough to realize not all prayers are fulfilled the way I wish, in my timing, or sometimes they may not be answered in my lifetime and I know I’ll have to wait until heaven to see how it is eventually answered. My heart may sometimes doubt Jesus heard my prayer but my mind always knows better. He hears, remembers and acts. Always.
If you use Pinterest, the online bulletin/pin board, you have likely read quotes about trusting your heart: “There is no instinct like that of the heart.”
“Trust your heart. What is true feels good. What is false causes doubt.” – Monica De Liz.
“Always listen to your heart.”
“When you can’t believe your eyes you can always trust your heart.”
“Trust your heart and you will be with the one you love” -Aunt Wu.
Here is what trumps all these quotes: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV). Our hearts need to be established in Christ first and then scripture tells us not to trust in our heart, but with all of our heart, trust in God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” Proverbs 3:5 (NIV).
I knew Jesus was capable of healing the person I was praying for. Scripture told me of His great power and; moreover, scripture states the power is for us. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,” Ephesians 1:18-20 (NIV). I have longed for this kind of power to be exerted into the heart, soul, mind and strength of someone I knew on multiple occasions. The bottom line was they had to want it and believe Him for it. When they did not —I was not quick to give up on them. I’m stubborn like that.
Often when I sense God has released me from relationally reaching out to someone and has shown me the exit door from a dysfunctional, abusive or boundaryless relationship; I usually look for a detour and go back for the person. I find myself wondering, “Have I done everything I can?” I do not want to question if there was possibly something else that would have worked. I continue to pray and ask if there is please, another way. I must know I did everything I could and when I look back; have no regrets. If I am going to error I can live with erring in faith but I could not live with erring in what was convenient. I am capable of missing the proverbial boat when it comes to discerning the voice or the will of God and I want to make certain I clearly understand His heart and will for the present concern.
On the other hand, I have a history of allowing anger (toxicity) to be taken out on me so when it comes up in a relationship it feels natural but I know God is calling me to recognize and respond to it in a biblical way. This is anything but easy for me.
Sometimes I imagine I have a flashing sign on my forehead that reads, “Easy to Manipulate: Free Test Try” or perchance “Boundaryless: Trespass without caution.” God keeps the lessons in these areas coming at a steady pace and He is determined to teach me how to soar by handling the issue without becoming nervous, shaky, lightheaded, heart pounding out of my chest or; as in my most recent lesson, feeling like Icy Hot was rubbed on my chest. I never experienced this sensation during a difficult confrontation and fortunately was able to laugh at myself when the conversation had finished. Icy Hot — seriously — I never knew!
Thankfully, God is a patient teacher who does not give me a failing grade. He just keeps teaching me new applications and giving me new situations in which to work them out. God has also given me a godly and humorous private tutor who happens to be an Ace when it comes to practical application. God is very serious about me learning this lesson and passing on to you what I learn. I must add that these lessons are not easy and are sometimes painful. To quote Beth Moore from a lesson in Daniel: Lives of Integrity, “You want to learn this lesson in the classroom and not on a field trip.” I imagine I have more field trips logged than the average student.
See previous Toxic Tuesday posts on toxic relationships, or what the Bible refers to as relationships with fools. Until then; if you, like me, have a flashing billboard on your forehead — turn it off! And keep clear of Icy Hot.