Bad Choices and Consequences

Bad Choices and Consequences

I’ve written about forgiveness, not punishing others for hurting you, and letting go of the past, but today is about the honest reality of the consequences we face for the bad choices we make.

I’ve been thinking lately about some ways I still feel punished by bad decisions in my past, and I’ve realized something I have let myself forget as a Christian. Just because God forgives us, doesn’t mean man will forgive us. We can repent and be forgiven by God, but that doesn’t mean we won’t still face earthly consequences.

You don’t get to choose what happens to you or if someone forgives you. You can ask forgiveness. You can apologize. You can change your ways. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t still face punishment from the person you hurt. You may repent and still lose that friend, your spouse, or your job.

I can repeat Christian comfort phrases over and over: I’m forgiven. I’m redeemed. I am loved.

Those phrases may be true when it comes to me and God, but that doesn’t make it true for anyone I’ve hurt. Repeating those phrases doesn’t take their pain away. It doesn’t change their thoughts. It doesn’t erase their memories. It doesn’t undo what has been done.

Yes. God forgives. Yes. God can change hearts. Yes. God can bring good from any situation.

I will never stop believing in forgiveness, grace, and redemption. We can hold on to these truths. We can forgive ourselves. We can choose to make peace with our past.

But, let’s not become cavalier with knowing that no matter what we do, God still loves us. God’s grace isn’t a free pass for bad choices. Nor does it entitle us to forgiveness from anyone else. We are not entitled to forgiveness from others, and that’s a hard truth to swallow.

Some people may choose to never forgive you because they’re holding on to their anger or their pain is still too much to let go. That’s their choice to make, not yours.

I’ve come to realize that I may face some earthly consequences for the rest of my life, and that sounds awful. The pain and suffering we face here will all be gone when we get to Heaven though. If that’s the only hope I have right now, may it be enough.

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be mindful of your choices!

xoxo

Ash

Grace Isn’t Fair – Battles that Aren’t Yours to Fight

Grace Isn’t Fair – Battles that Aren’t Yours to Fight

Raise your hand if you fight battles that aren’t yours to fight.

My hand is up. Is yours? It should be. Whether you admit it or not, you fight battles that aren’t yours to fight. We all do.

Let’s begin with the battles we feel the most justified in fighting – those in which someone has personally wronged us. A stranger pulls out in front of you. A co-worker tries to make you look bad. A friend lies to you. A spouse betrays you. You get the point.

When someone hurts you, steals from you, lies to you, or betrays you, feeling justified to fight back is a fairly automatic response. We want to take back what is ours. We want to punish them for hurting us. We give silent treatments, spit back hurtful words, or let everyone else know what they did to us. We want vengeance.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the Bible gives us advice on this.

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  (Romans 12:19)

Give it to God. It is not your battle to fight. Forgive them. Love them. Let it go.

You know what drives me crazy though? It’s watching good things happen to people who hurt me.

Um, hello God. Where’s the vengeance? Aren’t you going to even the score? Maybe take something away from them, scratch their fancy SUV, or make them trip and fall on their face? I want to see them punished.

Stop. Right. There.

What’s wrong with that attitude? It’s not forgiving or loving.

We may not get to see them punished. We don’t know their life story. God may choose to show them grace.

Oh, but that’s not fair! Guess what? Grace isn’t fair.

And that brings me to the battles we fight for others. This is what I really want to focus on because it affects us more than we realize, either as the fighter or the unsuspecting opponent. We often get upset when we see a friend or family member being wronged. A friend tells you a mutual friend has hurt them, and you vow to quit talking to them because of it. A family member refuses to help another out. So, you vow not to help them the next time they call you. Maybe you get on social media and share the rant that was posted about the wrongdoing.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not even about someone hurting someone else but rather getting something that you think they don’t deserve – money, possessions, attention, forgiveness.

Did that disturb the thorn in your side?

Does your mom or dad always have an excuse for your lazy brother or sister no matter how many times they mess up their life? Do you think you deserve more because you show up more? You’re putting in the work. You’re the responsible one. Why do they get taking care of? It isn’t fair.

Most of us know the parable of the Prodigal Son, but do we pay attention to the lesson given to his older brother? The lost son returns, but his older brother isn’t happy. He doesn’t want to join the party being thrown for his selfish younger brother who ran off and squandered their father’s money. But, pay attention to what he gets told when he throws a fit.

“My son,” the father said, “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” (Luke 15:31)

The return of his younger brother didn’t diminish his faithfulness to his father or his own inheritance. It was not his job to decide whether or not his father showed grace to his brother. Just like it’s not your job or mine to decide if it’s fair for someone else to be given grace – whether it comes from a boss, a friend, a parent, or God.

Stop sharing the rants. Stop whispering to other friends. Stop whining to your father about your undeserving brother…

Because it’s not your battle to fight, and grace isn’t fair.

Grace is watching a friend give you a kiss of death while doing nothing to stop it. Grace is enduring a beating from others when you don’t deserve it. Grace is hanging from a cross and asking your father to forgive them because “they know not what they do.”

Grace isn’t fair, but it provides a way. It allows the wounded to be healed, the broken to be made whole, and peace for an anguished soul.

It doesn’t matter if you think someone doesn’t deserve grace. It doesn’t matter if someone thinks you don’t deserve grace. No one can ever take away what’s already yours through God’s grace, nor can you take away the grace that’s given to them.

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be grace-focused!

xoxo

Ash