1 Peter 3:8-12
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For
“Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; 11 let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
These days it seems as if the words ‘compromise’ and ‘reconciliation’ have gone out of style, as it can appear as if people are more interested in arguing with each other, standing up for what they believe in, insulting and deriding others rather than accepting that we will never all agree on everything (and should not) and working together despite our differences.
To be honest, it can be fun to argue and insult, especially on the relative anonymity of the internet…yet this is not what we are called to do as Christians!
As Christians, we are called to follow in the ministry of Jesus, who calls upon us to reconcile with each other…even those we do not especially like, or care for…even those who have hurt us or our children…as Jesus has taught that we should love our enemies, to meet their hurtfulness or abuse with the love of Christ.
This does not mean that we should continue to take abuse, or harm, but that we learn to forgive, and to even have pity on these misguided people who have negatively touched our lives, or the lives of our children. We can do this from a safe distance though…as we do need to ensure that we are all safe and are living in a healthy place.
As single parents, many of us have had to make tough choices in the face of abuse, insecurity, addiction, infidelity and betray…and it can be hard to show love to those who have hurt us or our children through their behavior. Often it is this behavior that has broken our relationships and led to us becoming single parents. This brokenness could lead to hurt feelings, and the desire to retaliate any way possible, to give those who hurt us “…just what they deserve”.
Social Media is a great way to get back at someone, and to let others know how much they have hurt you…some parents also wind up fighting either through or with their kids…using them as a ‘weapon’ to get at their ex, and others simply like to spread gossip face to face about what the other person did wrong.
However, Social Media is not a good place to air out the damage of the past, and like a wound that continually poked and prodded, gossiping and complaining either in person or on line does not allow our wounds to heal…and I tis important for our wounds to be able to heal, so that we can move on and take care of our children. An even worse way to air out our resentments and pain is by sharing them with our children, even if we feel that their other parent deserves to have the ‘truth’ told about them…our children do not need to hear it, they have a tough enough time having to deal with two households and the tension of a broken relationship…and this person is still their parent, and means a lot to them (even if they do not deserve their children’s compassion) and our children (hopefully) love them.
All in all, my own experience has taught me that a resentment is a heavy thing to carry around…and only slows, or stops the healing process. While we can easily justify our anger…it can only hold us back, and keeping it alive goes against our calling as Christians to forgive and to reconcile with each other…to love our enemies. Carrying a resentment does not help anyone, especially our children who can feel as if they are in the middle of two unhappy fighting parents; this is not fair to them, as they can feel like they need to choose sides.
Letting go of resentments, by turning them over to the care of God, or sharing our struggles with those we trust and care about, can lighten our burdens, enabling us to become better parents, and making life easier for our children. Again, this does not mean that we are saying to accept bad behavior, or that the pain caused to us was deserve or ‘all right’, what it does mean is that we will let go of the past, and stop carrying our grudge, and most of all, stop sharing it on-line or with our children.
As Christians, we know that we are surrounded by God’s grace and love, and called to share these gifts with each other in all that we do, by living our faith out loud. A big part of this is to be forgiving, and to remember the call of Christ to love one another…as the relationship between ourselves and God also includes how we treat others…especially the weak, and those who we see as enemies…
For God’s love is the greatest gift we have been given, and through the sacrifice of Christ this gift has the power to overcome resentment and evil, and gives hope that those who have wronged us, may one day also embrace God’s grace, and filled with the spirit, they may change and one day even become a friend (or at least less of a problem); and it is through our forgiveness and compassion that the spirit may begin to work within their hearts.
We carry the light of God’s love with us. When this love is shared with the world it has the power to defeat hate, and turn those who live in the darkness back towards the light of salvation. Seeking reconciliation will allow this light to shine in their lives…as well as our own, and once we can let go of our resentments, and find reconciliation with the other parent, we can then start to work together to resolve any problems and to ensure that although we have separated, our children will know the love and guidance of both of their parents (as is appropriate).
Let us Pray:
God please help us to hold our tongues when all that wants to come out of our mouths is negative; give us the strength and faith to seek reconciliation with those we feel resentment towards, let us be forgiving and compassionate instead. Help us to remember that no fire is put out with the gasoline of bitterness; and that a grudge is a heavy thing to carry around with us…and should never be shared with our children. Thank you for giving us good people to share our pain with and to help us through our justifiable anger and pain so that we can find our way to forgive. Let us be an example of righteousness to our children, as we choose to live a life free from the darkness of resentment and in the light of God’s grace.