Love so Bittersweet
By Kass Fogle
“Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, So a curse without cause shall not alight.” Proverbs 26:2 (NKJV).
There was a time in my life I clung to this verse.
A time before I could rein in my dominant, Type-A personality, when I struggled to communicate my thoughts with the gentleness necessary to avoid offending more delicate sensibilities.
I am an Introverted Thinker, so emotion plays little to no role in my decision making or communication. Feelings are for the weekend. I am often at odds with co-workers because I have no use for small talk or the pre-meeting chit-chat that others seem to crave. My presentations are factual and lack the connection Feelers need to turn data into information. At times, because I fail to provide this emotional context, people fill in the blanks for themselves, often misconstruing my data, to best fit their needs.
At on company where the social climate was heavy with connections, my position became in jeopardy because I failed to navigate the slopes and avalanches of behavior. My tendency to improve in a practical manner fell flat. My emotional responses were unacceptable – to my boss and to God. Anger, bitterness, and resentment amassed to form a wall there was no getting over, around, or through. My boss told me he didn’t see a way out unless I could “quit being me.”
My heart was desperate for revenge, but my faith knew better. As typical an Introvert, I internalized my predicament so I wouldn’t sin. However, in this withdrawn state, I prayed for my needs and asked God to open the eyes of those who manipulated me, lied about me, and used me as a pawn for their ambition. Then I sat back to witness the sweet revenge of God’s refining fire.
Instead, my lips burned with conviction, and it was bittersweet. He opened my eyes to the rudeness and aggressiveness I plowed with little empathy. And with each prayer and each bible study, God’s wisdom seared every negative thought and His love softened my hardened edges.
My prayers began to reflect what was within my control and I drew strength from Proverbs 26:2. I begged Him to lift any curse without cause and reveal my faults. I prayed he would let me see what others were seeing in me so I could repent and end this nightmare.
I learned when I gave myself over to prayer, rather than expecting evil around every corner, I discovered goodness and hope. He reminded me revenge was not mine and that Jesus exemplified to the enduring end how we should respond: love our enemies, turn the other cheek, refrain from repaying evil, and let go of all bitterness.
It’s easy for us as introverts to trap ourselves in a tiny world of our making, where circles are tight, trust is difficult for others to earn, and exposing a sliver of our heart is a risk. But, if we surrender to God’s exacting love, He can ensure our overactive imaginations don’t take precedence. Instead, we can hold fast to God’s Promises for healing over painful relationships:
Love is our responsibility. The act of convicting hearts is the Lord’s.
Loving our enemies through the hurt they inflict, may open them to Jesus’ love, grace, mercy and goodness.
Our loving response may be God using us to answer the hunger, thirst or prayer of your enemy.
Revenge is bitter. Conviction is bittersweet. The sweet outcome we pursue is to see His kingdom glorified through repentant hearts.
PRAYER: Lord, only you can see through the pain to avenge the hurts. Remind me how you’ve loved me when my heart required conviction and teach me to show others the power of kindness and bring glory and honor to your kingdom. Amen.
DIVE BENEATH THE SURFACE: Recall a time when foes sought to destroy your integrity. How did you respond? What would you change about your response? Is there anyone you consider a foe today? Write a short prayer for them and pray it each day for a week.
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