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takin' out the trash

Have you ever been wrongly accused? Misjudged? Yelled at by someone for no good reason? I have, just the other day. I was so shocked, as I am not accustomed to being spoken to in such a manner, and even worse, it was while I was trying to help a friend.

How do you handle other’s negative behavior that affects you? Or your kids?

Do you store it up? File it away in the, “Someday...I will get back at the person” folder? Do you bury it deep down inside, silently nursing your wounds? Do you retaliate and “give back as good as you’ve been given”?

Oddly, at about the same time this incident occurred, my computer began running really slowly and it was suggested to me to delete old files-- downloads that were no longer needed, things that were just weighing down my computer, keeping it from running smoothly, old junk that was taking up too much space in its brain. I was told I needed to put these outdated items in the trash. But then one step further was necessary--I needed to “empty the trash.”

Hmmm...After a day of reflecting on the very unpleasant incident, re-living it, analyzing it, feeling bruised and upset about it, shaken every time I thought of it, I realized that it was a “download” that was just taking up too much space in my brain. It needed to be put in the “trash can” of my memory and then I needed to go one step further. I needed to empty the trash, permanently deleting it.

How exactly do you do that?

Have you ever heard -- ”I forgive you, but I will never forget it” ?

I would call the first part of that statement--”putting it in the trash,” and the second part “not emptying the can.”

If we cannot learn to forgive AND forget, we will forever be full of old files, downloads of the past clogging us up, weighing us down.

I have found that only in Jesus am I able to truly “empty the trash.” How? Because He can forgive what I cannot. His Holy Spirit can do things I am not able to do in my own strength. He can super naturally love where my own human efforts to love fall painfully short.

Four helpful guidelines to takin’ out the trash:

1. Give the hurt to Jesus. Offer it up and don’t let it be wasted. Pray, “Jesus, I give this to you and offer it up as a sacrifice for________. I unite this pain with Your pain and suffering on the cross. May it be used for Your redemptive purposes.”

2. Ask Jesus to show you the person who has hurt you through His eyes. Once you are moved to pity for that person, the pain is in someway lessened. Instead of seeing that person as your enemy and yourself as a “victim” you can start to see him* as a wounded, broken individual, in need of healing, and you can help in that process with your prayers. This empowers you and takes you from “wounded” to “healer.”

3. Pray for that person. Release him and the entire incident into the far more capable hands of God. You need not try to fix him, or even yourself. Only God can truly fix us. Trust in His good work to do that. Only God can repair the “irreparable.”

4. Then leave it with Him. Don’t re-play it again and again. The trash has been emptied. Make room for the present. Look to the future with hope.

Don’t let the enemy of your soul derail you by getting you to take your eyes off of God and keep them on your “hurt”. Turn each and every hurt into an incident that brings you closer to God. Allow ALL that happens to you to be an opportunity to help you to grow to be more and more like Him.

“More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” Philippians 3:8

Dear Lord,

I want You and the things of You more than I want the old hurt that clogs up my mind and drags down my soul--things that feel like a heavy weight of garbage in my life. Please give me the grace of being able to let things go into Your capable and grace filled hands, knowing that You are far more qualified to judge and fix the situation than I am. Help me to be forgiving, gracious, loving and kind even to those who do not deserve it, as I do not deserve Your grace in my life. That's what grace is--undeserved favor. Help me to be able to pass it along, in Your strength and by Your Spirit. Without You I can do no better. Jesus I trust in You to do this through me.

I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.



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