What is your prison? I believe that our prisons change over time. For the past year, mine has been anger and unforgiveness that I harbor against people I love. I hadn’t realized just how deeply I lived within this prison until recently. I have been struggling to let go of my pain, and it has become apparent to me that no one can hurt me like my loved ones. No one knows just how perfectly to hurt me like they do.
A few weeks ago Rick asked us to write a list of those whom we’d like to “stick” and then start praying for those same people; his hope being that you can’t continue to hate someone you are praying for. I spent a lot of time over the next week thinking on my list. I knew immediately who topped my list. That was quick and easy, but over the week, as my list grew, I realized that every person on my list was family. My enemies list - the people I hated or disliked the most - were the people God had put in my life for me to love the most.
This revelation has forced me to reevaluate myself. “Who am I?” and more importantly, “Who do I want to be?” The best place to start any journey, especially one of self reflection, is in scripture. Since this all boils down to love, I thought I’d start by rereading the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13). Three times in the first three verses, it says that if I don’t love, then I’m nothing. I don’t want to be nothing. I have God in my life, and with that I should have everything. Donald Bloesch stated, “The prison has been stormed and the gates opened, but unless we leave our prison cells and go forward into the light of freedmen we are still condemned.” God set me free of my anger and resentment, but I wasn’t willing to let it go. I have been holding onto it fiercely.
For years, I have been quoting to my loved ones 1 Corinthians 13:6, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” I have always tried to apply that to the people I love. Something had changed with me, and I had stopped putting those words into practice. I have to let go and accept the freedom God has given me. It is time that I step out of the prison cell. Max Lucado had a great point when he wrote, “Relationships don’t thrive because the guilty are punished but because the innocent are merciful.” The fact is, when we hold onto resentment, anger, and hate, it isn’t just the relationships that don’t thrive. We can’t thrive. This is no longer about what was done to me. It is now about what I am going to do. Lord Jesus, please help me to let go and show Your love to all.