Saturday, June 18, 2011

"I do not accept that."

What a powerful phrase, "I do not accept that."

I know who Oprah is. I have seen many of her shows in the 25 years that she has been on American TV. I know some hate her, some love her. To me it was just TV. A place to land or skip if nothing else interested me. I have been enjoying is her show about the making of the Oprah show on the OWN network. Watching the making of shows for the final season has peeked my interest in watching her last season. One of these final season shows had a powerful effect on me. There was a guest who apparently was a regular for a while. There seems to have been a tiff between Oprah and the guest whose name starts with an L (she wrote a book, "Peace From Broken Pieces") She came to the show to clear the air between herself and Oprah. They had a heated (though not hateful) exchange. Ms L said something to which Oprah responded, "I do not accept that". I was stunned.

"I do not accept that."

I wish I had said that phrase to so many people I love. Women who have come to me, to tell me how I have destroyed life as they know it. These relationships have always started out positive. One woman told me that I was more of a soul-mate to her than anyone she had ever known in her life. Everyone knows that if they get put on a pedestal the only place to go is down. As a Believer in YHVH (a Christian) I do not believe in the Hindu concept of soul mates. I realize that is not what she was telling me, but it still seems like an ugly term to me. Latter, I was told that she was one of two powerful women who wanted to take me before the Church for sin, though I was never accused of any sin. If I had been accused I would have faced it, but all I ever got was silence. When it comes to being a soul mate, "I do not accept that."

There were two other woman friends, both of them powerful members of my churches, both of them married to important men in the church. I worked shoulder to shoulder with both of them. Prayer for the ministry was an important part of my life with them. Supporting their leadership roll in the ministry was a key element of our relationship. Both of them started treating me with disdain and gave me no reason to doubt that I was the object of gossip. Both of them are strong Christian women whose relationship with their God I respect. Both of them shocked me in the way they handled the "root of bitterness" they perceived had come between us.

I need to say something about sin at this point. Specifically, about conviction of sin. There is a concept that I learned early in my walk of faith. First, I sin. I try not to, but I still do it, I sin. I sinned and contributed to the break down of the relationships I have mentioned. Second, both the devil and Elohim/God convict me of my sin. Isn't that shocking. The devil as well as God convict me of my sin. How does one tell the difference? That is an important question because there is only slavery with the devil but there is forgiveness with God, the father of our Lord Y'shua/Jesus.

If we confess our sins, he (the God of Light and Father of Jesus) is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 RSV

How do you know the difference? I think it was a speaker whose name was Elton Gilliam who cleared this up for me. He taught that when God convicts me of sin, he convicts me of a specific incidence of sin. But when the devil convicts of sin he uses a broad brush (compared to God's fine point pen). In other words, God convicts of specific sin. The devil attacks your character. For instance, God may convict me of stealing a pen from work but the devil will simply call me a thief, which is a character attack. Because I am a blood bought child of God whose "sin" was 100% paid for on the cross (the wage of sin is death, Romans 6:23) I have been given the character of my Lord. When I sin it is between me and God, first and foremost, but my sin will cause bitterness between people and needs to be made right. The family of God has no room for bitterness. It must be cleansed and removed so that harmony under the head of Y'shua/Jesus can reign in the Kingdom of YHVH. Therefore God convicts of specific sin that can be confessed, forgiven and made right to the best of my ability. When the devil attacks my character I might be tempted to say, God made me this way, there is nothing I can do about this.

Two dear friends have come to me in days past, rightly wanting to make things right between us. The first brought me a 3x5 card detailing my sin that God had convicted her of (what?). At the end of the list she said that I speak in half truths and lie. When I asked her to be specific she refused, it was up to me to come up with the specific lies, not her. How does a girl agree with that? I have spent years anguishing over that moment. Because I love her I desperately wanted to make things right between us. Instead I found myself shunned by the ladies of my church. I suspect gossip. I SO wish I had loved her enough to say, "I do not accept that." If I could turn back time I would have been bold enough to stand up to the enemy who would plant bitter seed between the children of God but the time was not right, I had lessons to learn. Instead I went into shock that a fellow believer would be the source of an enemy attack.

A second beloved friend came to me and said that after a night of prayer and fasting she knew that she had to tell me that I do nothing but make her job harder than it needs to be and am the reason she is so miserable. How I wish I had said, "I do not accept that." She had some crazy stress going on in her life at that time. My whole ministry under God was to make her work as smooth as possible. Obviously I failed at that and instead I let her tell me that I make her miserable. She could not or would not give me any examples, she expected that if it was clear to her what was wrong with me, it must be equally as clear to me because she prayed about it. Heartbreak. Her and another woman in the ministry often had their heads together, treating me with disdain. What if I had just been strong enough to say, "I don't accept that." What if I had loved her enough to talk about what I have observed instead of panicking about letting down yet another dear friend?

The devil is good at what he does, he goes for bruised nerves. A family member has told me that if not for me her life would be perfect, up until now I have let a number of people say that to me, knowing that no one can make another person miserable or unhappy, that is a response to lessons that God is teaching us through other people. I choose how I respond, so do they. God gets the glory for the positive things that happen in life. When things go bad and we choose to see some person as a thorn in our flesh, how can we not instead give thanks to Elohim/God for that circumstance, that person, and learn to walk as Y'shua/Jesus walked, He who was despised and forsaken of who thought they were doing God a favor by persecuting him (Isaiah 53:3-7). He is my example to follow, so it is short sighted to think that I will not come under persecution from within the religious community, even from believers in Y'shua/Jesus. It is, as Amy Carmichael was fond of saying, a chance to die to self and live for him who died for me.

By the end of the Oprah show, Oprah and Ms L were able to talk about what really happened. They came to an understanding that their assumptions about their own actions were misinterpreted by the other person. Both thought the other intended ill, both believed they had done everything right. Ms L was a religious woman that Oprah respected, Ms L loved Oprah deeply. Yet a root of bitterness had grown between them. It was gone by the end of the show. I imagine there was still wounds that needed to heal but at least the cancer was ripped out. It is never too late, at least as long as we still draw air, bitterness can be removed and healing can begin. That IS something I accept.

June 18, 2011

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