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It seemed like all we could think about…all we could talk about…was how badly we had been hurt by someone who was supposed to be our pastor, our shepherd. We kept turning over and over in our minds what he had said. What we had said. What we should have said. What zinger we should have pinned him to the wall with. We knew a judge and jury would surely declare him guilty and sentence him to outer darkness, at the very least kicking him out of his roll as pastor.
Frederick Buechner describes what we were living in his book Wishful Thinking: “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontation still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back – in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.” (Harper)
We were truly eating ourselves alive by wallowing in our hurt and our hurt-er. A fellow believer finally challenged us to redirect our thoughts to God’s solution to our misery – Philippians 4:8. “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” To “think about” means to “carefully reflect.” In other words, to meditate on them, which is simply positive wallowing. So we needed to “wallow” in what would make us whole again and heal our wounded hearts.
There were things that were right and pure that God was doing in our lives and in our family. We could put into practice what God commanded about forgiveness, and by doing so, we could teach our children how to forgive and be free from bitterness. We started focusing on, and being thankful for, the honorable brothers and sisters through whom God spoke into our lives. And slowly but surely, we were able to write that pastor, asking him to forgive us for any part we had in the falling out, as well as extending him our forgiveness for perceived wrong. And we were completely set free!
That’s what obeying Philippians 4:8 will do for you too!
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