We’re all broken and in need. Sometimes we’re too blessed to see it but, there are days when our prone-to-wander hearts lead us off track and we quickly become aware of our needs. Grace. Mercy. Love. Forgiveness. We need these and so much more!
Recently, I had an argument with my husband. It was a doozy! I was angry and let my words fly. I have a lifelong love of words and have developed quite a vocabulary. Believe me, I contain an arsenal of verbal weapons capable of mass destruction. And, unfortunately, I hurled my fiercest words at the person I love most in the world.
I quickly wanted to reel those harsh words in and take back the pain they caused. I wanted to restore the relationship I had hurt.
I’ve heard that harsh words are like nails. Once you hammer a nail into wood, you can remove it, but the hole remains.
I didn’t want that hole to remain.
But I was still feeling the offense that drew my fire. I was hurt and angry.
Here’s what I’m learning about forgiveness: don’t bother seeking it while your heart is unforgiving toward others. Mine was.
I needed to soften my heart before I could address the issue with my husband. I needed to go to God with the hurt and anger I was feeling and work it out with him before I could discuss it with Mike with any clarity or kindness. Ideally, I would have done this before blowing up at him. This time, I’d failed.
I brought my needs to the One who could make things right.
Have you ever blown up at someone because you were hurt or angry?
Here are the steps I took that you may want to take if you find yourself in a similar situation:
1. Search your heart.
Discuss with God what happened. What did the other person say or do that pushed my buttons? What part of me did they hurt? How was I impacted? Is there a deeper trigger that needs to be resolved with a counselor, mentor, or pastor? Don’t skip over this part. The hurts against you need to be worked out. Address your feelings and learn new ways to express them.
2. Own your part.
What attitudes and expectations led me to react as I did? Once I understood my part I repented.
3. Make a start.
I forgave my husband. Period. After working through Steps 1 and 2, my heart was softened and forgiving was easy. Sometimes it’s not and I just have to do it anyway!
4. Humble your heart.
Next, I humbly asked my husband for forgiveness for my harsh words and the attitude behind them. He forgave me! Then we were able to discuss the conflict and gain an understanding of each other’s needs.
Scripture tells us: “Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, it will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
If you’ve used harsh words and need forgiveness, try giving forgiveness first and then ask if the other party is open to forgiving you too! You just might find that giving what you need brings it right back in your lap!
I hope you’ll stop by KathiLipp.com today and read my guest post. I wrote about the cost of saying “yes” to more than I could handle, the disastrous results, and how to avoid getting overwhelmed by our own commitment. Here’s a link to the blog post:
Do you have a tendency to over-commit? Do you have some suggestions for those who do? Please share your victories (and you not so glorious moments) in the comments. Thanks!
As a brand-new Christian, I really wanted to get to know God and develop an intimate relationship with Him, but I didn’t know where to start. I had already fallen in love with the Bible, but my prayer life felt inadequate.
Then at a women’s retreat, the speaker challenged us to keep a God Hunt Journal – a journal that tracks God’s activity in our lives. I’ve been keeping a prayer journal for over 25 years now and it has powerfully impacted my faith.
I wanted to see God’s work in my life, so I accepted the speaker’s challenge. I began keeping a prayer journal. Every morning, or at least most mornings, I read my Bible and write out a prayer in my journal. Nothing fancy or complicated. Just a conversation between me and God.
In the journal, I often respond to what I’ve just read, seeking wisdom to apply Scripture to my life. I ask God to search my heart and show me anything (sin, bad attitude, prejudice, resentment) that doesn’t belong. (Ps 139:23-24) I ask for His help to live out His will. I intercede for the needs of others.
As I pour out my heart to God, I write each word in a lined-paper book.
This simple spiritual practice powerfully impacts my faith. When I’m discouraged, I can review my prayers and see how God has helped me through previous challenges. This reminds me that God has been faithful to help me in the past and can be trusted to help me today. When trying to make difficult decisions, I can look through my journal and see the general direction God is leading me, which helps me make choices and stay on track. In these pages, I find the faith to overcome obstacles when my emotions war against moving forward.
When I review the journal and see all God has done in my life, gratitude wells up in me. I overflow with praises!
If you’d like to begin a prayer journal, here are some simple steps to get you started:
Get a journal. My favorites brands are Moleskine and Poppin, but you can use anything from a spiral notebook to a Word document. Use what works for you.
Invite the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I light a candle to symbolize God’s presence as I read my Bible and pray. This visual reminder helps me remember that I’m having a conversation with a person, not simply sending my prayers into the clouds.
Date each journal entry. This will help you find specific prayers when you go back through your journal looking for them. Sometimes God answers my prayers so dramatically that I can’t wait to re-visit the answered prayer and mark it.
Carve out time in your busy day. I like to start my day in prayer, but there have been seasons in my life when late evenings worked best. Find a time when you can be consistent.
Don’t aim for perfection. If you miss a day (or several) just jump back in and begin again. You don’t have to have the perfect pen, journal, or even great penmanship. Just show up and journal!
Hunt for God. Periodically review your journal for answered prayers, guidance, and growth. Highlight or mark your entries, including how God answered your prayers. Praise God for what you see as you review.
Do you have any questions about prayer journaling?