I went to therapy the other day. I am not too proud to admit that I am a Christian. A mental health provider. A pastor. And I am in therapy. I can imagine that during this time of upheaval and isolation many people are. As a therapist, I can attest to the growing numbers. So yes, I am one of those numbers. I am also a diligent believer in its ability to bring about change if one does their part in the process.
As I sat in my session, discussing past hurts that played a part in my anxiety when starting new things, my therapist challenged me to pray for those who hurt me. This isn’t a new concept.
In fact, it’s biblical. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44, “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”
The very next morning I woke up, made my coffee, and sat down. I opened my devotional, and then I saw it. A call to live at peace with everyone, and a prayer to release those for which we were still seeking justice for our hurts. The days assignment even requested that we list them by name.
So I did. I pulled out my pen. I wrote down this verse: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, but leave room for God’s wrath. Romans 12:17-19
And then I wrote down this prayer: Right now, by faith, I release every person from whom I feel entitled to demand justice. I release……
And after that blank, I wrote down the names of those for which I was still holding onto bitterness. The names of those who still caused me grief every time I simply heard their name. The names of those who I knew had caused this adult “first day of school” anxiety. And I asked God to bless them, and to change their ways so that they would hurt no one else any longer in the ways I had been hurt. And I asked that they would one day know Him as their own.
It wasn’t easy. And it didn’t make my day easier. I still walked into that new school anxious. I cried all the way to work actually. But my meeting went well. I know that I may not find favor with everyone, for some I’m just not meant to. It’s ok, but with God I have, and I will be immensely blessed for putting aside the bitterness I feel for those who have chosen to take advantage or hurt me.
Maybe today you are holding onto something that someone has done to you. Maybe it even makes you anxious to walk into new rooms, too. I encourage you to try what I did above. Make a list. Write out those names and surrender them to God. Then pray a blessing of His favor over them.
It’s not easy, but it’s exactly what Jesus would do.