A title I was labeled with back in high school and it stuck. “Gifted with words” was a title I carried proudly. I owned it. But not anymore. That’s changed. You see, I was given that title because I could ‘tell someone off’ in a second. I don’t want to own that title anymore. My temper is quick, my words can be brutal…….but that’s me. ‘Me’ doesn’t live anymore. Of the many things I’ve laid down at the cross over this last 15 months, my words is one of them. Make no mistake, it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle and give way to my flesh sometimes but what it does mean is I am sure to be convicted if I do or say something that is not honoring to Him. It means I will be uncomfortable if I find myself in a moment of harsh words or gossip.
I’ve been the topic of ‘gossip’ for awhile now. Actually, the last several weeks it has come to my attention that a few people have been relentless in their attack on me as a person, my character and my integrity. I thought that had stopped. I thought the personal attacks were over regarding what I had done….apparently not. Lies have been told, stories have been twisted and an all out character assassination has taken place…….again. While it disturbs me and breaks my heart that people choose to continue to talk about me and others choose to believe it instead of coming to me seeking truth, it has been a big eye opener. The Lord has taken me through ‘stages’ over the last 15 months. Working on different things over time. Well, the last few months I have been working on my ‘words.’ How I speak to people, do I talk about people, what should I keep to myself and so on. In the midst of my working through this was when it was brought to my attention the rumors and hateful things being said about me again.(Funny how that works!) Yet, this time it was different for me. Six months ago, a year ago, two years ago it would have wrecked me: I would have first been extremely hurt, balled my eyes out and wondered what was wrong with me – then I would have taken the defense and gone on a mission to shut it down, defend myself and give a piece of my mind. I choose NOT to do that now and here is why:
- It isn’t my battle. You see, I have realized that as long as I am right with the Lord, I am ok. With a “people pleasing personality” this is a tough place to get to. Just a few months ago I would have wanted to make sure everyone was happy with me. I worried what people thought.(that is until you messed with me or my friends and then I’d chew you out) I worried who was talking about me and took everything that was said to heart. However, for the first time in my entire life I can say – It’s ok. While it hurts and is heartbreaking to hear the things people are saying about me, it’s ok. It isn’t my battle, it’s theirs. More than that, it’s Satans. And I choose NOT to engage with Satan. Been there, done that – do not want to go back. We battle against Satan not people. The enemy is Satan, not people. But Satan does a TREMENDOUS job at deceiving us into believing it is people. ESPECIALLY in the body of Christ. Friends we are devouring each other. Satan is sitting back smiling as we gossip about and tear down the body of Christ. It’s sad.
- A quote from one of my favorite authors, Lysa Teurkurst, says it perfectly: “What comes out of someone else’s mouth is a reflection of their heart, not yours!” Truth. You want to know how I know it’s truth? Because of ME! I had a sick sick heart. The affair I had was simply a symptom of a much deeper issue. My heart was ugly…..my heart craved attention, acceptance, power and so on. As I have said before, I had allowed evil to set up camp and from their I tried to fill the void where the Lord should have been with other things. But in that sick heart of mine I chose to speak poorly about many many people, including those close to me. I chose to criticize on a daily basis and I chose to share things with people that I shouldn’t have. All reflections of the person I was, not of the people I was speaking to or about. Therefore, what I have recently heard being spoken about me, is a reflection of others hearts, not mine. My heart has changed. My heart is redeemed. My heart was made new by an incredible heavenly Father that forgave me, cleansed me and made me new. Because of that, the things being said haven’t destroyed me. That is because I am confident in who I am in Christ.
So maybe in me saying all that you are still thinking, “do you think you are perfect now Dawn?” “Are you saying you don’t ever speak negatively or lose your temper or gossip?” Nope, I’m not saying that. I am human and I screw up. I get caught up in a ‘juicy conversation’ from time to time. I snap from my temper on occasion. But what I will tell you is my pride has been checked at the door and the Lord makes me miserable if I find myself in these scenarios. Two examples – well three sordove. One and two go hand and hand. First, I have written more letters and met face to face to apologize and ask forgiveness from more people in the last 15 months than I have my entire life. Some I wrestled with for MONTHS before sending and some I haven’t even sent yet because the Lord is still working in my heart on them. Some were received with great acceptance and some were received with anger and bitterness and some I haven’t even heard back from. But that’s ok. Because again, I have settled in my heart that when the Lord directs me to do something, I do it in obedience. He handles the rest.
Second, in meeting with people face to face – I have had to do things I never thought I would/could do. But really, I’M NOT DOING IT, the Lord is! Just a month ago I went to someone that I have had ‘issues’ with for TWO YEARS! It was someone that said something I didn’t like the first time I met her and from that point on – I shut her off, I spoke negatively about her and never gave her another chance. To be honest with you, I have no idea what it even was that she said two years ago that ticked me off…..sad but true…and that reveals how SICK my heart was! The Lord impressed upon my heart a few months back to go to her. I fought it and I was miserable. Well, a month ago, after wrestling with it – I went to her. I told her flat out – “I didn’t like you, I talked negatively about you and that was so wrong of me.” I apologized to her, asked her forgiveness and she accepted. We ended up hugging and crying together. Today I can tell you she is a friend. I see her through the eyes of the Lord now and I value her in my life. The Lord is amazing! It is only through Him that happened. While it was hard to go to her, share with her and apologize, it also gave me freedom in the end and I grew from it. When you harbor hurt, bitterness or anger in your heart for someone – the Lord doesn’t work. You cannot serve Him with that inside of you. You can’t. You can try and you can think you are (been there done that) but He doesn’t honor that. He won’t.
The other example: (man I am being transparent……ha!) A few weeks ago we had some car issues and our car ended up in the shop for the umpteenth time. On one of the many calls regarding the car this precious girl was the unlucky one. It had been a rough day, several other things were going on and her phone call landed at just the ‘wrong’ time. I laid into her. I gave her a ‘piece of my mind.’ After hanging up the phone, I didn’t feel good. Used to, I would’ve hung that phone up with great satisfaction. Instead, it was a pit in my stomach. I was disgusted with myself. You know what I did? I drove up to that Land Rover dealership and I asked for this girl and I apologized face to face. I told her I completely disrespected her, that it was not honoring to my God for me to do that and I asked her for forgiveness. I think she was completely baffled that I came and apologized but she thanked me and that was that. I don’t know, she may think I am crazy but what I do know is that the Lord told me to do that and in obedience I went and I apologized.
It is our duty as followers of Christ to uplift and encourage instead of teardown and destroy. When we teardown and destroy, we are filled with shame and regret and guilt. Its a yucky feeling that if we aren’t careful becomes a ‘normal’ and doesn’t even phase us anymore. I was there. Today it is my hearts desire to uplift, encourage, invest and breathe life into my brothers and sisters in Christ and those that do not yet know Him. My hearts desire is to see unity in the body of Christ not division. In Ephesians 4 Paul urges us as believers to be humble, be gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. He tells us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” The only way we can do that is through Jesus Christ. He grants us an incomprehensible love that is reflected when we extend grace where it doesn’t fit, when we are patient when our limits have been pushed, when we encourage and uplift instead of criticize and teardown and when we make every effort to love when someone just doesn’t seem to be lovable.
Friends, today I am a different person. Some have even told me they feel my personality has been squashed with what I went through because I’m not as ‘spunky” as I once was. Well, if that’s the case, it’s ok. “Gifted with words” has taken on new meaning in my life. It is no longer negative but instead it means breathing the Word of God into the lives of those around me. I want to be an approachable person, one with a gentle grace-filled spirit that reflects Christ in all I do.
It is my hearts desire to make peace with the ones who still choose to speak negatively about me. It is my hearts prayer that those who still feel hurt by me or are still angry at me will come to me and share that with me instead of others so that hearts can mend. So that Satan doesn’t win this battle. (While he won’t win the ultimate battle, he can get the upper hand in our hearts sometimes…and when we allow bitterness, anger or hurt to fester, he’s winning) I will never cease in praying for that reconciliation.
My hearts prayer is that if you feel defeated right now by gossip or harsh words, you will realize that you are a precious child of the King. It matters not what others say to you or about you. When you repent, when you ask for forgiveness, when you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and are living a life according to His will and His promises for you, that is what matters. And that is it.
Dear one – You are chosen. You are forgiven. You are free. You are loved. Rest in those words today.