I belong to you (#2 of 2 linked prayers)

Image: Manfred Richter, Pixabay


❤️

1. Father,
May I praise your name,
Serving in all I do;
Then I will see your face, at last,
For I belong to you.

2. Jesus,
May I face each day
Bearing my cross anew;
Then I will share your joy, at last,
For I am part of you.

3. Spirit,
May I hear your voice
Teaching me all that’s true;
Then we will reunite, at last,
For I am one with you.

❤️


References

1. You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him (Luke 4:8; NLT).

Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12; NRSV).

You and I both belong to God (Job 33:6; NLT).

2. If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23; NLT).

Share your master’s joy (Matthew 25:21; CSB).

Don’t you know that your bodies are a part of Christ’s body? (1 Corinthians 6:15; CSB).

3. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth (John 14:17; NLT).

Then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NLT).

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one (John 17:21; NLT).

The person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him (1 Corinthians 6:17; NLT).

I belong to you (#1 of 2 linked prayers)

Image: Bronisław Dróżka, Pixabay


🤎

1. Father,
May I praise your name,
Serving in all I do;
Then we will share my exile here,
For I belong to you.

2. Jesus,
May I face each day
Bearing my cross anew;
Then we will share each heavy load,
For I am part of you.

3. Spirit,
May I hear your voice
Teaching me all that’s true;
Then we will always live in love,
For I am one with you.

🤎


References

1. You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him (Luke 4:8; NLT).

You and I both belong to God (Job 33:6; NLT).

2. If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23; NLT).

Don’t you know that your bodies are a part of Christ’s body? (1 Corinthians 6:15; CSB).

3. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth (John 14:17; NLT).

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV).

For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8; NLT).

The person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him (1 Corinthians 6:17; NLT).

Inner space

Image: 3211043, Pixabay


🤎

Christ lives within you
(Romans 8:10; NLT).

1. My inner space
Is a shining shore,
Where Jesus listens
While I pray.

2. My inner space
Is a forest path,
Where I can talk with him
Each day.

3. My inner space
Is a mountainside,
Where Jesus helps me
Face each test.

4. My inner space
Is a desert cave,
Where I can sit with him
To rest.

When you pray, go away by yourself,
shut the door behind you,
and pray to your Father in private
(Matthew 6:6; NLT).


Image: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay


References

1. He hears my voice (Psalm 116:1; NLT).

2. God talks with man (Deuteronomy 5:24; DBY).

3. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NIV).

The Lord God helps me (Isaiah 50:9; RSV).

4. Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28; NLT).

Dealing with hurt

This blog is about dealing with hurt feelings. In three short articles, it charts my learning over a period of several months.


 1. My dilemma – written on 19.8.20.

Image: level17-design, Pixabay


The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me
(Job 30:27; NIV).

Introduction
During the summer of 2020, two people hurt me badly, on separate occasions. I decided to be direct with them, and did so as lovingly as I could. However, both reacted to my feedback with anger and blame, and neither was willing to work together towards reconciliation.

My dilemma: Should I speak out, or say nothing?
This breakdown in two significant relationships left me ruminating for many weeks about all that had gone wrong, generating a constant sense of dread. Sadly, this was not a new experience. Dealing with hurt feelings has posed a serious dilemma for me throughout my life: is it better to speak out to those concerned, or to say nothing?

What did Jesus say and do?
As always, when I don’t know what to do for the best, I looked for guidance in the teaching and example of Jesus. However, he taught, and displayed, both outspoken and silent ways of responding to hurt, criticism, and injustice, which I have always found confusing.

For example, on one occasion he stated: If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them, and if they repent, forgive them (Luke 17:3; NIV). 

Yet he also said: If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39; NLT).

So, what happens when I try to follow each of these two apparently very different approaches?

Speaking out
Experience has taught me that when I speak out directly to someone who has hurt me, it almost always backfires. In response to my feedback, they turn on me with anger and blame, or end our relationship. I then react to their hostility with my characteristic endless sense of dread.

Saying nothing
On the other hand, when I say nothing, I allow the other person to hurt me without protesting, absorbing the pain and damage, just as I did with my emotionally abusive mother. This makes me feel powerless, worthless, and depressed.

Thus, whichever approach I try, I generally end up feeling as if life is not worth living.

Forgiveness
Fortunately, Jesus was absolutely clear that whether or not we speak out, we should always forgive those who hurt us. This applies even if they never acknowledge what they have done, and never apologise. Forgiveness gives me something positive to work on during the months of emotional distress which follow each time someone upsets me.

Conclusion
When people hurt me, I see myself as having only two basic choices: to speak out, or to say nothing. Either way, the outcome is equally damaging for my mental health. Not knowing how to resolve this dilemma has plagued me all my life, and remains a serious problem to this day.


After writing the piece above, I began to talk my dilemma over with a few, trusted people for the first time ever. Gradually, my thinking about it began to change, as described in the next article.


2. My action plan – written on 30.8.20.

Image: Jackson David, Pixabay


If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God
(Matthew 5:23-4; NLT).

Introduction
After writing the above article, I spent a long time working out how to improve my ways of relating to those who hurt me. From the insights gained, I gradually put together an action plan to follow whenever a crisis arises.

My action plan
Rather than seeing my response as a stark choice between speaking out and saying nothing, I decided to tackle each situation in a series of stages.

Stage 1: Withdraw, pray, reflect
When someone behaves unacceptably towards me, I will not confront the person involved immediately. Instead, I will simply tell them that I need time to reflect on what they have said or done. I will then withdraw to sleep on the matter for at least one night. Taking time out will enable me to pray, discuss the situation with someone I trust, and think carefully, before responding. This should help to prevent me from reacting angrily in the heat of the moment, with a high risk of permanently damaging the other person, our relationship, and myself.

Stage 2: Decide whether or not to be honest
During the time out, if I decide it is pointless, or inappropriate, to speak directly  to the person concerned, I need take the matter no further. Instead, I will work on praying for them, and forgiving them.

On the other hand, if I decide to tell the other person how their behaviour has affected me, I need to remember that they may have had no intention, or awareness, of upsetting me, and might therefore be very taken aback when I raise the subject.

Stage 3: Speak out briefly, and lovingly
When I decide to give direct feedback, I will do so as briefly and lovingly as possible. I will remind the person of what they said or did, and be honest about how it has hurt me. Anything beyond this is superfluous.

Stage 4: Wait to see how the person responds
If the other person reacts badly, there is no need for me to do anything further. We are all responsible for our own behaviour, and I can’t expect everyone to respond exactly as I wish.  Instead, I will try to put the whole matter behind me, though I admit that I have always found this impossible.

On the other hand, if the other person reacts positively, and apologises, I will accept this immediately, forgiving them completely. We can then be reconciled, and the whole matter will be resolved.

Stage 5: Start afresh
Finally, however badly things turn out, I can try to start afresh each day. Every time I find myself ruminating about what happened, I will remind myself that the matter is now closed, and that it’s time for me to move on.

Conclusion
From now on, when someone hurts me, I have an action plan to follow. My overall aim will be to maintain a careful balance between being speaking out, preserving relationships, and protecting my mental health.


After finishing this article, I made further progress in dealing with hurt feelings, as described in the final piece of this series.


3. My further learning – written on 23.1.21.

Image: Manfred Antranias Zimmer, Pixabay


Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves
(Philippians 2:3; NLT).

Introduction
Despite my hopes, putting together my action plan didn’t make me feel any better about my two shattered relationships. I was still living with constant dread, which drained my already very limited energy. My sleep and dreams were disturbed, and I began to slip into depression. Clearly, my approach to dealing with hurt feelings was incomplete.

Then, one day, I suddenly realised that when I’ve been honest with someone about their behaviour towards me, and they have taken it badly, or stopped speaking to me, there is one more step I can take, in the hope of resolving the situation.

One more step
I can write to the person concerned, saying how sorry I am about everything that has gone wrong between us. I can tell them that I’m praying for them, and for our relationship, and let them know that I long for us to be reconciled. Even if they don’t respond, I will then know that I have done all I possibly can to put things right between us.

This insight enabled me to write carefully and lovingly to the two people who had hurt me. To my delight, one responded with great generosity of spirit, though sadly the other did not reply. However, by sending these letters, I finally managed to stop ruminating about all that had gone wrong. In consequence, my abiding sense of dread slowly began to diminish.

The teaching of Mother Theresa
At this point, I believed my action plan was complete. Some weeks later, though, I stumbled on Mother Theresa’s teaching about how to deal with exactly the kind of hurtful situations that had destroyed my peace of mind for so many months.

In  her book, “The Joy in Loving” (Penguin Books, 2000), Mother Theresa offers brief but powerful advice on how to become more humble, and therefore more Christ-like. The wording varies slightly in different editions of the book, so I have amalgamated the most relevant points into a single list which hopefully maintains the spirit of her approach:

  • Do not dwell on the faults of others.
  • Accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
  • Accept criticism, even if it is unmerited.
  • Accept insults and injuries.
  • Accept being slighted and disliked.
  • Accept contempt, being disregarded, and being forgotten.
  • Be courteous, kind, and gentle, even when provoked.

Inspired by the simplicity and clarity of these teachings, I began to absorb and practice them. Not long afterwards a friend unexpectedly censured me for something which was not under my control. Feeling hurt, I began to defend myself, but quickly recalled Mother Theresa’s wise words, “Accept criticism, even if it is unmerited.” I stopped speaking, and turned away. Overwhelmed by despair, I started to weep. To my friend’s credit, she quickly realised how much she had hurt me. She approached me, apologising profusely. We clung together for a long time in great distress, comforting each other. Eventually I was able to explain how afraid I had been of her sudden anger, and how much her words had upset me. I told her that I loved and valued her, and we were fully reconciled.

Humility, acceptance and courtesy
This was a deeply healing experience, unlike anything  I had previously experienced. Moreover, it was not followed by dread, or depression, which seemed little short of a miracle. I therefore resolved to adopt Mother Theresa’s approach of responding with humility, acceptance, courtesy, kindness and forgiveness whenever someone hurts me.

Conclusion
These three linked articles have described how I resolved my lifelong dilemma about the best way to respond when someone hurts me. I no longer see myself as having a straight, binary choice between speaking out and saying nothing. Nor do I need a complex action plan that relies on how the other person reacts at each stage. Instead, from now on, whenever I am criticised or attacked, I will use the simple, humble approach encapsulated in Mother Theresa’s teaching.

To my delight, this completely resolves my original dilemma, as it is entirely in accordance with the spirit of Christ’s own words: Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also […] Then your reward in heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High (Luke 6:27-9, 35; NLT). 

There can be no finer action plan than this.


Acknowledgements

My warmest thanks to all those who engaged in discussing this issue with me, especially Alan, Dianne, Rosemary, and John. Their contributions have been invaluable. Many thanks also to Ber, whose technical help and personal encouragement enabled me to write and organise this document.

Inner space

Image: Avi Chomotovski, Pixabay


💙

1. Lord,
Please give me inner space,
So I can hear your silent voice.

2. Lord,
Please give me inner peace,
So I can make each vital choice.

3. Lord,
Please give me inner light,
So I can tread your narrow way.

4. Lord,
Please give me inner joy,
So I can praise your name all day.

5. Lord,
Please give me inner truth,
Then I will grasp what Jesus taught.

6. Lord,
Please give me inner love,
Then I will serve you as I ought.

7. Lord,
Please give me inner hope,
Then I will never cease to pray.

8. Lord,
Please give me inner faith,
Then I will trust you, come what may.

💙


References

1. Let me hear your voice (Song of Songs 2:14; NLT).

2. Peace I leave you; my peace I give you (John 14:27; NIV).

I choose to obey your precepts (Psalm 119:173; NET).

3. This light within you produces only what is good and right and true (Ephesians 5:9; NLT).

Travel steadily along his path (Psalm 37:34; NLT).

4. May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord and praise his holy name! (Psalm 97:12; NLT).

5. You will give truth to Jacob (Micah 7:20; NKJV).

6. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them (Romans 12:9; NLT).

7. I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11; NKJV).

Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

8. The promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it (Romans 4:16; NLT).

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8; NIV).

Through Christ’s eyes

Image: Наталья Коллегова,  Pixabay


💙

It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me
(Galatians 2:20; NLT).

1. Let’s see the world
Through Christ’s own eyes,

2. Observe our thinking
With his mind;

3. Treat everyone
With his great love,

4. And grow like him,
For he is kind.

5. Let’s speak each word
With Christ’s pure truth,

6. Confront our fears
With his strong faith;

7. Approach our death
With his deep trust,

8. Then rest, at last,
In his embrace.

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us
(Colossians 3:11; NLT).

💙


References

1. I have come to save the world and not to judge it (John 12:47; NLT).

2. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5; NKJV).

3. Love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27; NLT).

Love your enemies! (Matthew 5:44; NLT).

4. The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him (2 Corinthians 3:18; NLT).

How kind the Lord is! (Psalm 116:5; NLT).

He is kind to those who never say, “Thank you,” and to those who are selfishness itself (Alan Dale, New World: The Heart of the New Testament in Plain English, p125; Oxford University Press, 1967).

5. We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

6. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God, and never anything bad?  (Job 2:10; NLT).

If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT).

7. When Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, he said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last (Luke 23:46; NKJV).

8. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43; NIV).

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-9; NLT).

Return, O my soul, to your rest (Psalm 116:7: ESV).

So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him (Luke 15:20; NLT).

Reflections


Image: Ruth Kirk


💛

Now we see things imperfectly,
like puzzling reflections…

1. Light on water,
Fire from heaven.
Living presence:
Jesus Christ.

2. Peace rains down
On earth, forever.
Love for all,
His sacrifice.

3. Truth streams out
To every mortal.
Faith is offered:
Make your choice!

4. Hope floods down
To all the nations:
Seek God’s Kingdom!
Hear his voice!

5. Ask the Father
To forgive you.
Welcome him
Into your soul,

6. Then, take your cross,
And follow Christ,
For he, alone,
Can make you whole.

…but then we will see everything with perfect clarity
(1 Corinthians 13:12; NLT).

💛


References

1. God is light (1 John 1:5; NIV).

I am the light of the world (John 8:12; NLT).

Rivers of living water will flow from his heart (John 7:38; NLT).

God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; NIV). 

I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20; NLT).

God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17; NLT).

2. The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24; NLT).

He made peace with everything in heaven and earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross (Colossians 1:20; NLT).

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you (John 14:27; NKJV).

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16; NLT).

He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many” (Matthew 26:27-8; NLT).

He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

3. The Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6; NKJV).

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16; NLT).

The promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift (Romans 4:16; NLT).

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make (Deuteronomy 13:19; NLT).

4. I pray that God, the source of all hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13; NLT).

My strong arm will bring justice to the nations. All distant lands will look to me and wait in hope for my powerful arm (Isaiah 51:5; NLT).

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously (Matthew 6:33; NLT).

Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts (Hebrews 4:7; NLT).

5. Perhaps even yet they will turn from their evil ways and ask the Lord’s forgiveness before it is too late (Jeremiah 36:7; NLT).

To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12; NIV).

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

6. Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23; NLT).

 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me”(John 14:6; NLT).

He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole (Isaiah 53:5; RSV).

I am the Lord, who heals you (Exodus 15:27; NIV).

Help me

Image: Geeshan Edirisinghe, Pixabay


🥀🥀🥀

1. Help me, Father,
To accept adversity,
As Jesus did.

2. Help me, Father,
To confront anxiety,
As Jesus did.

3. Help me, Father,
To endure distress and pain,
As Jesus did.

4. Help me, Father,
To embrace my death with faith,
As Jesus did.

🥀🥀🥀🥀🥀


References

1. The leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise (Mark 15:3-5; NLT).

2. They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” (Mark 14:32-4; NLT).

3. They brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha […] Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross (Mark 15:22,24; NLT).

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? (Mark 15:34; NLT).

4. When Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, he said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last (Luke 23:46; NKJV).

To pray

Image: Barbara Jackson, Pixabay


💛

1. To pray
Is to live in the Lord,
Day and night.

2. To pray
Is to serve him
And scatter his light.

3. To pray
Is to love all,
Like Jesus, his Son.

4. To pray
Is to join with his Spirit,
As one.

💛


References

1. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

They will pray day and night, continually (Isaiah 62:6; NLT).

2. You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him (Luke 4:8; NLT).

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35; NIV).

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14; NLT).

3. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

Love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27; NLT).

Love the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19; NKJV).

Show love to foreigners (Deuteronomy 10:19; NLT).

Love your enemies! (Matthew 5:44; NLT).

All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us (Revelation 1:5; NLT).

4. You have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you (1 John 2:27; NLT).

The person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him (1 Corinthians 6:17; NLT).

Would you?

Image: Roy N, Pixabay


The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others
and to give his life as a ransom for many
(Mark 10:45; NLT).

1. Would you forgo your hope of rescue,
So a foreigner is saved?

2. Or forswear your dream of freedom,
So a friend is not enslaved?

3. Would you renounce your chance of healing,
So a neighbour is made whole?

4. Or surrender your survival,
Just to save a stranger’s soul?

5. Would you resign your reign above,
So enemies are welcomed in?

6. Or face death by crucifixion,
Bearing many people’s sin?

7. Would you believe the Father’s promise,
Trusting you will rise anew,

8. And then give up your life for others –
Just as Jesus did, for you?

 


References

1. Show love to foreigners (Deuteronomy 10:19; NLT).

2. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13; NLT).

3. Love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27; NLT).

4. Love the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19; NKJV).

He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole (Isaiah 53:5; RSV).

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; NLT).

5. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being (Philippians 2:6-7; NLT).

Love your enemies! (Matthew 5:44; NLT).

6. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8; NLT).

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness (1 Peter 2:24; NIV).

7. Those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! (Isaiah 26:19; NLT).

I trust in God (Psalm 56:11; NLT).

They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again (Mark 10:34; NLT).

8. We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16; NLT).