We’ve seen that our present circumstances are greatly affected by the filters in our life. These filters can be resulting from our past, be what currently surrounds us, or be that which we think we want or should have in our future. Some of these things can be changed, others cannot. Those which cannot, require that our responses to them be changed instead.
It’s pretty obvious we cannot change our past. However, we can change our response to the past, and that response is what affects our present.
A. Let go of bitterness and anger, and choose forgiveness for those people and things which have hurt us.
We are surrounded by people – human people with a fallen nature. Hurt and wounding is inevitable.
For we all stumble in many ways. James 3:2a
Some of those wounds have made us stronger in resilience, while others have threatened to completely undo us. Those which we have carried into the present with anger, bitterness, resentment, and a lack of forgiveness, are usually those which have threatened our heart. As a result, they are still wounding us. We have to let these go. We do that by…
1. Surrendering to God’s redemption.
Those of us who have made Christ our Savior have not only the hope of redemption for our sinful hearts; we also have the hope of redemption for everything that occurs in our life. He promises that “all things work together for our good.” (Romans 8:28) When we can view what we’ve been through in the light of this promise coupled with security in the knowledge that God always comes through for us, even where people fail us, we are able to release and forgive those who have hurt us so deeply. With that release, the anger, bitterness, and resentment will also flow out of our hearts, freeing us up to be spiritually and emotionally healthy. This health is what will carry us through our present-day heartaches. We must also remember to give grace, just as God has shown grace to us. Sometimes, just changing the focus to ourselves and our own short-comings will allow us to forgive others for theirs.
In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? Psalm 56:11
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. Psalm 27:10
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-16
2. Let God define us, not our past.
Our past can give explanation for why we are the person we are today but it is not an excuse. Too many fall back on the idea that “because this was done to me, I am __________”. We have a choice to allow our past to shape and influence us, or we can choose to rise above it and become the person that we should be, in spite of it. We cannot blame our sin on anyone else. Our sin is our own.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15
What has happened to us is not the definition of our identity. Rather, our identity is found in who we are and what we have in Christ as His redeemed, forgiven children.
Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:5-7
1. Some relationships may have to be let go.
This can be difficult for many reasons. In some cases, we feel that if we release someone and forgive them, it means we have to allow them into our lives. That is not necessarily the case. We are told to guard our hearts for out of it wells the spring of our life. (Proverbs 4:23) Having some people in our lives would not be protecting our hearts so that it can spring up with the holiness and goodness of God. This may be people who are abusive in nature, those who are negative influences on our lives, or those who are complicated and love to make everyone else’s lives just as complicated. There are others that just aren’t equally yoked fellowship, and that too brings us down emotionally and spiritually. We have to surround ourselves with wise and godly people and sometimes, that means walking away from those who don’t fit that bill.
And at some points in our lives, we have to distance ourselves from those who just don’t grasp where we are in our journey. Rather than speaking truth and healing into that journey, or even weeping with us as we weep, they either criticize us for our grief or help us stay enmeshed in depression and pity. We need to separate ourselves from the world and its philosophies and practices, and this usually involves separating ourselves from certain people as well. We need time away with those who will and do lift us up spiritually, so that Godly healing may take place.
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4
2. Filter all through the truth of the Bible.
All that which exists in our lives, must be filtered through the truth of God’s Word. That is what Perfect Joy is founded on. Not founded on experience or emotions, as strong as they may be, but on truth that is greater than these things. This action may be needed in areas such as faulty beliefs about who God is to what we believe we deserve to wrong thinking about our spouse.
Our emotions are not our truth. God’s word is. And current filters must be viewed in the light of that, in light of the cross, and in view of eternity. Truth is the only thing that will set us free from bondage.
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
3. Offer that which breaks us, as our sacrifice of praise and worship.
There is often nothing else we can do when we are broken than to lift up the pieces of our broken heart and say, “God, I have nothing other than these pieces. I am so broken. And that brokenness is all I have to give to you.” These sacrifices are beautiful in His sight and touch His heart deeply for they flow from utter faith that casts our heart on Him, even when circumstances seem to taunt us to flee from Him.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17
4. Surrender to God’s glory.
I have to admit, there have been times when, in my pain, I have screamed out, “I don’t want your glory if it means this! Not. This!”
But then, I always return to the fact that He is God, I am not, and He sees so much more than I can even comprehend. And that fact gives me the desire to surrender to what will bring Him glory. Because somehow, in that surrender, He gives a faith that that which is for His glory will also be for my beauty, either now or in eternity, when I stand before His glorious presence and am able to grasp what He knew all along.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10
1. Surrender hopes and dreams to God and His best and ultimate will.
We have written of this before. Relinquishing that which we think is best for our lives. Giving up what we think we deserve. Submitting to what He has planned for our lives, which goes with the point before this—His glory.
It often comes full circle, doesn’t it? If I believe that God is good and He loves me and He will do what is best for me all while doing what is for His glory, I can then surrender my hopes and longings and dreams to Him. For His ways are not mine. He can do far beyond what I can imagine or hope. But He can’t fill clenched hands until they are emptied of what we are holding on to. We must give Him full reign and access to our hearts and lives.
[ David’s Charge to Solomon ] “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.” 1 Chronicles 28:9
2. Again, let who we are in Christ be the definition of our identity, not what we think should be our purpose and destiny.
We have it all planned out. When to have children, how many, how far apart they will be, how we will raise them, even what we imagine the role those children will have in the world. And we make that our identity and our defining purpose. And all the while, our goal is wrong. We have been commanded to seek Him first and His kingdom, and we are commanded to love Him above all. That includes our dreams and desires.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
3. Allow divine encounters.
While I was not a fan of the cliché “Prayer of Jabez” I always loved the concept of God encounters that came with the book’s premise – Letting go of that which we have planned, coupled with being open to the divine encounters that God may have planned in the future that He is writing for our lives. We will miss so many blessings, if we are fixated on what we think our future should be.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
Our filters are our natural reactions to situations, big or small. They are an innate part of us, and while some are appropriate and right, others, as mentioned above either need refining or complete change. We need to learn how to respond instead of simply react. This is not easy. Replacing the old with the new is often a painful process, especially when it has to happen in the midst of heartache. But it is what brings maturity to our lives, and ultimately freedom in Jesus that liberates us into women of peace, joy, and love. Women, who can say with faces that radiate Him, “Because of God ________.” And then, as we practice this victorious living, others long for Him because of what they see in us.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16
Original material by Melissa J Carswell, MA, BCCC, Holly M. Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2013. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp36p06-27-13