Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Washing his feet

My UCB 'Word for Today' talks about forgiveness. You can read it here.

This word talks of Jesus washing his disciples feet as an act of forgiveness, but it wasn’t, it was an act of love, and whilst Christ calls us to “love our enemies” it’s worth noting that the disciples weren’t his enemies; we have no accounts of Jesus washing the Pharisees feet or Pilates feet. Love can be expressed in many ways and we are not called to ‘wash everyone’s feet’

Some acts of love cause us to open ourselves up and make ourselves vulnerable to others, and this is absolutely something we should do in loving, trusting relationships, where BOTH parties serve one another.

But we shouldn’t be rushing to wash the feet of those who have hurt us, emotionally or physically and are un repentant. We don’t reconcile with these people and we don’t love them in a way that makes us vulnerable to their sinful behaviour. We forgive them, but forgiveness does not mean we have to be reconciled with those who seek to harm us, rather it means we let go of our hurt and leave the sin in God’s hands for him to deal with, then we move on.

I used to read Christian writings like this word for today when I was married I read the words “the burden of bridge-building falls on the strong one, not the weak one” and felt it was my responsibility to put things right in our relationship after he’d had a fit of temper and behaved atrociously, hence I did the typical abuse victim thing of apologising for upsetting him and soothing him when in fact I was the one who had been hurt.

I read “More often than not, if the one in the right volunteers to wash the feet of the one in the wrong, both parties get on their knees.” And “ Understand this: relationships don't thrive because the guilty are punished, but because the innocent are merciful.” And heard that I needed to be kinder to him, to meet his demands in order to make him happy, and that by me doing this our relationship would improve.  By misinterpreting Gods commands for my life in this way I put myself and my children in further danger and we suffered more than we needed to.

If you’re in an abusive relationship no matter how much you pray, forgive, love and serve it WILL NOT change unless your abuser sees he is being abusive and gets professional help (from a Respect approved perpetrator programme, not simply a few prayers and some counsel from your pastor) I wholeheartedly believe that by the power of Christ even the vilest abuser can change, but only if they choose to and work at it, because God does not over-ride our free will. It is not our Christian duty to reconcile with or serve those who hurt us, our safety and that of our children comes first.  Perhaps I will explore how we go about forgiving our abusers another time, it’s still something I am working on, but for now simply know this, forgiveness does not mean allowing yourself to be hurt over and over.

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