You ever take a bath, and after you get out of the tub, there is this residue or stain like ring all around the tub? You ever eat a great meal, and then you get heart burn? Wash your hands, only to still have remnants left of what you tried so hard to wash away? That is called residue or after affect. Stain. It’s what’s left over.
Yesterday I did a rare Saturday Twitter chat on the subject of “collateral damage”. Meaning what happens all around us when we are reckless with our words, actions, or deeds. Collateral damage happens when something that we do causes negative ripple effects in the universe and to others who are innocent bystanders. Collateral damage is what happens when we gossip, tear down, and diminish another human being. Once we release venom from our tongue, we can never get the words back. Once we stain someone with our words, or our punch, our attack, it can cause untold damage to their mind, body, and spirit. Beware of collateral damage in your life and in the life of others.
The chat had over 1 million impressions, and people are still tweeting and posting quotes from it this morning. Late last night, I spent sometime on the phone with my girlfriend Nicki in Los Angeles, who is in ministry and she said to me, “Sophia we are the walking dead out here. Nobody wants to deal with the root of their pain. Nobody wants to be accountable. We do surface now. We watch people do the wrong things and we look the other way. We are not teaching people how to cope with loss or conflict and it is literally killing people. People are hurting and have no idea how to heal. Everybody walks around with this open scarlet letter, or stain on their chest. And nobody seems to care.”
This morning, I had prayer time with one of my big brothers from Texas. And here is what he prayed: ”God, I ask you to remove from us the residue, the after burn, the remnant of any hurt, pain, or wrong that has been done to us. . .” I was like WAIT, STOP, PUT A PIN IN THAT. That is so good. That is so what I needed to hear. It’s not the act of betrayal, the hurtful words, the lies, the pain, or even the abuse that wounds us, or leaves us feeling broken: It is the STAIN or RESIDUE that sits in our heart that literally breaks our hearts and kills us slowly. I know, I am so right there.
Here is the thing: Whenever major attacks, damaged relationships, people that walk out on you, betray you, leave you, dishonor you happens in comes unforgiveness, rage, anger, bitterness, and quarrels. No matter how we resolve (or not resolve) our hurts, we are always LEFT with a RESIDUE. Or Stain. And it settles in our souls. It becomes a heavy burden to bear. It weighs us down. It makes us “unpredicatable, and unreliable” as my friend Pastor Hart Ramsey says. He is right. I have seen it play out in my own life.
Pain leaves a stain if we allow it to.
One of my favorite verses of scripture is out of Jeremiah 31:3: God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving kindness.” Think about that for a moment. Whatever your religious background. God is love. And love is the foundation of our lives. Period. Whenever we are not acting in love or being treated with love, we feel it acutely. It violates our very nature to be in conflict. God’s love is ever present, never changing. So when we lose love, or we have been treated with a lack of love it can put a hurt on us that is severe. Sometimes people don’t get up from a devastating life blow. It takes time to love and to live again when you have been hurt.
My point is this: No matter what you are facing right now. Or what happened to you last week, last month, last year or in your past–Do your best NOT to allow that person, place or thing to become a RESIDUE in your life. Or a stain on your heart. A stain is a ring of what is left around the edges. Do not allow yourself to become broken by some one else’s brokenness. Hear me on this because I have done it to people who deserved better, and it has been done to me. Every time I pushed love away, or friendship away, or goodness away it wasn’t because I did not want it, but it is because I could not receive it. So to with those who curse you, use you, take from you, and then callously discard you. They are broken vessels and they cannot receive your goodness. So they damage you. They violate you. They talk about you. Attack you. They are doing to you, what has been done to them over and over again.
My message this Sunday morning is to allow yourself time to heal. Be willing to do the work. Get some counsel, some prayer warriors, and some folks who will cut a hole through the roof, lower you down, and help you to get healed. Surround yourself with people who possess lots of empathy and care. Remove from your place of healing anybody who is cold, callous, uncaring, or pushing you, judging you, condemning you because you haven’t healed as quickly as they would like. Or, perhaps, you are not ready to truly forgive the offenders yet, mostly because they keep heaping offense on you. No matter. You need good, reliable, consistent friends to get you through. A broken heart is a serious thing. It can literally kill you. Forgiveness is a journey. It is not instant. Hence, the goal my friends, is to heal and try not to allow the pain to leave a permanent stain on your purpose, or on your heart.
Sophia A. Nelson