We live in the time of exes – especially those of us who are in our twenties and thirties. Our hearts have been damaged by dating gone wrong. But, it’s not just exes in the sense of boyfriends. All of us are exes. Ex-friends, ex-classmates, ex-coworkers. Ex-youth group members, ex-pen pals, ex-social club buddies, ex-you name it. All of us have relationships that have been severed for whatever reason: distance, growing up and growing apart, or a hurtful circumstance. Whatever it is, we’re all left in the ex-pool.
And sometimes, that ex-pool gets icky. When we think of our “exes” we get these emboldened feelings of being the victim or that they are the scum of the earth. Our memories embellish how atrocious their actions were (ok, sometimes they really were that bad), and we justify having cold thoughts toward these people Christ died for.
Now before we proceed, obviously I am not promoting rekindling relationships with past boyfriends when you are married. That just spells trouble. However, we have to let our hearts thaw. We have to let go of those hard feelings, the ones that have only hardened our own hearts, and left bitterness and malice in their place. We have to let go of all of the past hurt, past anger, past feelings of being wronged, and present feelings of nausea when we come across them on Facebook. One, because no grudge is worth losing heaven (Mt. 6:15, Mt. 18:35), and two, because we’re the ex, too.
It took me some time to realize I, too, was an unlovable, unlikeable, crazy ex. In someone’s stories, I am the girl who was the worst – the girlfriend who broke their heart – the friend who betrayed. In someone else’s stories, I am the villain. And do I want them to hold bitter feelings toward me? Of course not. I’d like to think I’m different than I was 10 years ago – five years ago – a year ago! And yet, I don’t give my exes the same benefit of the doubt. I don’t consider that girls who spread rumors about me in high school might have matured some, or that boys who broke my heart have actually turned into great husbands for someone else.
I can’t live like this, and neither can you. Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” I can’t just put away the big bitterness I have. I can’t just put away the grown up bitterness I have. I have to put it all away. I have to go all the way back to my first memories of hurt, and let it go. Ex-boyfriend? I don’t have the scriptural right to shun him and hate him and hope he’s unhappy forever. Ex-best friend? I don’t have the right to hope she never finds as good of a friend as me. Ex-anyone else? I don’t have the right to maliciously speak of them or their circumstances, either past or present. I must actively, presently choose love. And love? It keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).
It is so easy to hold grudges. It is so easy to let things in the past – even the very, very distant past – set up shop in our hearts. Over time, though, it hardens them. It chills them. It callouses them. And hearts that look like that are hard to be pricked.
My challenge for you today is to pray for these people. Maybe it’s someone who hurt you in high school. Maybe it’s someone who hurt someone you love. It doesn’t matter who, and it doesn’t matter how deep the hurt. If you still feel a sense of bitterness or at the very least, apathy, toward someone, pray for them. Pray for all of them. Make a big long list and give it to God. It is therapeutic for your soul.
And PS: God knows you feel that way about them. Why not ask Him to help thaw your heart?