Hollywood is home to a lot of hip churches.
My husband I discovered Mosaic when we were walking to get froyo one day. We’d been invited a few times, but we didn’t realize we lived walking distance from the church on Hollywood Blvd.
We were both raised in denominations of Christianity; myself Catholic, him, Presbyterian. Neither of us were very religious. But we started attending Mosaic regularly and quickly realized this was different. It was not the rigid Sunday mass we’d both grown up with.
Mosaic was loose and fun; free and full of joy. Instead of a choir singing hymns, there was a band singing EDM inspired music about Jesus. The pastor, Erwin McManus, is also a best selling author, and dressed more like a rockstar than a priest… a cross between Lenny Kravitz and Brad Pitt. There was no incense or communion. It was cool, and the congregation was both beautiful and casually hip.
You ever sit down in church on Sunday and feel like the message is for you? I do. Quite often actually. This happened to me this past Sunday.
My husband and I settled in, ready to hear whatever inspirational talk Pastor Joe Smith had prepared. He opened with a funny, relatable story about a grumpy customer and a clerk at the Post Office. He then read this scripture from Luke 6:27-36:
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Immediately, my heart burned. I felt anger welling up inside me. A person’s face popped into my mind. A person who’s name had been brought up three times in the past week. A person I was once close to and had a falling out with a few years ago.
As this person’s name was mentioned over and over again, I kept thinking, what does this mean? Why am I being reminded of this person?
Each time the name was brought up I felt a pang of bitterness. Sitting in church on Sunday, there it was again. This time God was bringing the person to mind. As Pastor Joe went on, he reminded us that when we carry bitterness and resentment towards someone who has hurt or wronged us, it’s as if we’re in a cell but the door is unlocked. We can step out, but we don’t want to.
When he spoke those words, tears began to form in my eyes.
This was why I kept hearing about that individual. I clearly carried resentment with me and needed to release it. It all made sense in that moment.
It doesn’t matter what happened between us. I don’t mention the name because I don’t want to paint anyone as being the perpetrator and myself the victim. It was simply a relationship that shifted and I, being a very loyal person, did not take well to being left behind.
I need to move on. This person clearly has. I doubt they even think about me.
What happened in the past does not need to control my future (I learned this in my last journal entry).
Forgiveness doesn’t set the other person free, it frees you. Pastor Joe recognized how hard this is. As humans, we want to get even. We want payback. We want that person to get theirs.
But research shows that holding onto to bitterness can make you physically ill. It’s almost as if science mirrors what the bible was saying (I don’t believe this is true for all parts of the bible, just to be clear. For instance, I do not believe homosexuality is a sin).
I am a firm believer in the golden rule: love thy neighbor.
As Christians, we must love everyone. Especially those who have wronged us. I want to be someone who transcends the ordinary and steps into a more Jesus-like way of life.
It’s not easy.
Jesus didn’t take the easy way. He took the hard way. I’m going to follow. So today, I forgive with my whole heart. I will no longer feel a sting when this person’s name is mentioned. I will say kind things and wish them well and really mean it.
Sometimes I struggle to hear God’s voice. This was unmistakable. It feels good to receive the message God was sending me. I hear you, Father. Loud and clear.