About the Author

Jen encourages women to embrace both the beauty and bedlam of their everyday lives at BeautyandBedlam.com. A popular speaker, worship leader, and author of Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, Jen lives in North Carolina with her husband, five children, and a sofa for anyone...

Recent Posts

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Jen,
    The answer is Oh Yes! I have always had this sense of fairness and justice. I detest seeing right people be wronged and I question why the evil often prosper. Unfortunately I have felt judged by some because of my children’s poor judgment and behavior. You can attack me, but don’t attack my child. One of my often called upon verses is Exodus 14:14: The Lord will fight for you (me), you (I) need only to be still. The battle does truly belong to the Lord, but sometimes my pride gets in the way and I think that He needs my help. The truth is He really doesn’t. How fortunate you were/are to have praying parents that set such a Godly example for you!! What a lesson to be learned at an early age!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  2. It’s so hard to sit back and let the Lord fight for us, isn’t it? I am with you because I am so justice oriented as well but there’s so much I’ve learned by stepping back and staying silent.

  3. I absolutely have felt that tension and made the wrong choice sometimes! Well maybe more times than that! My knee-jerk reaction is to come out swinging to defend myself and people I love. But God has been teaching me over the years that my job is to bow before Him and He will be my defender if that is necessary. Because He’s also been teaching me that sometimes defending me is not necessary. But if I’m going to trust Him, then I have to trust Him to defend me or not, as He sees fit. Thanks for the encouragement today!

  4. Often times when I want to fight back I have to remind myself that it is my “job” to love. I just keep it in my head on repeat if I must.

  5. Thank you so much for this blog today. I still have to ask forgiveness when old resentments from years gone by pop back into my head.

    • just like the memory of my parents praying for their enemy sear me, so does that old resentment. You are right, continually bringing it back to Him is critical.

  6. “…sometimes we don’t see the restoration in our lifetime.”

    This is so true…for many situations. But this post is a great reminder to do that right and good thing that God calls us to do, even when it’s hard…because someone is always watching. What a wonderful legacy your parents have given you.

    Thank you for sharing.

  7. What a timely word for me, as I find myself in this place right now as I walk through a very painful experience. I’ve been battling, in my own mind, whether to “out” this person who has so deeply hurt me, but have remained silent for a very long time out of love and respect. Your post was an encouragement to me…my flesh is weak, but my spirit wants to honor and trust God with outcome. Thank You!
    Teske

    • OH Teske – I am so glad that it could bring a bit of encouragement to your own story. It’s so hard not to out them, isn’t it? Yet , you nailed it. You are doing this out of love and respect and while I don’t know the situation, I can guarantee that the Lord led you to keep silent in the first place, even when revealing the “truth” would make our flesh feel so good.

      • this comment and your reply were an affirmation today. thank you to both of you. the Lord’s plan is better than mine.

  8. “Oh, you are from THAT family.” Emphasis is on “that”, and not in a good way. I struggled with this for years! As the oldest of 15 children, I was only identified with the reputation of my family, which was not a good one. I did not have my own personal identity/reputation, just the family identity. It still hits me every once in a while, as we live in a very small town.

    It has to be a personal goal to grow past what people think they see. Don’t give that reputation the permission to define you. Let Christ define your life, not others.

    • Cindy – I can just hear the emphasis you put on that sentence with “That” family and I pray that the Lord continues to be the preserver of your reputation.

    • I too am from “THAT” family ! my Heart goes out to you in so many ways right now, it shapes our life’s for his glory. I remind myself when ever those thoughts creep in i will one day be standing in front of the One who shaped the child with in me. My understanding will be so different form what it is now, I am his masterpiece in the making he is not finished with me, their is great thing to come form you past praying for you Cindy.

  9. “It’s easy to create dissension among the church and it certainly doesn’t take much effort to spread gossip and split sides, but to focus on bringing glory to the Lord, rather than to focus on bringing glory to oneself, that’s something else entirely.”
    Oh this sentence rings such a true bell in my world! I have watched dissention spread like cancer over and over again in families and church groups- it is heart breaking. Choosing to let God defend is hard- it goes against all of our humaness- that is what makes it faith. The evidence of things unseen- the unseen response of a living God. Choosing faith over vengence always produces life, abundant life. Its hard but oh so worth it.

    • You are right, “choosing to let God defend goes against our humaness.” It does, doesn’t it? I think we were born with the innate leaning to defend, yet that is where I pray that the Holy Spirit gives me the discernment to distinguish.

  10. Hi Jen,

    I have recently been dealing with this issue so I feel like this post is just for me :). I feel like people that have devastatingly wronged me have just “gotten away with it.” Thanks for the reminder that God is my vindicator and though I may not see this righted on Earth, these issues are safe in His hands.

    What a beautiful legacy your parents built for your family and you continue to live today.

    Blessings on you and your family for 1000 generations!

    • Oh MAckanezie – If you are a hugger, I’m sending a big virtual hug from here because you are in the hardest place of all. May God be the preserver of your reputation. xoxo

  11. Oh, yes, yes, yes. Going through so much yuck has shown me how true this is. How God has shown Himself faithful in this way over and over. The things that have been said abt me have been simply terrible through the years, but I hold fast to Jesus and I know in the end He will reveal the truth. It is HARD to wait at times though…many times I’ve cried out, “When God?” But He’s on it. What a wonderful post…thank you for the reminder…I needed it today.

    • hi sweet friend -Yes, the wait is so difficult, isn’t it? Yet in the waiting, I’ve realized HE speaks to me the most (even when I don’t want to listen. :))

      Have a wonderful holiday weekend, Christine.

  12. These were words I needed to read as I work toward a biblical ‘landing place’ in my own desire to defend my reputation where I need to let Christ be my sufficiency. I am approved; by Christ.
    When a spiritual leader judges your value in the body of Christ as wanting, it can take you down to the foundation. And my foundation was not as strong as I thought.
    It was eye opening, as I learn where and how to respond, to read that ‘rallying the troops’ equals ‘revenge’. It was a sobering wake-up call. Thank you for sharing your story today. You’ve been part of this long lesson I’m learning. 🙂

    • I’m honored to have been just one tiny piece of your lesson. Praying for you as you continue and we can be reminded of that truth together – ” I am approved by Christ.”

  13. Letting God do the fighting for us is so hard…it’s against our human nature….but I’ve seen His deliverance come in unexpected ways over the years. When you let that that deliverance come through Him others really notice what God has done. I still struggle with a thorn in my side and am trying to be patient for His answer. When deliverance comes no one will doubt that the. LORD has done it….

  14. This came at just the right time. I’ve been defending myself and my character for sometime now. It’s finally all came to a head today. As I got in the shower this morning, I prayed that God would guide me and show me what to do and how to choose my words wisely today. When I read my daily email today, I thought to myself….”silly girl, HE has your back and has this situation for you!” God is good and right on time when we need him.

  15. Oh yes, I recall in Alcoholics Anonymmous was a saying on how to deal with resentment-pray for that person to be blessed and keep doing it until you are no longer resentful.

  16. I needed this post today! I had someone respond to one of my social media posts yesterday accusing me of something. It was of course not true, totally out of left field, and embarrassing too! I was very close to engaging in a response but than after a night of trying to figure out what to do in my mind I handed it over to God. Why did I ever think that this person was more powerful than what God could do in response? He will work it out His way and not mine. I was so quick to want to defend and protect my ego in this world but instead I will choose grace. And I feel better knowing I have a Father who will take care of this for me 🙂

    Thank you for your post!

  17. As one who is mired in “mess” right now, your words brought comfort, encouragement, head nods of agreement and “Oh, Wow!” as you wrote to where I am and may be for the foreseeable future. But your words also brought a renewed determination to continue to let the Lord be my defender and the willingness to trust that He will work all things to His glory, whether there is restoration this side of the grave or not. What joy to know that in Heaven there will be no need to “defend” our reputation because we won’t have one! We will have the righteousness of Christ as our reputation!

  18. Good one, thank you for sharing. I needed to be reminded of this desperately today.

  19. I have been walking through this battle for the last year and a half. It has been exhausting to trusting God and walking with integrity when others are committed to ruining my reputation. Thank you for this reminder. My husband and I needed this reminder to keep trusting today.

    • It is exhausting Ali, I know that feeling. You are not alone and I’m praying for you and your husband right now that God will do a new thing soon, a road through the desert, a river through the waste-lands.

  20. Have I felt that tension? Oh, yeah. Have I made the wrong choice in the tension? Oh, you bet. But I am learning, in a painfully slow way, that the Spirit is always there to tell me when to speak and when to be silent. I just have to listen – and obey. Easier said than done!

  21. This is such a great post!! thank you so much! Several years ago I had such a horrific experience. I was at a new school, but not new to teaching. I worked with special needs and sometimes worked at several schools in a single day. Two women decided to make up a story about me… That I had abused a student! I was crushed, angry, scared, horrified. As it turned out, and it took MONTHS! There was a security video of the area where they said I did the abuse, which cleared me entirely. I was still angry, why were these women not punished for their lies, and they had done it to another women the year before? It took a lot of prayer on my part, praying for these two women before I was at peace again. What I learned is my reputation is safe with God, and He will defend me.

    • Try to keep your heart tender. I have committed so many sins i had to make up in my mind that if i was slandered even if what they said was wrong i was still a sinner. I have been gossiped about and i was angry but honestly this may be hard to hear it showed me my self righteous heart. Im glad you were cleared. But i had to get to place where i thought they cant kill a dead women. Meaning ppl may scandalize your name and seriously apart from Christ i could be a terribly wicked sinner. Once i acknowledge that im not better then those accusing me i can learn to forgive. Jesus was innocent and crucified, i may not have committed the crime ive been accused of but i have committed crimes. But i pray your accuser b brought to justice, no one gets away with anything

  22. I’ve struggled with this for some time now. The family of my daughter’s boyfriend hate us even though they don’t even know us. It is because we are Christians. As I have sought the Lord’s guidance and He has told me to love them because He does. I will now begin to pray earnestly that He will bless them. Thank you for your words.

  23. This post spoke to me so much. I had already hit “print” to keep it in my devotional collection. Then to see at the very end that a real person, that I had actually met in real life, had written it – just hammered this home for me. I am not alone – other, real people go through these struggles as well. (In)courage is coming full circle in ministering to the hearts of women.
    Thank you!

  24. Jen,

    This post brings such an important message to us all. I’m sorry for what your parent’s went through but they are a very caring example of how when bad things sometimes do happen to good people it can be turned around into something positive for others to learn from.

    It’s then up to us to make the right choice…

    Although I know sometimes it has n’t been easy for me to let it go and not stand up and scream” justice”… But then other times it seemed so effortless. Which reassures me that is what I was meant to do. Release it ~to him~ to take care of~ for me~ on his time~.

    I am grateful for those in my life who have helped guide me by setting a positive example during their hardships.

    Thank-you for this post
    Have a blessed day everyone….
    Penny

  25. I supposed I might have lost my reputation, but I lost something much more when my ex-husband took my 3 boys and used them against me in a divorce dispute. He destroyed my family and then moved them far away. The church we were attending “let” him. My real friends knew the truth and they have stood by me. I don’t think I will ever see anything restored in my lifetime. So bad men to prosper and they destroy lives. My only hope is in the Lord.
    I just pray that my boys who are men now, know the Lord. That’s all I care about.

    Clara

    • OH Clara – This is where I can’t stand having a screen between us. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and despair that having your children taking away causes and honestly, I don’t have any simple answer for that.

      No matter how much time goes by, I know that pain is still raw, but I will pray with you believing that Lord has interceded on your behalf and placed Godly examples in your children’s lives to stand in the gap during this time.

      Much love to you,
      Jen

  26. I have to believe everything comes from the hand of God even our trials and wounds. He promises to restore and if He doesnt it wasnt something i needed anyway. There are blesses He definately wants for us then there are other blessings. And sometimes those blessings are lessons.
    Ive been hoodwinked lots the only fault me being born but even one sin ive committed makes the injustice i suffer not really valid. Bc the truth is getting mad is fine, but when have i done wrong. Everyday. There are no big and small offensives, but God sees and if needed He will handle it. But i still have to forgive bc im a sinner just like the one who sinned against me.

  27. Faith like that of your parents knocks me over. I see how far I have yet to go, and I’m wishing I could buy the secret formula of “complete trust in the face of frightening adversity” in a bottle! Thank you for sharing this story. The fact that this kind of faith exists shores me up. John 16:33.. “In this world you will have trouble, but fear not, I have overcome the world.”

    • Mary –

      Yes, their faith over and over knocks me over, but even with that Godly example, I still struggle with complete trust at all times. Yet I’ve seen the fruit of it and know that He stands before me, so when the doubt creeps in, we fall before the feet of Jesus and ask Him to remind us over and over.

  28. Thank you for this post and thank you for all the comments. This was truly extremely helpful. I am surrendering it all at Jesus’ feet.

  29. I am dealing with this struggle right now. I think the reason I feel so desperate to defend myself is because I don’t think I’m good enough for God to defend me. Why can’t I ever truly accept and rest in His grace? If I think, “God will defend me” my immediate thought is “Why would he? Would he really do that? What have I done that’s worth defending? I mess up all the time. I should be punished.” I’m really exhausted from this constant conversation in my head.

  30. I am still in that tension, 7 months on. I am thankful for some amazing people who have surrounded me with their care and their belief in me. Without them, I definitely would have gone in all guns blazing, a la Jesus overthrowing the tables in the temple. I stayed silent and to this day I’m pretty sure it was the right thing to do, but I sometimes have nagging doubts. But in the process of revealing some cold hard truths which point to corruption and agenda and power-tripping in church leadership (yes, it was very ugly), I would have also been defending myself, explaining to people I love why our family had just disappeared out of their lives. I wrestled with the fact that the innocents were blind to the truth, therefore I must reveal the truth to them, versus knowing that it is God who opens blind eyes, as He did mine and also that once those eyes are opened, things are never the same again. Who was I to suppose I should be the one to have that much power in other people’s lives? In the process of my silence though, I allowed my name to be muddied and all sorts of lies and rumours to be spread about me. When you live in a small town, that is very very hard. I lost friends and endured looks where eyes could not meet mine. But I trusted God’s word which promised that the Holy Spirit would be my advocate. I have come to accept that those friends I lost that never came to ask me what was going on and what was my side of the story, they were never friends in the first place. 7 months on and I would still love to have a conversation with some people, but I don’t need to. I have come to realise that the pocket of people who believe the lies and innuendo is very small, plus the people who started it all–the ones at the helm, well, I know it sucks to be them. They have to live with themselves and face Jesus with it all one day. They know that too and I realise that in itself explains the turned-away-faces when we come across each other in the grocery store or the swimming pool. But I continue to hold my head high and have a wonderful circle of real friends plus my immediate family unit is stronger than ever. Most importantly, through everything we have sought to hear God’s voice and be obedient. We most definitely are in God’s favour (the blessings are abundant) so we know we’ve done the right thing.

  31. Wow, Jen, thanks so much for this post. This is the first “real-life” post I’ve ever read on this topic and it really helped me.
    When I was in college, I moved into a house with some close gal friends, who had, unbeknownst to me, been being bullied by another girl living in the house with them. I moved into this bad situation and my friends wanted me to stand up to this mean girl and help fight for all of our rights, since she was set on bullying us all. So I did, and she turned around and sued me for it.
    At the age of 21, I was being sued in small claims court for $2,000 (the cost of her rent), and it took 2 years of going to court and waiting on judge’s rulings and attorneys to do their work. The judge ruled in favor of this mean girl. I appealed the decision and lost, so I had to pay her $2,000 plus over $1,000 in attorney’s fees for my own attorney.
    I had 5 friends who attempted to testify in court to my upstanding character and that I was merely trying to prevent this girl from bullying us, but the judge had already made up his mind and would not allow anyone to speak on my behalf.
    So not only did I have to borrow money from my family to pay this awful girl, but I also had my good name dragged through the mud and had to deal with the stress of the court case for 2 years.
    I feel that the justice system let me down and betrayed me, and as a patriotic American, that hurts. But I have forgiven this girl and even pray for her now, and I can think back on that time without getting stressed by it.
    It felt like the Lord let me down during that time, and I don’t understand why he didn’t come to my rescue and save me, his servant. But I trust Him and I really like what you said about this world is not just. The Lord is, but this world is not. How true that is.
    Thanks again for this post and I’m glad you’ve been able to see the good that has come out of your parents’ experience.

  32. Just thinking, as I read so many comments from so many of us that have gone through something similar…while we should not be quick to defend ourselves, there is a place–a strong place–for jumping in to defend another, especially someone who cannot defend or stand up for themselves. And perhaps that is what our own experience has taught us, not only to put our arms around that person, but to be ready to advocate for them? Just a thought and I’d love to hear what others think.

    • Hi Susan, I thought I’d sheepishly share my thoughts:) Yes, I hear what you’re saying, and I think you’re absolutely right – we should stand up for others, especially those who can’t defend themselves. At the same time, I think it depends on the situation and how much knowledge you have of the situation. As harsh as it may sound there are some things I believe God wants us to go through alone – and for reasons only He knows, He keeps our circumstances hidden from others who might naturally defend us. At the same time, there was a situation I was in, when I would’ve defended to death the reputation of a person I loved as a brother and mentor with all my heart – and I knew him. His character. However, there was foggy evidence that negated his character, and in the end the accusation brought against him was right. The full truth finally revealed. Had I defended him to the death as was my natural inclination, I would’ve hurt and rejected the one who brought the foggy evidence. So if you’re absolutely sure of the person’s innocence, and you have conviction to stand up for them, then do it. Be brave and obey the Lord. Even if you’re wrong, God’s grace is always there to cover our mistakes. But other times it might just be an emotional reaction, not necessarily out of conviction, but out of our heart of wanting to show mercy. And for me, in my own situation of being misunderstood and judged, I learned to give grace to those who were caught in the crossfire – those who I thought would’ve stood up for me, but didn’t. It was something I had to go through alone (with my husband), and only now do I see so much beauty God was working in us. Anyway, hope that makes sense, and I’m really glad you brought up that aspect.

  33. Wow, Jennifer, thank you for sharing this. I’ve never understood in literature why so many protagonists remain silent when accused. Never. I always felt like they should speak up, defend themselves – of course, their innocence would be revealed. But then a few years back, rumors were spread about my husband, and I wanted to defend him – badly! And I may have even put my foot in mouth at times. But as he walked through these rumors, his words always seemed to get twisted, or he came off the wrong way, or sometimes, people just wanted to believe the lie. We both had to learn to walk quietly through the troubles. To let God defend our reputation, and we had to accept what you said, that our “innocence” may never be perceived by others in this life, but that God is always good and always just. During that time, I heard the same quote from two different podcasts on the same day, “Take care of your character and God will take care of your reputation.” Now, these years later, as we learned to fix our eyes on the Lord, to pray as your parents did for blessing to those who hurt us, and as we sought to walk in a manner pleasing to God (all the while tons of messiness still coming out of my heart), I’ve seen a restoration of my husband’s character. Others have actually pointed to this specific trial as good repute to his character. And it was all because God defended us and I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade what He’s done in our hearts for an easier path. Anyway, thank you so much for putting to words something I’ve struggled to write myself.

  34. I really, really love this message. It’s a good reminder because our natural tendency is to defend ourselves… but it really takes a weight off my shoulders to know that God is my defender, and He will make things right, ultimately. Your parents’ faith is inspiring! 🙂

    Thanks for this post and blessings!

  35. I too wanted revenge for my situation for 3 years.my husband of 21 years told me 4 years ago that he had to be true to himself,a d that he is gay. Ecause I made lower ay,I had to lra e the house.o gave him 52% of the time with my children,giving me 48%. Last year,when Matthew West sang Forgiveness at a concert,I was able to let it go.God has my life,my future in His hands. What was done to me was meant for evil,but God is still working!

  36. Jen,
    Even though this was posted yesterday, I’m just reading it today, Friday, 5/23. Never have I needed to read/hear this like I need it today. I work for a church, and am caught in the middle of a major crisis, of which I am only responsible for a part. I have owned up to my responsibility. There are rumors, gossip, etc. My ten-year record at this church is ruined. On this Sunday, there will be a congregational meeting and I’ve been told that people are “out” for me, that I will be “hung out to dry.” I’ve been wondering what I will say, how I will even get through the meeting. Thank you for reminding me that I don’t have to defend myself. That God will defend me. And what the enemy has tried and will try to turn to evil, God will turn it for good. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  37. There have been times I had no choice but to let my reputation go, then others when it was a choice because to hit back would have been dangerous. Throughout school I learnt many time that the bully wins and the abuser was in control until someone stopped it for me. I bless the bullys now and I hope the abuser changed his ways.

  38. Jen,

    You hit the nail on the head with this timely post! It is so tempting to want to “get even” or “right the wrong”. In the end it is God’s fight not yours. Reminds me of a song we sing at church “The Battle Belongs to the Lord”. We need to let that sink into our heads and hearts and believe that truth!

    Blessings 🙂

  39. Hi, Jen! I came across the title for your piece just as I was about to delete the whole email. I was talking to the Lord about this last night. I’ve been going through a hard and very painful time (health-wise a la Job) for a year now and my patience with people who don’t know how to act is non-existent. I’ve been surrounded by “these people” and I am fed up. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I agree with your message. I get really angry and I vent with the Lord. I let Him hear what I really think and feel. I know that He is God and that ultimately He is in control of justice. I’ve never enacted revenge (it would be beneath me), but sometimes I am seething mad. I’m pissed off! I’m tired of these people. We’re not talking about one person here. So-called family, neighbors. Yes, I know. I go back to what I just said. I know that He is in control of justice and vindication. Sometimes I just get so tired of watching so many people, not knowing how to ac,t and getting away with it. I, too, came to the same conclusion that I have to leave it in His hands and that I may not see His justice. I always end with asking His forgiveness and try to just let it go, but I have those days…………..

  40. My daughter sent me this article today. Never more than now do I need to hear this. if you think about it please pray for me. This article changed the direction I am taking this trial I am in today. Thank you and God bless

  41. Yes! How I want to defend myself in a similar situation! I’ve messed up along the way defending myself to friends. It is so hard, but so rewarding to rest only in Him- a constant struggle of course. Is have stood back and watched in awe as He has defended me and placed people on my behalf to fight against evil. I think of Phil 3:8 and all that Paul endured and still it was all a loss compared to the worth of knowing His Savior. Praying for a heart like that… A heart like our Beloved.