(This is the beginning of a seven part series called Enduring to the End - Overcoming Offenses, Bitterness and Unforgiveness)
“I don’t think you have lived until you have had almost a million dollars in negative advertising thrown against you,” I heard myself tell a friend a few days right before the Texas Republican Primary Runoff in 2018.
I was raw. I was vulnerable.
It had been over six months since my former boss, Congressman Jeb Hensarling, had announced his retirement from the 5th District of Texas. I had gone from trying to desperately find a candidate to run for his seat to sacrificing my own life, my career, my company, and my home and running myself in an eight person primary. Yes, I had run myself for CONGRESS!
There were days I felt incredibly brave and then others that I felt maybe I was a little bit stupid, but I can say honestly, I was never without peace and joy. It was supernatural.
I call it "supernatural" because I knew in my own strength that there was no way I could be doing this successfully. Studying policy papers, listening to people’s detailed problems with the federal government, dealing with the media, and raising so much more money then I had ever raised before for any of my clients in the shortest amount of time, and in the midst of it all, I still have deep deep peace.
As someone who has been in politics as a career for twelve years and been involved for fifteen years, I always get asked this question.
Bunni, how do you handle politics?
Isn’t it such a mean sport?
Why would anyone want to get involved in something where they are going to get persecuted mostly by people of their own party or even those they consider friends?
It is a good question and one I think about many days in this business.
I quickly found out that just because the race was over, the wounds were not over.
The race ended in May of 2018. I had worked all fall till the general election, even after my race was over, to get a few of my friends elected to Congress. It was now November and I was getting ready to leave for Romania to teach at a few churches and minister for a week at our Bible school that we support. I finally stopped and had time to breathe. The year was catching up with me.
I was sitting with a ministry friend reliving the story of my last year and she said, “You need to write a book on how to get over offenses. You have gotten through this so well.”
I laughed and thought - That is a crazy idea.
I didn’t feel completely over it, but it stuck with me. That thought. I knew I had been faithful to deal with my heart. I knew I was being obedient to pray for my previous opponent, his family, and even his volunteers who had been so vicious to me at times. I knew I was in a lot better place than most people would have been after an experience like this.
Regardless of my feelings, after the general election, I placed myself in a prayer room in Dallas for two weeks and let the calluses melt from my heart. I went from being hard to finally feeling again and working through a process of forgiveness and laying down my bitterness.
During my trip to Romania in December, I was praying over messages and what I needed to impart to these young Bible school students. Usually I come really prepared, but that year I knew there was a wealth of experience and emotions that I wanted to share with them about my great adventure even though I didn’t know exactly what that was.
This thought kept coming to me- teach them how to walk out of bitterness, anger, and offenses. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks and I saw my whole life flash before me - so to speak.
I had a thought that didn't go away- I was able to walk through one of the hardest years of my life because of all God had walking me through in 20 years of ministry within the Body of Christ- rejections, spiritual abuses, leaders who had slandered us, and all the other wounds and pains that our family has walked through year after year after year.
That night, as I shared my full spiritual story with these young 18 to 25 year olds, I said out of the blue, “this might be the most important message you will ever hear in your life.” I didn’t say that because I thought my story was so great or I said anything so profound, I just felt God’s heart for them to continue on and to not get sideswiped by offenses, rejections, and disappointments with people through their lives.
I was just being transparent and sharing my hurts on how I had kept moving forward through all of my "tribulations" and wounds inflicted on Tim and I and what I believe every believer experiences within this family called the Church of Jesus Christ.
This was the key point of grace in my life - I just kept seeking Jesus through it all.
It then hit me, this could be so important for them because they have to learn to endure and look only to Jesus in the midst of people’s failures, pains that leaders would bring in their lives, or persecutions by the people closest to them. I wanted them to know how to protect their hearts and keep moving forward.
Key questions for us in the church today:
What do we do when we have a pastor or leader who has moral failings or such character issues that they have to be removed from leadership?
What do we do when we are rejected by leadership because we are the wrong gender, we are seen as too young, or we are just looked over for no other reason than we are invisible - regardless of our gifts or our submission to authority?
What do we do when leaders try to control us, manipulate us, or use us for their own glory and advancement?
What do we do when leaders are threatened by us because of their own insecurities and rejections and can’t see that we are truly trying to serve and bless?
What do we do when our Christian leaders don’t act like Jesus?
That is an important question because it will happen in our lives, if it hasn’t already.
Leaders are people and they fail. Spiritual leaders are people and they fail as well.
How do we endure to the end and keep following Jesus when all of His people are so messed up?
I am praying that I can give us some insights here over several small chapters/blogs that we can cling to as we continue on this journey of life.
I don’t know everything about getting over offenses, but having almost a million dollars of negative advertising spent against me has given me a whole other viewpoint on suffering and persecution.
I know when I shared my story that night in Romania, I was set free even more and hopefully it will give us all the courage to share, to release others, to forgive (yes, I said that seven letter word), and be able to keep walking with the only person who is perfect- JESUS.
We are free when we keep our hearts free from bitterness and rejection. It is called a “walk with God” on purpose, because there is nothing like imperfect people to make us run even harder toward the perfect God. He is the One who always holds our hearts in His big hands. He is the Great Shepherd.
What I want to share in a few articles is this very personal journey that I have had through many years - all are stories from my life, some from politics, some from ministry, some from family and friends, and some from just being a Christian walking with other imperfect Christians. I will change the names to protect people but the message will be the same every time - we have to keep our eyes on Jesus and keep moving forward.
We need to learn to forgive quickly, stay in the place of prayer regardless of every enemy that wants to take you out of that place, and learn to walk in constant praise and thanksgiving.
God wants to humble our hearts and we need to yield sometimes in extreme ways so our hearts are impacted. God is ready to teach us through our lives how to love deeply and walk in compassion toward others. It is a journey of faith and it is not for the faint of heart.
The alternative is not what I want for my life.
The alternative is a life of anger, bitterness, re-occurring hurt that never gets healed, unforgiveness oozing out of our pores, and a hardened heart that is unmovable toward people. That is a very unhappy life and one where God is unable to move in our lives because we harden our hearts toward Him and each other.
The journey to walk free from offenses is one of joy, peace, patience, and love. It is a journey that causes our hearts to be light and free and moving forward to the next great adventure. It is the adventure that we all want to have. Let’s move forward and look at the Word of God concerning offenses, bitterness, and unforgiveness.
As I said to those Romanian Bible school students last year- “this might be the most important message you will ever hear in your life.”
Let’s ask God to teach us the beauty in this verse.
“He who endures to the end will be saved.” - Matthew 24:13
To read the rest of the upcoming series - Enduring to the End - and get notifications as they are published - subscribe to this blog by email to the right of this article. Thank you for letting me share my life with you.