Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Merry-Go-Round of Forgiveness Part 2

The process of forgiveness reminds me of this verse in Ezekiel 36:26. It says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and will give you a heart of flesh.” The concept of forgivness is clearly displayed in this verse.  

Forgiveness is me asking God to turn my heart of stone, a heart that wants to forever hate, hold something against, or avoid, into a heart of flesh, a compassionate and tender heart, a soft heart, for people who hurt me. 

When we found out about the abuse; I felt as if I had recently been through an intense training course in Ohio on forgiveness.  After my mind grasped what had happened, the gnawing idea settled in: I was going to have to forgive my abuser. 

I couldn’t hold on to this type of hurt; it would destroy me. The issues and relationships with which I had struggled to practice forgiveness before, now seemed fairly small compared to this giant task of forgiving a close friend who had abused me.

Lamentations 3

At first, the thought of forgiving my abuser scared me half to death, and, it looked absolutely impossible. The video voyeurism consumed years of my life and was a deep betrayal. In the beginning, I couldn’t even look back on those years of my life with happiness. 

I felt like my life looked like a piece of paper that had been scribbled on and thrown into the trash. The abuse had gone on for so long without my knowledge. I was confused, hurt, and left with a gaping open wounds. I didn’t really know where to start this seemingly unattainable process called forgivness. So, I cried out to God, and went back to Lamentations 3, the verses I had been praying every day for the past few years. 

I prayed, “God please give me new mercies for my abuser. You have given me new mercies this morning. Please help me to forgive." 

At first, I almost felt as I wrote those words, that I was lying. I knew part of me did not fully want to forgive, but on the flip side, I also knew the other part of me was willing to try and start somewhere. 

God knew my heart in those early days, and had asked me to make baby steps toward forgiveness, going through the motions without the feelings at first. He wanted a heart of obedience from me; He wanted to see that I trusted Him with this deep hurt. He had asked me to write what the spirit inside of me yearned to do; not what was possible right now, but what I wanted Him to do through me. 

This process was His way of helping me work out my feelings, and deal with my pain, learning how to choose to give it all back to Him daily.

As a culture, I feel sometimes we are deceived into thinking if we don’t talk or think about something, especially hard things, they will go away or we won’t have to deal with them. I know that sometimes, a season or so has to pass before we are ready to deal with hard and hurtful things, that’s grief, and that's ok, but God’s heart isn’t for us to have to stuff things down so deep it forces our soul to whither. God wants us to “deal” with hurt, issues, deep betrayals, because it’s in the dealing that He shows us how desperate we really are for Him, and it’s in the dealing that He changes us to look more like Him.

I knew no one but Jesus could really help me “deal.” He had to give me the power to forgive, and to keep going on the merry-go-round of forgiveness again and again with Him when my entitled hurt feelings returned. 

(The "Merry-Go-Round of Forgiveness Part 3" coming soon.)

The "Merry-Go-Round of Forgivness Part 1" can be found below this post.



Monday, July 6, 2015

The Merry-Go-Round of Forgiveness--- Part 1

While living in Ohio, I had tremendous difficulty in relationships. I know in part it was because we were there to help plant a church and the amount of spiritual warfare that came with church planting was, at times too intense to explain. I also see now though, that it was a period in my life where God desperately wanted to teach me things about myself I would not otherwise have learned. 

He wanted me to not only be able to talk about forgiveness and what it looked like, how pretty it was, and what the bible says about it. He wanted me to have to experience, to give away that deep down, ‘only with God kind’ of forgiveness. The type of forgiveness the family members of the church shooting in South Carolina gave to the man who murdered their loved ones. 

I quickly learned during my time in Ohio that forgiveness was not an emotion. It was an act of the will. It involved me begging God, through His spirit, to help me release someone from a debt I thought they owed me, and eventually emotions of forgiveness would usually follow.

I remember waking up and praying “Help me God to have new mercies for _____ today , just like I know you have for me today.” This became my go to prayer when it came to forgiveness. I would pray it every single day, sometimes multiple times a day when I literally wanted to give up on certain people and though those hard hard days, God taught me that for me forgiveness is a process. 

See, Forgiveness isn’t a fake happy. It’s not a hurry up and say the words, “I forgive you.” Forgiveness isn’t an ignore the problem, thinking it will go away, and in the process pretend to like the person who hurt you type of thing. Forgiveness as stated above, is a process; it takes time; it takes God’s power and utter dependance on Him. 

I would give up my bitterness, resentment, the debt against someone, and then I would take it back, and then, have to give it up again. Then, something else would happen, and I would go on the merry-go-round of forgiveness all over again. Sometimes I felt like I would never be finish the process, that I would never arrive at legit “forgiveness status.” But, every single time, when I would have these relational issues in Ohio, right when I would really want to fall apart and give up, God would give me just what I needed to carry on in this monumental process of forgiveness.


Happy 4th of July a few days late☺️





And bc I'm obsessed with Time Hop:
And because I read this today and it resonated with my soul:




Friday, May 29, 2015

Self Awareness and Overactive Conscious

"The hallmark of growth in a Christian's life is self-awareness. Not the kind of awareness where we vaguely acknowledge that we sometimes sin, but the ability to take a soul inventory with a view toward growth."

I picked up a book by Mary DeMuth called "Everything." In it there is a section about self awareness. I believe the best way to take a soul inventory is to ask the Holy Spirit to search us, try us, see if there is any offensive way in us like scripture says.

However, Mary also offers a practical guide to self awareness with this 5 question method called EXAMEN. I thought it was wonderful and wanted to post it! 


She also says, "when others come alongside you and you humbly welcome feedback, your growth multiplies."

I pray I can be a person of humility who asks God to show me where I need to be more like Him and can welcome others feedback.

Mary continues on the topic of self awareness speaking to something she calls an "overactive conscious." And I sooo see myself in this picture! She says overactive conscious becomes so aware of faults that it analyzes and dissects them, obsessed over them and then deem oneself worthless. 

Mary says three things that have helped her with this are to: 


When I am filled with Jesus, I am humble. I am not thinking too much of myself, I am wanting to serve. I am not letting the voice of condemnation control my thoughts. I am free...

Thank you Mary DeMuth for your wise words on self awareness.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

He will finish what He has started...

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

We are God's masterpiece. The definition of masterpiece* is a person's greatest work. I don't know about you but I don't always feel like a masterpiece. A lot of times I feel lost or like a failure. I know God has a plan and a purpose for my life but I get confused on what that means I am supposed to be doing today....or..... I completely blow it, yell at my kids, zone out and feel like the day is a waste. 

However, no matter what yesterday looked like, the truth of the verse holds true for my life and for yours. I am God's masterpiece. Long ago, before time began, He saw my life. He created and crafted me just the way I am so that I could use what He gave me to bring Him glory. He planned good things for me to do for Him and others in my lifetime.

I don't have to have it all figured out today. I can just hold on to the truth that, "He who began a good work in my will complete it."* I can rest in the fact that, "God is working in me, giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases Him"* today if I want Him to.

I'm so thankful that all He asks us to do is Abide* in Him. He knows we couldn't handle seeing into the future. He simply wants us to trust Him, listening to His voice and believing in His promises for us are true. 


*dictionary.com*Phil 1:6 *Phil 2:10 *John 15:4

Thursday, May 21, 2015

No Pain Ever Goes to Waste With God.


'
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”  But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.'
Job 2:9-10

Job statement here is profound. He basically says, “I do not understand what the heck is going on but I know God has His reasons.” 

I thought about these verses and tried to find application today: If I love God only when He gives me good things, I'm not really loving God. I'm loving the good life He has given me. Loving God is believing the truth about Him and trusting Him even when my life's circumstances don't look good. 

In Job's case we see that one of the reasons God allowed Job's testing was to prove Job loved Him, in the good and the bad, in the times of abundance and in the times of loss.

Job said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and I will be taken naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord." 
Job 1:21

Another reason it seems God allowed this testing was that through it, Job displays the glory of God. His satisfaction and faith in God through unbearable pain and loss prove that God is what He claims to be. Oh how my heart desires to love God for who He is and not just what He gives me and how I long to glorify Him with my life.


I have been thinking on some of my deepest times of pain, remembering scripture was the only thing that seemed to soothe the pain. I'm not in a deep place of pain right now but I know those who are. I typically shy away from saying anything that could come across "trite" to those in pain but today my heart so badly wants to help in some way. So, I thought on what truth meant the most to me in my pain:


1) God loves you. He never overlooks or diminishes pain.

Psalm 56:8 says "God keeps track of all our sorrows. He collects all our tears in His bottle. Each one has been recorded in your book." When you feel like no one sees you, no one truly understands, everyone has forgotten you are hurting, remember God hasn't. I picture Him crying with those hurting, weeping with them, caring enough to take each tear and put it in a bottle.


2) He has a plan to use this pain.

Romans 8:28 makes the promise that "God will work all things together for the good of Him who love Him." This means even if the pain you are feeling is partially because of your sin, if you love Jesus, He will use it for good and for His glory. And if your pain feels pointless and your asking why? Even this pain He promises to use. No pain ever goes to waste with God. 



3) He promises to make you stronger through it, keep clinging to Him. 

On days I felt like I couldn't even move, on days when I felt like I took one step back and was frustrated with my progress; this verse brought me comfort. "After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to be His child, who wants to spend an eternity in heaven with you, will Himself complete you, making you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen you and settle you." (1 Peter 5:10)




I know these truths do not take away one single ounce of pain. I know they don't..... but..... I pray today, these truths provide an once of comfort and hope in pain.  




Monday, May 18, 2015

FREEDOM

For Freedom Christ has Set Us Free! 
Stand Firm then, 
and do not let yourselves 
be burdened again by slavery. 
Galatians 5:1

Freedom, what an amazing word, a glorious feeling. Galatians 5:1 is one of my all time fave verses. I was looking at it with fresh eyes this am. God showed me some of the "YOKES" I tend to go back to and then I looked at what the opposites of those were-the "FREEDOMS" I want to choose to live in today by the power of His spirit.

YOKES --- FREEDOMS:

Yoke: Zoning out
Freedom: fully engaged, mind alert, standing firm 

Yoke: Bitterness/grudges
Freedom: forgiveness- I have been forgiven so much! 

Yoke: Despair
Freedom: Joy right now where I am today

Yoke: Sharp Tongue
Freedom: fruit of the spirit of self control and give life with my words



May I live, may we live as women who are FREE today! 

God, only by your power can we choose to Live Free! Please help us; we need your unending grace and strength. We love you. Amen.