Forgiveness….

forgive

Forgiveness has weighed heavy on my mind the past couple days…The reason God asks us to forgive isn’t to excuse the hurtful acts done to us, it is to free us from them. It’s to put what was done to us back in His hands in order to move forward with our lives without the burden of constant bitterness and resentment. I think some people get so used to carrying the bitterness, they don’t even realize they carry it. It’s a painful poison.

“Forgiveness doesn’t make what the person did right, it just makes your heart right.” — Beth Moore

I wouldn’t have understood this quote until I had a doozy to forgive. The weight we carry by harboring unforgiveness can affect generations. It can also promote a cycle of bitterness, anger, and resentment that God does not intend for us to carry much less pass on. In my own situation, I couldn’t prevent the cycle of divorce no matter how hard I tried. But now, I want to do everything in God’s power to prevent bitterness, resentment,  and consistent conflict in our situation. This doesn’t excuse the behavior or erase the pain. It changes me. It humbles me over and over again as I seek His way to handle daily situations. Extending mercy and grace while handing over the need for revenge is one of the hardest things God asks us to do. But, just like everything else He asks us to do, it’s in our best interest. He is a loving and just God.

Forgiving someone doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation either. It depends on the relationship and the two involved. It comforts me to trust that God knows exactly what happened. He knows the hearts involved and He will deal with it. Forgiveness takes faith because we have to believe God in order to take this giant leap. Forgiveness is not “letting them off the hook”, it’s letting ourselves off the hook to go in peace by leaving the offense in God’s hands.

If there is someone you feel like you need to forgive on a daily basis and you can’t seem to avoid like a mean spirited coworker or a critical family member or spouse, pray for them and ask God how to respond to them. In these situations, I tend to get back in the doormat position by turning the other cheek over and over. God’s will is that we love others, but not that we forget to love ourselves as His children in the process. We all deserve respect. These people may be the sandpaper in our lives that God is using to refine and test us. Love them in the process of standing up for yourself. I know that’s also not easy….none of this comes naturally to us.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

His peace is priceless and His peace is worth handing our situation over. It is a process that He will help us with once we have the desire to forgive. He alone can soften and strengthen our hearts after what they’ve been through. Once our desire is to forgive, He will take the reins. Let Him have them…Forgiveness is the final act of love. Jesus proved that to be true.

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Do the Hard Thing.

hard thing

When I got married, my dream was to stay married. I know that’s the shared dream for the majority of us when we marry, but my dream of a lasting marriage may have been for different reasons than some. I wanted to know that marriage really could last forever. I needed to prove it to myself. I was very much pro-marriage and still am. 

My parents divorced when I was in the 8th grade and it was hard. Divorce is hard on everyone. I’ve heard that research has shown that kids from divorce tend to divorce more often because they see it as an option. I was the opposite. I felt like my parents’ divorce fueled me to stay together come hell or high water……no matter what. I was in it for the long haul. The last thing on earth I wanted to go through or put my kids through was a divorce. I’d lived it and I knew the difficulties and pain involved.

I wanted a happy, healthy, and whole family for my husband, kids, and myself. Our marriage wasn’t happy, healthy, or whole because the people in it were not healthy or whole to begin with. I wanted so desperately to break the cycle of divorce that I displayed and permitted behavior that shouldn’t be accepted as normal in a healthy marriage. The example we were modeling for our children was neither healthy nor happy. It was quite the opposite. The marriage disintegrated while I prayed consistently for it to be restored. I poured my heart out to God over and over again pleading with Him to step in and save the marriage for the sake of our children and my dream to just stay together. Instead, the divorce happened. Looking back now, I know it needed to.

The reality of divorce has been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through thus far in my life. Now, in the aftermath, it’s still hard. It’s hard because of too many reasons to list. It’s hard because the girls have another woman in their lives now. It’s hard because they go back and forth between homes. It’s hard because we don’t have the same rules at my house as he does at his house. It’s hard because our priorities are different. It’s just hard and I know as a child of divorce that it always will be.  It will take a daily surrender and annointing of grace, mercy, and forgiveness to prevent the devil’s stronghold of anger, bitterness, and resentment to fester. I know now more than ever that I need a daily dose of Jesus every single day for my children and myself.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve felt God tell me that He wants me to do the hard thing again. And that is to forgive and extend mercy to all involved. Forgive for the love of God and for the love of my children. When we have “every right” to be bitter and wish the worst, God asks us to do the hard thing. I know I can’t do it on my own, my flesh is entirely too weak. But, I’d rather forgive than suffer. I’d rather forgive than let the magnitude of what happened affect what will happen in mine or my children’s lives. I am willing to do the hard thing. But, I can’t do it on my own. He’s going to have to prop me up and do it with me.

I have no doubt God could have saved our marriage, but He chose not to. That wasn’t a part of His plan. I do know His plans for me are good. I do know He wants me to forgive and continue to love. I do know He wants me to live an abundant and joyful life.  To live the life He desires me to live, I believe I will have to once again do the hard thing. I believe that forgiveness equals freedom and I also believe He loves me enough to help me do it because He has forgiven me.