Category : Devotion of the Week
Category : Devotion of the Week
Forgiving someone you used to love, who is gone now, is not as hard as one would think, and that’s because forgiveness is all about releasing the pain, judgment, and expectation of justice or revenge.
Cliché but truth: forgiveness is more for the victim than the abuser.
The process to resolve the hurt and pain caused by someone is 100% up to you, as well as God, who gives us the strength to forgive the individual who has wronged us. We have no control of what other people do, but we have all the control on how we react. Yes, I understand that the pain caused by a traumatic experience is involuntary; the wave of emotions can hit us without warning—but once you have recovered from the initial shock and recognize you will survive, that is when your healing is within your control.
Before I began my personal journey of forgiveness and healing, I needed to be shown that not forgiving was actually hurting me, and it wasn’t what God teaches. I had to recognize that I was becoming angry, passive aggressive, bitter, and my negativity was spilling–over to loved ones. Once I started focusing on the repercussions of un-forgiveness, it was then that I was able to take steps toward a full recovery through forgiveness. My feelings about the traumatic event were still valid, and I would continue to remember what occurred. I then worked on reasons why I did not want to be angry any longer. I looked into how this anger and bitterness affected my relationships with those that I loved, as well as with the offender. I had to decide if my relationship with the transgressor would or would not continue.
Whether you decide to maintain contact with the culprit or not will influence your path to forgiveness. For example, my relationship with my father was something that I wanted to keep, and he was a person I chose to have in my life. Therefore, I had to work with him and talk to him in order to continue to be around him. I had to be honest and clear with my boundaries. Boundaries allow each person to understand what is going to be acceptable and what is not.
Once you recognize that forgiveness is recovery for you, and within your control, the steps to forgiveness are possible. A good, first step is simply saying you forgive the person. You can do this quietly to yourself, or you can do this in your mind. But every day you take one tiny step and say you forgive them. Initially when you speak these words, it will feel false and may even be sickening to you. The statement doesn’t mean forgiveness has been achieved. However, our minds are exceptionally powerful and as we continue to say that we forgive that person we let in the positive possibility of forgiveness. Each time you make the statement of forgiveness, your heart beings to heal, even if it’s just a little bit.
Another step towards forgiving someone is to see things from their side. Examining the perpetrator’s perspective is not about rationalizing or justifying the injury, but rather to reflect on the person and better understand the circumstances that made it possible to hurt another person. For example, when it comes to my father I had to look into his life, see where he was hurt and how that had affected him in such a way that he came to a place where he hurt others.
Yes another cliché but very, very true: hurting people hurt people.
And once we recognize how badly that person was hurt, badly enough that they themselves became the perpetrator of hurt, then we better understand why they did what they did. It also opens our eyes to the fact that we as victims have a high risk of becoming a perpetrator ourselves for the exact same reason. Without professional, pastoral, and self–counseling tools to address pain and anger, our injuries will negatively influence our emotions and behavior, resulting in our hurting others. It may not be the same kind of hurt, however; pain is pain.
After going through this process, I began to have compassion for my father and for others who have hurt me throughout my life. I understand where they have been because I have been there, and I am empathetic of how their injuries devastated them. Once compassion started, then slowly and gradually, God’s mercy and grace restored me. He can do the same for you.
All of this can sound complicated, but you can start by asking yourself the following questions.
Do I take that small step towards forgiveness or not?
Do I seek out resources to help me heal or not?
Should I work towards a compassionate and merciful heart of Grace or not?
Do I want to continue to be a hard person like the perpetrator and possibly hurt others?
Do I want to be a healed, happy, and peaceful person who can move forward with clear boundaries and expectations in my life?
When I chose to take the steps towards forgiveness my life, the lives around me changed for the better. Peace, joy, forgiveness, hope, and love flourished.
So reader, regardless of who your perpetrator is, whether it’s your husband, brother, sister or uncle, whether you have a close relationship or you haven’t spoken in years, you are in control of how you react and who you want to become, and it is God who will help you in your journey to forgiveness.
“So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them” (Luke 17:3).
I am sitting in one of those Airbnb rentals in Pflugerville, Texas. It’s my son’s wedding week and we needed a place big enough to house family members. The back lawn needs mowing but there’s still enough view to get the creative juices flowing, three days before the big event. (I am working ahead since there’s no way I’ll be able to get a blog out on wedding day.)
Kyle will have no grandparents at the wedding. My husband Jeff’s mom and dad are gone. Jeff’s father died from Alzheimer’s Disease. His mother—cancer.
My mother passed away in 1994 at the age of 63 from a massive heart attack and my dad, two months before I was born at age 39. I hope I take after my grandmother and grandfather who left their earthly tents at age 97 and 93, respectively.
I can’t help but wonder what my dad would think of Kyle if he could attend the wedding. Kyle probably inherited my father’s coarse, wavy hair, as well as his intelligence. Dad was a physician with a Northwestern Medical School degree. Kyle never made a B until his senior year of high school and graduated with a Computer Engineering degree from Texas A & M. I’m an indication that these kinds of smarts skip a generation!
As a child, Kyle always knew how to make me laugh, and it’s my understanding that my father also had a sense of humor. I found some of the old cards that he gave my mother, and they were always funny. Kyle loves sports, as did my dad, but my father was into less mainstream sports like polo, skeet shooting and water skiing.
What if my dad had lived? I think he would really like both his grandsons and be proud of Kyle at his wedding.
Have you ever played the “what if” game? Maybe you had a parent that died as well and they missed some milestones in your life. How do you feel about that?
This kind of reality can bring us down. We can be mad about their death or forlorn. Maybe they didn’t take care of themselves the way they should have. Perhaps something went undiagnosed. Did someone else contribute to their shortened life?
The turning point in my own life was when I forgave my father for dying.
I had to realize there was some buried resentment toward my dad for leaving me on this earth to fend for myself most of my childhood. Dr. Burkhardt used to do research on hyperbaric chambers for the military, and acted as a guinea pig. A friend of his told me, “I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what damaged his heart.” What if he hadn’t allowed himself to be used in this way?
Forgiving my father for dying was freeing and I have come to the point where I’ve accepted his death as a part of God’s plan. If he hadn’t died, I might not have pursued God the way I did. I wouldn’t have the testimony I have now, one I share with many people in hopes of seeing them accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and have a more fulfilling life. I also want them to know God as Father. There’s no better dad, one who will never leave us or forsake us. One who knows the number of hairs on our heads. One who cares about our lives—our successes and our heartbreaks.
Who do you need to forgive—for dying? Ask God if you’ve held any kind of resentment in your heart, then give it over to Him. It will be freeing.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:5)
He knows me!
Before my body was created. He KNEW me. Not my size, hair color, eyes, scars, metabolism, health issues, disease, anything with me physically; HE KNEW ME.
He knew the heart and soul of me. The essences that makes me unique, special, different, and worthy.
HE KNEW ME. The life I’d lead, the sins, the glory, the abuse, the pain, the glory, the love.
HE KNEW ME before I was born and HE SET ME APART. Before anyone else knew me, hurt me, abused me, helped me or loved me, HE SET ME APART.
Before I was conscious to Him or realized sin, before I hurt others, hurt myself, before I experienced life, understood abuse, pain, love, and forgiveness, HE SET ME APART.
As I realized the path I was on, before I learned devotion, determination, perseverance, motivation, grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, about His sacrifice, HE SET ME APART.
I had no idea who I would be, but He did and SET ME APART FOR HIM.
He knew me and set me apart for HIMSELF. For His kingdom, and His glory. He knew me and WANTED ME! Me. Knowing all I would do, say or think—He picked me. Knowing all the sins, hurt, pain, lies, failures—HE CHOSE ME.
HE CHOSE ME for His purpose. HE CHOSE ME to share Him with others in a way ONLY I COULD. Because He knew all I would experience and all I would become. He knew all the ways I would glorify Him and all the ways I would fail Him, HE CHOSE ME to represent Him. To tell other of His greatness. Of His love. Of His healing. Of His forgiveness. Of His sacrifice. HE CHOSE ME to share with all nations the wonders and greatness of his love because HE KNOWS YOU TOO.
You. All of you, before you knew you. He set you apart. HE CHOSE YOU. Because HE KNOWS YOU.
This is my favorite time of year. What about you? Thinking it is safe to plant, I’ve started potting a few flowers here and there, and I’m beginning the process of taking away the dead to make room for new growth. I love God’s creation. It is enough for me to know he exists and that He loves us so much that he provided scenic beauty to surround us.
However, one thing we often forget is that we are God’s creation as well. We aren’t always so complimentary about the way we appear, are we? What do you think when you pass by a mirror?
Just this week someone posted a photo of me on Facebook and my first thought is, I look fat in the picture so I didn’t allow it on my Timeline. However, there are photos of me that I dished ten years ago, and now when I look at them, I say, “I guess I’m not as ugly as I thought I was.” That is proof that I am hyper-critical when it comes to my appearance. What about you?
I am currently reading a book, The power of Your Words by Robert Morris. It’s been out for a while but it’s new to me. In it, Morris says when someone uses profane language or curses, they are actually placing a curse on what they are being profane about. Then I thought, What if every time we say something negative about our appearance, we actually make it worse?
Think about it.
I’m fat. Then the scale tips a little more the next day.
I’m ugly. A blemish appears.
My face has too many lines. The lines deepen.
That’s scary to consider, but if we are speaking against the way we look, in a sense we are condemning ourselves. So if that could be true, then the converse could also be true. Try looking in the mirror and say:
I’m beautiful because God created me.
With God’s help and discipline, I’m on my way to being in shape.
These lines add character to my face.
What if we flipped how we speak about ourselves?
Perhaps someone spoke negatively about your appearance in the past. Don’t believe it! Break the curse by believing you are a beautiful child of God. I love Philippians 4:8 that says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Is it right to cut ourselves down when we’re made in the image of God? I think our Maker wants us to appreciate His work of art, our bodies!
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13–16).
I am a person who feels deeply. I am not alone. There are others who feel deeply too. When I say feel deeply, I mean we take in information from the outside world and internalize it, almost as if the event(s) happened to us. Sometimes these feelings become overwhelming—causing anxiety, fear, and/or depression. These deeply rooted feelings take hold of us and can happen at inopportune times.
I believe it is these inopportune times that takes these feelings from the blessing they are meant to be to more of a mental illness. I know that God intended for the times of feeling deeply to be a positive, but our lives have become too crazy with other activities, making the deep feelings more like a curse, especially when they take us away from what we need to do—work, family obligations, and recreation.
However, feeling deeply, thinking, praying, meditating, or whatever you want to call it is, in fact, good. It is a blessing. There are moments while I’m sitting alone when a person, usually a person I love, comes to mind. I remember them, my heart swells, tears may flow, and I’m captured by them. It’s the same when I think of my Lord and Savior.
I’m held captive by His words.
I’m held captive by His blessings.
I’m held captive by His desire for my heart; I want my life to be dedicated to him.
Being captivated by Him makes me feel honored that He would entrust so much to me, and, at times, I am overwhelmed by it all.
I didn’t always think deep feelings were a blessing. For too long I believed that these emotional thoughts were a curse, one to run from. I would hide in television, food, chores, busy work, or run to friends and family to fill every moment of my life so I didn’t have to feel. Some people choose drinking, drugs, exercise or work to avoid feeling, let alone feeling deeply. But then I stopped fighting the feelings and fell into a deep hole of depression by thinking too deeply. Maybe you’ve been there. I was nearing the precipice, a place where I was going to be enveloped and spiral so deep that I’d be unable to call for help. However, I received help just in time. An amazing counselor, wise friends, and a dear pastor friend encouraged me to look at my deep emotions differently, as times of blessings. These are times God has set out for me to pray for others, to pray for myself, to pray for my country or the world, or just be with Him.
You, too, can turn deep feelings into a blessing. Compassion and empathy are noble traits the Lord only gives to a few of us. The deep feeling and connection to others who are hurt is a powerful tool for His Kingdom, but it can be a heavy burden to many. Make the choice of what it is to you.
For me, I now carve out time to feel deeply. Then I think deeply about all those people or issues that are weighing heavy on my mind and heart. I do my best to limit the time, so I can get to life’s responsibilities, but I make sure to get it all out. I journal. I talk with wise friends. I pray. I listen to worship music. I take long showers and talk with the Lord. Sometime I get on my knees and pray. I spend time in the quiet (that one is especially hard for me). I go for long walks. Regardless of what I do, I count it as a blessing. I make sure to tell others that my feeling deeply is a blessing because it comes from love. I love deeply. That love/feeling deeply comes from the One who walks with me through everything. It’s a blessing. I am blessed.
I asked the Lord for strength, so people would stop hurting me, so He gave me compassion.