Forgiveness Redefined

5 10 2015

I recently learned a new definition for forgiveness. It is this:

“Letting go of the hope of ever having a better past.”*

That may sound like a ‘no-brainer’, and it is…if you aren’t the one who must let go!

As I considered this point of view, it became increasingly apparent that this is the main hitch to forgiving. What happened was wrong. It should never have played out that way.

I want a different story!

For a one-time event, like being cussed out, this isn’t a very difficult task. On the other hand, if you’re talking years of mistreatment, that’s a different matter entirely.

How does one go back and rewrite their history?

Short answer:

It’s not possible.

What can we do with the lost years, or even decades? How on earth do we let go of the hope of having a magic wand waved over time and see the past changed in an instant?

This definition took forgiveness to a whole new level for me…and at the same time, showed me why I struggled with giving up the accompanying bitterness and resentment.

I wanted my life back, written as a fairy tale instead of the ugly reality I lived.

Which is not possible.

It was necessary to let go of the dream of ‘what might have been’.

Until I could do so, I was stuck in pain and despair.

If you’ve read many of my posts, you know that life has showered me with abandonment, rejection, and abuse of every sort. I don’t understand why my story is thus, but am grateful for the lessons learned along the way. Thankfully, God is using my history to develop my character, and to draw me close to Him.

The depth of relationship I enjoy with my Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit would not exist apart from my history.

While I’ve walked through the ‘steps’ of forgiveness, there were parts from which I could not shake free. This definition shed light on the problem.

Maybe it will help you, too.

 The struggle to accept this truth was tough. It’s too bad that mental gyrations don’t count as trips to the gym. I’d be buff!

At the end of each session, though, the conclusion was the same…the past could not be changed one iota.

When I finally came to grips with this, freedom happened.

The final moments between seeing that a different past was a hopeless cause – and accepting reality – was mind-bending in the extreme. I could almost hear the synapses in my brain stretch and, one by one, snap.

Talk about a renewed mind!

Lightness followed, as did clarity. At last I understand:

If we don’t like our history, then we must make better choices today,

which will give us a better ‘past’ tomorrow!

If I hit on a trigger: You don’t understand! I didn’t ask for this; I was a kid, let me clarify. Some of our history was beyond our control, for sure. No two-year-old has a say about much that happens to them.

However, we are no longer two years old. We’re grown-ups with a voice. As adults we have a great deal of say in what we will and will not allow.

Choose wisely!

*****

*This definition comes from Affair Recovery. If you, or someone you know, has either been unfaithful – or been betrayed – this is a fantastic resource. Their video blogs are insightful and informative, too.





Saul Breathes Down Your Neck (aka Why I Blog!)

23 05 2013

A great admirer of King David, I once asked the Lord to give me a heart like his…so I could be a woman after God’s own heart. I had no idea what I was asking, for you don’t achieve a heart like David’s without a Saul hot on your heels!

My writing “career” began in 2006, when I was asked to write a monthly newsletter for the women I served. One side of the page listed upcoming events, the other was a short article that I penned – not unlike what I post here. I discovered that I really enjoy writing, and others enjoyed reading what I wrote.

In November, 2009, being uncertain of whether writing was part of God’s plan for me, I jotted down a prayer on the last page of my current journal, put the book on the shelf, selected a new one, and left for a visit with my oldest son and his family in Oahu. I said nothing to anyone about my question – didn’t want to manipulate the answer in any way.

Four days later, my husband, Wendel, called from home and said, “Hey, they have laptops on sale at the department store. Do you want one?”

I started to say, “No, that’s okay,” then realized that this was the answer to my prayer and said, “Yes! I’d love to have a laptop.”

When I returned home, I pulled out my journal and showed him what I’d written:

“Father, if it is Your desire that I write, would You give me a laptop? If You say ‘no,’ I’ll be fine with that.”

“Well, it looks like you have your answer,” he said with a smile.

Within two weeks of purchasing my computer, however, I lost my only writing assignment!

At that time, I served with a group of women on a committee. The leader was resigning, and nominations were taken for the vacant position. I nominated one of my friends, who later was installed as the new leader.

What came next was totally unexpected. It quickly became apparent that this was a very ambitious person, who did not take kindly to being opposed. Those who disagreed with “suggestions” were pressured to comply, any who were perceived as a threat were drummed out. I was one of them.

Had it been someone that I really didn’t know, this would not have felt like a betrayal; but this was someone I considered to be my friend. Door after door for service became closed to me. I was so hurt and confused.

“Did I hear You correctly, Lord? Did I read into the laptop something that wasn’t there? I don’t get this.”

To avoid sustaining more injury, I fled from the presence of this person, spending more time in personal Bible study and in prayer.

This was my first “Saul,” who chased me away from what God anointed me to do, but drove me closer to God in the process.

In January, 2009, a fellow writer, whom I greatly admire, caught up with me in the hall.

“Hi, Tami! There’s a book writing class being offered by a young man at no cost. It’s a fifteen week course. Last week was the first meeting and it was very good. Are you interested? I could pick you up this Tuesday.”

The class was fabulous! The instructor began with how to “corral” our ideas and shape them into an outline. From the outline, how to fill in the body of the text. Then he walked us through how to format, paginate, and design covers for our books. We were introduced to Lulu, and encouraged to publish the work we’d done during the class. Our book, in print, was expected by the end of the course.

My class project was the slim volume offered in the right-hand column here. It’s title is Lessons by Heart – Learned at the Feet of Jesus. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into the 133 pages within! I was amazed to have the whole thing sitting on my table as a book.

The instructor also suggested that we begin a blog as a means of advertising our books, and gave a thorough presentation on WordPress. His idea made sense, so I came home and started designing my “home” in Blogtopia. Since the object was to market my book, I gave the blog the same name.

Two months into blogging, however, I had one follower, and had gotten about 50 views. I picked up a “watcher” – a self-proclaimed defender of the faith – on the second article I posted. He was not blatantly mean, but his words dripped with sarcasm as he questioned what I’d written.

(I take this responsibility very seriously. We live in an era of wide-range deception, and I do not ever want to contribute to that. The last thing I want is to stand before the Lord and explain how I lead even one other person away from His loving care.)

This person’s comments scared me. Afraid that I would spread heresy, I quit posting anything. Lessons by Heart sat unused for four years. I assumed it had been deleted due to inactivity long ago.

This person was my second “Saul,” who “ran me off,” – away from the work to which I believed God had called me.

In the four years since, I’ve been busy writing – but had no outlet for my work. I wrote most of a commentary for women on the book of Joshua for Princess Warriors, wrote about half of a novel with the working title, Dated Richard, Married Leon. I’ve also written a hundred or so small articles like what I post here.

I still don’t know what I’ll do with all of these writings. I’m not anxious to go through the publishing process again. I did everything but the cover for the book myself, and it was a LOT of work! Of course, last time I did the whole thing, start to finish, in four months. There were so  many “unknowns,” and I’m mostly a coward when it comes to venturing out of my comfort zone.

A choice had to be made as I dealt with the first Saul. I could become like him, repaying evil for evil (sad to say, I sometimes failed here), and become bitter; or I could step out in faith that God was going to use this for my good and trust Him for the outcome.

My first Saul served to move me from a place of “preaching to the choir” out into the world of the lost and broken. I lead worship for women at our local mission’s recovery home. I’ve gone out to the park, where our church feeds the homeless every Sunday, and provided music  from time to time. I’ve gone to Nicaragua to serve the last three years, and am currently recording audio books for the mission’s recovery program, which will benefit those residents who cannot read. Oh, and this year a dear friend of mine helped me record and produce a music CD for the nurses in Nicaragua. The greatest benefit of all is that I was driven into the arms of my loving Father, who became my refuge and strength. (There is not enough room here to tell everything else that was a benefit of being chased off!)

So, you see, the time has not been wasted…but a lot changed in me during these years. Without my first “Saul,” I would never have done any of these other things. Every one of them has been the direct result of that person’s behavior.

My second “Saul” taught me the importance of confirming everything that I believe the Lord has spoken to me before putting it into print. “By two or three witness a thing is confirmed,” the Bible states. This is crucial – especially while our minds are being renewed and we are growing up in Christ. Many of the old traditions had to go, and have been replaced with actions that come from a purer heart and better motives.

Through this “Saul,” I learned that there are some in the body who’ve made it their job to “categorize” or “rank” fellow believers, and to find our wounded and shoot them. These are not gifts of the Spirit that I find in the Bible. I appreciate being shown (IN LOVE!) where I am in error. After all, truth is my personal quest. I have such a long way to go. I am honored whenever someone comes alongside to walk me through misconceptions. Mentors are awesome. Critics who tear down for the sport of it? Give ’em a smiley face and move on.

I learned that God is faithfully present when everyone around me is fickle. I learned to trust Him for the outcome – to know that there’s a purpose to the places I’ve run to. I have a greater compassion for people, having learned that behind each “Saul” is a sad, sad story that has twisted them into what they have become. Consequently, I take their broken, bloody little bodies and “set them on the Lord’s lap,” asking Him to heal their wounds.

I also had to grow up. It was time for me to learn that there is only One that I must please. If He’s the only One who is pleased with me, that is enough. From time to time I still fall into the trap of people-pleasing, but don’t live there anymore.

I do not recall what caused me to look up my old blog and see if it still existed, but on March 26 of this year, I did. Something about writing here felt right. It was time.

One week into posting, the Lord brought these verses to my attention:

“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the abilities which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

With these instructions burned into my mind, I sit at my (third!) laptop with fear and trembling every day. I ask the Lord what He wants to say to you through my blog. I type what He brings to mind. Mostly, He wants His children to know that His favor is on each and every one of us. We are fully and completely forgiven. My job is to convey His heart for His children by sharing the ways He has lavished His love on me.

I’m not a “favorite.” He longs to be every bit as intimate with all of His kids. Sometimes people simply don’t know that this kind of relationship is possible and need to be shown what it looks like in real life. Until about 10 years ago, I had no idea. I missed out on some wonderful times with my Lord because I didn’t know He wanted to interact with me in such a personal way.

My heart’s desire through this blog, and through my life, is to invite every person I come in contact with into a vibrant, real, intimate, and joyous relationship with our heavenly Father, and with Jesus.

This is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3

Eternal life is the gift of  (not from) God – Himself. He is the gift. It doesn’t get much clearer than that!

Wow! We can enjoy a relationship with Him like Adam and Eve had before the fall; like Jesus demonstrated when He was here on earth. THIS is the purpose of salvation. What a shame it would be to miss the point.

How about you? Do you have a Saul? Have you changed for the better because of him or her? Or have you become bitter? Do tell!





Wannabe-Lion Poo

13 05 2013

Don’t look now, but there’s a lion look-alike hot on your trail.

I know he’s not a real lion because the genuine article doesn’t set traps for his prey. This one does. He goes about “like” a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

What is his bait?

Offense.

If he can get you offended, you’re on your way to becoming his dinner.

Check this out:

In Luke 17:1, Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come.”

So what does this so-called lion use as bait?

“It is not an enemy who taunts me – I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me – I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you – my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.” (Psalm 55:12-14 NLT)

Other sheep, that’s what he uses.

The end result:

“And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” Matthew 24:10-12

It is easy to forget that we don’t fight against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Their ring leader wants to steal, and kill, and destroy us. Did you know he also has a will for our lives? You can bet that’s not going anywhere good.

He wants us “in him” – not “in Christ.” In the end we’ll become a steaming pile of “wannabe-lion poo.” Is that really what we want?

Our fight isn’t with flesh-and-blood people…although they may be the “front man” – and rarely aware that they are.

Divorce, ended friendships, church splits? These begin with one party or the other being offended. Without an understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes, or any tools to work with, the “right” thing to do seems to dust off one’s shoes and move on.

I dare say this is a huge issue in the Christian community today. People are leaving the church in droves because of offense.

The question we must ask when the opportunity to be offended is, “Who will benefit most if I take this bait? God? Me? The other party? or my enemy?”

I want to run the race well, and arrive worn out and used up, exclaiming, “What a ride!” This will not happen if I allow myself to be taken captive by the enemy of my soul.

“But, I’ve already been offended. I’ve got bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness – you don’t know what they did! I have a right to feel the way I do,” you may be thinking. I understand that line of thinking – I’ve been there for many years, and for “good” reason. There isn’t room to address this here, so I would like to recommend a resource that will help you through the process of healing – and possibly restoration.

There is a 12-week study by John Bevere entitled, “The Bait of Satan.” This study has a book, and a workbook. If you’ve been offended, you’ll need both. The book will give you understanding. The workbook is where healing comes. (A DVD series is also available.)

Here’s a quote by John Bevere:

“When you make the decision that you are going to go with God, the flow of the world is contrary to the flow of the Kingdom, and you’re going to meet up with resistance and opposition.

How you handle that resistance and opposition will determine your future because God’s Word, His promise, will always come to pass as long as you don’t get offended.”

(Bait of Satan, Session 2)

The bottom line is this: We can get free, and stay free from offense, or we can go on as we have…

…and become “wannabe-lion poo.”