faith

A Hope That Anchors Our Soul

Tears streamed down my face and I fixed my eyes ahead, signing loudly, vaguely aware that if I started wiping them away, I would become more conspicuous. But it was too late. Little hands tugged my arm and a little voice whispered “are you ok, mama?” I smiled and nodded, wiping my face and turning back to the worship.

hope

It gets me every time.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

My favorite words from my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson, cut right to the center of me every single time.

They remind me how so very often my weak and fleshly heart wanders from the Lord and His ways. How quickly I fall into discouragement. How unfaithful I really am. Is the same true for you?

But it also reminds me of the incredible hope that we have.

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV

You see, our souls are anchored in Jesus Christ to the inner place… into the Holy of Holies… at the right hand of God. Our hope is in God alone. It is a hope that steadies our path and brings us back to Him. 

hope

That hope – the promises we have in Christ – strengthens us to persevere and battle discouragement, wait on God’s perfect timing in current trials, and walk in faith and obedience.

May we always remember in those hard times that we have power in Christ and hope in His name. It is the love and goodness of God that binds our wandering hearts to Him through the work of the cross. All praise be to Him!

Lord, I pray for encouragement and strengthening hope for our hearts. Help us to remain anchored and steadfast in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Senseless Hope

This is a very special day.  Four years ago today we lost our first grandson just hours before birth.

It seems like a sad way to start a post, especially since the theme this month is “Hope”, but it actually isn’t sad. Let me tell you why.

hope

Minutes after we received the phone call that they had lost Isaac’s heartbeat and were getting ready to do an ultrasound, I numbly walked to my car. I asked God what to pray for.  Should I pray for a miracle? Should I pray that our grandson was really alive and that this was just some scary misunderstanding? In a very quiet whisper I heard, “no”. It was at that moment that I could feel God’s grace wash over me and a knowing in my heart that He was not only present, but would provide everything we needed to walk this journey. The short drive to the hospital was the hardest I’ve ever made.

As I arrived and walked into the room where our daughter and her husband were awaiting the ultrasound confirmation, you could hear a pin drop. The tech came in and we watched as he searched for a heartbeat. It wasn’t there.  

On the screen, we could see Isaac’s perfect little body, created in the image of God…still, lifeless, peaceful.

There were a few friends there in the room with us and a few minutes later one of their phones started playing a song. I tried to turn it off, but couldn’t, so I left the room with it. I still couldn’t get it to stop playing when I realized that maybe I was SUPPOSED to listen to it. So I sat down in a nearby chair and listened while tears streamed down my face:

All who are thirsty

All who are weak

Come to the fountain

Dip your heart in the stream of life

Let the pain and the sorrow

Be washed away

In the waves of his mercy

As deep cries out to deep (we sing)

Come Lord Jesus come

As I began to worship, I invited Jesus to come onto that hospital floor. Over the hours that followed, His presence was so tangible and his grace so evident, we would be fools to deny it. Our daughter delivered their sweet little boy just 12 hours after induction. I watched her and Jacob draw strength from Jesus as they walked out the seemingly impossible with hope that didn’t make worldly sense.

We spent what felt like far too short of a time holding, kissing and loving on Isaac.

In the days, weeks and months that followed we experienced waves of deep and gut wrenching grief…and yet there was hope…REAL hope. We lived out I Thessalonians 4:13 that describes how, as Christians, we grieve, but NOT as those who have no hope. To grieve WITH hope is entirely different than grieving with NO hope.

And THIS is why we can have confidence…because He IS our confidence. There is no place we can go where His love does not go deeper still. Our feelings may tell us differently, but feelings aren’t always fact and, as believers, we can yield those feelings to the truth…that He is not only our reason to hope, but He IS our hope.

Three Steps to Forgiving Yourself

“I will never be able to forgive myself for this.”

“After everything I’ve done, I don’t deserve to be happy.”

“I’m such a mess. I’ll never get parenting right.”

forgiveness

If you have ever found yourself thinking something similar to these things, there’s a good chance you were/are walking in unforgiveness of yourself. It can take many forms, but unforgiveness of self always leads to the same destination – nowhere.

The burden of our sins and failures, both real and imagined, can be heavy. The guilt of our mistakes weighing us down. When we choose to dwell on or relive our past transgressions, we become stuck and victims of our own hate and condemnation.

The enemy of our souls wants us to believe that we are still guilty. He knows that guilt chokes off new life and leads to self-destruction. (Proverbs 16:18) When we focus our energy and thoughts on regret and the past, it keeps us from the life in which God has called us. It denies the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection for us and God’s goodness. (Ephesians 1:7)

We cannot erase what we have already done, but we can free ourselves from guilt and leave the past behind. Forgiving yourself may not always seem easy, but the steps to get there are not complicated.

Repent

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9)

We must recognize that unforgiveness of self is a sin and repent. When we confess and repent of our sins, God promises to remove them from us. (Psalm 103:11-12) God doesn’t halfway forgive us when we repent and turn from our sin. He forgives us completely and moves on. (Hebrews 8:12) He desires for us to do the same.

Accept

In addition to repenting, we must accept our imperfections and that we are broken but forgiven people. When we accept who we are and leave our past behind, we can find our true identity in Christ. Praise God, we are no longer the person who we used to be.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Your past does not define you. The God of heaven and earth calls you His beloved. You have been forgiven and are no longer the person from your past. Be free!

Move Forward

Forgiving yourself does not mean you have forgotten or are excusing your past behavior, but God wants us to move on from our past. He wants us to keep moving forward as overcomers. (Philippians 3:13-14) When you do make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Learn from it so you don’t keep repeating it and move on.

forgiveness

Memorizing scripture has been one of the most useful tools in keeping me moving forward from my past. When the lies of guilt, shame, and condemnation try to sneak their way into your thoughts, you’ll be prepared with the living word of God.

I also find praise and worship to be very effective when thoughts of my past or current mistakes begin to plague me. I know that I may not be where I desire to be, but thankfully, I am no longer where I used to be. That is something to praise God about!

Father God, I thank you that your mercies are new every morning. I thank you that I can know forgiveness because Jesus has already paid the price for my sins. I repent for holding onto my past and not forgiving myself. I repent of letting my mistakes and failures control and hurt me. Forgive and heal me, Lord, as I choose to forgive myself. Thank you for the courage and strength to move forward in the freedom I can only find in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

The Mediator We So Desperately Need

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5

You and I are in desperate need of a mediator. Yes, as Christians and adopted sons and daughters of the Most High, we are encouraged to approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). But sin still gets in our way. Every time we choose to indulge our fleshly desires instead of choosing to do God’s will, we distance ourselves from the Father.

mediator

We need someone to speak for us, to advocate for us before a holy God—someone who is blameless and without sin.

Jesus is your Mediator to God the Father.

Just as a mediator works to resolve a dispute between two parties, so Jesus is your Mediator. Although you were once an enemy of God (Romans 5:10), Jesus has reconciled you to the Father and made peace between you through His death on the cross (Hebrews 9:15).

Just as a mediator works on your behalf as a go-between, a liaison to communicate or transfer information between you and another person, so Jesus is your Mediator. He makes it possible for you to talk with the Father. That’s one reason why we pray in Jesus’ name.

Just as a lawyer is a mediator who represents you before a judge, so Jesus is your Mediator. He pleads your case before the One who forgives sins (1 John 2:1).

Do you feel unworthy to stand before the Father’s throne? We’re all in the same boat. You and I need Jesus to advocate for us and clothe us in His righteousness to make us presentable before the Father. Pray in Christ’s name. Let Him speak on your behalf. God will surely listen to His only begotten Son.

A human mediator could never represent you to the heavenly Father. His or her own sin would get in the way. You need a mediator who is without sin to safely approach God, who is altogether holy and righteous and cannot look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13). Also, a human mediator would have his or her own fleshly agenda and wouldn’t be appropriately concerned with your needs and problems.

mediator

But Jesus can—and will—properly represent you at the throne of grace. Because He is God, He knows the Father’s heart. Because Jesus lived as a man, He knows your struggles and the inclinations of the flesh (Hebrews 4:15). And because He lived and died without sinning, you are safe to stand before the Father through Jesus Christ, your faithful Mediator.

Lord, I am lost and alone. I am keenly aware of my need for a mediator. I dare not approach the throne of grace on my own, for I have sinned. Jesus, plead my case, cover my sin, and deliver me. I need you. Oh, how I need you! Thank you for interceding with the Father on my behalf. Amen.

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Three years ago I was rocking my 2-month-old baby when my (then) husband broke the news that he no longer wanted to be married.

I’ve struggled daily with forgiveness for more than 3 years, learning that forgiveness can’t always be given in an instant.

forgiveness

I can’t say, “I forgive you for leaving us.” and suddenly be rid of anger and hurt forever. That anger surfaces over and over: when I face a parenting decision alone, when medical bills arrive, when I’m lonely, when a child asks why her father left, and on, and on. Each and every time that anger washes over me, I must again try to forgive.

What can be done to forgive what feels unforgivable?

Realize that forgiveness isn’t ‘once and done’. It is a constant. Each time anger surfaces, there is need to forgive once again.

What is forgiveness? Is it condoning the actions of the one who hurt you? Is it removing the need for accountability? Is it pretending the wrong never happened or there were no consequences?

No! Forgiveness is simply acknowledging a wrong and giving it to God, realizing that He is the one in control of the situation. Rather than worrying about just punishment for an offense, allow God to take care of it.

forgiveness

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

Even after three years, I am no pro at forgiveness. I must still frequently revisit forgiveness through prayer, asking for help to surrender my anger and hurt.

Friend, if you are struggling to forgive, remember that forgiveness is an ongoing battle. Approach God with prayer each time you find yourself dwelling on the transgression. Recognize that God is in control of righting injustice and you are simply in control of letting go.

Freedom from Unforgiveness (Of Yourself)

We live in South Florida, arguably one of the most beautiful states on earth, even after the recent devastation from Hurricane Irma.  If you think of Florida, beyond the storm, you’ll picture gorgeous waters, palm trees and tropical breezes. Certainly pictures of Heaven on Earth. I’m so blessed to be living here, fulfilling a childhood dream as a travel writer. I love sharing stories about many of the amazing places in God’s world that our family is able to experience. Being a journalist so close to Orlando allows for plenty of opportunities to experience the Walt Disney World parks.

forgiveness

People often say Disney World is the most magical place on earth. While a Disney Park is absolutely a blast (albeit exhausting!) while you’re there, and you’ll certainly make amazing memories, I disagree.

The state of forgiveness is the most magical place on earth, especially forgiveness of self.

Bitterness and unforgiveness are poisonous roots that pollute our soul. Hebrews 12:15 says,

“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”

It’s the same soul we use to commune with God, our husband, and our children. We wouldn’t feed our family poison, and many of us won’t even feed them food contaminated with pesticides. How can we expect to be giving our children a healthy does of love if it’s coming from a polluted soul? Matthew 18:23-35 says we’ll be handed over to the torturers, the tormentors,  if we don’t forgive others. I’ll bet Jesus was talking about forgiving ourselves, too. I’m not sure about you, but I’ll skip the torture and head toward grace! Joyce Meyer says, “Your fellowship with God flows freely when you’re willing to forgive, but it gets blocked by unforgiveness.”

Are we bigger than God that we can’t forgive ourselves when our loving, Heavenly Father, has forgiven us through His Son? Sheri Seligson recently wrote, “In a sense, I am denying the work of Jesus. God forgives me, so why can’t I forgive myself? I mean, I DO forgive myself in my head, but my heart keeps bringing up the guilt and regret.”

We’ve got to rely on God and enter His forgiveness, grace, peace and rest.

It’s in that state of forgiveness of ourselves where we can become the women of God He envisions for us: daughters of the Most High King, brave warriors armed for battle, gentle and kind souls sent to create beauty, life-giving words and atmosphere. And so much more than we can even see.

Truth be told, I’ve struggled with this myself, moms. I mean, often I forget we’re created to create and it’s really ok to just sit and play with the kids for a while instead of staring into guilt from the years of half- used (and often untouched) curriculum that might have cost too much to begin with. How about that parenting fail we’re carrying? The way we lashed out at our husband or didn’t do something we intended for a friend? Haven’t we all missed a deadline, or finishing that schoolwork, or burned a meal, or over committed in our church or co-op, often to things way out of our control?

When we miss the mark, don’t we beat ourselves up? Good news, moms: we aren’t meant to carry these weights and stress, we’re meant to live in grace, the free and unmerited favor of God.  Can you relate, mamas?

It’s a painful and poisonous cycle, mamas:

Do something wrong.

Get mad at self.

Hold a personal grudge so it probably happens again, and not be able to fully give to those around us while we carry the guilt’s burden. Let’s let it go!

Freedom begins when we forgive ourselves, just as our freedom in Christ began when He forgave us. Let’s live in this freedom!

We’ll begin to make different choices, plan better, prioritize and even say no sometimes. We’ll  take personal accountability and responsibility, thus modeling these amazing traits to our children, when we live in the state of personal forgiveness. Being ok with not being ok.

forgiveness

I’m so grateful I’m a writer for times like these when God reveals His beauty and grace through words I craft, often deep into the stillness of the night. The first thoughts- just an idea- form as a whisper, and come only when I’m in a state of forgiveness. And in a way only Holy Spirit can, life is breathed into my own soul as I write words for you.

I pray you are blessed and forgive yourself, right now, for whatever it is poisoning your soul. Take a big dose of His antidote of forgiveness and peace to see how your soul nurtures life all around.

Let’s take simple actions to make things right, through confession to others and to Papa and then enter into His promise of peace that surpasses all understanding. 

(Sometimes, I write poetry…)

Can’t we just forgive ourselves?

For the clothes we didn’t iron

The room that went haywire

Books still left unread

Thoughts raging in our heads

Words left unspoken

Promises broken

Weight we haven’t lost

Maybe a friend whom we have crossed ?

Is anything unforgivable for our King?

The one who gives us everything-

Who are we to assume his role?

The price is paid-

We’ve been made whole

When will enough

Just Be ENOUGH?

Let’s quit sweating the

Small stuff

Weed the poisonous root

Bear Spirit’s fruit

Return to peace

Release the bitter necess-

Ity

Of not forgiving ourselves so

We may simply model

His Forgiveness

Ephesians 4: 31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,(and yourselves) just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Blessings for your journey. Remember,  as you weed, get on your knees.
Vaya con Dios~
Jen

Forgiven Much?

This month has been rather hectic; it started out with #HurricaneIrma and it’s coming to a close with #HurricaneMaria.  I happened to be in Puerto Rico visiting my family and when Irma hit the island; then I had to watch the news helplessly as Maria tore through my island. Thankfully my family is safe.  My mind has been swirling with the logistics and details of the events of the last three weeks and then I remembered I have a blog due on the topic of forgiveness! YIKES!

forgiveness

I’ve said this before – I tend to have more questions than answers, so I don’t know how helpful I will be a navigating this topic.  Forgiveness can be easy, leaving you feeling as serene as a sunrise at the beach; or, lack of it can be a Category 5 hurricane, destroying everything in its path.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “forgiveness?”  Are there some people in your life that are easy to forgive? What about that person that you have to forgive 70×7 that makes you heart weary, where is the boundary? How do you guard your heart and set yourself free?  This is not an easy topic! At one point this week I was thinking that being on the island in the midst of the hurricane would be easier than writing about forgiveness.

My heart has taken a beating, as I am sure yours has at some point. I’ve had to forgive abusers, my ex-husband for domestic violence, prejudice, family members, people in general that hurt my heart, and lastly myself for all the poor choices I have made in my life. The list is long, but His grace runs deep; and while this topic is complicated, it is ever so simple.  The story that comes to mind for me is (drumroll please) in Luke 7:36-50

In this story Jesus is addressing both the sinful woman who is washing His feet, as well as those that are consumed by their self-righteous behavior and (erroneously) believe that they are in a “better” place than the “sinful” woman.  This is also similar to the story of the Prodigal Son.  It seems that everyone rushes to “relate” to the prodigal (or not), but how many have stopped to ponder the sin of the prodigal’s brother?

Dear friends, the worst kind of sin is the sin of self-righteousness; the assumption that you on your own by your own religious activities and moral merit can somehow earn a place in the Kingdom of God.  That is the most heinous crime of all, for it treats the sacrifice of Christ with utter disdain and being unnecessary and foolish. Jesus uses a wretched sinner to reach an even worse sinner.

forgiveness

He tells us that one who is forgiven much loves much, in contrast to the one who is forgiven little. Not because Jesus only forgave them a little bit, but because they didn’t see their need to be forgiven much in the first place. In other words, the person who understands that they need forgiveness vs the person that thinks they’re not broken. Mind you there’s a lot to unpack here and I’m on borrowed space and time. I encourage you to dig deeply into these stories and pray that you gain wisdom when it comes to the subject of forgiveness and how it applies in your life.

In my estimation, as with everything else, forgiveness begins with repentance; acknowledging who we are in the first place – a sinner in need of a Savior.  That levels the playing field, if you will.  Next is letting go of the most parasitical sin of all – our pride.  Whether we’ve been offended or are the one offending, pride is creeping in and will blind and bind you.  Only then can one begin to assess the issues before them and ask God for discernment so that you can be free to forgive.  Some issues will allow for reconciliation, others require healthy boundaries, but you can’t get to either when you come to the table with a self-righteous and bitter heart. Forgiveness starts with you. Stay humble. Be free!

A Story of Forgiveness

I had gone thru many of the steps of forgiveness. And just still couldn’t let go. Just still couldn’t find closure to the matter.

I had always heard you must forgive or you won’t be forgiven. But it just didn’t resonate with me. It was just all too vague or something. It didn’t tug at my heart strings.

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I remember the day, it was the Sunday before my 30th birthday.  I took some quiet time after church. I heard God saying…

    • “Ok, Trudie, did this person do you wrong?”  Yes, for sure, is the answer.
    • “Did this person hurt you?” Yes.
    • “Did this person ruin your life?” Yep!
    • “Does this person OWE you?” Yes.

Yes, yes, and yes. This person certainly owed me. I had given up so much of my life for this person’s control and agenda. Things that should not have been asked of a young girl.

Yes, the resounding answer to all those questions was yes.

I pictured myself standing before my God as the judge. The person that had hurt me was on trial and was found guilty. The punishment was, well, anything really. I think I pictured money. Say $100,000.  This person owed it to me.  God as the judge was admitting that, yes, the person was guilty. And He was ready to hand out the sentence. 

But then Jesus walked in.

He said, “I will take the place. I will pay it all. I too, know that this was the guilty person. But I want to pay her punishment.” He handed me the money to pay the debt that was owed.

The choice was now mine. I needed to decide if I would accept the gift. Jesus was freely handing me everything the person owed me.

If I took the money, the person would be able to walk out of the courtroom free. I could not hold a grudge. I could not call another trial. If I accepted His payment, I had to let go of the right to get even.

Finally, I realized this was the way it was. Real life. Not a made-up courtroom scenario.

Jesus had paid it all on the cross. Years ago. For the sins against me. He had paid that person’s debt. He DIED on the cross so that that person would be free from the bondage they owed me.

He only asks me to accept his free gift of repayment.

forgiveness

When Satan comes back and he wants me to hold on to that debt. Daily, when he brings memories back and words that were spoken.  Daily, when he wants me to pick that hurt back up. I have to go back to the court room. Jesus is still standing there with a receipt of payment. Signed and dated. March 1st, 2013.

Sometimes a new hurt comes; I find myself back in the courtroom. I know as soon as a sentence is made, Jesus will be walking in ready to pay the debt. He is always ready to pay all that this person owes.

He is able.

You know, I’ve missed out on a lot because of this debt owed to me. Yet, as time goes on, I’m realizing that not only is Jesus willing to pay the debt, but He also wants to fill the holes that were left. He wants to restore me completely.  He wants to make good the wrong done to me. He wants to change this story of hurt into a story of complete joy.

He is not just into paying the debt, but into restoring me completely. Refining me into pure gold, tried by fire through this.

He is Able. But I have to accept it.

I have to focus on the good that this situation has brought in my life. I have to focus on the things, people, and circumstances that this very situation has brought. I need to look at the place where I would have been, and the place where I am now. And in that, I find that Jesus was able. Jesus is still able to provide payment for what this person owes me.  In a FAR greater way than any person ever could. More than any punishment could have repaid, the debt is restored.

Jesus is able. Every day I have a question to answer. . . Will I let Him?

You have the same option this very day… Who are you standing on the other side of the wittness stand from?  Who do you need to forgive? Jesus is walking into the courtroom. Will you let Him pay what is owed to you? Will you accept His free gift? He can restore your debt! Will you let Him?

Forgiveness Is Freedom

Have you ever noticed that the words GIVE and GIVEN are in the middle of forgiveness? I guess I never really thought about it. Until today. And now, that which has been seen cannot be unseen.

ForGIVEness is a noun, and as such, it is a thing. It is something you can give, and it is something that can be given to you—whether you choose to receive it or not. Isn’t that interesting?

forgiveness

Psychologists have long contended that the offer of forGIVEness benefits the person giving it regardless of the recipient’s reaction. Why? Rarely do the people we need to forgive have a clue how much harm they have inflicted or the extent of the pain they have caused. Can I get a witness?!

ForGIVEness is not about fighting for justice or holding the offender accountable—that’s completely different. ForGIVEness is an attitude of the heart. It’s about us and our willingness to trust God’s sovereignty: Do we trust God enough to forGIVE someone for hurting us? Our family? Our friends? Our pastor? Our animals? Our possessions? Our bank accounts?

When I consider what authentic forGIVEness looks like, I think of the incredibly inspiring and humble members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. I think of  Nadine Collier, the daughter of Ethel Lance, a senior citizen who was shot and killed after an evening service in 2015 for no other reason than the color of her skin. When Collier had the opportunity to confront her mother’s murderer, she did not seek revenge or curse his existence. She did not question why or scream in his face. Instead, she offered the unexpected and holy gift of forGIVEness. Though he was held captive by his hate, she was FREE.

When I consider what authentic forGIVEness looks like, I think of Debbie Godwin, daughter of Robert Godwin Sr. whose cold-blooded murder was posted on social media and shared all over the interwebs. Instead of hate and bitterness, she has shown tremendous grace and emotional fortitude by offering forGIVEness and showing empathy towards the murderer who later took his own life. He was held captive by his hate. She was FREE.

What do Collier, Godwin, and others who genuinely practice the art of forGIVEness have in common? They share a heart filled with humility and trust—the combination of which unlocks our ability to offer forGIVEness to those who have hurt us, even if the hurt can never be undone.

Isn’t it interesting that when Jesus taught His followers how to pray, He taught them to “Let it go!”

“Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. (Matthew 6:12, CSB)

And just in case Jesus’ followers didn’t understand that forGIVEness was tied to their willingness to forGIVE others, He re-stated it more clearly:

“If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14, CSB)

In this model prayer, Jesus highlighted the essentials of an effective prayer: honoring God; calling out for His will to be done; looking to Him as provider; requesting protection and deliverance from evil; AND seeking forGIVEness with the same measure we offer it to others. It’s almost as though Jesus was teaching His followers that forGIVEness was an important daily practice—a spiritual discipline, of sorts—and withholding it would have serious negative consequences.

ForGIVEness requires neither a frontal lobotomy nor a risky reconciliation. It simply requires (1) a humble spirit convinced that the best judge of character, motivation, and intention is the Lord God Almighty and (2) a heightened sense of self-awareness that we are not Him! 😳

Only in humility are we able to place our trust in a God who is who He says He is and does what He says He will do. When we trust God, we can genuinely offer forGIVEness—not concern ourselves with the reaction of the recipient—and experience freedom from the bondage of bitterness.

forgiveness

Are you willing to trust God’s judgment over your own and offer forGIVEness to ___________________ today, even though she or he might never know? Or might reject it? Remember, His forGIVEness is directly related to our willingness to forGIVE others. There really is no better time than the present to let go of bitterness and trust God’s sovereignty with your pain. ForGIVEness is freedom.

Mom Guilt, Forgiveness, and Rest

Mom guilt.

We all have it. Things we have done or shouldn’t have done with our kids. You all know what I’m talking about. Cold pizza for breakfast because I didn’t get enough sleep last night (teething baby) and I didn’t have the energy to make a fresh, nutritious breakfast.

forgiveness

Or the time my child was the only one on the homeschool field trip who didn’t have his jacket (and his pants were inside out – how did that happen?). How about the time I forgot to get a card for my husband’s birthday and frantically instructed the kids to make a “Daddy card,” in a feeble attempt to convince him that THAT was my Plan A?

It seems we moms are always feeling guilty about something. Let me ask you right now. Is there something (big or little) nagging in the back of your head right now as you’re reading this? Can you think of something that happened recently or in the past that you keep replaying in your mind, wishing you could have done it differently?

Let me tell you. Having raised four children, homeschooling them from K-12 grades, I am constantly having to deal with those thoughts even today. Things I did in the past keep popping up in my brain, and I have to deal with the regret or frustration of trying to push those thoughts out of my mind.

In a sense, that crazy, over-sung movie theme is useful…Let. It. Go.

Self-forgiveness is a tough thing. Moms, in particular, often carry a heavy load of guilt. And sometimes it goes way beyond the guilt of serving cereal for dinner.

If you do a quick search in the Bible to find verses addressing “forgiving yourself,” you might not find any. That doesn’t mean it isn’t in there. There are lots of passages that talk about the sin of unbelief. Think about that. In Romans 8:1, Paul says that there is “therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

He goes even further in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

So if you are a Christian, you have received the complete grace and forgiveness of Christ. When God looks at me, for example, He sees the finished work of Jesus covering over me, and thus He sees Jesus’ righteousness as if I have never sinned. So my sins are forgiven. I believe that.

Well, although that’s something that makes me want to sing and praise the Lord each day, and I am truly grateful for what Jesus did for me and God’s forgiveness of my sins, why do I keep beating myself up when I think back to things I didn’t do perfectly in my life? Why don’t I believe 2 Corinthians now?

In a sense, I am denying the work of Jesus. God forgives me, so why can’t I forgive myself? I mean, I DO forgive myself in my head, but my heart keeps bringing up the guilt and regret.

That is NOT forgiveness. That is rejecting what Christ has done!!

When you live in guilt, you have no internal rest. We can sometimes push that guilt away for a time, but like a horrible weed, it will keep coming back unless we can eradicate those roots.

And to do that, I have to turn to the power of God’s word. Paul says in Hebrews 4:3,
“For we who have believed enter that rest.”

forgiveness

We need to understand the rest that comes with the forgiveness and salvation in Christ.

We find rest when we really accept that our sins have been washed away and are forgotten. If the God of all creation who upholds everything in His hand made it so you and I are able to have a relationship with Him – made it so we can come to him as one who is perfect (thanks to Jesus), then who am I to say otherwise?

Who am I to say I know better than God? I don’t have to dwell on those guilt-bubbles that keep rising to the surface. When they pop up in my mind, then, I just remind myself that God is big enough to deal with them. In fact, He already has dealt with them. So why do I keep fertilizing those weeds? He pulled them out, and I can joyfully go forward.

Moms, let Him do that for you. It doesn’t mean you will never feel guilt, but you DO have a means to address it. You have the awesome goodness of Christ’s work and His overwhelming love for you.

Embrace that.

Especially as you dress your toddler in yesterday’s clothes.