Tag Archives: Grace

Forgiving Myself

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.   Psalm 103:8-12

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m in a class at Celebrate Recovery through which the Lord has challenged me to let go of my resentments.  To do this, I made a list of the resentments that I still carry – some big ones, quite a lot of smaller ones.  Now I’m working my way through the list as I forgive each person who has hurt me.

Do you know who’s been the hardest person on the list for me to forgive?  Like, by far?

Me.

I have done some awful things over the course of my life, some by accident and some not.  I have brought hurt and pain onto myself with some of those actions and choices, but what’s much worse from my perspective is that I have caused harm and pain to others.  In looking back at many situations, I now feel like I should have known and done better, and I’m ashamed.  I find myself asking how I could possibly forgive myself.

As I asked trusted people for prayer as I go over this territory, it was mentioned by no fewer than three people that they struggle with forgiving themselves also.  I felt like the Lord was speaking to me about the prevalence of this problem among Christians.

So how do we forgive ourselves?  Well, I’m no expert, but here are some things that I’m learning as I go through this process.

First, I have to acknowledge my emotions about what happened.  I’m sometimes the queen of denial, stuffing feelings down deep.  These stuffed feelings keep bubbling to the surface, bringing the old memories back with them and making it hard for me to forgive myself.  When I acknowledge my feelings about what I did, I take ownership of my emotions and they no longer control me.

Second, I remember that I am fully and completely forgiven by Jesus for everything I have ever done, thought or said that was not in alignment with His will and His character.  It doesn’t matter if what was done happened before or after I came to know Him – I am fully forgiven.  Jeremiah 31:34 says that He remembers my sins no more.  That is, He doesn’t hold them over my head or throw them in my face in a shaming way.  If He has so fully forgiven me, who am I to argue with Him?  Because of the grace I have received from Him, I can give some of that grace to myself.

Third, I think what advice I would give to a brother or sister in Christ if they came to me for help because they were struggling over something they had done.  Would I suggest that they beat themselves up some more because what they did was really horrendous?  Of course not!  I would remind them of the grace that is ours in Christ Jesus.  Therefore, I choose to follow that same advice and give that same reminder of grace to myself.

Fourth, I ask myself if I still owe anybody an amends for something that is still bothering me.  I get the advice of a strong, mature, trusted brother or sister in Christ before making an amends to someone.  I want to make sure that my motives are right, and I don’t want to cause the person that I previously hurt any additional pain by reaching out to them again.  In some cases, it may not be safe or appropriate for me to make an amends to someone, so I must talk it over first with that trusted person.  However, after doing that, making an appropriate amends is a good way to help me forgive myself.

Fifth, I ask myself what I can learn from my past mistakes.  Have I grown as a result of what happened?  Is my step of growth in the forgiveness of myself or in the making of amends?

Finally, the Lord showed me that to not forgive myself is to say that Christ’s death on the cross was not enough to pay for all of my sins, and that is utterly false.  When I don’t forgive myself, I’m saying that I have a better way of paying for my sins than what Christ offers.  This is unbelief and it represents the height of a prideful attitude.  It is time for me to get on my knees and repent of (turn away from) these deadly sins!

If any of this has resonated with you, too, would you like to pray with me today?

Lord Jesus, we come to You for help in learning to forgive ourselves.  Forgive us for our sins of unbelief and of pride.  Help us to receive Your forgiveness for the wrongs that we have done; wash us clean of them.  Bring the freedom and peace that comes from knowing we are forgiven for ALL wrongs, big or small.  Wash away our guilt as we confess our sins to You.  Please help us to make amends in a way that is appropriate, and help us to learn from those mistakes and not make them again.  Thank You, Lord, that You have removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west and that You remember our sins no more.  We love you and ask these things in the name of Jesus.  Amen.   

 

 

 

 

Do Not Repay Evil for Evil

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:17,18 

I was going to write a very different post today, but I just read Romans 12 and got convicted, so I’m going to write about that instead.

Last week, someone close to me did something that hurt me quite deeply.  It was not the first time this had happened, and this time what was done will, sadly, change our relationship forever.  This person acted throughout the week as if nothing had happened.

Yesterday, I had a chance to demonstrate grace to this person who had hurt me, and I utterly failed at it.  I was not grace-giving at all.

The fact that I was hurt deeply and that the person is unrepentant is a problem, to be sure.  However, I can’t control that.

The real problem is what I did.  Instead of offering my pain and hurt to Jesus, I nursed that wound.  I was justified in my anger and hurt, but instead of turning it fully over to Him, I held onto some of it.  It festered all week.

It didn’t turn out well.

I was rude to the person.  There’s no excuse for that.  It was a great opportunity to extend the grace that I have in Jesus Christ, and I completely whiffed the ball.  I didn’t follow Romans 12:18 and do all that I could do to live in peace with this person.

Let me be clear:  There are times when someone else’s actions or words require that you take a step back from the relationship.  There is nothing wrong with having healthy boundaries.  However, don’t repay evil with evil – in other words, show grace and kindness at ALL times, even when you are deeply hurt.  It is possible to show grace even while establishing your boundaries.

Today I am repenting before God.

Today I will give a heartfelt apology to this other person for yesterday’s behavior.  With the power of Christ that lives in me, I will in the future do all that I can to live in peace with this person.

Today I am grateful for grace and for second chances.

 

 

Forgiveness and Grace

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  Colossians 3:13

I’m not always quick to forgive.  In fact, more often than not, I’ve allowed unforgiveness to sit in my heart, much to my own detriment.  (I’m working on that.)  One notable exception was in response to an event that happened a few years ago.

Back at that time, my church family received news that was pretty nearly devastating to our hearts.  It came to light that two of the leaders of my church had had an inappropriate relationship with each other and they were being removed from their positions.  I will never forget the night that that announcement was made, because the Lord immediately whispered to my heart, “Forgive them, right NOW.”  Like a flash, I could see in my mind’s eye all the things that I had done that the Lord (and others) had forgiven me for, and I forgave them then and there, on the spot, no questions asked.  I’m so glad I did!  I’ve been free of the bitterness that comes from being unforgiving.  Even more importantly, I’ve been able to freely offer grace to these two leaders.

In spite of my quickness to forgive in that particular circumstance, I still struggle quite often to offer forgiveness when I’ve been hurt.  It seems easier and safer to build walls between myself and the one who hurt me than it is to remember all that I’ve been forgiven and to extend that same forgiveness to someone else.  How ridiculous to do this in spite of what I’ve learned about forgiveness!

Here are two important things I’ve learned about forgiveness:

  1. Forgiveness is ALWAYS given to someone who doesn’t deserve it.  Whatever was done to you has real consequences and has caused real pain and loss.  There’s nothing the other party can do to undo what was done or to make up for it.  Forgiving them doesn’t mean that what they did was okay – it simply means that you’re choosing to let Jesus pay the price for what was done instead of exacting payment from the offending party.
  2. Unforgiveness blocks the flow of God’s love through you to others.  Wow.  Did you hear that?  By extending grace to someone who has wronged you, you are allowing the love of the Holy Spirit to witness to someone else, and you can actually block that love by withholding forgiveness.  They don’t get to experience God’s grace and mercy by your holding what they’ve done over their heads.  Sometimes I’ve even had to offer forgiveness to myself for things that I have done so that I can live more fully in the love of my Father!

The Lord has been challenging me more and more to be quicker to forgive, and I’ve been the recipient of many opportunities to practice forgiveness.  I don’t know that I’ve gotten any better at it, just to be honest, but as I said, I’m working on it.  I do know that I’m more and more aware of the bitterness of heart that comes from unforgiveness.  That bitterness is ugly and gross and is ill-fitting on me as a child of God. I want to be someone who forgives quickly and completely, and who seeks forgiveness quickly from others.

These are some of the barriers that Jesus and I have been working on in these past weeks, as well as other challenges, and I would appreciate your prayers.  I would also love to pray for you if you struggle to offer forgiveness to anyone.  Please feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me through Twitter at @AdventuresInGr1 and I’ll gladly pray for you in this, too.  Thanks for reading and for being on this journey too!

Grace and the Pedestrian

“STOP!!!” my husband yelled.

I was stopped at an intersection with a one way street, my head turned to the left to watch the oncoming traffic.  I waited patiently for a break in the traffic so that I could make a right hand turn.  When it came, I accelerated…and totally forgot to check first to my right.  When Michael yelled, I immediately hit the brakes as my head whipped back to the right.  To my total and complete horror, I saw that I had almost hit a group of three pedestrians.

I could easily blame this on the lack of sleep from the previous night.  It could have happened because I was unfamiliar with the place I was driving.  I could even blame the pedestrians for walking in front of a vehicle without making eye contact with the driver.  However, the fact is that this near-accident was totally and completely my fault and my fault only.

The young man who was closest to my car had had to jump out of the way, and he was NOT happy.  He yelled at me.  I quickly rolled down my window as the group walked on and apologized profusely.  The man who had jumped had nothing encouraging to say in return except to encourage me to be a better driver.

I was shaking as I carefully drove the rest of the way to our destination.  I began to pray and thank Jesus that nobody had gotten hurt.  I asked Him to help the young man and his friends have a good day in spite of our encounter.  I also asked Him to forgive me.

Do you know what happened next?

Jesus forgave me.

He had no angry words for me, no “How could you?!” type of reaction.  He spoke no condemnation of me for my lapse in basic driving skills.  He didn’t sigh loudly in response to having to offer His protection over the situation.  He just forgave me, freely and willingly, no questions asked.

Now I don’t blame the young man for his reaction, and who would?  He was completely justified in being upset.  I would imagine that he was scared for his safety and well-being and that of his companions.  I would imagine that he was angry that that had been threatened.  That would be a natural, human reaction.

The fact is, though, that Jesus doesn’t react to our mistakes – our sins – the way that we would expect a human to react.  Jesus reacts with grace.  Grace can be defined as “the free and unmerited favor of God”.  First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.  He never speaks words of condemnation over us; He will lovingly and gently point out a better way to do it the next time.   He never holds our sins over our heads.  He never demands that we shape up; instead He invites us to learn and to move forward from there.

Friends, if you’re hearing voices of condemnation, you’re listening to the enemy of your soul.  Our Heavenly Father is full of grace, compassion and mercy.  His voice is one of gentle instruction.  His offer is of a second chance.  His is the voice that brings life and growth.  If you confess your sins to Him, grace will be His response – 100% of the time.  Won’t you listen to His voice and receive His grace today?