And Yet We Fail

As I read through the early books of the New Testament, Jesus love for His disciples is so apparent.  He knew them deeply, recognized their flaws, but still loved them beyond measure.  And yet, in John 13, Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him three times, and Peter does.

Just like Peter, Jesus knows we will fail in big ways.

We can love God, devote huge parts of ourselves and our lives to Him, and we will still fail.

And Jesus will still love us. God will still shower us with mercy.

blog2We are not asked to be perfect, but to continuously see Him, draw closer to Him.  Allow our souls to be touched and moved by Holy Spirit.

Then, maybe, we can catch ourselves sometimes before we stumble and fall…

But, even if not, we will be able to rise from our own ashes to walk beside Him once more

….and every other time that God already knows we will fail, we can kneel in humility under His grace.

How blessed I am to be known and loved so deeply with the full knowledge of my failing humanity.

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Forgiveness in a Save Yourself World

A lot can change in a moment. Entire lives come and go – and altered forever. Wars waged and won and lost in a moment.

 

Forgiveness is like that. Yet downplayed because it’s so ordinary, so everyday. We’re taught to say I’m sorry (at least I was, and my kids are). We grow up knowing how to respond when we’ve done the hurting.

 

You apologize, you say how sorry you are, you give back the toy, you think about your actions (so (hopefully) not to repeat the offense.)

 

Sincere heartfelt apologies are a moment that can change your world. The same goes for sincere forgiveness.

 

However, we aren’t really taught the steps to forgiveness. In our “save yourself” world, the line for compassion and stupidly opening yourself to the offender is blurred. (and obviously I’m not talking about abuse on any level)

 

forgivenessI must admit though, true forgiveness is a struggle for me. I must take care of myself, my family, my home. But moreso, I must foster an environment of peace, love, compassion, understanding…forgiveness.

 

This isn’t achieved by holding onto hurt, by keeping doors shut.

 

It’s achieved in one motion, “I look up,” for Christ is where my strength comes from. He is where peace and love and forgiveness stem.

 

He is the root of arms wide open, tables full. He is my God and role model. Its time to start opening my arms, my table, my heart.

  • J

I’m Choosing

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

Growing up in a Christ centered home there are a few key verses that are jammed into your head…

John 3:16

Psalms 23

Romans 12:2

Philippians 4:13

I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just as an adult I tend to skim over these verses and take them at face value. Similar to a nursery rhyme learned in rote memory.

However, today, in light of my current circumstances Romans 12:2 came pounding to the front of my ever-moving thoughts.

“Quit acting like them- you are not like them. Let God change the way you think, the way you feel, let God change your actions”

I guess rote memory verses do have a purpose when coupled with a lifetime of Godly example.

Lately I’ve been having a hard time truly forgiving. My actions are half hearted and my words un-genuine. I’m not sure I truly wish this person well.

Outwardly I’m saying yes to God, but inside I grow bitter with the day to day.

I am not allowing God to change the way I think. I am not allowing God to speak at all. I berate Him with all my justifications and feelings.

This is not a faith filled yes, a faith based way of living. That is copying the customs of this world because darn it I’m right and hurt.

Giving freely, letting go of expectations, choosing love…

rote memoryOpening my heart and allowing God in to do whatever he is doing (cause I sure as heck cant figure it out). This is hard. This is life changing for all involved.

And step one, like always for me, begins with the tongue.

No more lamenting or justifying or even complaining. No more re-living the hard or ugly.

I’m choosing God. I’m choosing love. I’m choosing to learn something from this if it’s the last thing I do (partially so God doesn’t feel the need to reteach this lesson)

I’m also choosing counseling because I’m not sure I can make it without an unbiased voice.

-J

Forgiveness vs. Friendship

“ if this is your version of forgiveness I don’t want it…”

This phrase was recently applied towards me, and it took me by surprise and I’ve been thinking about it a lot ever since.

And I think it comes down to a fundamental misunderstanding: forgiveness isn’t the same thing as friendship.

They’re more upset they lost my friendship than my trust; they’re more concerned with how this affects them than how they’ve hurt me (and my family).

By societal standards, forgiveness means you no longer feel angry or resentful towards someone.

“Forgiveness does not obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you” (greatergood.berkely.edu)

forgiveness3By biblical standards, forgiveness should be given freely because Christ forgives us. This means letting someone be pardoned for the wrongs they’ve committed. It doesn’t mean we put ourselves back in that same situation or owe the perpetrator anything.

We forgive because Christ forgave us and so that evil doesn’t corrode our daily lives, one bitter action at a time.

Genesis 4:1-8 (cain and able) are a perfect example of what can happen when we don’t choose forgiveness.

And Matthew 6:14-15 is very clear that our order as believers is to forgive others, to not hold grudges, or seek revenge.

However, again, that does not mean forming or continuing a friendship with the person who has wronged you. It means letforgivenessting go of hate and leaving it in God’s hands and moving on. More so, forgiveness does not equal trust.

“It is wise to take precautions and sometimes the dynamics of a relationship have to change.” (gotquestions.org/forgive-forget.html)

Proverbs 22:3 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

In such a context “forgiving and forgetting” isn’t wise or biblical, it is foolish. And being wary of someone’s heart/motives after you’ve been hurt doesn’t mean forgiveness hasn’t occurred.

And so I repeat…too often it is not forgiveness someone is seeking but friendship, and the two are not always mutually attainable.

Friendship (by definition) means a state of mutual trust and support confirmed by affection –or- an individual who you genuinely like and enjoy being with.

So, in conclusion, is it true forgiveness you seek or is it friendship and acceptance? Because depending on the hurt done, these are not one and the same, and my resistance to rebuilding a relationship doesn’t belittle my faith or negate my forgiveness.

Forgiveness isn’t about the perpetrator, it about the one who has been wronged.

-J

Struggling with Forgiveness

877c1990057c012db5a1b15e8cb0ce72I have many flaws, but typically a lack of forgiveness is not one of them.  In fact, it takes a lot to get me irritated,and even more to make me angry.  Then, I get over things incredibly fast.  This makes my current struggle even more difficult.

This is why I have been feeling stuck, and confused since I admitted to myself that I am holding resentment and holding back forgiveness for someone.  How do you forgive someone you fundamentally don’t trust?  How do you forgive someone you don’t want to forgive?

Two different questions.  First, I have to separate the emotions in the first questions.  Forgiveness is not tied to trust.  I have to forgive, but I don’t have to trust.  Second, I have to get over the idea that my pain is more important; the other person’s sin somehow too bad for easy forgiveness.

Who am I to decide who deserves forgiveness and who does not?  God has forgiven me over and over again.  He will forgive all my future transgressions.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. – Colossians 3:13

So, who am I to deny someone else my forgiveness?  Who am I in all of my sinful nature to judge someone else’s action?e4062db910137b23ce8aad947c07bd0b

Trust I do not have to give.  Forgiveness I do.  It’s not easy.  I know everything I just said – that still doesn’t mean I want to.  So, how do you forgive someone you fundamentally don’t trust?  How do you forgive someone you don’t want to forgive?

A whole lot of prayer and humility.  And some quiet reflection on the following…

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:14-15


Where is another God like you,

   who pardons the guilt of the remnant,

   overlooking the sins of his special people?

You will not stay angry with your people forever,

   because you delight in showing unfailing love.

Once again you will have compassion on us.

   You will trample our sins under your feet

   and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

Micah 7:18-19


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, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31-32


Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Luke 6:37


When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” – John 8:7

-S

I Needed To Be In Love

I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!

How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.

I have tried hard to find you—
don’t let me wander from your commands.

I have hidden your word in my heart,
 that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119-:8-11 (NLT)

This verse meant something very different to me five (plus) years ago…

Five years ago, I was still in college (and no that doesn’t look like American Pie College Years – that means Friday night Friends marathons with my sister, pizza, Twizzlers, and Swedish fish, yes, we were rebels)

But more importantly, five years ago I wasn’t married and I wasn’t focused on God or Godly living.

I knew His word, I grew up with Him and His word. I’ve always believed and communicated with Him almost daily. But, I was carrying His word in my head, not my heart.

This resulted in behaviors, impurities, I am not proud of. I am hesitant to write this because I find it shameful and disappointing and my Gramma reads this. But it happened – I’m an emotional, physical person and that translated (in obvious ways) over to my relationships.

I used to pray Psalm 119:8

I will obey your decrees. 
Please don’t give up on me!

I wouldn’t change my actions though. God had to be sick of me! Did I even believe myself? I never stopped praying though, and He never stopped listening.

I’m not proud of my relational past or that my husband is not the only man I’ve been with. I HATE this. Truth be told, I just don’t think about it. I’m not sure why I’m blogging about it because it requires thinking more about it than I have in a very long time.

I thank God for His endless mercy and grace and complete forgiveness. Thank goodness He is fully God; a human couldn’t be so forgiving!

While I’m now faithfully married to a wonderful man, I still fight selfishness. (That’s ultimately what my previous relationships were about –me- they had nothing to do with God.)

Selfness looks A LOT different these days because I have refocused my life and marriage around my God. But it’s still lurking around every corner.

Every time I choose my will instead of God’s I’m putting me first.

Every time I don’t do something I know I should to benefit someone or something in His kingdom I am putting myself first.

These days verses 10 & 11 speak loudest to me:

I have tried hard to find you—
don’t let me wander from your commands.

I have hidden your word in my heart,
 that I might not sin against you.

Some people are head thinkers, some people are heart thinkers. I’m an emotional hopeless romantic. My favorite movies are The Notebook, Sleepless in Seattle, and Free Willy…that should say enough.

In the words of Frozen:

“The heart is not so easily changed, but the head can be persuaded.”2014-01-12_05.59.54_am

My point is, having Gods word in my head means nothing because I rarely listen to logic (my parents can attest to that).

I needed to get God’s word in my heart. I needed to be fully in love with Him and His plan before I could act like I knew His word.

And now that I’m here, thinking and acting in love, I still make a lot of mistakes. But I’m fighting daily to spend time together to keep our love kindled, so that I won’t wander from His commands.

– J

Act in Love: Pt. 2

Pigging backing off of my last post…some more musings on love. (Valentines’ Day is one of my most favorite holidays after all)

A key part of acting in love (for me) goes back to 1 Corinthians 13:4

… love keeps no records of wrongs…

I have a great memory, and, honestly, somewhat enjoy hashing out peoples’ wrong behavior with those I’m closest too (yes, that’s otherwise known as gossiping…and keeping my fire of hurt and anger going)

And for what?!

acting in love 2I’ve hurt people, I’ve let people down- I pray they don’t talk about me and never let it go- even if my mistakes are repetitive.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says it beautifully:

Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words ~

This is critical to living a life of love. It is also one of my personal goals for 2015, to let the bad things go. To let the hurt and disappoint, and expected let downs go. To not discuss it repeatedly with my sister or mull over how frustrated I am.

To give forgiveness freely, and to step it up and then act out in love towards that person. Not because I feel like it, but because afterwards I will feel better and they will feel God’s love in my life and now theirs…and isn’t that the ultimate goal?

And I’m just a fool if I have such solid advice and do not take it, if I choose to hang onto the bitterness. Sometimes I good memory is a curse, choose to let it go. And not repeat it outloud. Not even once (yes I am reminding myself.)

– J