Forgiveness

ashes      I attended my first Ash Wednesday service tonight.  I must say I was overcome with emotion.  As I sat there, ashes on my forehead, holding the bread and wine of communion, contemplating the state of my heart, I felt something come over me.   And it wasn’t the shame of my sinful heart.  It was love.

I have long known I needed forgiveness because I was a “sinner” in need of redemption.    I remember first asking for this forgiveness at the tender age of 5.  I don’t think I truly understood what I was doing, or what I was asking for.   As I grew up I began to understand more and more what it all meant.   So many times I asked forgiveness, wailed over my sin, human frailty, all the while guilt and shame consuming me.   I missed something.  In all my 39 years of sitting in church hearing message after message on salvation and forgiveness, I missed an important part of it, love.

I am not sure how I could have missed it, but I did.   Forgiveness is an act of love.   God sent Jesus, his Son, to die on the cross because his love for us outweighed any hurt we would cause him.   I forgive my husband even when he hurts me. Why? My love for him is greater than any hurt. God forgives us when we sin and hurt him because his love for us is greater than any hurt we could cause him.

I have long struggled with the shame and guilt of my sinful nature. I wear them like a heavy winter coat.  I am quick to point out all my flaws and frailty.  I can curse like sailor, think thoughts I shouldn’t, struggle with anger, I could go on.  But God looks at all that and says “You asked me to forgive you right?  I don’t keep a record Mindy.  I have already forgotten it.”   Love keeps no record of wrong ( 1 Corthians 13).   He loves me enough to not only forgive but forget my sin.   So why can’t I?

As I sat there in my seat tonight these thoughts racing through my head, I felt the heaviness of shame and guilt fall off, and love run down.    God gave up his son, because his love was greater than any sin I could or would commit.   Forgiveness is an act of love.

love

Advertisements

February 19, 2015. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

What Do You Want?

    It has been said that a kind word turns away wrath and harsh words stir up strife (Proverbs 15:1).  What do we do then when faced with a situation in which we are hurt and offended? Be kind and forgive or be mean and cause more strife? This leads to a more important question. How do we want to be known, which action do we want to persevere?

    It has been my experience that when I have been hurt and in anger, hurt the person back, more strife has been caused.  A bigger argument ensued, and the relationship was much harder to repair, if repaired at all.  The strife persevered. However, in situations in which I have done the opposite and spoke kindly and forgiven it has turned out much more positively. Peace has persevered and the relationship remained intact.   Kindness and forgiveness stops strife and ends the argument. 

                    I am not perfect in this, nor will I ever be.  I am going to struggle.  I do struggle.  Especially the kind words, I would much rather spew my anger at the person who hurt me.  That is much easier than confronting my feelings in my own heart, sorting thru it in my own mind. Why?  When I am kind and forgive, I see my own faults and shortcomings in the situation.  A relationship is a two way street.  I have to look at myself as well who hurt me.  Then I grow, and the love of Christ shines more in me.

     Now, I write understanding fully that sometimes forgiveness needs to occur but the relationship cannot, nor should it, be repaired.   Examples would be abusive or unhealthy relationships.   Let’s face it.  Some people are not healthy and like to live life in constant strife and upheaval. I think in those cases it is ok to be kind to them and forgive when hurt but not maintain relationship or have very strict boundaries in place.   In extreme cases such as these, forgiveness doesn’t have or need to be a verbal conversation. You can write a letter that you will never send, say it in a prayer to God or talk it over with a pastor or therapist. In these special circumstances wisdom must be sought and used.

   One final thought.  What do you want to persevere?  As I thought this over the last few days, I know what I want. I want kindness and forgiveness to persevere.    Not so people can think I am such a great person. No. I want kindness and forgiveness to persevere so people can know Jesus and experience HIS forgiveness. 

May 27, 2014. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.