How Do I Forgive??


DSC_0005Last week we looked at repentance and forgiveness.

I shared how God showed me every detail of things I had done that needed His forgiveness which led me to godly sorrow. And how God has already forgiven us so all we need to do is acknowledge our need.

But what about me forgiving?

I’ve found three areas in which I need to forgive: God, others and myself. Believe it or not, our forgiving isn’t about the other person. Our lack of forgiveness towards others ends up hurting us, not them. We become resentful and bitter, and it carries over into anger at everything in life. That is not the abundance that God has for us.

Often, we don’t even realize we are unforgiving.

This happened to me with the Lord. Through a series of circumstances, God arranged for me to attend an event in which a particular man who has a ministry of speaking prophetically to people was to be sharing. I didn’t want to be there, but it was a required activity because of something I was involved in so there I sat.

Arms crossed, I was convinced this man was a liar and would mislead people. You see, he had given my ex-husband and me a prophetic word exactly six years to the day prior to this event. He claimed that God would be offering us a “turnaround time” in our lives. I had copied the verse he provided and slipped it into my Bible. I read that promise every day for years. But, shortly after that night, our business failed, we lost our home and within a couple of years we were separated. Again.

I felt angry thinking about this man speaking to us.

The circumstances I lived through weren’t my idea of a turnaround! I took notes of each scripture to prove my point, but I knew our pastor would never subject us to someone who would hurt his congregation. The conflict in me grew.

At the end of the service, I couldn’t get to my car before tears began to fall.

I don’t understand, Lord. How could you speak through a man who lies?”

Driving to a nearby cliff overlooking the ocean, I sobbed my heart out without knowing why.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse
Pigeon Point Lighthouse

I parked and wailed some more, throwing all that had happened to me at God with whatever verbal force I had. Confusion, anger and despair swirled through my head and heart.

When my emotions abated, I heard a whisper in my mind.

Your life did turn around.

I thought about that. It was true. As a result of those awful circumstances, I had finally chosen to get out of a bad situation. I lived in a beautiful place. My children and I were happy. Our church family was safe, and we were all healing. My life had completely turned around. The situation was simply different than I had expected. I thought my business would thrive, the mortgage company would deal honestly with me and my marriage would be saved.

Suddenly I realized I had been angry with God for those six years.

Tears began again as I faced my anger at God and told Him how sorry I was. He hadn’t betrayed me. The prophetic man hadn’t lied. I had misunderstood and harbored bitterness in some closed off place in my heart. I forgave God and the man. And I asked Jesus to forgive me.

God is so good.

Peace washed over me and filled my car. God knew I needed to forgive Him. He orchestrated circumstances so I would be in that meeting. I hadn’t been happy about that initially, but now that I realized it had been for my good, to bring healing and freedom, my anger turned to gratitude.

Sometimes we need to forgive God.

While it’s natural and even okay to ask God “Where were you when____ happened to me?” or “How could you let___ happen?” or “Why have you done this or that?” we can get stuck in the questions. Sometimes God gives us answers now. Sometimes later. Often, not at all. But if we pit our understanding against his wisdom, we may land in a place of anger. And He knows that in the end, our lack of forgiveness will hurt us more than it hurts Him.

Is there something you need to forgive God for?

What is Forgiveness?


Whether we are trapped in addiction or in a relationship with someone who is, God can shed light on the places of darkness and has a DSC_0035plan to rescue us from disaster. It is His delight to do so.

His rescue comes through forgiveness.

Jesus offers it to us. He asks us to extend it to others. But, we have to be willing to give up what we hold onto: our sin and/or the sin of others against us.

Without forgiveness, there can never be restoration for us.

God wants to bestow on us every good thing He can imagine for us. That comes with forgiveness—His forgiveness for us, and ours for others and ourselves.

God’s forgiveness is immediate, but ours can be a process.

Jesus died on the cross to forgive every sin we could ever commit. Because He has already forgiven us, He simply waits for us to acknowledge where we’re off and accept His offer. That forgiveness is immediate, but when it comes to us forgiving others and ourselves, it can take time to work through.

Thank goodness, God is patient and leads us.

First, God makes us aware of what needs forgiving. When Jesus reveals our waywardness, we should feel sorrow (not shame) for what we’ve done to hurt ourselves and others. When we hurt, God is also grieved. The Bible says that

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

2 Corinthians 7:10

This means when we are willing to look at what we have done that is different from what God intended for our good, we’ll be brokenhearted. The full weight of our actions will be a revelation to us in a way that makes us grieve for the pain we’ve caused ourselves, others and God. Our heart fills with a sincere willingness to accept any consequences. We experience gratitude for the forgiveness offered.

That is godly sorrow leading to repentance.

That kind of sorrow brings us to our knees in front of our Lord, who then reaches down and lifts us up in love, saving us from what has trapped us. We are then able to move on in life with no more regret, knowing that Jesus has seen, forgiven and restored us. Then He’s able to lead us into the good things He originally planned for us.

Worldly sorrow, on the other hand, is when we promise to be good to avoid trouble—sorry we’re caught, but more concerned about not getting caught in the future or dodging consequences. That kind of “sorrow” only leads to more destruction and shame, never to a place of freedom.

God is thorough. Forgiveness is specific, not general.

God points out details of situations in order to free us entirely of sin. It is the same if we ask for and accept forgiveness, or when we forgive someone else. Forgiveness doesn’t come with a careless blanket statement of “whatever I’ve ever done.” We must be willing to honestly and specifically admit what we have done.

When God showed me what I did to become stuck in unhealthy relationships, as well as what others had done to me, each denied, ignored, hidden, minimized, or never dealt with incident needed forgiveness. As long as there was denial, minimizing or excuses, I not DSC_0047able to receive or grant the forgiveness that would restore me. But I knew if I asked God to show me the truth about myself and my past, He would free me from the pain that enslaved me.

There were many such situations, and it took a few years to process them, ask for forgiveness and forgive those who had hurt me. It was worth the struggle.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share more of what that process looked like for me.

What have you experienced regarding forgiveness?

Ready for an Enjoyable Read?


Newest Release

Author, Sherry Kyle, has written a delightful novel that weaves a thread of forgiveness and redemption throughout the lives of four very real and loveable characters.

“When the alcoholic father of Jessica MacAllister’s son reappers in their lives, Jessica and her son go to her Uncle George for advice and refuge.

Following a year of grief, Evelyn Sweeney is finally ready to move on. Pondering her new path in life, her mind drifts to her first love, George MacAllister.

When the lives of these two women cross, they discover that one heart-shaped ring binds their stories together. But will the results be a rekindled faith and new hope, or will it lead them both back into the darkness they’ve fought for so long?”

The Heart Stone was hard to put down.

The romantic possibility and tension as well as intriguing suspense kept me engaged and guessing. Jacob, the 6 year old son, had me smiling and even brought an outright laugh. By the end, I felt as if these characters were my friends who had overcome obstacles and grown emotionally and spiritually. I wished the book didn’t have to end.

Sherry Kyle’s gift as a connector of people shines in her novels which rekindle and reconcile relationships. I believe Sherry’s ability as a writer grows with each new release. I can’t wait for the next one.

Well done, Sherry.

The Heart Stone, Published by Abingdon Press released on April 1, 2013 and is available from these retailers:

Cokesbury

Christian Book Distributors

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

What are books you’ve enjoyed reading lately?

20 Tips for Parents


As the parent of 7 wonderful children (4 of my own and 3 delightfully inherited), I’ve made some observations over my past 32 years of summer vacation '12 068parenting.

Thus far, I’ve concluded four things:

  • Raising children well doesn’t mean we have to be perfect or have it all figured out ahead of time.
  • Parenting is as much for our benefit as for our children’s.
  • God’s the perfect parent so we should examine how he does it.
  • Each person has free choice. No matter how well we train a child, he or she will choose how to live. Remember that perfect parent God? Even Adam and Eve made a devastating choice.

Dr. James Dobson wrote a book called Parenting Isn’t for Cowards, but most of us find ourselves cowering in our hearts at one point or another along the way.

Here are some tips to boost your bravery:            028

  1. Respect them. They are people too.
  2. Right or wrong, be honest. They smell hypocrisy.
  3. Tell them you love them every day.
  4. Ask for forgiveness when you blow it.
  5. Allow God’s grace to cover your mistakes and failures.
  6. Don’t exasperate them with inconsistency, lack of boundaries or unrealistic expectations.
  7. Ask the right questions. Ones that open discussion not shut it off.
  8. Tell them you are proud of who they are not only what they do.
  9. The Bible is the standard, you are simply the messenger. Let God direct them. Be accountable to God for the message you give.
  10. Show them Jesus by your actions and your love for them and others.
  11. Listen, listen, listen to THEM, and they will listen to you. (HEAR what they are saying.)
  12. Don’t declare war on them—you are on the same side so fight their battles with them.
  13. Put yourself in their shoes. We are parents because we’ve been there. If we forget what it was like, how can we relate to them in order to help them navigate through it?
  14. Take your role as parent seriously. You are accountable to God. He entrusted you with the children you have.
  15. Train them to make good decisions and be trustworthy and responsible for their actions. Self-governed not rule governed. They need to learn good choices for life not just to keep from being “in trouble.”
  16. Teach them to obey because it will bring them good not because you hover over or threaten punishment. Focus on the positive rather than simply avoiding trouble.
  17. Be self-disciplined. We can’t expect our kids to follow through when we don’t.
  18. Allow them to be who God has made them to be. Help them see who they are, not who you want them to be.
  19. Don’t take their behavior or words personally. Avoid reacting. Even though they may be a reflection of you, don’t make that your goal.
  20. Love them enough to say no. Be willing to say yes.  Even when it’s inconvenient.

Hopefully these tips I’ve collected will encourage you in your parenting journey. DSC_0011

How about you? What things have you learned along the way? Or what would you share from a young person’s perspective?