Will it Matter?

Do you believe in heaven? An eternity in a glorious place with God our Father and Jesus, our redeemer and friend? Eternal beauty, love, kindness, and all things good?

Or do you believe that when we die, we disintegrate into nothingness? Life over means nothing more than done—game over? Two years, a hundred years, or any space of time in between equals zero for eternity?

Either way, what happens to every situation we’ve lived through? What about every bad thing done to us? Every mean word spoken? Will we take with us into eternity or oblivion all the awful, hurtful, damaging actions and works we experienced over the years?

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I accept what the Bible says about Jesus coming back to take us home to heaven for eternity. I look forward to the day I will stand in the glorious presence of my God. No more pain. He will wipe away all our tears. (Revelation 21:4) I also believe that hell is a real situation where anyone who chose to dismiss or curse Jesus will get to live out their desire to not be bothered with or subjected to anything of God. Eternal separation from him.

I also believe that according to the Bible, each of us will give an account to God for every word and act. I’m grateful that Jesus died for me because I could never do everything right enough to stand in the presence of Almighty God.

But regardless of what you believe, will it matter?

If your life ends in nothingness, will you care about the mean things spoken to you by a classmate, neighbor, or parent? Will you remain in pain from the abuse or evil inflicted on you?

If you, like me, believe in heaven as a follower of Jesus, do you really think your concerns over anything bad in your life will be your focus? Or will you be in awe of and enthralled by our Savior?

Every day, we hear or read stories of terrible things done to people. Or we experience something cruel done to us. In the moment, it’s reasonable to feel hurt or anger, and we need to grieve and process those situations.

But in the end, will they matter?

If we can admit that they won’t, then how long would we hold a grudge? Why would we retaliate? How might we act differently than what we’ve chosen up until now?

Eternal separation from God means an existence of torment. God gives us that choice. Perhaps, in that case, we will be tortured every moment by every harsh word spoken to us, or that we’ve spoken. Each hurtful thing done might replay over and over in front of us. Maybe every bad thing we’ve participated in will be a daily anguish to relive. I guess it might matter then…

The way I see it, letting it go, forgiving it all makes sense no matter what you believe about the future.

And that will certainly change our present.

How Can I Ever Forgive Myself?

I hate myself. 068

How many times have I thought this, whispered it or screamed the words at myself? Too many to count.

I imagine you’ve done the same. Quick to believe the worst, we punish ourselves, by rehearsing our sins, bad choices or the lies we’ve believed over and over. Don’t we?

And so we reach the final focus in our series on forgiveness—learning to forgive ourselves. I’d experienced God’ forgiveness, and chose to believe Psalm 103:12 that says he forgives as far as the east is from the west (which is infinitely far if you keep going around the circle).I had finally forgiven the people I loved who had hurt me, releasing them into God’s hands.

But I couldn’t forgive myself.

After all, it was me who chose the life I ended up living. My poor judgment caused the pain I suffered. God had tried to gain my trust and attention and pointed out the truth about myself and my situation. But I hadn’t been willing to deal with the truth. It was too hard, too scary, too painful.

I caused my years of heartache.

As my children shared their hearts about all that had happened, I hated myself and my self-imposed blindness. They had come to me with their hurts from a dysfunctional family life, but I did nothing to intervene. I couldn’t forgive myself for the way they had suffered as a result of my leaving them unprotected over the years.

I was so intent on holding onto a dream of the marriage I wanted, that I sacrificed my children. I saw myself as the ancient worshipers of Molech, god of the Ammonites, who threw their children into flames as living sacrifices which God said, in Leviticus 20:1-5 and Jeremiah 32:35, was detestable (refer also to Leviticus 18:2, Deut. 12:31 and I Kings 11:5).

How could I do something so awful to the ones I love the most?

But in spite of my choices, God had been putting the pieces of my children back together. Still, I felt as if the damage was irreparable; that I could never make it up to them. How could crying and telling them how sorry I was ever be enough? How could my right choices and protection of them now make up for all the years I left them uncovered and vulnerable? My children were willing to work through forgiving me, but I was not willing to forgive myself. Then a friend showed me a verse in Job that spoke to my heart.

I felt my spiritual eyes open.

Jesus showed me the huge wall I had built around myself with my lack of forgiveness. It was keeping me trapped in places where He wanted me to be free.  I had been judging myself and keeping myself weighed down with the need for justice against me.

He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food. But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked; judgment and justice have taken hold of you.

Job 36:16-17

Jesus had already forgiven me and begun to restore my relationship with Him and my children. It was me not forgiving myself that kept me trapped. I had to let go of wanting to punish myself for not changing my life situation sooner.

I confessed my lack of forgiveness for myself.

God showed me His love for me in special ways unique to me, like seeing dolphins jumping in the ocean by my house. He reminded me of the good plans he had for me–even though I may not see them all yet. Through the Bible and other relationships, he taught me how to better love and help my children in their lives. My new freedom also brought the ability to let go of them. As I released myself from the guilt and shame I had been living under, I was able to let God work in His own way in each of their lives. That did more for them than me beating myself up on their behalf.

Forgiveness of God, others and self.                       DSC_0016

Each one holds an important key to the door of freedom.

Below is a link to a song that greatly aided me in the process of learning to forgive myself.

Wait for Your Rain by Todd Agnew

Have you forgiven yourself?