Forgiving: When You’re the Problem

Recently I stumbled upon some pictures I had taken in college. In one I was with my friends dancing at a hoedown. In another I was holding up a french fry shaped like a cross! As I clicked the right arrow button, my heart immediately sank. In front of me was a seemingly meaningless picture of someone holding a drawing of an eggplant in Goodwill, which their outfit comically matched. My mind raced.

Forgive:

  1. To give up resentment of or claim to requital for
  2. To cease to feel resentment against (an offender)

In essence, forgiveness is letting go. It is letting go of all that has been done to you. All the pain and horrible words, all the betrayal and gut-wrenching lies. Often it is said that forgiving releases you, as withholding it won’t harm the offender. But what if the offender is you?

I had forgiven this person long ago. It was, and still is, on my heart to build that bridge that was destroyed, but sometimes caring about a person isn’t getting what you want, but respecting their wishes instead. Forgiveness #1, check.

Forgiveness #2, oh my sweet friend, I wish.

I had to step back and evaluate myself with one simple question. Would I want to be around me during (insert amount of time, relationship, life happening, etc) this friendship?

On that specific day? Yes. Months before and after? Yes. Closer to where our friendship ended? Not even close. I welled up  with tears, thinking of my wrong doings. The offender in me recounted everything. Sting upon sting hit my heart. How could I forgive myself for these transgressions?

I don’t know. I have tried to make things right, yet it seems as nothing in the situation has changed. It still rips me apart. It’s embarrassing. I want a do-over. I want to show people that I made a mistake. Have you been there?

I’ll tell you what I do know though.

Because I can trust God, I hold steadfast to Him. Because I am fearfully and wonderfully made I know I am more than this. Because I can have peace, I sow peace in my other friendships. Because I am loved, I love those who have also made mistakes.

I am not my mistakes and neither are you. My dear, YOU are a new creation because of Christ. Every single day you wake up, you are made new. I need to say this over myself more, I write this for you and for me: Your mistakes do not define the amazing, gorgeous, peaceful, strong, perfect you that God created.

We cannot hold this embarrassment and shame over our heads forever, even if those you’ve harmed do. I’m still learning this. The pain may still hit to your core, but know that you are more.

When Losing Yourself Wins

IMG_6829

May I bear my heart with you? May I be vulnerable for a moment?

Being lost in a new place has slowly become one of my favorite things. It creates a sense of vulnerability that only comes up a few times in our lives.  It allows for adventure, new friends, parks to explore, and so much more. Now being lost in my life, that is not something I often welcome with open arms.

Each and every one of us will go through heartache of extreme kinds. The type where we can barely focus on the task at hand, let alone the daily tasks required of us. The type where our whole world and sense of self is shaken to its core. The type where sloth consumes our every being. Questions swirl around in our minds like a wind-whipped piece of clothing left on the line too long. “What if I had done X, Y, Z?” “What if I had just known not to say that one thing?” “Why did no one tell me?” “I felt God’s presence and heard His voice in this…” Have you been there? Are you there currently?

I have and I am.

God does not promise an easy life, He promises an abundant life. But what if abundant life isn’t full of pure joy and happiness?  This is something I cannot figure out and won’t claim to understand. The Merriam-Webster definition of abundant is, “marked by great plenty” or “amply supplied“. Could it be that we are abundantly given discord and confusion to draw closer to God. Or could it be that our own free will and ego gets in the way of this abundant life we are promised. These are a few of the things I wrestle with.

Philippians 1:21 is a verse recited in the Church often and one that Sidewalk Prophets made an amazing song out of, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”. A few of the lyrics go as follows:

If I grow, let me grow in You
Wilt the seeds of wanting more
Ripping pride out by the roots
If I’m still, let me hear You speak
Not the tone of my transgressions
But the song of the redeemed

My great desire is to be with You
But this is the place You chose for me
This is the place You chose for me
To lift my cross and give everything
This is the time You gave to me

For me to live is Christ
To die is gain

God will cover and see over us, especially in times of deep sorrow and strife. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” This life isn’t about us, which goes against our selfish nature. It’s according to HIS purpose, not mine, not my heartache, not those who have scorned me or turned a blind eye to me.

Heartache hurts. Putting your entire soul and worth into something or someone to then just be dropped without a second thought is one of the most painful things to go through. You feel as if you have lost yourself, while in reality, you have won. You have been given one of the most precious gifts, though I am very aware it doesn’t feel like this.

Through heartache, we are given the abundant realization that the only way to be whole is through Christ filling the space we place idols in. This idol could be work, being single, being in a relationship, technology, Facebook, tea, food, your cat! The only person who knows what your idol is, is you. All these things are good and are wonderful to be desired. But once it engulfs your “God Space” that’s when things get sticky. When that idol is taken or runs from you, you lose yourself, but not the you God intends you to be. You gain a true fullness in the space that once falsely consumed your every being.

Be strong. This is the place and time He has chosen for us.