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Good Stuff Learned through Heartbreak: Forgiveness 101

wreckage of houseI lift my head, my cheeks still wet with tears, looking around the room.  It is the same:  piles of sorted materials waiting to be put in open boxes, a large black garbage bag gaping open, waiting for more trash.  Behind the closet doors and in the drawers are hours of work waiting for me.

However, something has happened.  Some of the defenses I erected because I thought I need to be strong have fallen. I’m now reminded that I don’t have to be the strong one.   God told Paul that His strength was sufficient for Paul to lean upon.
2 Corinthians 12: 7-10
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delightin weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Tonight, the Holy Spirit reminds me of the same promises. I am not in this alone.  I can lean upon my Lord’s strength if I follow His instructions.

I do not want to be a turkey, stuck to the ground.  I want to be as an eagle and soar.

I do not want those who betrayed me to continue to control me.  I want to be free and soar! 

I keep thinking. It was the word “forgive” that opened the floodgates.  I need to understand that word better for, right now, I am incapable of forgiving.  I’m too hurt. This whole thing is too wrong! 

I pick up my Bible that is full of notes written in the margins, turn off the overhead lights so I don’t see as much of the mess surrounding me, sit propped up on the bed and open it to Matthew 6, where Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer.

“This, then, is how you should pray:
   Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.                                                       

 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven ([e]left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have [f]given up resentment against) our debtors.
13 And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

hmmm forgive my debts as I forgive my debtors, forgive my trespasses (wrongs) as I forgive those who have trespassed against me (wronged me.)  Ouch! that is strong! but wait, what does the Lord say immediately after? 

  14 “For if you forgive people their trespasses [their [g]reckless and willful sins,[h]leaving them, letting them go, and [i]giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15but if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their [j]reckless and willful sins, [k]leaving them, letting them go, and [l]giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.”

I re-read those words.  If I don’t forgive my former husband and all the people he was involved with or still is, my Father will not forgive me?
God knows I can’t survive without His forgiveness?   Besides unforgiveness leads to bitterness; it is a “luxury I cannot afford!” I 
need God’s forgiveness!

I am agitated. I get up and start pacing the floor, arguing with God.  I don’t understand!
Father, how can I forgive?  I am numb and confused and tired.  How can I forgive when I have no emotion left except for tears?  and anger.  I have nothing left inside of me with which to forgive!

How do I obey you?  I can’t!  I want to, but I don’t know how!

I keep pacing, thinking, questioning.  Gradually a thought comes to me.

Ok, I don’t have anything inside of me with which to forgive.  But, the Lord tells me if I want His forgiveness, I have to forgive others.
So, what if I tell Him this?  Out of obedience to Him I forgive them, and He will have  to take care of my emotions?

I stop my pacing, and do exactly that. Lord, I love You, Lord, and desire to obey You.  But I am doing this with no emotion, no compassion for them.

I forgive …….. for doing ……., I ask You to take care of my emotions.

That night I begin on the long list of hurt and betrayal.  I want to clean my inner house and do it well.

Those of you who have cleaned out cupboards, closets, cars and garages understand how the process works. . . and how, the more we clean, the more junk we discover hidden in the corners and other items.  So it is, with forgiveness.

Also, just like dust balls can multiply under a bed after we have vacuumed the space clean, so the wounds may have to be cleansed repeatedly with forgiveness.  This is a process that takes time, and is not  a smooth, constantly improving progress.

Tears, despair, longing for what I’d hoped and prayed for, the battle to trust God, hanging onto scriptures, reading and re-reading them, sometimes reading them out loud.

Verses like: Psalms 37:3-8 Amplified
Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.
And He will make your uprightness and right standing with God go forth as the light, and your justice and right as [the shining sun of] the noonday.
Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.
Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing.
For evildoers shall be cut off. . .

Lord, these promises I need!  Help me! I will delight in You: You are the only One whom I can totally trust!  And you tell me if I do that, You will give me the desires of my heart… so I need to figure out what are the deepest desires in my heart.  Please open my eyes to see what they are.
And, if I understand You, You are telling me that if I give my cares to You and trust You, You will resolve where I will live when I return to the states, how I will be able to work and have enough to take care of myself and my daughter. . . that YOU will bring it all to pass… Father, I HAVE to trust You.  I have no way to resolve these things!  Please, keep teaching me.

I discover I can’t read books, fiction nor non-fiction. Whenever I try to read them, I  burst into tears.  It’s crazy!  The Bible is the only place where I find strength.  I stick to reading God’s Word, like a burr sticks to clothing. I hang onto it – and onto God’s promises, even when they make no logic in what I’m walking through.

Isa 41:11-13  Amplified Bible (AMP)
10 Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I  am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.
11 Behold, all they who are enraged and inflamed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; they who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish.
12 You shall seek those who contend with you but shall not find them; they who war against you shall be as nothing, as nothing at all.
13 For I the Lord your God hold your right hand; I am the Lord, Who says to you, Fear not; I will help you!   Hang onto His hand?  No way am I going to let go!!!

Day after day. Some days crying more, some days less.  I am frustrated for I can’t control the tears, they come at such unexpected moments. . . Yet, in the midst of the emotional wreckage, closing up the house, as well as closing that phase of my life in Brazil, I am learning little things each day that will change my life.

For example: After a several days of inner housecleaning, I asked the Holy Spirit to show me if I’d missed anything to forgive. The next morning when I awakened, I was angry and upset, really upset.  That surprised me, for I’d asked God to protect me from false accusations. As I puzzled over it, I began to smile.

Hadn’t I asked the Holy Spirit to show me what other things I needed to forgive?  He was doing what I’d requested… It was a simple and direct answer to one of my prayers… showing me that God’s Spirit is listening. He showed me. Now I go to work on it.
I began checking out with myself what things were bothering me, and started forgiving them.. not pleasant, at times painful. I’d buried emotions, year after year; now it was time to deal with them.

Another important lesson: awareness of the presence of Jesus in my life. I learned a specific application of this as follows
Some of the memories of different incidents troubled me like pointed spikes digging into my skin.  I remember one in particular, something small, unimportant.  It was a supposedly simple phone call; only now, I realize I looked like an utter fool to my former husband and his friend. It rankled and hurt, I couldn’t forget it.  How they must have laughed at me. . .  until, one day, I purposely remembered the scene in my mind, visually placing Jesus there with His arms around me, protecting me. . . and I had peace.  I know He was protecting me all of these years, but I’d never visualized Him there. What a difference that made!

I still do this with memories. This may be something that could help you?

During those days, I have a surplus of things to think about and talk over with the Lord as I clean, sort, pack and toss – a myriad of physical decisions while I  constantly discover more things I need to forgive to clean my inner house.  I want no touch of the poison of bitterness; therefore, I have to clean well! 

Even though I am unaware of it, I’m slowly gaining a new control in my life and the Lord is preparing me for the next lessons.

Next post: More stuff: Forgiveness 102 -How forgiveness liberates us from emotional chains with the past and the present! Plus  . . .

Question:  Do any of these thoughts help you where you are?

Do you have horrendous griefs you are trying to deal with? or is it dust balls under the bed? Either of these can lead to bitterness if we don’t clean them out. And bitterness is a dank and dark prison that can consume us .

Remember: if you check the box to receive these posts in your email, I don’t have to worry about getting the info to you.  Sounds good for both of us. 🙂

 

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7 Replies

  1. Diane

    This does help me deal with some past hurts. Thank you.

    1. Voni

      Thanks Diane!!! If this helps, I just thank God! 🙂 If what I learned through grief helps someone else, it helps me be even more grateful for what I’ve learned – and am still learning.

  2. Carolyn Galligan

    This is such a great lesson you shared. Thank you! I must examin my own life and see what lies there. Love you!

    1. Voni

      And I have to keep checking me out, too We can count on the Holy Spirit to show us, if we ask Him to. Can be a shock… but oh! it’s so good o walk free!

  3. I enjoyed this post, Voni. You inspire me to develop a deeper awareness of the presence of Jesus in my life- thank you!

  4. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others…..one of the hardest lines in the Lord’s Prayer.

    1. Voni

      Isn’t it? and then afterwards He specifically tells us if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us. There are many reasons to forgive, and blessings when we do, but the primary reason for me is obedience. I NEED to be forgiven!

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