Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Beauty of Forgiveness

God has been speaking to me about the unforgiveness that I have in my heart towards MYSELF. I told Jesus last night that I will forgive myself. That is hard for me to even write. I don't feel like I deserve forgiveness. I have regrets and guilt and unforgiveness toward myself that I need to face. I need to not resist God.
This unforgiveness in my heart towards myself has been keeping me from truly experiencing the Joy and Peace and Grace that God so desperately and passionately wants to give me. I am bound by chains of regret and guilt and I need set free. God is and wants to work on me but I'm realizing I HAVE to let Him help me to forgive myself... or I can't move forward. God can't do what we are asking sometimes until we give Him the reigns and step back and listen. I hear you Jesus and by your grace I am going to walk through this. Thank you that you never let go of me. You've always walking right through things with me. Thank you precious Savior!

A month ago I started going to a Renewal group at a local church. It's for anyone struggling... depression, addictions, and many other emotional struggles and it's focus is walking through recovery with Jesus. It is becoming a source of support and encouragement for me that I know is a gift from God and something I need right now. It's good to know I'm not alone, to have people that I can relate with, be encouraged and challenged by and hold and be held up in prayer for one another.

This week the speaker talked about step 4 of the 12 steps which is "making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves" and "openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God and to someone I trust."

"Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord" Lam. 3:10."

They encouraged us to look back on the significant events in our lives that were good, bad, ugly, and wonderful and think about how those things have affected us and those we love. To open our hearts and minds and allow ourselves to have the feelings we've maybe not acknowledged or have blocked out or denied. And then most importantly to look at who and where we are right now.
The speaker gave some questions for us to ask ourselves and 3 that stood out to me were...
What do I feel guilty about? What do I regret? What am I fearful of?
As I took notes, I also jotted down things that came to my mind about guilt, regret, and fears I have. It was eye opening. I don't like myself, I haven't forgive myself, and fears overwhelm me. I need God's saving Grace. I have a lot of sin in my live.

My counselor once told me that the only way I will be able to heal and move forward and become healthy is to forgive myself. He also said I need to come to the place of "being comfortable in my own skin". I am far far from that. I am in fact the opposite. I am my biggest enemy. I fight myself and fight God and I'm way too hard on myself. My guilt and shame often paralyzes me from seeing and experiencing the precious love and grace God is constant at giving me. I know this hurts God. I don't want to grieve Him. As a parent it would be so painful if my kids rejected and refused to believe they are lovely and lovable. That is exactly what my unforgiveness and disbelief does to Jesus.
I'm rejecting Him when I reject myself.
Jesus give me the ability to receive your grace for ME and to extend that Grace to myself.

Most of the thoughts I battle in my mind aren't even isn't the way Jesus sees me but it's the torment I put myself through. I know deep in my soul that Jesus fully forgives me and He has forgotten and He doesn't see me the way I see myself. When I am not feeling well I allow these negative thoughts to creep in and haunt me. To voice some of my thoughts and feelings... I think of myself as not having been the mom or wife or Woman of Jesus that I needed to be and that my family needed me to be. I feel like I've missed out on so much of my children's earlier years. I feel like I haven't been available to them and disengaged myself when things were hard. I'm afraid of the hurt I've caused as their little minds have tried to process and figure out what was going on. I am afraid that my kids will look back and remember me either sick physically from pregnancies or sick mentally and in bed or tapped out emotionally. I feel like I've been a selfish and needy wife to my amazingly giving and selfless husband. I feel I've taken and I haven't been able to give back. I have such regret and guilt about the many years of just surviving and not being able to experience and be who I wanted to be. Looking back I hurt. I hurt for what was, what wasn't and what could have been. And to top all that off I am fearful of much.
And I have harbored these feelings and allowed my heart to become hardened. Not at others, but at myself.

I made the commitment to Jesus last night that I will forgive myself. I'm speaking forgiveness to myself. I honestly don't know what that is suppose to look like but I know it involves God's great grace and love and allowing myself that love and freeing forgiveness. And most of all I know He will finish this work in me because He has before, and He keeps His promises. I am surrendering myself to God! I'm committed to following Jesus as I walk through this journey and walk through some hard places on the way to truth. I know I waver back and forth with things when I feel good vs. feeling bad etc. Being Bipolar it often feels like I can't ever really overcome things... I feel at peace, know the truth, then I feel low and get in a rut and feel like I'm a burden and not a blessing and get overwhelmed.

Thinking back on the process of forgiveness towards the man that attacked/violated me and the beauty of forgiveness that God worked in my heart...
God so tenderly and patiently walked me through and set me free.

I began speaking that forgiveness long before I felt it. I knew then that God would do it in me, even though I couldn't do it myself. I began asking Jesus first that He would help me "Want to want to forgive this man" and as Jesus softened my heart I continued by asking God to help me want to forgive him, and then as God softened my heart more I asked Jesus to free me from the hatred that was eating at my heart and to be able to see this man the way Jesus saw Him. Slowly I went from wanting this man to suffer in jail forever and experience the torment I was experiencing... to wanting to have Jesus's heart towards this man, I starting to speak this forgiveness even without it being fully there and without me "feeling" forgiveness.

What God did in my heart to complete that forgiveness was something only He could do and I will NEVER forget what I experienced one night that sealed in my heart the forgiveness towards this man that I needed.. It changed me. I was set free from the chains of unforgiveness.

Often as a teenager I walked to a nearby reservoir in the late evenings to be with Jesus. I would question and try to make sense of the pain and confusion that was often in my heart over what had happened to me. I met Jesus in those times. He would wrap me up in Himself and I would be lost in His love. I didn't feel quite so alone in those moments.
I was sitting there soaking up the beauty of the quiet water.
This specific night I sat crying out to Jesus asking Him to help me find the strength and love to give forgive to this man that had hurt me so deeply. I remember telling Jesus that I knew He was going to help me to forgive this man. The picture God gave me that night I will never forget. His Spirit came in such a tangible pure way that it changed me. He displayed a picture before me over the water... I saw Jesus on the cross, I saw Him crying out in pain, I could see the blood running down his brow, dripping from His hands and feet. I could see the despair and anguish in his eyes as he winced and struggled against the pain. He looked at me. I saw His eyes and at that moment I realized that His gift at the Cross was for me, out of His great love for me, but as I looked deeper into Jesus's eyes I knew that He died for that man too. He loved that man, he hurt and longed for that man, he had plans for that man, and that man was lost and desperate for a saviour. In those moments, as I saw the pain that Jesus experienced for me, and for him, a forgiveness broke through my spirit in a deep and precious way. I began to weep for the pain Jesus experienced. The picture was so real and I had never walked through or visualized His crucifiction like that. He did that for me, He died, so I could be saved and forgiven. God gave His only Son for me. In those moments a deep peace washed over me. I felt free from the chains that had surrounded me with bitterness and unforgiveness... and in a moment, it happened. My heart forgave that man. I saw his sad lost eyes in my mind, and I saw Jesus... I realized that man was Jesus's and he was deeply lost.
I began to pray for that man, and the months that followed I had a joy that I had never experienced before. The pain and processing was still there, and God is faithful to continue the work He's started... but for me, there was a part of me set free that night, sitting by the lake.

God has a reason for reminding me of that night and the miracle of forgiveness that He worked in my heart that night. I cannot deny that the love that held Him on the cross is still the same love, offered for me now the same as it was offered the night we pinned Him to the cross. Apart from Him I can do nothing, but with God ALL things are possible. I'm expecting and believing that God will set me free as I choose to allow Him to help me extend the same forgiveness to myself that God extended to me. A constant dying to myself and coming alive in Jesus. My prayer is that I will experience over and over God's grace for me. That I will allow Jesus to bring me into the light, walk me into freedom as I forgive myself and learn to love myself.
The amazing freeing and beautiful truth is that God redeems the years the locust have eaten; He makes all things new, bright and beautiful, and He brings good from bad. He exchanges beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, and peace for despair.

Not one thing gets wasted; He uses it all.

He is my redeemer, my healer, my joy, my strength, my sustainer and He is constantly pursuing me and making me the beautiful person He created me to be.

And so I will.... I will and am forgiving myself. I am begging for strength and belief to allow Jesus to take my unforgiveness so that I may be alive and full of joy, in the saving grace that Jesus gave for ME on the cross. I want to know the deep love God has for me, for me right where I am. For my failures, my pains, my sinful flesh, my fears. I choose to forgive myself so that I can experience how deep, how wide, how much Grace my Father has for me.... so that I can become Holy, Just as He is holy.
He is worthy of all my praises.
And just as Jesus says He forgives and forgets and holds it against us no longer, I'm praying for His ability to forgive myself and forget and live right where I am, right NOW, at peace and at rest in Jesus's arms so that I can become more and more in the image of Jesus.

I pray for eyes that see me from Jesus' point of view and the strength to resist the lies when they come and claim the truth and with thanksgiving cling to Jesus.

Continuing my Gratitude List of 1000 Gifts from Jesus:

91- I'm grateful for the amazing miracle of Jesus' blood shed for me on the cross

92- His patience and understanding of my human state

93- The way He constantly pursues me.

94- He loves me with no apprehensions

95- He never changes

96- JM in bed wimpering for me to rock him

97-kitty kat eating the christmas lights of the tree :O)

98-Isaiah talking in his sweet high voice to JM while he teaches him something.

99- for my kids desire to give and bless others. They gave their give and some of their spend money to friends who don't have money right now to by their kids Christmas Presents.


101-His mercies are NEW every morning, Great is His faithfullness!

102-His Joy over me!

103- Abby sitting at the table eating her soup with white sequen minnie mouse ear brides veil on her head.

104- My husband yelling at the tv over bad calls being made in the UK basketball game he's watching

105- Watching Daddy tackle and throw JM up into his arms and over his head onto the bed and the giggles that follow.

106-little ones that say "I'm Mommy's or I'm Daddy's... as they giggle and run to that parent while the other parent argues that they are our girl or boy.

107- quiet nights with a house full of blessings sleeping throughout.

108-Little chubby wide piggies (toes) of a sweet 4 yr old princess

109-The gift of laughter

110- Two shall become One

110- New possibilites and dreams

111- Forgiveness and the freedom and joy that comes with it!

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