Freedom in Forgiveness

freedom in forgiveness With my heart sinking to my knees, I listened to 6 teenage girls share their gut wrenching stories of sexual and/or physical abuse, words spoken to them of threat and hatred, years of jumping from sexually-abusive foster families to  loving adoptive foster families, turning to addictive escape methods, and so many more horrors that 7 to 15 year girls should not even know about.

Camp never fails to bring me to my knees with the realization that I cannot do this thing of life on my own. Camp unburies my own memories from the days I was a camper. I have now stepped into the big shoes of Mighty Camp Counselor - and those shoes are a lot heavier than I remember seeing them as. I have spent approximately 20 weeks at various camps throughout this small life of mine. The last 5/20 weeks have been as a Camp Counselor. It never fails to humble me, reminding me of the significant role I am offered to fill at camp. These teenagers register for camp with the hope to encounter Something Big. I get the absolute privilege of digging deep, inviting these girls into raw and honest conversations, pointing to Jesus in relentless ways...for just a few days. I don't want to forsake that opportunity. The main avenue I choose to skip the surface talk and get to Jesus is by asking if anyone wants to share their story - if that intimidates them to their core, which it usually does, I offer to share mine. In doing so, I strip down barriers that were unnecessary. Barriers such as the fear of being known and unloved, the fear of being rejected, the fear of being condemned. Very real things.

Many of the stories I hear at camp force my actual legs to grow numb and I crumble beneath the weight of brokenness this world carries. I break because the stories shared aren't unfolding the way God planned this world of stories to unfold. That may seem contrary to what you've heard...but I believe it as true. I believe that God's intentions, His desire, when He made this world was for us to live in harmony, in peace, without brokenness. That is His design; but He also gave us this wonderful thing called: FREE WILL. The freedom to make decisions, to have within ourselves a will, a desire, a choice-making ability. With this free will often comes free disaster. Disaster like...abuse (sexually, physically, emotionally), abandonment, neglect, loss, lots of yelling, addictions, adultery, murder, and the list goes on and you know all too well what else the list contains. This brokenness, [when in the thick of it], often feels like hell-on-earth; this is because these things are opposite of heaven, they are completely contrasting with what God had intended for us.

Maybe you, my wonderful reader, have lived through [almost]-hell on earth -- moments where so much darkness covered you, you were unsure that a joyful-freedom-peaceful life existed outside of the walls of your own home. Darkness engulfs you and you feel trapped and you don't know that there is any good; can God even see you?

psalm 139 12

Forgiveness seems farfetched, something for others but not for you. The hurt you have endured is unjustifiable, inexcusable, unforgivable. Forgiveness is for weak people, you may think. Forgiveness is for people who want to set themselves back up for hurt; you will not do that. You will harden your heart if needed, place up extreme boundaries to protect yourself from being hurt in that way ever again. This is where trust and forgiveness differentiate. I am here to tell you that you can whole-heartedly forgive someone, find freedom, without having to trust them. Without having to place yourself in a situation to be taken advantage of, abused, wounded.

Forgiveness of deep wounds does not weaken us, it strengthens us and invites us into a place of freedom. Freedom of peace and joy. You may feel extremely weak, broken to shambles even. But in Jesus, you can gain the unexplainable strength to forgive. 2 corinthians 12 10

Forgiveness may not happen over night. Forgiveness can be a process, but the crucial tipping point is choosing to enter that process. Choosing to ask Jesus for the strength to forgive, to help you hope the best, believe the best, want the best for ____________. My friends, I so want you in on this. I so want you to join me in this freedom of forgiveness. I am telling you, it is free. It is good. It is lovely and delightful and wild and full of Him. And He is good.

How do you begin this process, this journey of forgiveness? You decide to begin; you commit to yourself and to Jesus that you want to walk down this hard and freeing road. Tell someone who is trustworthy, who may even know the deep wounds you are carrying around. Ask them to help you, to pray for you, to root you on in grace. Pray for this person, these people, and ask Jesus to give you eyes for them as He sees them. Ask Jesus for understanding and compassion; it is highly likely they are battling their own prison and are suffering from darkness. I can almost guarantee it. Ask Jesus to reveal a deep understanding and give you a heart for them; ask Him to help you forgive. Every time their name or face pops into your heart, mind, or vision...instead of hardening your heart that spews bitter blood that tastes like sour vinegar, ask Jesus to guard your heart. Lean on His understanding, lean into His grace, and ask for His heart. You may fail and you must remember that Jesus is the man of grace. God is the God of grace. So pray, and ask Jesus to help you through this process.

"Take me into your freedom of delightful joy, Jesus. Help me forgive, help me see _____ with eyes of grace and forgiveness. Guard my heart."

I have walked this journey and am still walking this journey. I choose to forgive those who have wounded me deeply, though it doesn't always come easy. But boy, is there freedom on the other side. I hope the best and pray for these people, I [most-of-the-time] see them with eyes of grace...but I don't always insert myself in a scenario to be wounded again. When in their presence, I always ask Jesus to guard my heart. I give you my word, friends, forgiveness is worth the work.

[If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests, PLEASE email me or comment below. It is my utmost honor to pray for people and point towards freedom found in Jesus.]

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galatians 51 galatians 513 proverbs 3 5 matthew 6 15

Healing during brokenness. Is it possible?

healing So enveloping, the dark covered the night. A few stars showed their shining face to mine, tear-dripping, as I glared up frustrated. First on my knees, then to my rear, rocking back and forth.

"Do others feel deep pain?"

"Why do parents hurt their kids? And not even realize it?"

"Why do people even get married?"

"Why do people have kids?"

"Why are people so selfish?"

"Why do affairs happen?"

"Why was I born?"

"Why are people so mean?"

"DOES ANYONE UNDERSTAND, are you there, God?"

pain. escape.

Five years later and I knew He was there. And as I sobbed out of this place of brokenness, begging for the answers to these questions, there was more to the story. There is always more to every story. There was depth beneath the shouted questions. These jam-packed, heavily loaded questions were shot gun shells filled with the most broken pieces of gun powder, ready to explode. They wanted to demand my will, my wants, my idea of what life on earth should look like: painless. They were questions that were more than mere questions.

Rocking back and forth, tears streamed down my face and I couldn't help but be terribly angry at my friends inside the house. My friends who so easily watched movies about things that do not matter. My friends that [seem to] ignore pain and skirt all vulnerable and terribly transparent topics. My friends that didn't understand.

What was the point of all of this?

I want to love you, Jesus. I want to love you with my life and bring glory to your name, but this pain I cannot escape. The pain is me, it makes up ME, and I cannot escape my own skin. To escape my skin is impossible while breathing, but it is all that I yearn to do.

Something happened that night. I broke. I crumbled. I was honestly hurt and seeking His face, even if it were out of anger. Angry at who? I don't believe I was angry at God. I was just...angry. At circumstances, at humans. I was angry with the fickleness of humans, though I did not know that. For possibly the first time in too long, I was honest with myself: I am weak, I am broken, I need Jesus more than I realize.

I did not know at that time that we are all deeply broken. We either are or have experienced some sort of brokenness in Our Story. But no one talked about it. It was vague; it was this far-out-there sort of idea - not a very real and tangible REALITY. I thought I was messed up and broken all by myself. But [part of the] beauty of this life on earth is that we are all broken. We have the invitation to live brokenly together. Maybe your brokenness and my brokenness are completely different. In fact, they are. As a result of this messy and selfish world, we have hurts, aches, pains. Mistakes. Consequences. MESSED UP SELFISHNESS.

deeply broken

We cannot find healing until we look Truth in the face, honestly. We cannot find healing without raw honesty. We will not move into a flourishing life until we choose to be honest and real before our Jesus King who so desperately wants to rush us forth into His marvelous freedom-life. Which can be now. On earth. This moment. And honestly, I hurt and I am in pain and it is because of the decisions others have made. And I. Am. Broken.  When we come to grips that we are in agonizing pain, a few things happen:

  • Forgiveness is now possible. Once I recognize and accept that some one has hurt me, I now can move forward into the freedom (and often, process) of forgiveness. Once I admit that I am weak and have been hurt, I can then realize that... guess what? That human is human. And possibly, just maybe, I must also forgive myself. Forgiveness is possible.
  • We can be okay with our humanity. As in, every single human who has walked the face of this earth has felt pain. It is normal. And it is good to break and be broken because brokenness is a catalyst for humility.
  • Humility is now possible. Humility is more beautiful than words can describe. Our way of life depends on being rooted in Christ Jesus which is our deliberate choice. Humility allows us to choose being rooted in Him. Recognizing that we are broken and flawed and in pain rushes forth humility, because it reveals that we cannot survive without Him. And without humility, we do not see that we too have hurt others. That we too have played a part in the story. Humility is the most beautiful Thing. It can be painful, but so freeing.
  • Healing is now possible. Healing is possible when we admit that we are hurt. Until we come to grips with the honesty of hurt, we will not heal. If we don't view ourselves as needing healing, why would healing happen? Our hearts will only harden, and pride my friends...pride will take over. Please believe me when I say: you don't want your heart full and over flowing with pride. It isn't fun for anyone.

healing. honesty

I look back on that night 5 years ago and I praise Jesus for those honest cries for help. I thank Him that He brought me through and carried me, when I allowed Him. I thank Him that I see people with a new light of love and an incredibly deeper understanding.

I continue to be flawed, broken, and also Full of all The Feely Things - emotions. I continue to break down and weep and choose self-pity parties, blowing up balloons and inviting anyone to join. {Which, if I do this, please don't join the party. Its not fun for anyone. It's also not loving me. And I am not loving you by inviting you to this Party of Pity. And honestly, I have a dang blessed life. So it is pathetic of me}. Not every day are these parties thrown. Not all of the time. But there are days, sometimes weeks, where I choose the mindset of prison. I am fickle, I am human, I am broken. However. I am still healing. I am still finding health for my heart, my soul soothed by His love and patience for me. He is always patient. My identity lies not in my brokenness, but in my chosenness. You are chosen. Ephesians 1:4 says that He chose us before the world was formed. He chose us before we were broken and sinful, but He also chose us before we decided to do good. That we are adopted into His family, standing faultless before His throne. Because of Jesus.

identities

We must choose, with our free will, to enter the process of healing. We must choose to be honest and vulnerable, even when it is scary. We must choose to reject the lies we believe, and claim His words for us as Truth. Healing begins with honesty.

Though I am broken and offered a decision of wallowing-in-pain or pursuit of freedom, I am not defined by my brokenness. Even when I choose wallowing, He does not define me in that way. He says I am royal and His.

He says that you are beloved.

He says that you are His. Even when you choose to sit in the brokenness and not move towards His freedom.

His identity for us does not waver, even when we do.

Friends. Ponder on this Truth for yourself today:

ephesians 1.4