Tag Archives: forgiveness

The Process of Forgiveness.

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time. Every time I would go to write it, I would stop. It seemed too difficult to tell the story well. To tell the story of forgiveness. I hope I serve the art of forgiving well as I share my heart today.

I believe the process of forgiveness looks different according to each situation. Many times it’s easy. It’s easy to forgive your children for forgetting to clean their room. It’s easy to forgive your spouse when he doesn’t meet an expectation. It’s easy, or it should be easy, to forgive a friend when they disappoint you. Why? Because, we are making allowances for each other’s faults. So, immediate forgiveness makes sense. The process is hardly a process at all.

But deep hurts of betrayal or of life-changing wrong-doing require a process of forgiveness. I don’t know that I truly understood this until last year when my family was forced to walk through it. Even the process of forgiving John Henry’s dad was easier. As crazy as it sounds, that hurt was not a hurt that was meant to deliberately hurt me or him. While it affected us, it wasn’t about us. It was about him. I know this is a hard pill for some to swallow who have experienced their spouse leaving them. But, because of the love I had for both of them and the awareness that it wasn’t about me, walking in forgiveness was an easy process. It didn’t make the hurt any less. I still had to live with the decision. But, it did make releasing any anger and resentment possible and quick. Am I making sense? See the difference? The hurt stayed a while, but the resentment did not.

Last year, I experienced a different kind of hurt. The kind that affects your entire family. The kind where intentions just don’t seem right. The kind where you have no emotional ties to the instigators, so there seems to be no reason to “let them off the hook.” I was hurt. I felt violated, betrayed, angry, resentful. Where was the justice, the fairness, the accountability? Every feeling was necessary for me to feel. The hard part in it all was trying not to lose who I was in it. Trying not to forget who HE was in me. Who HE is in each of us. I wanted to forgive. I would pray and release them, but I would find myself meeting that anger again whenever I allowed my mind to go there. Forgiveness was going to be hard. I was initially hard on myself, because, I felt like I knew better. I knew it was necessary. But, I never understood the process of this kind of hurt until I had to walk through it.

So, I learned that sometimes forgiveness is a journey. But, it has to be an intentional journey. It has to be so intentional that you set out every day with the goal of releasing it. You set your heart on the mission of letting them off the hook. It did not happen with a prayer. It didn’t happen with a single decision. It happened with multiple decisions. It happened with the realization that sometimes forgiveness is a process. It’s a decision you have to make over and over and over. Every single day. Until the hurt is gone.

It’s deliberate. It’s a daily choice. And, it’s a process.

Eventually, I framed my world to release the hurt and forgiveness so many times that it finally happened. I was free. And, so were the ones who hurt me.

Don’t stay in deep-rooted hurt. Don’t accept that your hurt will always be there. Take the journey. Go through the process. Keep making the choice to forgive over and over until that hurt no longer carries any weight.

Besides learning that sometimes forgiveness is a process, I also learned how little other hurts really are. I learned, that at the end of the day, it should be so easy to allow those we love to fail us. To let go of little things like someone not meeting your expectations. It became so easy to always fill in the gap of my expectations and disappointments with love and forgiveness. Everything else became so small. The people in my life became so big….as did my love for them. The decisions we made after our big hurt made our lives richer. Better. Nothing went to waste, and God has used it ALL for our good.

All of it.

If you’re holding onto hurt, choose to go through the process of forgiveness. Allow God to work even that for your good. He loves you, and His ways are so, so good. So worth it. YOU are worth it.

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Filed under disappointment, God Stuff, Life Experiences, Relationships, Spiritual Journey

When We Run Into Problems.

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5

These verses carried me through the hardest time in my life over 14 years ago. I read this passage again this morning with a different set of eyes. A confident set of eyes. A heart that knows and understands. A life that can testify to it over and over and over again.

Our initial reaction to adversity and problems isn’t, “Well thank you, Jesus. This is going to grow me and strengthen my character.” No. It can be anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, and so many other things. Certainly not happiness that we get to endure something hard. It’s not a normal reaction. Hey, you’re normal. So, I am I! However, once we get over the initial shock and awe of it, we get to make a choice how we are going to through the problem. Whether the problem is as large as what I endured 14 years ago when my husband walked out or even if it is as small as a conflict at your work, we get to choose to endure it with a confident hope that He will grow us and work it for our good.

So, what do we do after we get over the initial onset of a problem? I wanted to share some things that I do that may help you, too. First, I vent upward. That means I don’t share my problem with someone who isn’t on the same page of life with me spiritually. Because, that person may feed into my anger or resentment where nothing redemptive comes from it. I vent to someone who has compassion but who also brings light to it. They help me process it from a position of forgiveness and understanding. They remind me to trust Him. The conversation is always redemptive.

I slow down. Haste causes us to react instead of respond. It causes a build up of negative emotions and feelings that are hard to come down from. I slow down my responses, my comments, my time. When we slow down, we are able to think more clearly, take captive our thoughts that are negative more easily, and avoid making the mistake of saying or doing something we might regret.

I pray and meditate. This keeps my heart soft and refocuses my thoughts. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Don’t worry about your problem. Don’t dwell on it. Tell God what you need, and THANK Him for everything He has already done. Everything He has already delivered you from and made better for you. Re-center your thoughts on Him and on thankfulness. When you catch yourself dwelling on the problem, replace that thought with all of the good in your life. Everything you have to be thankful for. THEN, peace will flood your life.

Finally, I am open to change. What if I am the one that is the problem? What if God is not just working something for my good, but what if He is changing ME? What if I created the problem myself? Stay open to accept responsibility. Allow people you trust to speak into your life.

All problems are meant for our growth. I learned a long time ago to say, “Nothing goes wrong in my world.” Instead, every situation is an opportunity to grow. To learn. An opportunity to be a better friend. A better mom. A better wife. A better person. Without running into hard situations, it is impossible to become BETTER. So, with that knowledge, we really can rejoice in hard times. Because, we are then presented with an opportunity for our lives to be better. We may not always see the end from the beginning and know the hows and whys, but we can trust in the One who is working all things, ALL, for our good.

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Filed under God Stuff, gratitude, life, Relationships, Uncategorized

His Goodness Pursues You.

You know those times you look at your house and know you need to organize so many things in it but don’t really know where to begin? That’s how I have felt about writing to you all. So many things, so many thoughts, so many messages of heartache, brokenness, and disappointment. But, so many messages of His goodness, hope, and His faithfulness. All of these themes shuffling around in my head and not really knowing where to begin. And, just like that house that needs us to get up and do something, I need to begin writing…something.

So, today, I begin with His goodness.

The past few months have been a whirlwind for our family. Without sharing intimate details, we have experienced things we never imagined we would go through. Emotions of disappointment and anger. Feelings of injustice. Moments of falling to my knees with hurt and knowing in my heart that forgiveness can be hard but necessary. But, through disappointment, He is still good. He is faithful. And, nothing, NOTHING goes to waste. No hurt goes to waste. No difficult season goes to waste. Nothing.

And, disappointment and hurt do not pursue me.

His goodness and unfailing love do. They chase after me wherever I go. They make themselves known in the darkest of times and the brightest of times. They lift up my chin and remind me that He is working all things for my good. ALL things. Not some. Not a few. ALL things. They give rest to my weary head. They comfort me. They say, “Hey, kid. We’ve never stopped following you. And, you know what? The same God that has proved Himself time and time again won’t fail you now.” They remind me that it’s not the storms that get us, but it’s our response to the storms.

It’s opening our eyes in the middle of the chaos and seeing His goodness all around you. What was meant for harm has been for our good.

I’ve seen John Henry handle himself with the greatest of dignity, the greatest of strength, and become a man who truly knows he is who GOD says he is.

I’ve watched Anna thrive in the midst of a hard season and learn to articulate her feelings in such a way, I swear I’m talking to 40 year old woman. While she feels deeply, she also feels His spirit within her so much, and it AMAZES me.

I’ve watched Jett consistently remind me to breathe. To laugh, to pause, and soak in the eternal things.

I’ve watched Kris care for our family in such a way that I have fallen in love with him all over again. I’ve watched him parent our children with the tenderest care, with the strongest protection, and with the greatest wisdom. I told him, “I’m not saying I couldn’t parent without you. But, I sure wouldn’t want to.”

Today, I stand on the other side of our hard season with a renewed sense of His goodness. With a renewed passion that He is faithful to turn messes into messages. He is faithful to make good come out of the hard. Because, He pursues me, I do not live in a house of unrest, a house of chaos, a house of disappointment. I live in His house. And, He dwells within me.

He is faithful. Remember that. Remember that hard times are not pursuing you. His goodness and love are. And, nothing can stop them from chasing you. He is good. He is good. He is good. And, His love will not fail you.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

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Filed under disappointment, God Stuff, life, Life Experiences, parenting, Writing

I Could Write For Days.

I could write for days about how he lavishes mercy on people. How he rarely has to forgive, because it’s unusual for him to take offense to something said or done. Because, he is the master at making allowances for other’s faults. I could spend all day telling you how he pours out wisdom over and over and over again. How he has saved me from so many blunders. How he has kept me so many times from letting my words fall at the wrong time at the wrong place. I could tell you how much he loves God’s Word. How much he loves His Maker. How much he loves doing what he does. How good he is at doing what he does. How much he just loves. Doesn’t judge. I could tell you so many things.

How he is the most fun person on earth to sing Garth Brooks songs with.

How he can make you laugh harder than any other person.

How he can laugh at himself.

How adorable it was that his favorite part of Ireland was riding on this site seeing bus.

I could spend all day sharing all of the hilarious things, all of the inspirational things, all of the love-filled things about him.

But, it would take an eternity to tell you what it’s like to call him Dad.

It would take forever to share the stories of what kind of father he was to me when I was growing up. How he practiced patience. Made me laugh. Spent huge amounts of time with me. Didn’t buy into the “quality time is better than quantity.” He knew quantity mattered. So, he spent as much time as he possibly could with me. And, he still does.

Every single day that Kris is gone, he will call and ask me, “What do you need me to do today?” I thank him over and over again for helping me. He replies, “It’s a joy.” I called him the other day to say thank you for picking up the kids from school. He responds, “I love spending time with my grandchildren. I’m glad I get to do what I do for them.”

He does everything without complaining.

He does everything with immense joy. With immense grace. With immense love.

Dad, I could not imagine a more wonderful father than you. I could not dream of a more amazing, a more present grandfather to John Henry, Anna, and Jett. I am so thankful that I get to call you my pastor, my mentor, my friend. But, nothing compares to being able to call you Dad. Nothing. You are the best. Period.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Thank you for making life filled with so much grace, so much love, and sooooo much fun.

I love you,

Dusty

 

 

 

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Overlooking Offenses.

Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. (Proverbs 19:11 NLT)

 

Sometimes, we think that if we overlook a wrong, then we won't be validated or defended. Remember, Jesus was wronged. Yet, He went it the cross like a lamb led to slaughter, and he opened not His mouth. We are never more like Jesus when we overlook an offense. And, we earn respect when we do.

 

I don't always keep my mouth shut about an offense. I don't think, if we are honest, any of us do. However, I have learned one thing about choosing to “vent” an offense. To make sure the offense is redeemed in that vent. In other words, don't share an offense without the intent of it leading to the redemption of it. In doing so, I am careful who I share, or vent, offenses to. I always know that if share an offense with my father, his response will not be, “I can't believe that person” or “I would be done with that person.” He first acknowledges my hurt and says he's sorry. But, then he quickly helps me see the hurt the offender is speaking from and also makes me look within myself at what may be drawing it out of that person. Then, I am able to release forgiveness, and overlook the offense moving forward. And so, it is redeemed.

 

One of the greatest examples of overlooking an offense is when King David traveled to Bahurim, and Shimei, a member of Saul's family came out to curse him. Shimei threw gravel at David and cursed him and accused him of stealing Saul's throne. David's officer, Abishai, couldn't take it and said, “Let me go over and cut off his head!” But, David responded, “Leave him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to do it. And perhaps the Lord will see that I am being wronged and will bless me because of these curses today.”

 

Later in scripture, Shimei begs for mercy. But, to Abishai, this was no small thing. No small offense. To throw gravel at a king and curse the Lord's anointed was a huge deal. Most of us would have agreed with Abishai's response and wanted Shimei punished. But, David shocks his men seeking justice and says “what do I have in common with you?” In other words, how are we even alike? You seek vengeance, and I seek mercy? Ouch. And, then, he says, “Do I not know I am king over Israel?”

 

Ahhhh. The key to David overlooking an offense. He KNEW who he was. His security was built in knowing who he was. Not in other's opinions of him.

 

Remember who you are when you are offended. You are a child of the King. You are OF God. Let this truth go deep within you, so you can overlook wrongs. And, when you must vent, make sure redemption is the end result.

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Filed under Life Experiences, Relationships, Virtue

Making Allowances.

* Written for The Grip, August 30, 2012

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Colossians 3:13

It’s easy to remember the forgive part.  Okay, it’s easier.  It’s the first part we tend to overlook:  Make allowance for each other’s faults.  Most of us have a difficult time making allowances for each other’s faults.  In other words, we don’t allow people to fail us.  We forget to make those allowances.  The truth is every person we are in relationship with will fail us.  My spouse will fail me.  My children will fail me.  My friends will fail me.  And, I will fail them.  The key is to not allow those moments to define that relationship.  Instead, we must view it as a moment in time.  A moment where we allowed that person to fail us.  A moment where we forgave them as soon as they did.  A moment.  That’s all.

Even though none of us think of ourselves as perfect, we still have a tough time allowing others to be flawed.  As a parent, I have to constantly remind myself to allow my children fail.  I have to guard against over-parenting.  There are times I try to prevent them from failing instead of letting them make mistakes.    Allowing them to fail.  I want to protect them from failure.  But, if I could protect them from every single failure, they would never see their need for a Savior.

I’m going to fail you.  You’re going to fail me.  When we do, we have a gap.  On one side of that gap is my expectation of you.  On the other side of that gap is what actually happens.  We choose what goes in the gap when someone fails us.  We can fill that gap with bitterness, anger, or hurt.  Or, we can fill that gap with forgiveness, grace, and allowances for that person’s faults.

We choose what goes in the gap.

Paul follows up Colossians 3:13 with this:

14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.  And always be thankful.

Get up every morning and wrap yourself in love.  Choose peace over being right.  And, be thankful for those people in your life…..

Even when they fail you.

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Filed under disappointment, God Stuff, Love, Relationships

What the Hulk Taught Me.

It’s really me.  I know, right?  My dad has encouraged me to start posting some of my articles from The Grip to my blog.  So, here goes this one I wrote on the Marvel hero who scared me when I was kid:

I think I’ve said it before.  But, I am certain I learn as much from children as they learn from me.  We took our two oldest kids to see The Avengers.  (Loved the movie, by the way.  I, mean, what’s not to love about men who save the world by flying in iron suits and smashing stuff?)  My 9 year old is a huge fan of Marvel superheroes.  It’s probably a rite of passage into his manhood.  So, I asked him questions throughout the entire movie.

Is Loki good or bad?  Is Thor really his brother?

When I saw the Hulk first get angry and start smashing everyone, even the good guys, I asked him, “Is the Hulk bad?”

He replied, “He isn’t bad, Mom.  He’s just mad.”

His reply pierced my very core.  And, I haven’t stop thinking about it since.

It’s so easy to view other people’s behavior as bad sometimes.  When they say hurtful things.  When their actions hurt those around them.  When they go off on people.  When they seem to be so insensitive to others.  When they appear to be, well, let’s just say it….

Mean.

Most of the time, these people who hurt us aren’t mean.  They aren’t bad people.  They’re just mad.

There is a deeper rooted issue than what is manifesting on the outside.  The deeper root could be a seed of rejection, envy, or disappointment.  It could be shame or guilt or never feeling good enough.  Whatever the root, it can manifest itself in ways that hurts others.  In the past, I had a difficult time understanding why some people didn’t seem to move beyond playing the role of victim or villain.  Now, I have stopped trying to understand.  That lack of understanding was turning into judgments I didn’t need to make.  My mother has always told me that I can view people as hurting, or I can view them as dangerous.  Once, I began viewing them as hurting, I found it easier to release forgiveness.

Remember, forgiveness is not just about the other person.  It’s about you giving yourself the permission to emotionally move on from being hurt.  It can be also be about setting healthy boundaries in your relationship with that person where you separate yourself emotionally.  And, that is okay.  Christ didn’t reject anyone.  He made everyone feel special.  But, He didn’t let everyone cling onto Him.

Boundaries are okay.  Unforgiveness is not.  May we all have a renewed understanding that most people aren’t bad people.  They’re just mad.  Release the hurts.  Pray they learn they aren’t the deep rooted issues they’ve made themselves to be.  They aren’t who people say they are.  They are who God says they are.

Because, it’s knowing and believing who God says you are that changes everything.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  Ephesians 1:4

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