Strength For Today

A journey of keeping my heart, mind, and body in TODAY

Renewing My Mind: Day 6

on May 10, 2014

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.                     ~Romans 12:2

 

Today’s reading in Simple Blessings focused on the beauty of forgiveness.  This is a topic that I am very passionate about.  I walked this earth for so long, refusing to forgive, mainly because I didn’t understand what true forgiveness was.

Do you realize that forgiveness actually has NOTHING to do with the person you are forgiving??

Seriously.  Think about that for a moment.  Really wrap your mind around it.  Forgiveness – TRUE forgiveness – has NOTHING to do with the person you are forgiving.  If you are having a difficult time wrapping your mind around that, don’t worry, you are not alone!  When I first came into recovery for the disease of alcoholism, I carried around with me a LOT of pain and anger.  I had years of bitterness and unforgiveness cluttering the spaces of my heart.  I had been wronged – deeply – more than once.  AND I had wronged others – deeply – more than a few times, as well.  I had also wrong myself.  My struggle with forgiveness wasn’t just that I had a hard time forgiving others…. I had a nearly impossible time wrapping my heart around the idea of forgiving myself!

In fact, one of my turning points in recovery was when I was talking with a pastor at a weekend healing retreat I was on.  I tearfully explained to her how I was on this retreat because I couldn’t forgive myself for an act I had committed, and I was afraid that if I didn’t learn how to forgive myself, I would drink again.  By this time, I had a few months of sobriety under my belt and I knew that, for me, to pick up a drink again would mean losing everything.  I desperately needed to know how to learn to forgive myself.  I sat expectantly, awaiting the pastor’s words of wisdom.  They came.  My heart dropped.  “You can’t,” was her introductory statement, “Not until you first accept the forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Do you believe He has forgiven you?”  I didn’t know what to say.  Truth was, at the core of my being, I wasn’t sure I did believe that.  She had planted a seed.

That pivotal moment was a start on a beautiful journey of learning what it truly means to be forgiven and to forgive others.  I think that the most difficult thing for me to wrap my mind around was how freely Jesus offered me forgiveness.  How undeserving I was to be washed clean of my sins, but how ready and willing the Lord was to do it for me.  How unworthy I was to even kiss His feet, but how intensely He loved me and longed to make me whole again.  Once I accepted Jesus into my heart and accepted the gift of His Grace and forgiveness, only then did my journey of becoming a forgiving person begin.

I had to start out small, because I had some very heavy things to work through.  I had to accept that forgiving someone was NOT the same as condoning the behavior.  I had to understand that even though I chose to forgive someone for harming me, I did not have to reconcile with that person if the relationship was not a safe one.  I had to see how forgiveness was NOT a feeling, but rather a choice.  I had to understand at my CORE that forgiveness is NOT an option for a Follower of Christ, but rather a command.  I needed to see that forgiving someone simply meant that I was letting go of the baggage that came with holding on to the anger.  I had to realize that by releasing the outcome to God, by letting HIM be the one to handle the person I was angry at, by refusing to carry the anger, pain, bitterness, or judgement any longer, I was choosing forgiveness.  And, the biggest thing I needed to learn was that I needed to make this choice every time the situation/person surfaced.  Every time.  Forgiveness is NOT a one time deal, but rather a repeated intentional choice until one day, it becomes a real feeling of forgiveness – and all the bitterness is removed!

How can I not freely forgive myself and others, when God has already freely forgiven me?  Am I saying that I know more than God?  Am I saying that my ways are better than His? Absolutely NOT.

I am like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair.  I love much, because I have been forgiven much.  And I can turn around and forgive others simply because I have a heart today that recognizes the amazing forgiveness of my Creator!

Action Step for Today:  I will make a list of anyone that I am carrying any resentment toward.  I will choose forgiveness each time the memories surface.

 

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