Catch-up blog…. Forgiveness, the theme for 2013

While writing my blog post for 1/1/14 I realized I never blogged about the theme for 2013.  Parts of it were addressed here and there… but not all in one place.   And that was for a reason.  This is all very personal… and at first I thought I didn’t want to “put it all out there”.  The raw underbelly of life, so to speak, is often times too painful to post on the world-wide web.

But, I have always lived by the fact that I am an open book.  God works through my mistakes and successes and I hope to show His light through all I do.  So, not in an effort to boast or brag (especially about the mistakes!) but in an effort to live as “salt” in this world… I share from my heart.

And while (at first) I didn’t necessarily want to POST about these moments, feelings, thoughts, actions, etc while going through them I have shared a bit about this topic with a number of people over the last year  And the more I shared, and followed through with these acts of forgiveness (and asking for forgiveness alike) the more I knew it was necessary to write this post.  Maybe it’s not a good idea to share the nitty-gritty details (in an effort to protect the guilty, uhhh, innocent… anyway, no names will be listed here) but the overall idea… yes.  It must be shared.

So, here’s a snapshot of what happened in my heart around Thanksgiving time of 2012, which brought about the theme for 2013:  FORGIVENESS

As happens annually, close to Thanksgiving, I start to reminisce over the past 11-12 months and think through what I’m grateful for… for all I have to be grateful for, for all that has been achieved over the year, for the lessons I’ve gleaned along the way, etc… and I start to think forward about what I’d like to see accomplished in the next year, how I can improve upon myself (spiritually, creatively, in my relationships, etc).  During the week of Thanksgiving 2012 I was hit square in the face with the theme of FORGIVENESS.   It was real clear to me that this sensitive topic was getting ready to come to the surface.  And I better be prepared to deal with it… because here it comes.

I’m a grudge holder.  And I don’t like that about myself.  After all, I do believe that people change.  I have changed.  I have seen God work in lives of my family and friends… and I see change in their lives.  It’s true!  God changes people.  So, I don’t have to continue to hold these grudges.  He wouldn’t want me to.  And I don’t have to continue to believe that these people who have hurt me are still that hurtful or want to see me hurting still.  I vowed to stop holding grudges… as difficult as that sounds.  A huge part of forgiveness is letting that go.

This is my personal inward definition of forgiveness:  Let go of the grudge and hold out hope that God has brought about change!  (in your heart or theirs)

The whole topic of FORGIVENESS is humbling, especially for a Christian.  I am saved by Grace.  What does that mean?  As a Christian, I believe that my eternity will be spent in Heaven because (and only because) my sin/rebellious nature/ugly-duckling soul-stuff has been FORGIVEN.  No strings attached.  God sent His son, in the form of a man by the name of Jesus, to walk this earth and share the gift of GRACE with all of us.  That grace is offered freely and we are loved and accepted, just the way we are, UNCONDITIONALLY!

While I was raised going to church every weekend, forgiveness is still a concept that took me a long time to truly, truly grasp and understand.  I was told what it meant.  I was told what it looked like.  But until I truly learned this concept, deep down in my soul, I didn’t understand the significance of forgiveness.

 

Trying to think back to Thanksgiving 2012, I’m not sure what brought it on… but I remember being blown away by  how obvious it was that I needed to address some issues of forgiveness in my life, in my heart… to give up this grudge-holding mentality.

Is it just me or are other people haunted by an imaginary list of names/faces that they don’t want to run into at the grocery store, gas station, coffee shop, etc?  Ok, it’s not just me.  ::: phew! :::

While I won’t share my list, by name or event (except for one), I will say the list is varied.   As I got to thinking through where the topic of forgiveness needed to be addressed I started a list in my head.  (After all, I didn’t dare type it out/write it down, for fear that would “make it real” or it might be like admitting that I actually have to address this topic.  ::: hmph :::

Yes, I just said “list”.  It might sound odd to non-list makers… that’s ok.  But I’m totally a list maker.  Currently, I have at least 15-18 lists going:  Grocery, Target/Wal-Mart, TO DO, craft projects, planning, brewing blog posts, Next Weekend, etc… and that doesn’t include the lists I have for work!

{And since I’m in confession mode I’ll also tell you that I have some strange rules when it comes to making lists.  Granted, sometimes the lists don’t have to be written down… but if it IS written down then it should be written in the order of occurrence.  For instance, if I’m making my grocery list… I may as well type it out in the order I walk through the store, right?  I mean, why would anyone else do it another way?!  Honestly!}

 

Anyway, as I thought over the word / idea of FORGIVENESS a number of names/faces kept popping into my head.  So, what did I do?  First I prayed.  I prayed for wisdom on how to approach forgiveness, specifically for several people/scenarios and how to best approach the topic. Then I started a FORGIVENESS list.  In fact, there were 3 lists… “people to contact”, “praying for a forgiving spirit” and “God – I need your guidance here”.

The first list was titled “People to contact” … which consisted of people I needed to call, email, or talk to in person …

The second list was titled “Praying for a forgiving spirit“.  This list consisted of names that I wouldn’t be contacting in any way.  I had prayed over these names/people and understood that forgiving them in the quiet of my heart was probably for the best, and for a number of reasons.  For instance, the first person on this list was an individual who would not have taken the “Hey – I just want you to know that I forgive you” message in the right manner.  Another person on this list was an individual who I simply wouldn’t be talking to:  my ex-husband.  I don’t know how to get in touch with him, but it’s probably not a good idea to do so anyway.

The third list was titled “God – I need your guidance here“.  This list consisted of individuals that I was still waiting on a clear answer as to how to address the forgiveness topic.  Might I run into them in town?  Will there be a face-to-face conversation?  Should I write/send a letter?  I continued to pray on these names and left them in God’s hands.

And then I stood back and watched God work (in my heart and in their hearts).  It’s amazing what happened next!  (But when God is involved, why am I amazed?!  I mean, honestly!)    Here’s what only God could orchestrate… a chance meeting in a coffee shop, a heart-to-heart conversation at a friend’s anniversary party, phone calls  and emails from across the miles, Facebook messages sharing hope… and even more amazing, a repairing of my broken, grudge-holding, bitter heart.  I am happy to report that God did some amazing things through the great Forgiveness Project of 2013!  And I can vouch for the fact that He still works miracles!

As Max Lucado says, the grace-given give grace.  And the theme for 2013 was forgiveness… and it was just as much about God’s grace (and His eternal forgiveness) as it was offering that gift to others. I have forever been changed by His grace.

 

More thoughts on grace:

The Grace-Given Give Grace, by Max Lucado

How Can I Forgive Myself?, by Charles Stanley

Fruit of the Spirit, by Charles Stanley

 

It’s true what they say about forgiveness … here are some inspiring quotes on forgiveness:

“I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”  ― C.S. Lewis

“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” ― Nelson Mandela

“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.”  ― Marvin J. Ashton

“Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.” ― Will Smith

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4 thoughts on “Catch-up blog…. Forgiveness, the theme for 2013

  1. Hmmm. Lots to think about for me in 2014. It sounds very freeing. Thanks for writing this. I also make my grocery lists in order of the way I go through the store. Lol. I thought I was a little OCD. Glad to know I’m not alone.

    • Hi Jeannette! Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment. It’s a complicated topic… that’s for sure. Freeing? yes! Now, regarding our lovely OCD issues… it could be worse!

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