MORE THOUGHTS ON CHOICES.
It was February 18,2012 and I was spending the day in Dean Smith’s “Live to Forgive” seminar at The Summit Evangelical Free Church in Enumclaw, WA. Four months before I had walked away from what I often call my 12 year detour into deception that left me emotionally shattered, financially destitute, and a literal spiritual train wreck.
I had been spending time with a counselor unearthing all the unbiblical teaching I’d swallowed. We worked hard to pinpoint every bit of the legalistic, graceless, condemning, shaming, manipulating and controlling teaching the abusive leader filled me with, using scriptures out of context to promote his agenda. It was a lot of hard work to look at the lies I’d believed and replace each one with the truth. So many tapes played in my head, the enemy constantly whispering condemnation in my ear.
So here I was, prepared well for this great reminder of my need to forgive. And it couldn’t have been more timely. On the lunch break, I went out to my car to be alone with God and while there I saw an email. It was a Google alert that something had been said about me on the internet. When I opened the link, my jaw dropped as a website created specifically to smear my reputation filled the screen of my smart phone.
FORGIVING THE UNFORGIVABLE
Ahhh yes. Talk about timing. Dean had spent Friday night and all Saturday morning sharing his traumatic story of the murder of his mother, with his own baseball bat, by his step dad. A tragedy that God used to teach him about the power of forgiveness.
I guess He wanted me to continue to walk out my forgiveness in a new way, and was giving me the perfect opportunity to do so.
AN AUTHENTIC FORGIVENESS PRAYER
In this seminar, Dean taught an authentic forgiveness prayer that I still use to this day:
Lord, I’m really angry. I don’t really feel like forgiving. But I choose to forgive anyway. Jesus, please help me!
Yes, even when they don’t deserve it, I must choose to forgive.
Even when they aren’t repentant, I must choose to forgive.
Although they continue to blame me for their woes, slander and lie about me because I chose to walk away from their toxic organization and tell my story, I must choose to forgive.
BUT WAIT, FORGIVENESS DOES NOT EQUAL TRUST
Let me say here, that just because you forgive someone does not mean you trust them, that they should be in your life, or that you need to have a relationship with them. It simply means, you choose to forgive them from your heart. Period.
Some of the people who have hurt us are toxic, they are unrepentant abusers, and they are not safe.
Please hear me here. Forgiveness is a gift that must be given for your own spiritual health.
Trust must be earned.
Forgiving them does not mean that now you trust them. It means you have cut the tie of unforgiveness that has kept you bound to them in anger. It is setting YOU free.
I even had to choose to forgive myself, and continue to make that choice even now. So much destruction occurred in our family because I believed the words of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. So many wounds and seemingly irreparable damage. Twelve long years that sent a destructive ripple effect through my family, business, and friends. That’s a lot to forgive myself for.
But I have to.
It’s a choice I must continue to make.
And I know God will honor it.
I’m sure many of you reading this have been hurt by others, possibly the victim of abuse, violence, or some other trauma.
WILL YOU MAKE THAT CHOICE?
Will you choose to forgive, regardless of how you feel or whether they deserve it or not?
Lord, I lift up my sisters in Christ and ask You to meet them as they continue to heal from the wounds they’ve endured at the hands of others. I pray You will give them the courage and the strength they need to make that quality choice to forgive. Thank you, in advance, for what You will do with that simple yet powerful choice. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN.