Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Letting Go

My time is short today and so I am sharing what I wrote on my other blog this morning as I feel it is an important message on forgiveness.

Ephesians 4:29-32
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.  Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you.

More things to put on the list of what it looks like to be renewed in the spirit of the mind, and put on the new self:
Our speech should be wholesome, is good for the building up of the body, gives grace to the hearer.
Paul reminds us that we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, and our lives should not bring Him grief.
We need to let go of ALL bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (insistent shouting to be heard in public?), slander, and malice.
We need to be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving. Remember our new self is in the likeness of God (4:24) and these are His characteristics.

We can't just look good, we need to be changed from the inside out.  These are characteristics that do not come naturally to us.  What strikes me immediately is that I talk too much, and I am not a person prone to a lot of words.  I have let a lot of things slip through my lips that never should have.  How many of us grew up with the saying, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."  Oh, we often try to cover it up as simply joking around, but I know how hard those kinds of words can bite and sting, whether meant in jest or not.

I feel I should take a moment here and address that word clamor.  Webster's defines it as, "noisy shouting, a loud continuous noise, insistent public expression."  I fear that all too often we believers engage in this kind of thing in the public forum.  1 Thessalonians 4:11 says, "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you."  I am not sure but what we lose more to the enemy with our boisterous public outcries than converts to the Truth.  Just because the other side is always looking for a fight does not mean we have to give it to them.  This is one of those times when I really feel that God's way is not man's way.  Sometimes we just need to be quiet, both publicly and privately.

I read a great blog post related to this thought yesterday, "With the confidence of those who have been vindicated by the resurrection of Christ, we don't need to be vindicated by the culture.  That ought to free us to speak openly about what we believe, but with the gentleness of those who have nothing to prove.  Let's not boycott our neighbors.  Let's not picket or scream or bellow.  Let's offer a cup of cold water, or maybe a grande vanilla latted in Jesus' name."  (link to original blog post)

How easily we can be led down the path of bitterness and anger.  Somebody did us wrong.  Somebody injured our pride.  Isn't that where most of our bitterness and anger come from?  It is the old self rearing it's ugly head, the one that is focused on me, me, me.  Remember what comes at the end of these verses?  Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving.  That forgiveness is taken even further- we are to do it just as Christ forgave us.  How many hoops did we have to jump through for His forgiveness.  Is it conditional on me never failing again?  How many times have I asked Him to forgive me for the same thing I did just yesterday?

After our study Wednesday night one woman asked me about forgiveness.  How do we do it?  And are we supposed to forget?  I shared with her a little of my own experience and feel led to share with you as well.  I am a survivor of both sexual assault and a couple of sexually abusive encounters by trusted family members.  I carried around all kinds of baggage for years; anger, guilt, shame, fear.  My nights were often filled with nightmares.  All of that baggage I took with me into my marriage and it very nearly destroyed it.  I went through a healing process that started with forgiveness.  I was no longer able to confront two of the men involved, one had died and I had no clue who the other was.  They did not ever ask for my forgiveness.  But I chose to forgive them.  It was a long process and a lot of prayer for help from the Lord went into making me willing to forgive these men.  But there came a day when I knew that if they were to come to me I would be able to say to them, "I forgive you."  I couldn't wait for that day to come before I reached that point of forgiveness.  What I mean by that is, that if I had waited for them to come to me I would still be in a very dark place, because they were not coming.  For my own sake, for the sake of my marriage, my children, my family, the church, the Lord, I had to forgive.  And the Lord did a wonderful thing in that moment.  It was like being made new.  A relationship was restored.  No more nightmares, no more bitterness, no more putting upon my husband the wrongs of those other men.  And I have forgotten a lot, which really surprises me.  The face that haunted me, I no longer see.  Those moments of time in my life often feel foreign to me now.  I know they happened, but they have become rather blurry in my memory.  I had a right to be angry about what was done to me, but the choice I made about what to do with that anger for many years was sin.  Oh, there are not even words to truly convey the freedom that comes when we forgive.  Not words to convey the lifting of one's heart.  Not words to convey the changes in one's mind.   I am not here to say that the road to forgiveness is an easy one.  I am here to say that it really is true what they say; harboring unforgiveness is more harmful to us than the one who offended us.  I do want you to know that we have a Helper to see us through the process, to change our hearts, to heal our wounds, to set us free.  It is truly paradise with the Savior, and it can begin right now, today, if we will follow Him and do what He says.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,


GrammaGrits said...

Your openness brings tears to my eyes . . . blessings, dear friend!

Debra Davis said...

The time had come to share. I had no idea when I started that my writing would take me there. I had not given much thought before to just how much I was given when I finally let go of it all- I am feeling very, very blessed indeed.
-blessings back at you, dearest friend.