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I was so consumed with unforgiveness and denial that I would not accept a sincere apology when my Mom apologized for abandoning me during my childhood. I dismissed her apology and told her it was not a big deal. Unbeknownst to me, I was in denial. Looking back, I believe that I was not ready to face the pain and my true feelings regarding her not being there. Instead I lied to myself and minimized the issues. I wanted to believe the lie that it was no big deal, so I did.
Fast forward a few years and my brother apologized. This time, I was all too aware of how I felt. Truth be told, I should have apologized for my behavior as well but I didn’t. Instead I was bound up in unforgiveness and I refused to accept his apology. I thought to myself, “how DARE you think you can just say I’m sorry after the hell you put me through!” I was livid and scared of what might come out of mouth so I just said “ok.” Except it was not ok because I refused to forgive him.
Sometimes people can do the most horrific things and never apologize. Whether they apologize or not we have a choice to make. We have the choice to do what God commands us to do: forgive, and forgive, and forgive again. Or we can hold on to unforgiveness. I chose unforgiveness for years. It turns out unforgiveness has some close friends- their names are bitterness, rage, and resentment. When I chose not to forgive I placed myself in a prison of rejection, self-pity, and victim mentality.
Whether or not we receive an apology, we can choose to forgive. God has blessed us with free will and that means that we have the power of choice. “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days;” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) When I refused to forgive, I chose death. There is a saying refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die.” While I clung to unforgiveness my peace died, my joy died, and my hope died. My relationship with God suffered because everything He said or showed me was filtered through my heart of unforgiveness and bitterness. The person most affected by our unforgiveness is usually us.
When we choose to forgive, we choose life. Sometimes the wound is so deep that true forgiveness seems nearly impossible. But with God all things are possible. God empowers us to forgive through His Spirit. It’s not by might, nor by power, but by HIS Spirit. (Zechariah 4:6)
God is faithful and because He loves us He brings conviction when we are harboring unforgiveness. I had repeatedly asked Him to help me forgive over the years but I was unwilling to let go. I remember someone told me that I had to forgive my Mom even if she did not change. I wanted to slap that person for suggesting something so asinine. Like I said, unforgiveness’ friend is rage. That person was right; I simply refused to accept that truth. During those years of unforgiveness I decided that I would not forgive my Mom unless she changed. I lived with unforgiveness for several years before I was finally willing to let go. At that point, I went to God and earnestly asked Him for help again. This time, when I asked God for help I let go of my vow not to forgive unless she changed.
Forgiveness must be unconditional. If I say I will only forgive if she does this or if he stops that, then I am saying that I only have to forgive sometimes. The Word says that we are to forgive every time. Forgiveness is not condoning the behavior or subjecting oneself to abuse. Forgiveness is letting go of the resentment and the belief that they must pay, and cancelling the debt. Forgiveness opens the door to healing.
Written By: Remaliah Evans
1. Name the three richest people in the world
2. Name the last two winners of the Miss America contest
3. Name last person who won the Nobel Prize
4. Name the last three Academy Award winners for best actor
5. Name the last three World Series winners
How did you do? Not too good huh? Don’t worry, you will ace part two:
1. Name two teachers who helped you in school
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time
3. Name three people who have taught you something worthwhile
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel, appreciated and special
5. Think of three people you enjoy spending time with
The Point: No one remembers the headliners of yesterday. Although these are highly accomplished people, the applause ends. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. The people that significantly impact our life are usually not the ones with the most achievements, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care. Have we shown how much we care lately? Perhaps with a phone call, a lunch invitation, running an errand, or praying with someone. A small act of kindness can truly brighten someone’s day, and in turn, encourage that person to do the same for someone else. Hebrews 10:24 Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds.
Written By: Yvonne Galindo
When I began to write this blog, I thought about how shoes have always played a role in history and culture. Shoe design can indicate a person’s wealth and social position, as reflected in the quality of material or the complexity of workmanship used to make shoes. Many cultures and belief systems do not allow women to have a say in their circumstances. We are so fortunate and blessed to have the freedom to make choices through our journey in life.
The photo of the shoe in this blog shows a memorial of a shoe worn by un-known women who died during the Holocaust. These women had been violated, dehumanized, tortured and forced to walk to their death. The pain and heartache these women felt knowing that their dreams for the future had been shattered is unfathomable.
I began to think about the women in the bible and their shoes/sandals. These women were the un-notable women of the bible who struggled through their journey and walked a path that I could not fathom.
Let’s begin with Hagar who was a slave girl then a mistress. Hagar was rejected and disregarded. She was sent away to wander in the wilderness. Hagar was alone, full of hopelessness, and crying in the desert. Genesis 16:1-16 Imagine walking in her sandals; a single mom walking through the hot desert, feeling rejected, thirsty and abandoned.
Gomer is another example of a woman violated from her youth coming from a life of prostitution. She is dirty, broken by sin and the subject of slander and gossip. (Hosea 1:1-11)
One of my favorite stories is of the Samaritan woman, who probably was ostracized by other women in her village because of her checkered past. (John 4:1-27)
In these stories these women were walled by religion gender, race, and moral values.
So what do Hagar, Gomer and the Samaritan women have in common? Hagar, Gomer and the Samaritan are the champions of the hidden, the helpless, the betrayed and the needy. These women weren’t looking for Jesus; they were thirsty, feeling empty and all they wanted was water. Our God found them … and they found him.
God used Hosea to rescue Gomer from her life style; of course this was not an easy task. How many of us have had trouble letting go of past relationships or a lifestyle that we know is not the best choice.
Hagar went from bottled water to a well of water; God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water, and both she and her boy were saved from death. And finally the Samaritan women who encountered Jesus who I am quite sure in all her curiosity talked his ear off searching for truth and found it. I am sure we have all been there.
During my struggles with feeling emotional distress, wondering where the next meal would come from or where we would lay our heads for the night. I thought about my mother and realized these were the same struggles she went through raising our family. I did not want that life for my children and me. Like the Samaritan women, I sought men for provision. I realize now those relationships left my spirit wounded and blinded to Gods plan for my life. Christ provided a way out; He provided a spring of water for me- it was up to me to drink of it. All I needed was a sip, a small taste; Faith of a mustard seed and found He would turn my pain to passion; I now know my purpose. Yes! I have to say there are bumps along the road; Have I stumbled? Yes! However I have to say God smoothed out the path and I learned that no past sins can bar my acceptance with him. Not one! I stand grounded and find strength, comfort and encouragement with my Faith in Christ. I choose not to walk any other way.