Thursday, October 3, 2013

Eve really did all that?

"The wounds we received and the messages they brought formed a sort of unholy alliance with our fallen nature as women.  From Eve we received a deep mistrust in the heart of God towards us.  We'll just have to arrange for the life we want.  We will control our world.  But there is also an ache deep within, an ache for intimacy and life.  We'll have to find a way to fill it.  A way that does not require us to trust anyone, especially God.  A way that will not require vulnerability."  Stacy Eldredge "Captivating"
I had someone tell me once that if I haven't forgotten the wrongs then that meant I have not forgiven the person who did them.  I left this conversation feeling a sense of hopelessness. How in the world could I forget?  How could I forget the feelings and the emotions and the pain? How could I? It was clearly hopeless. I was a lost cause with pain that would never halt, because I knew I wouldn't forget, so clearly I couldn't forgive.

It was later in my walk with Christ that I realized this person's theology was incorrect, but this false truth that I was given caused me to mistrust God in a way that felt lonely.  At that time, I had fallen in love with Jesus, and thought I was on a new and beautiful path just to be told that I would never go anywhere - that my heart would always remain broken.

It was after this untruth that I began to create a life around the lie that although I was now in the arms of Jesus, I could never fully be free this side of heaven.  That the terrible dysfunction that governed my youth would always stay with me, like chains on my ankles. I began to control my world. I excelled at everything and achieved great things and smiled and waved and mostly - hid. I hid behind this pain - this lie - that knowing I could never forget what had happened made me too broken for Jesus - too much of a job for Him.  Corrie Ten Boom shares this true story in her book, "The Hiding Place":

It was a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there - the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie's pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein," he said. "To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!"
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
The story says they she then took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
Corrie Ten Boom is someone that truly inspires me.  Her story, her faith, her tenacity is something I aspire to attain. Through this story and many others, I was able to unload this lie that had become my reality.  I could indeed forgive people who have hurt me without needing to forget in order for it to truly be an authentic forgiveness.  I have forgiven in the precious name of Jesus, and I am free from guilt now that I can walk in the freedom of that truth.

What is amazing to me is that I am able to have a relationship with some of the people who have hurt me the most.  God has commanded us to forgive - not forget, and because we are unable to forget, He sends love strong enough to carry us through hard places - places where we must face accusers and abusers.

God will never leave me or forsake me - He is with me, and giving me the strength to forgive even the unforgivable. "This intentional choice to share our pain requires us to forgive those who have hurt us; the doubts and insecurities a finery of hope," (Jo Ann Fore When A Woman Finds Her Voice)

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Every woman has a story, and far too many of those stories have left scars. When A Woman Finds Her Voice guides readers on a journey to a stronger, more realistic faith, encouraging women to use their stories, their brokenness, as motivation to serve others.

Broken dreams and unmet expectations leave invisible wounds, ones that linger, confuse, and overwhelm. Secret or unresolved hurts leak into our everyday lives, filtering into everything we think we know about who we are. We tend to question our value and meaning. We feel unimportant, ”less-than” or ”not good enough.” And we fall silent.

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  1. That lie. Yes THAT LIE. I fell for it too. It stained my world for a long time. And like you I learned how wrong it was, and how twisted it was. I had forgotten that story of Corrie Ten Boom. Thank you for reminding me, and for also being another who knows that you can forgive freely, and not need to feel a failure if you don't forget. Bless you!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Thank you for your comment. You are loved, sister.

    2. Wonderful post, Michelle! What an important reminder that we don't have to conjure up forgiveness, rather release the offenses to Him and receive His power to forgive.

  2. Those words are so powerful Michelle and hold so much untruth. To forgive is not to forget but to let God give us the love we need to move on and show our oppressors the forgiveness he showed us. Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Sarah. I love that story about Corrie. She was an amazing example to us all. Her transparency is something that moves me to become a better follower of HIM!