Forgiveness is a gift to give and to receive
I consider myself a forgiveness expert. You will get the benefit of the doubt from me an absurd amount of times before you don’t. Why? Because I want to live my life honoring and worshipping God. Soaking up His eternal love and mercy. Showing others he is the coolest thing since EVERY-thing. Being as scandalous as Jesus because deep down I’m a rebel, a rule breaker.
I consider myself a forgiveness expert…
We walked through the doors of a great little church one summer Sunday in 1996 and we’ve never left.
It wasn’t long before I was helping in the nursery, joining committees and teaching Sunday school – you know doing the church thing. It felt right.
Becoming a Middle School Youth Leader – better known as Baptism by Fire – was next on the faith agenda. Along with a few other chaperones, I took 10-12 squirrely 6th, 7th and 8th graders on a retreat with 500 other squirrely 6th, 7th and 8th graders.
It was noisy and overwhelming and transformational.
All at once – BAM – right between the eyes, my first real encounter with the presence of JESUS.
Never had I experience something so strong and comforting and all-consuming. The relentless Love of God was mine for the taking. It always had been – paying attention makes a world of difference.
I tried to share this mountain top experience with my husband when I got home – his response “Hide the checkbook”. He meant it, mostly. He had no idea who this new, growing in faith wife was.
Jump to 2010-ish. I’ve now been a Middle School and High School youth leader for years. I’ve lead bible studies, headed committees and even served as the 1st woman President of our Church Council. No applause necessary. Life is full and good and God is ever-present.
My second mountain top experience was really a crash to the bottom. A couple of women from my church, for reasons completely justifiable to them, but still unclear to me because I don’t operate that way, decided to twist, scheme and tell half-truths. To run me out – of church or town or both, I’m not sure.
Just because people go to church and or call themselves Christian doesn’t necessarily mean, well, anything. It doesn’t mean we always do the right thing or love others or do any of the things you think we should.
Christians are broken, just like non-Christians. Some of us even gossip, scheme, lie, steal, hate and hurt others, just like non-Christians.
I will admit at the time, I was not so understanding of this, truth be told; it was very tough to swallow.
It caused quite a ruckus in our small congregation, but more so in my heart. While I NEVER hope to experience anything like that again, I am thankful for what God did for me and through me at that time. And what he continues to do today.
You see I had to put-up or shut-up. Walk the faith walk or walk out the door. I had to forgive the hurtful actions and words of others. And I did. I also asked for forgiveness because in their minds this situation was all my fault.
Please hear me say I’m broken , I mess up. Had I know what was happening I would have tried to stop the storm before it hit.
Real wrongs-perceived wrongs it didn’t matter. I needed the slate clean for me. I needed to walk in love – do my part. It is all I can do and then I let God do the rest.
Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly with your God.
Challenging times stretch people. My husband was a fierce defender of me, of my actions. Many people rallied around me, sought me out to say kind words or give a hug. I spent a week or two crying, a lot. My heart was broken, though not because of these women. At the center of the storm were the kids – caught in the middle of ridiculousness. They were a casualty.
Train a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not turn away from it. Proverbs 22:6 GW
I strongly believe children, all children including mine, need role models other than their parents. Influencers who are godly, walking in love kind of people. Even after all that had happened I felt compelled to be one of those people. One of those role models who survived persecution through the Grace of God and the love of others.
Since I’m only human, I did step down from the middle school youth position. What a sad day for me. I love to teach and share, especially the love of God. While I don’t seek out the people who had a conflict with me. I do walk in love, pray for them and show mercy; kindness in excess – undeserved and unearned. After all, it is what God does for me everyday.
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