Friday, November 14, 2008

"Yes to God" Chapter 9... Flawed yet forgiven

Right now I am sitting in Beatitudes. Beatitudes is a coffee shop. This coffee shop is the realization of a dream that a Christian woman in our community had for years. After years of trying and praying she was able co-rent the space with someone who wanted to open a bookstore. What goes together better than coffee and books?

The walls have interesting artwork, warm colors… strategically placed table lamps and track lighting, soft music in the background, tables and chairs arranged in conversation areas, free wi-fi (hence my being able to write this here). This place has become a haven for me. A safe place. A place where I walk in and immediately relax.

If I could I would transport you all here. It is so much more conducive to conversation. I want conversations with you. To really see you all face to face, not just blog to blog… I want to share my heart with you. I want to share with you some of the things that this chapter stirred up in me. I will do the best I can through this medium. But, I want so much for you to see my face, to be able to get the expressions, and really be able to see my heart and know the depth of love I have for Christ, for you… see, words are failing me already. Only a hug and my tears can express what I am feeling right now.

When I say tears, I mean it. I can hardly hold them in right now, in this public setting with people around me.

To see how this book, “Behind Those Eyes,” by Lisa Whittle has impacted others lives, visit Lelia, and follow the links there to others blogs… (thank you Lelia for setting this all up!!!)

At the end of the chapter, Lisa wrote:
“While Satan would love for you to believe that you are too flawed and too unworthy of forgiveness, Jesus wants you to know that nothing could be farther from the truth.”

As I have worked through things in my counseling… all these different issues, hurts, lies… all the time I have felt I was too flawed and unworthy of that incredible forgiveness Jesus extends to me. As each issue was dealt with and healed, I got a little closer to believing that though I had these flaws, God still forgave me. Then the next issue would come up, and I would feel again that THIS sin, or hurt, or issue was the one that God wouldn’t forgive.

Now that I have seen His consistency in forgiving me, cleansing me, each time… well, I find myself more eager to fall on His grace and mercy, knowing it is going to be there to hold me up, rather than be pulled out from under me at the last minute.

The healing I have received this year has served to bring me ever closer to Him. The flaws and pains that have run so deep… as they are healed, His balm of forgiveness and healing has gone just as deep, to fully heal them.

Like Lisa said,
“…when I first realized in my heart and it began to sink into my soul that being so deeply flawed left me with the ability to be forgiven by God equally, the flaws suddenly felt really important to the process.”

Yes, I am going to continue to sin. I can struggle against it, but I am not going to be perfect. I am not going to be able to live without mistakes. But God’s grace, love, acceptance and forgiveness will cover over all that, and heal and guide and correct me.

(A side note for you all, now I am writing the rest of this at home, at my desk… wish you were here so we could gather in my living room and talk… but I said that already… ok, back to work…)

In counseling last year, I started with an issue that had plagued me and caused me a lot of pain. At the time, I saw it as an isolated incident. Now, I am not so sure.

In college I became friends with a young woman. We were both Christians, but very young in our faith, and both been hurt in our past. We both acted our of our hurt.

As Lisa said in her post today, “My new unspoken motto became, ‘I’ve been hurt, I am hurt, and I will live my life, acting out of that pain.’"

I think that was our unspoken motto. I never realized it at the time. She was very needy and manipulative, and I needed to be needed by someone.

We started down the road of sin. You know the one. Where once you have stepped onto it, you suddenly start to slide, down and down, until you hit the bottom with a gut wrenching crash and look up and wonder how you got there in the first place.

Somewhere down in that muck and slime, God pulled me out, and gave me the desire to distance myself from that sin, and from the friendship that kept leading me back there. I looked at what I was doing and shuddered, as I was doing it! I kept getting sucked back in. God kept after me. Finally after probably a 2 year struggle all together, I finally was able to make a clean break and walk away from that friendship.

I walked away, pushing it down, burying it. I was angry at her for her influence and how I allowed her to control me. I was angry at myself for knowingly taking steps and doing thing that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt were wrong. I hated her, and I hated myself. But I couldn’t express that, so I tucked it away with all the other hurt and anger and hatred.

When I started the counseling, we ended up approaching this situation first. I was scared to death. I walked through it using EMDR with Tricia. I left her office that Friday night, very shaky. I didn’t really realize where I was at until I was on the way home, feeling nauseous. All weekend I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t function. I called her office Monday, and got an appointment with her the next morning.

After a couple of appointments that week, we were able to revisit the scene, the image I had in my head. It was shameful and humiliating, trapped and made powerless by my own choice. I could see the image, vividly, but then it was covered with a waterfall of His blood. I could almost feel it pouring down on me. I felt like I was standing under the waterfall.

Literally, Christ’s blood pounding down on my head and shoulders, drenching me, head to toe.
Oh, for the first time I felt clean from that sin! Really clean. And I knew. I knew that I was forgiven. I knew that all God saw was the blood of His Son, cleansing me. It was a powerful image. I can still see it now. I can still feel it now.

I find it ironic, that Lisa’s “Getting Real” section would be to commit to praying for someone who hurt you. Because I read that. Last week. Then I got in the car to go somewhere. As I was about to get on the highway, I said out loud… in my car…

“I could never pray this for HER,” thinking of that young woman from college. Guess what? That is exactly what God wants me to do. Surprise, surprise! (sigh)

I have been resisting it all week. I finally made myself sit down last night and work my way through the study guide more carefully, last night. Then I journaled. As I did, God started speaking to my heart. He showed me a huge root of bitterness, still lurking there.

I already forgave her. I already felt God’s forgiveness. But, He reminded me of something we had touched on in counseling, and brought it into focus. The bitterness, anger and hatred that still festered was related to her. I realized I blame her for bad choices I made after our friendship was over. I was hurt in our friendship, and again, I reacted and made other choices out of that hurt.

For better or worse, I blame her, and that ties me to her, as much as covenant marriage vows bind me to my husband.

A year ago I was dealing with that friendship, at the beginning of counseling. Today I am dealing with that friendship, at the end of counseling.

I called my dear, sweet friend Cindy tonight, while the kids were in their bath. (Actually, in your time, it was about 3 paragraphs ago.) I expressed to her that I was writing this post. I also told her where I was at in dealing with the ramifications of this relationship… and was honest.

I told her that I had been stiff-arming God all week. I have been going to Him in other areas, and following His guidance through them, except this one area, all week, knowing what He was asking. I have been telling Him, “NO!!”

Cindy said that she would be praying for me as I processed through writing this post. And as I dealt with the emotions that were coming up as a result, the hurt and anger. I was literally shaking as I talked to her because of where I was at, as I wrote this.

She challenged me to pray for my former friend.
Before I finished writing this post.
Oh, I didn’t want to hear that.
But I knew she was right.

I nearly cried right then and there. But I had to go, get the kids out of the tub, do the bed time routine of, read, snuggle and pray… and then…

…while I laid in bed next to my daughter, I prayed. I asked God to show me how to pray, to guide me in even what to pray for, because I didn’t want to. I was honest with Him. I know that He already knew how I was feeling, and that I didn’t want to pray for her. But I needed to say it.

Then I was able to pray for her. I prayed for her faith, her family, that God would bless her, and then I felt led to pray one more thing for her:

That she would find help like I did, and come to full healing in Christ. That she would find freedom in Christ. That she would find all the love and acceptance she ever needs in Christ. That she would find what I have found in this past year.

I didn’t have a name or word for it then, just this feeling in my heart of hearts.

Now these words are just pouring out of me, and though there are more than I have here, all the words in the world simply cannot describe the indescribable.

…Truth. Peace. Joy. Healing. Freedom. Redemption.Blessing.Love.Acceptance.SignificanceHopeSecurityForgiveness…
I pray she has found
who she is in

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