Tag Archives: forgiveness

Forgiveness and Letting Go

I’ve got to forgive myself. I’ve got to quit limiting the grace of God. I’ve got to pray and ask for God’s help in this. —Letting Go, July 2012.

This entry from a prayer journal provides a central theme for my new novel, Letting Go. It’s funny how we limit God. How we think we’re not good enough for Him, or how we can maybe do something good enough for Him to forgive us. Forgiveness isn’t like that, though. It’s freely given. We just have to accept it. And then we have to let go of the guilt that sticks with us, constantly bombarding us, reminding us we’re not good enough for God, reminding us that we’ve failed.
Over the last few years we’ve studied forgiveness several times in small group. One of the most freeing lessons I’ve learned is that God knows we’ve failed, AND he fully expects us to fail again. He doesn’t expect perfection.
In Letting Go, Clarissa Dye has to learn this lesson. She’s not alone. Fortunately, someone steps up and shares his story of overcoming addiction, of the grace of God. And then he shows her by living a life of acceptance and love. He doesn’t preach, he doesn’t push. He’s there, though, and that makes the difference.
Letting Go is a novel, but I’ve seen that same acceptance and love make a huge difference in people’s lives so many times. The other day a friend said sometimes christians are christianity’s worst enemies. I think they were right. My minister says Love God, Love People all the time. I think that’s key. I know that’s something I need to remember.###

Find out more about my books by checking out my author page on Amazon. Letting Go available in kindle format and in print.

Photo by Ryk Neethling used by Creative Commons license.

Love Wins

I was afraid when I went to church today that the service would be a huge 9-11 memorial.

Instead it was a service on balance and how we need balance in our finances to have balance in life, which was something I needed to refocus on.

At the end, though, our music minister did an amazing job with a one song reflection on the anniversary of the tragedy of 9-11. Or at least, that’s what I thought it was going to be.

It wasn’t.

It was a  beautiful anthem about how we’re resilient and how we won’t bow to hate and how LOVE WINS.

I’m embracing that message and, hopefully, doing my part to share it. Because in the end, when you get to the core of the hurt and pain and anger and hate that’s out there in the world, LOVE does win, if you let it.

 

Fair and Forgiveness

“When I was a kid, my mom was murdered by a serial killer.”

Week one of my teaching career, Two Truths and a Lie.
I searched my mind for the right thing to say. You can’t lie about something like that!
But then he followed with, “No, really. The killer went to this school.”
And I remembered the headlines. I remembered the stories.

His mother had been killed by a serial killer who had graduated from this school, and this child was using the fact in a game I’d planned as an icebreaker.

Years later the young man had the chance to witness the execution of his mother’s killer. He thought it would bring closure. He said all it brought was sadness.

Sometimes, I think there are things that should be unforgivable.
But then I weigh the things I’ve done, and I realize, no way do I want God to hold my sins against me. If He weighed our sins, how would it work? Would I be judged against my grandma? Well, Mary Beth, I’d like to forgive you, but you don’t measure up to Mary Ella. Or would I get a ringer: Come on in, Mary Beth. You beat Al Capone without even trying.

I read once that forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you. Without it you can’t go on, move forward. I’ve seen people destroyed because they can’t move forward. The past crushes them. It doesn’t have to be that way. When we forgive, God gives us peace. The same peace He gives us when He forgives us.

Not too long ago our area was consumed with the murder of a cheerleader. The story had all the salaciousness of a Lifetime movie. The girl was beautiful, she’d snuck out to be with friends. Turned out the girl had been murdered by three of those “friends.” One was her ex-boyfriend. He was prom king to her prom queen, football player to her cheerleader, beautiful, just like her. Only not. The thing that stood out to me about the story wasn’t this, though. It was that the girl’s mother forgave the boy in court. She wasn’t saying he didn’t deserve punishment, but she found a way to forgive him for what he’d done. That forgiveness gave her peace that had alluded her from the time they’d found her daughter’s body.

In Honor and Lies, Sissy doesn’t forgive on the page. I couldn’t write the words even though I realized that lack of forgiveness would lead to a constant search for peace that could never be. At the time I wrote the novel, I was still fighting with the idea that God forgave everything, even the very worst sins. It didn’t seem fair.
Thank GOD He doesn’t work on FAIR.

Forgiveness

For the last several weeks college ministry has been using an amazing World Harvest curriculum to look at how when we grow in Christ, our awareness of what exactly it is He did for us on the cross grows at the same time as our awareness of our true selves. This week we talked about forgiveness, and how God gave us his forgiveness, but we sometimes have a problem accepting it.
Today, at small group, we studied an Andy Stanley message on forgiveness. It was powerful, and it presented the idea in a new light.
I know forgiveness is really about me. I know that holding on to resentments and angers and hurts holds me back. But Stanley says you should write down what it is you think you’re owed so you can get to the root of the anger. He stressed the anger, and that surprised me because I’ve always thought of it in terms of hurt.
But, he’s right. Ultimately the message is the same.
In the Old Testament, Abraham was on the verge of sacrificing his son for atonement. Thousands of years later God sacrificed His son to atone for my sins.
It’s amazing, really. And if I can’t forgive how can I expect to be forgiven?
Powerful lesson. One that led me to the realization that I have two characters in a book I’m revising that haven’t forgiven. They live in a world of anger and hurt and resentment, but not really. Because instead of facing their emotions, they’ve built these incredibly thick walls. By not facing the realities of the bad emotions, they’re missing the amazing blessing of the good emotions.
It was one of those a-ha moments.
I hope it helps my writing.

I submitted a partial to Love Inspired today. I enjoy the LI line, but this is something I’ve never seen there. It’s a Christian romance, though, so LI it is.There’s no taking the religion out of the book. The heroine’s life change is one of the driving forces of the story. Wish it well.

I’m also revising Prodigal. It made the agent rounds in the past, and I even got to the exclusive stage with one of the big agents out there, but it didn’t make the cut. I looking at it again, I see why (see a-ha moment above.).

I firmly believe God is in control. I don’t know if I would’ve seen the walls had I not been working so much with the college ministry, if I hadn’t spent hours listening to Frances Chan and Andy Stanley. Had we not been through the big, hurtful shakeup at the church.
Brian and I wouldn’t be involved in college ministry, something that has been life changing for us, had DD not gone to university in Huntsville. God is in control. And when we get off his path, He can even use our mistakes for His glory. Thank the Lord for that!

I’m going to hold fast to that knowledge as the cuts come down tomorrow. The news said up to 130 teachers and paraprofessionals will be cut this week. One of the teachers in my hall is moving to another campus next year because they’re letting a new teacher go. He got the news today. More teachers will get the news tomorrow. I’m praying for the teachers moving, for the ones losing their jobs, for the students, for everyone involved. Hopefully, I keep the knowledge that God’s in control forefront in my mind as the devastating effects of this budget cut become something more than rhetoric.