WOW! What a concept, right? This is something that the Lord has been dealing with me about for quite a while now - unconditional love and forgiveness. He really drove His message home on a Friday evening (Sept. 18, to be exact) and has been just putting one thing after another in front of me to continue to drive it home. I feel that I need to share because MAYBE it will help someone, somewhere - and, if it does help even just one person, then I'm glad I shared.
I really don't even know where to begin . It is 4:30 p.m. on Monday, October 12 right now and I know I won't have time to finish this, but I'm at least going to get started. Actually, I think I'll start from what happened today that truly floored me - I had just finished creating this place for me to blog and I decided I didn't have time to start writing. So, I went to check out the page of this singer that I recently learned about, Gina Zavalis. I follow her on Twitter and she is also my friend on facebook - but I'd never actually heard her sing so I wanted to check it out. I pulled up her page (http://www.indieheaven.com/artist_main.php?id=60172) to listen to a song. I decided to read her bio while listening to her song play. Now don't tell me God wasn't in this because when I read this part of her bio, I just about fell off my seat! I immediately wrote her a message and asked her permission to share this part of her bio because it is about the same thing I was feeling led to write about - or at least it goes right along with it, anyway. She gave me permission and I also found out that she has a page on ShoutLife (www.shoutlife.com/ginazavalis). Here is what I read in her bio:
"In Your Eyes" is a prayer and a reflection of how lucky we are to be loved by a God who always holds us in His forgiving eyes. No matter how much we screw up, God will always see us through if we allow Him. I am in constant awe of how forgiving God is and how present He is when we choose to open up our hearts to Him. He is always forgiving, always loving and always accepting of who we are.
I couldn't believe it when I read that on her page just as I was about to write this blog. If He is always forgiving, loving and accepting of who we are, how can we think that He expects anything less of us?
I, in my human nature, tend to think that I have the "right" to be mad at someone or to harbor anger toward someone because of something they may have done to me or said about me or something they may have done to or said about someone I love. As a Christian, do I really have that "right"? I don't believe I do. I believe that God has been showing me a LOT lately that I have GOT to let things go and leave it with Him. I am responsible for MY actions and MY feelings. I can not love others the way He wants me to, if I am unforgiving. I know that I have done many things wrong and, even though it may have been unintentional, I have probably hurt many people. I want God to forgive me, don't I? Of course I do. Not only do I want it, I EXPECT it - because He tells me in His Word that, if I confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive me.
I can not justify my anger or unforgiveness or unloving tendencies anywhere in His Word. All I can find is where He says that I am to forgive "seventy times seven". I think He started showing me a lot of this in the last couple months.
This next part may be hard for my family and close friends to understand, but I am simply sharing what God has been dealing with me about and putting on my heart lately. I can't worry about whether or not everyone or anyone approves, I simply know that I have to do what He tells me I have to do.
Those of you that know me know that my husband left back in March. At first, I was very hurt and angry about things that I'd learned right before he left. But God has really been dealing with me about that the last couple of months. I know in my heart of hearts that we were put together by God - I just don't see how it could have happened without Him. I never wanted our marriage to go in this direction. I know that it is the enemy trying to tear something apart before it even has a chance to really blossom because God has a ministry for us as a team. It took me a long time to make this choice. I argued with God a lot about it. However, if you've ever argued with God, you know what I'm talking about when I say you never win those arguments! God has let me know that I have no choice, I have to let go of the hurt and anger. I know that I did things to hurt and anger my husband, too. Like him, none of it was done with true "intent" to hurt or anger - we just made bad choices. I can't even go into everything. All I can say is that none of it matters. This was also brought home to me again last week.
My sister's husband died on Wednesday, Oct. 7. I stayed with her last week so she wouldn't have to be totally by herself right away. Staying with her really helped the Lord drive the message home even more clearly. I learned so much from watching her and thinking back over her four and a half year marriage. My sister DEFINITELY knows about unconditional love. She loved her husband and he loved her - even though a lot of people may not have understood that. I know that I would hurt sometimes at the things she was going through and listen to her pour her heart out sometimes about how hard it was. But that is something we have to do to make it through sometimes - let our feelings out and let the tears wash away the bad so there's more room for the good. I saw her sacrifice a lot of times so that she could be with her husband when he couldn't go or do and even in the beginning when, sometimes he just didn't want to. Does she regret making those sacrifices? No. She wishes now that he was here again. I know she'll be okay because she has the Lord, first and foremost, and she has us - her family. I praise God that we are a close family.
However, this just served to make me realize even more how important it is for my husband and I to get past this and move on together. I know that God has our marriage worked out already - I just have to wait on His timing. I think that we both got ahead of His plan for us by getting married so quick, because we just KNEW it was to be - but I also know that God can get it back on track. (Let me also add this - because I don't know who might be reading this, I want to clarify that my husband has NEVER hit me. I don't want anyone reading this to think that I would be telling someone to stay with anyone that is beating them or putting their life in danger. Yes, you DO still have to forgive that person and let God help you love them, but I NEVER think that ANYONE is to stay in a place where their life is in danger.)
It all comes down to TRUE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and FORGIVENESS. I must remember what is really important and throw all the other "junk" out of my mind. Don't get me wrong, it isn't easy. My human, sinful nature tries to attack every day, every second sometimes, and puts those thoughts in my head, "But what about this...." and "But he did this..." It doesn't matter. None of it matters. All that matters is that I have to forgive, love unconditionally and move on. Every time that I make that conscious choice to forgive, it gets a little easier. I know that is only because of the Lord and because it is what He wants me to do. When I make choices that agree with His Word, He helps it become easier and easier to do.
Oh - and then yesterday (Sunday, October 18) just before I sat down to try to finish this, I read something that another friend of mine wrote on her facebook page. I really don't think she'd mind me sharing this either and it goes right along with what I've been saying about unconditional love and forgiveness. This is what T.M. wrote:
Me and Chris have been married for 18 years. We both have made mistakes to each other in the 18 years. But what we have learned is to LOVE and FORGIVE. If you cannot forgive your partner when they make mistakes, then how can you forgive someone else!!!
I have heard about a lot of couples getting divorced lately. And a lot of them are cutting the other down. What do you think the kids think when they see and hear these comments? Don't you think this hurts the kids, too?
Adam and Eve sinned, too; but, God forgave them. So, if God can forgive them, then why can't we forgive the people that hurt us? I would be lost, if I ever lost my soul mate. He can be a bonehead at times, but aren't we all at times, too? Guess that's what keeps us all alive and kicking!!
He just keeps putting people's writings or scriptures in front of me that confirm everything I have been feeling lately. Every time I'd see one, I'd think, "I need to include that in the blog" - of course, now I can't find them, but it's okay. I know that He is doing this in His time and that's what is important.
Do you know something else that I've found to be true, since I have started making the choice to really love people and truly forgive? It is a very "freeing" experience. It frees me up in every aspect of my life. I never realized how much energy it takes to hang onto hurt and bitterness and unforgiveness. Since I have decided to forgive and just let go, I feel so much lighter - physically and emotionally. It's been a little hard because I haven't shared this with anyone, but I believe it will be even easier now that my friends and family know what I have been going through. I've wanted so many times to talk to one or another about all the "emotions" I've been dealing with lately - but at the same time, I wanted to wait and let them all find out at the same time - by reading it here, in my blog. As I said earlier, I know that some won't agree with it or like it (especially my daughter) but I can only consider what God agrees with. He is the One that I ultimately have to answer to.
You see, that's another thing - a lot of people use that as their excuse not to forgive or love someone (the fact that some people won't understand or agree with it) - but it's not gonna work with the Lord. You see, I made the choice to accept the gift that He gave me in my husband. I truly believe He has a plan for our marriage and I am responsible for showing my husband that unconditional love and forgiveness, NO MATTER WHAT! Some will say, "but he is going to do this" or "he is going to do that" - it doesn't matter. If he DOES do something that God doesn't approve of, then he (my husband) is the one that will have to answer for it. Same goes for me, if I do something to my husband that God doesn't approve of, I will have to answer for it. MY responsibility is to FORGIVE and LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY. I know that until God deals with each individual about this on their own level and in their own time, there is no way it can be understood. I never could understand how my sister could do the things she did and go through the things that she went through, but even before her husband died, God had begun dealing with me about this. That is why I now understand. I pray and I know that He is going to give me the chance to show the same unconditional love and forgiveness to my husband - but I have to wait on His time. I am ready any time He is - yes, I know it will be hard, but as I've read or heard before, ANYTHING WORTH HAVING IS WORTH WORKING HARD FOR. That may not be exactly how it went, but you get the idea anyway.
I know that I rambled a lot and this may not be very "coherent" - I just had so much to share and have been trying for so long to get it all down, that my thoughts just got all jumbled up. I have tried to read through this and make it a little better but, at this point, I'm just leaving it in God's hands. I have tried to put into words what I've been going through but it's been so long and so much has happened that it's hard to remember it all. I simply ask that you remember me and my husband in your prayers. I still don't know if he is going to be willing or not, but I'm trusting God. At least we (my husband and I) have been 'talking' through e-mails lately. He is going to school now to get his minister's license which will take a few years, but I know he can do it. I support him in that one hundred percent. God has done a lot in him since he left and God has done a lot in ME since my husband left and I can only trust that He will have us back together in His time. I also learned that my husband had been hospitalized again, which really broke my heart, because I couldn't be there with him. I couldn't be there because I didn't know about it. But God has everything under control and, as long as I do what He is asking of me (including TRULY loving and forgiving people), then I know that He will work ALL things to the good.
Think about it, as someone posted on twitter yesterday, " You love Jesus as much as the person you love the least. Go read 1 John 4:20-22"
So the next time you want to hang on to something that someone did to you or a loved one or something that someone said about you or a loved one, ask Jesus what He would have you do with that - I'm pretty sure that, if you're honest with yourself, you'll hear Him telling you to forgive and let go. Really and truly, forgiveness is for the individual that is doing the forgiving because it truly frees you up in so many ways.
I love you all and I hope that this has somehow touched your heart in some way. If not, maybe it was just for me - as an act of obedience to Him - and, if that's the case, then that's okay, too. I simply want to do my best to be in His will at all times anymore. That is what is truly important.