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I Choose Forgiveness – Walking in {HIS LOVE}

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How often do we go to the Father and ask forgiveness? Probably too many times to count !! How many times has he forgiven you? [every SINGLE time] How many times should we forgive a person? Matthew 18:21-22

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times

It’s easy to hold a grudge! It takes no effort and requires nothing of you other than being sour pussed and cranky. Everytime you think of the person who has offended you your blood pressure probably begins to rise, you turn red faced and probably mumble words about them under your breath! (I bet you have someone in mind this very instant!)

But Forgiveness- Now that takes effort! It requires you to take all your hurt, all your offense, every memory of rejection and every ounce of pain, put it in a “proverbial casket”, wrap it up real nice, dig a deep dark hole somewhere in the middle of grace and love and bury it without a headstone so it can never be found again. And you may even have to forgive some one who has either never asked you or may never ask you; either way, you free yourself from the weight and burden of harboring unforgiveness; and sometimes, the weight of the burden of unforgiveness carries more weight than the offense itself.

I was recently presented with the opportunity to forgive. Many years ago I probably would have taken this opportunity to inflict all the pain I thought was due to them because of the pain I suffered because of their actions. (as you may have read in some of my previous blogs, I have finally learned the true love of Jesus toward me.) Because I know the love the Father has extended to me I am now able to extend that same love to others. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. (Luke 7:36-50) In verse 47 He says, I tell you, {her sins}—and they are many—have been {forgiven}, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” And that woman in essence is me. I am so loved by the Father. He has forgiven me so much so many times, even while I was still a sinner He died for me. (Rom 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.)  As a Christian who has been forgiven much, I have no right to not extend much love and forgiveness to others.

My Dad, Joe, whom I have had no contact with in 30 years ( I had my first visit with him when I was about 11 I guess)  recently reached out to me. I’m not going to lie. When the facebook friend request came across my phone, my heart sank into my stomach. Was this for real? Why all of a sudden? Here I am a grown woman with a family and a life established without them and now they want to show up! I later checked my email with a sweet note from my Dad’s wife. Hmmmm. She and I began to talk a little back and forth over facebook. She mentioned Joe would like to start keeping in touch but was scared of how things might play out. They didn’t know me or what kind of person I might be. I didn’t know what kind of people they were. So, there was a guard up on both our sides. I kept it to myself for a while. Not even telling my husband. I didn’t want to bring it up if I didn’t think anything would really come out of it. But as the conversations got longer and more personal I began to share with my husband; who is the most supportive, kind and loving man I have ever known!

Well, God being God, He began to deal with me. I had yet to have conversation with Joe. I couldn’t understand why his wife was speaking to me but he was not. I wasn’t going to stress about it. And I didn’t. Eventually though Debbie gave him my number and she gave me his. I waited for a text/call that never came.(probably because I was impatient) While waiting for that text/call, I wondered what I should say to him. What would our conversation be like? In the middle of thinking all these things somehow God managed to drown out the chaos in my head and say , ” When a person comes to the Father for forgiveness, I do not sit down with them and say, I forgive you, BUT, let’s talk about why you did this” Like, wow, Ok God, point taken!  From that, I realized that God doesn’t open our closets, pull out the skeletons and begin to analyze the course of actions we have taken through out our lives and ask for explanations. We ask. He forgives. The end. (Micah 7:19 You will again have compassion on us. You will overcome our wrongdoing. You will throw all our sins into the deep sea.)   So, ME, being ME, took it upon myself and I texted him. I wanted him to know that I had no interest in the past. Nothing good comes from the past. If he wanted a future and relationship with me, I was willing to build on the future. And I left it at that. Eventually he texted back and we began a texting one another. Sometimes it was just a “good morning” and sometimes it was a more. But it was a start. Eventually we graduated to phone conversations. They had been planning a trip in the Spring of 2015 but decided on a whim to come earlier. They decided to come in October. About 5 months after the first initial friend request. Was I ready for this? Of course I was! I had waited my whole life for this. Was it scary? A little. But with the strength and boldness God has given me, I have learned I can handle any situation and get through anything.

So Joe, Debbie and their adopted daughter Gabby and myself began a countdown. We started with 3 weeks. Oh my goodness this was going to take forever. But before I knew it, they were here!! I didn’t know how I was going to re-act. Did I hug him? Shake his hand? Was it going to be one of those awkward moments when I go for a hug and he extends his hand for a hand shake? Or vice-a-versa ? I had no idea. When they pulled up into the yard, I got a little nervous. Not scared, I have come too far to let fear try to rule me. So- I hugged him. He hugged me back and it was nice. I hugged Debbie and I hugged Gabby. And it was very nice. I was no longer hugging someone who I thought owed my something and didn’t deserve forgiveness and second chances. The person who once would have thought that was long gone. The person hugging these people knew a God of love and forgiveness and hugging them became the most natural thing for me.  The weekend was too short, but we enjoyed the time and made memories and they plan to come back this Spring. And I look forward to that and to the many texts and phone calls. I look forward to developing this relationship with my family. And I look forward to the lessons God will teach me through all this.

By choosing to forgive you release the burden of guilt and shame the other person may be harboring. You release your self from the burden of being angry. By choosing to walk in His love and His grace you show people a version of the Father they may never see. By choosing not to condemn them for their mistakes and sins and choosing to love, you give them access to the Father through you. Because when you show love and forgiveness, you show them the Father.

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