What I Did and What I learned About Forgiveness.

So it was some time ago that I wrote my previous blog and I felt able to publish it because of what God did through that experience.

The person who was hurting me so deeply was my father.  He had been very hurt by a decision that I had made, based on advice that he had given me ironically and in his anger, he had disowned me and my family….including his grandchildren.

As you may imagine, this hurt me very much – not only because he had misunderstood my intentions but also because it wasn’t the first time he had done it! He had done it many many times before, only to then forget that he had even said it.

So here is what happened. I chose to forgive him. It was hard and layered and took some time but I also chose to come into agreement with the disowning, breaking off something powerful as I did so.

We were not in contact for almost three years. They were three very painful and difficult years but they were also years where I prayed for him and kept pressing in to God. He was angry with me for a long time, believing I had not forgiven him. I really think he thought I was in the wrong. I was under a lot of pressure from my family but in Gods strength I held my ground and in all that time, I was praying and God was healing.

I finally agreed to link up with him through Facebook and in doing so realised he had absolutely no idea what he had done to bring about the change in our relationship. I love my Dad and was close to him in spite of everything.

God gave me the opportunity to explain to him and this time we were able to restore our relationship. In fact God has made us closer than ever and has healed so much through our time apart.

Now I enjoy my relationship with my dad and we value it and guard it so fiercely because we know how fragile it was and how precious it was. Those years apart have been gloriously restored because God is good.

Forgiveness does not mean you have to stay in a bad situation but if you can forgive it frees you up to allow God to do all that needs to be done.

 

That’s ok – You are a Christian – You can just forgive me!

How many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?

The apostle Peter asked the question and Jesus gave the answer.

Matthew 18:21-22English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

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I know that Bible verses are not supposed to be taken out of context but this answer seems to be pretty clear. To the Jews it represented the number of infinity.

I find myself in a situation where someone I love is hurting me continually. The person is a Christian and every time this happens they apologise – ask for forgiveness and on we go again until the next time.The trouble is – this pattern of behaviour has been happening over 28 years and I am wondering when its going to stop?

I know that this person is very damaged.

They tell me that they  have changed and I genuinely believe that they are trying really hard to – that they want to.

The trouble is………

I just can’t take anymore!

I love this person very much.

I want them to be happy.

I want then to be whole and healed.

I just dont want to be their emotional puch bag anymore.

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Everywhere I look I cannot escape the fact that as a Christian I am required to forgive this person.

And I know that I am far from perfect myself.

I sometimes hurt people without realising that I have.

And there are times when I treat Jesus in exactly the same way as this person is treating me

and I know

that

C.S.-Lewis

In truth I don’t know where I would be without the forgiveness of Jesus and others that I have wronged along the way. It is the hope my life and faith are built upon.

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I’m not even sure that forgiveness is really my issue, I love this person and want God’s best for them

and I know that

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This person is a family member (but not my husband).

The irony is – if they were my husband, I could legitimately leave them because to stay would be to remain in an abusive situation. I may not have the bruises to show for it but a close examination of my heart would tell you everything you needed to see.

I want to honour God in my behaviour towards this person

but

I can’t help but feel that…….

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So I am left with the dilemma. A broken heart – a letter asking me to forgive and forget once more – yet it feels to me as if to do so is to give that person permission to carry on their behaviour.

What do I do?

 

Mid Life Crisis?

So I see that it has been 2 years since my last post. I’m not really surprised by this……my life has changed significantly over the last 3 years owing to a career change which limits my free time considerably.  However this evening I seem to have a spare moment to share a thought or two. 

I’m in a period of my life where everything seems to be changing at a significant speed. My four children are mostly adult now with the last one having left secondary school yesterday. He will start college in the fall, another begins uni far far away. Another returns to do his final year and the eldest has completed a degree and is looking at ‘ the rest of her life’ which could take her anywhere in the world. 

This is what we plan for and pray for isn’t it? To see our children grow to adulthood- to fly the nest and make their own unique and wonderful contribution to the world- to take all the lessons we have taught them and all the love we have lavished upon them to make their way in the world…

But, as I sit here, listening to three boys upstairs laughing together as they enjoy their summer hols, my daughter off seeing the world and having all those opportunities I wanted for her- as I sit here with my significant other as he sits with headphones in his ears, watching a movie, from which I am excluded, I cannot even begin to describe to you everything that I’m feeling because to do so would unlock emotions of such enormity I could not cope with the magnitude of their intensity. 

The job I do is highly stressful and very pressured. It’s the sort of job one describes as a vocation or a calling. Sadly it’s a job where the goal posts move on a weekly basis- where your best is never quite good enough and where you feel you must get everything right so that others are not failed. 

During a rare week off, I was encouraged by a friend to walk every day. My boss has been concerned that I’m becoming overworked so I took the advice, am trying to work less and to walk everyday. I must admit there are times when this walk is a godsend. I love being outside. I love wildlife. I love the countryside and I walk and walk. By the second km, I feel my body start to settle and relax and my burdens begin to lift. I see and hear owls, ducks, geese, cattle, houses I didn’t know were there. I hear the singing of too many birds to count, the species of which I am learning to recognise. 

But……

Something else is happening. Something I’m finding harder to deal with. 

Before I worked every spare minute. My identity was caught up in it. I think I even took pride in being such a hard worker. The job took up all of my thinking even in sleep- I know – not a healthy place to be especially over a 3-4 year period. 

Now though I have a little more time. More time to think, more time to become aware of my struggles, my weaknesses and failings. The overwhelming emotion is loneliness. I walk alone which I prefer because I’m an introvert but lately I feel like I do everything alone. Significant other- no doubt fed up with a wife he never sees or who is always engaged in work- has made his own life, his own hobbies, his own schedule. Other then ‘will you be home for tea?’ I don’t think I feature. 

So now I have time to realise how lonely my life really is…..how empty it has become . I feel like I’m looking forward to a lonely future surrounded by others who have no idea that I’m feeling any of these things. I’m becoming fixated on things that are not in my best interests to be contemplating. Things which if I pursue them too closely will wreck my very existence and destroy the family I love so much. It’s more than melancholy. It’s more than just a really crappy day. 

Normally a faithful Christian, even that faith seems to be slowly eroding away…… 

Yet as I write this a new thought is forming in my mind- or maybe the recollection of an old thought. 

Ecclesiastes ( in the bible ) says, ‘ there is a season for everything under heaven ‘ it goes on to all about emotions, life events and such and I am comforted by the thought that ‘this too shall pass’ . There will be new joys, new loves, new members of the family to welcome and love and bless. This is just a season – a midlife crisis- if you will. 

There’s a verse in the psalms in which the writer says, ‘ why are you downcast oh my soul?’ The advice the psalmist gives to himself lifts my heart as I write this – ‘ put your hope in God for I will yet praise Him’ . I know as I write that this is true. 

So, I need to accept that for this period of my life as it changes beyond all recognition, there will be sorrow, there will be loss – the best kind of loss- a loss that every parent must one day face, there will be melancholy moments….

But

I must not let this be the thing that defines my future – that defines my life. 

THIS TOO SHALL PASS! 

New Year, New Me?

I guess only time will tell.

The biggest change for me this year has been that I haven’t ended the year feeling like I haven’t achieved anything – possibly because I have achieved something this year that I could never have imagined would be possible when I left school. I always liked school – just as well as I plan to be spending a great deal of time there in the future.

In fact I feel very positive going into this year. Over the last two years I believe that God has had me on a particular journey – one that isnt completed yet but I am content and relieved to be in this phase of His plan.

I have had a number of things on my heart for a couple of years now – changes I want to make in my lifestyle choices. Having talked to God about it a lot over that time, this year I am beginning to make small steps to hopefully bring about long-term changes in my life. I have never been much of a planner. I tend to drift through life but land on my feet and achieve. Don’t get me wrong – I can’t take any credit for that – I know that it’s all God!

I’ve been thinking about that a lot.

I have always believed I’m not a goal orientated person and for the most part I’m not. I leave deadlines to the last minute and often make plans I don’t follow through on – resulting in me feeling pretty rubbish about myself.

This year though, I am using modern technology to make very small changes – easy manageable changes until those little changes become habitual. The small changes are things like drinking more water, walking to work instead of driving ( a new job is facilitating this) and daily bible reading – even keeping up with the washing! I have been thinking about all the things I want to be doing more of – like writing this blog, practising musical instruments, songwriting, praying, spending time in worship – doing those hobbies I never have time to do because I’m so busy on socal media or watching tv!

It has only been five days, but I so far I have achieved most of the things I have planned to do. Some I have put off by changing the date when the goal is to be achieved – I’m kind to myself. It’s early days for this new plan and some of my expectations have been a little unrealistic.

The small steps I’m achieving outweigh the steps I have put off so I am celebrating that. The new job means that until I get into the new routine I am learning what I can realistically achieve as I go.

Anyway, having achieved one of my goals for tonight ( to complete a blog) I am now off to achieve another one (be in bed by a certain time!)

So Goodnight Fellow Bloggers

&

Happy 2015.

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy

You chose to live your life – your way

So why am I being punished?

You chose to throw your life away

So why am I being punished?

You chose to leave on New Years Day

So why am I being punished?

You chose yourself above all else

So why am I being punished?

You chose to leave your wife and home

So why am I being punished?

You chose to live your life alone

So why am I being punished?

You chose your daughter to disown

Why am I being punished?

You chose yourself above all else

So why am I being punished?

You chose the choices that you made

So why am I being punished?

You chose to cause hurt and  dismay

So why am I being punished?

You chose on my Graduation day

So why am I being punished?

You chose yourself above all else

So why am I being punished?

You choose to hurt me again and again

Why am I being punished?

You chose again to walk away

Why am I being punished?

You chose yourself above all else

So why am I being punished?

I wish I had the guts to say

SO WHY AM I BEING PUNISHED?????

The Good Friday Challenge…….

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There are different times throughout the year where as Christians we have the opportunity to start over…..New Year, September term starting, when we take communion – every Sunday come to that but Good Friday is quite a key time. I have been quite challenged this year by people’s attitudes to Good Friday. I am not saying that their attitudes are wrong – just that people can have a very different take on Good Friday. I was asked to prepare worship – which I found challenging in itself but that is for my other blog and was told not to make it ‘too dirgy’ but to have a sense of triumph. 

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I understood where the person was coming from…….to a point……. It’s a view that many Christians share – Jesus is no longer on the cross – He died so we could be forgiven from our sins and has already risen so it should be celebrated. I get their point of view but I don’t fully agree with it.

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I have been a Christian for a little while now and I know how easy it is to begin to take for granted the truths in the Bible, the sacrifice Jesus made – wrong but true all the same. I need days like Good Friday because they cause me to reflect afresh on the sacrifice of Christ’s death – that horrific and degrading sacrifice where he took the punishment that I deserved for my sin – the punishment I earned – I need to think about that – be reminded of that – mourn the loss of my saviour – even while knowing the outcome. His death meant that I will live for eternity – love for eternity – be with Him for eternity. I owe Him everything! I need to grieve – I need to be sorry that He had to choose to do that for me – I need an opportunity to express that. Because the reality is ……………………………………

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this horrific!

And He did this for me!

 

I will be triumphant on Easter Sunday with everyone else but for today,……………I need to reflect with sorrow on the reality of all that Jesus sacrificed for my sake.

 

Versatile Blogger Award

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I would like to thank http://zorysworld.wordpress.com/ for this nomination. I am flattered and touched by the nomination.

I am required to tell you 7 random things about myself so here goes.

  1. My favourite fizzy drink is Ginger Beer
  2. I am reading ‘Little Women’ for the umpteeth time
  3. I have recently discovered a love of mathematics which has replaced the fear I used to have
  4. Orchids are my favourite flower and I have a large collection.
  5. I love anything by Jane Austin
  6. I would rather go somewhere beautiful and scenic than to Disneyland.
  7. I hate rollercoasters.

I would like to nominate the following boggers to share this award.

http://ashleydaltonblog.wordpress.com/

http://dawn7238.wordpress.com/

http://siasplace.me/

http://theunappreciatedpastor.wordpress.com/

https://jemiluce.wordpress.com/

I nominate you for many reasons but mostly because you inspire me as bloggers.

Thanks again for the nomination.

Oranges are not the only fruit………….

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This weekend, a number of our church ladies  have gone off to a conference which celebrates the role of motherhood- the importance of this vital role and the Godly perspective of this role and the blessing of children. 

Now please understand me. I have four children. I take my role as a mother very seriously. I fully recognise my responsibility as a mother and am very very grateful for the blessing that God has bestowed upon me. 

I am however equally aware that while God has blessed me with children there are many women in the Church who have not been ‘favoured’ by God in this way.  Every woman I know who has not been able to have children – either because they have been unable to conceive or unable to sustain a pregnancy long- term, this has been extremely painful. Their pain is exacerbated by the value that the church can put on family and on children. I have even had one such lady who has the most amazing giftings and so much love to give, say that she did not know what her place in the church was because she doesn’t have children. 

I am horrified by this! I would hate to think that this was a message the church is sending out to those who don’t have children -that they are not part of the family – that they have nothing of worth to offer. 

I know that when my own children were small, I felt the same way. That because I was a mother of small children with a husband rarely home because of the work he did, I often felt I had nothing to offer. I found it hard to think that my gifts and talents were going to waste while I cared for four small children. I found it hard to be a mum at times and it was the church and certain ladies within it who taught me to value this short period in my life and how God could use me within it – not just in the lives of my own children but in the lives of others too. I think for a while I felt  I had no identity outside being a mother and a wife.

My children are growing away now and God has taken me on a path I could never have dreamt of or imagined when they were small. I use my little talents to serve my church and my God faithfully but my identity is not caught up in my parenting anymore ( I feel another blog coming on….).

I understand the importance and value of being a parent. I understand how easy it can be for your identity to become mixed up in being a wife and mother and I recognise the blessing of children. 

But children are not the only way that God blesses me. 

I would never want to be so hurtful as to suggest that I am more blessed than someone who does not have children. 

The most influential women I can think of didn’t have children of their own – Mother Theresa, Corrie Ten Boom, Joni Erikson Tada.

Please step forward anyone who thinks that despite the extraordinary hardships faced by every one of these women that they were NOT blessed. This would be a lie of the very worst kind. 

So I think that I write this blog to ask that we be sensitive within the church to those without children. That we remember that our blessings may heighten the sense of loss for others within our fellowship and to remember that there but for the grace of God

go we.

Next week in Britain, we will celebrate Mothering Sunday!

Please consider those for whom motherhood was a choice they never got to make.

Dear Anne Hathaway……

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Dear Anne,

                I was reading a blog today that wasn’t even about you but the writer claimed that people hate you. I must admit this has come up on google when I have searched information about a film you might be in. And the question I just have to ask is ……

WHY?

My daughter and I have been watching your movies for years now and I cannot possibly fathom what everyone is talking about? What I see when I look at you is a talented and gifted young actress . Maybe it’s a British thing but I see a classical actress in you, rather than a Hollywood movie star with the kind of longevity of other classical actresses like Helen Mirran and Dame Judy Dench. I have mentioned it to my daughter many times!

I will pick a movie because you are in it (and so far I have only seen one I didn’t particularly care for and that was down to the storyline rather than you).

I think that your performance in Les Mis showed you for the high-quality actress you are!

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As for people not liking you because you’re ‘too nice, acting all the time and insecure’, I’d be pretty insecure if national and international newspapers were writing that people hated me too! Your sensitivity makes you a great actress and insecurity means that you are not some proud arrogant schmuck who thinks they’re the best thing since sliced bread!

As for acting all the time? so is rest of society – we all put on an act when we feel nervous or are in a situation where there is a focus on us – especially if we aren’t particularly confident. It’s one thing to confidently act on a stage or in a studio – whole other thing to be live in front of people. Put me in front of a microphone and I will sing to you without batting an eyelid.

Ask me to say something —–that’s a whole other matter!

Of all the obnoxious and ridiculous celebrities out there for people to dislke you is frankly their issue. Please don’t make it yours.  You have worked hard to get where you are and deserve your success – don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.

I’m a Christian and I believe Jesus was fully God and fully man and even that wasn’t and isn’t good enough for some people!

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You’ll show them all yet!

Just keep on doing what you’re doing!

Best Wishes and I look forward to seeing much much more of you over the years!

What to do or What NOT to do? That is the Question but Whose Question is it?

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I read this quote in a blog I read today. 

http://culturemonk.com/2014/03/01/atlanta-big-bibles-and-cussing-really/#comment-22417

(Check it out for yourself! He’s good!)

“Why is it that so many people who become a Christian or turn to a new religion often spend so much time focusing on what ‘not to do’?”

This comment and the resulting blog really made me think about my own conversion.

I had been brought up to go to church…well sort of. My parents believe in God and I come from a generation where a lot of kids went to church and Sunday school. It was a cultural thing. We said prayers and school at the beginning and end of the day – had christian assembly- that’s how it was.

At the age of thirteen, I discovered that it was possible to have a personal relationship with Jesus – that my sins could be forgiven. 

Before this I had no idea!

I remember walking home and having this overwhelming desire to dance down the road- I didn’t but I felt such a peace and a joy. 

So what happened?

Well when that emotion wore off, I wondered what I had done wrong- why God was angry with me.

And so began my journey of trying to get back into God’s good grace.

Now – many many years later, I understand that I had completely misunderstood. It took many years and a faithful and loving God to put right my thinking. 

The point is – no one in the church ever told me that I felt differently because I’d sinned or because God’s feelings towards me had changed – because they hadn’t. God’s love for me does not depend on what I do or how I feel! That’s what unconditional means after all!

So if no one at church told me this, where did I get the idea from? To be fair they would have corrected me if I’d shared with them what I believed at the time but I guess I was so ashamed to have let God down so quickly, I didn’t tell anyone. So where did I learn it?

The touble is that many of us have not learned what we know about God or Jesus from the Bible or even from the church. We are more likely to learn these ‘truths’ from societal views of who God is and what he is like – from media – from  attitudes of agnostics and aethiests and from Christians with mis-conceptions  like myself – rather than from Bible believing, faith-filled Christians. 

I wonder why that is?