Tag Archives: humility

Let it go.

26 Mar

Right, right… the title reminds you of the Disney song from the movie Frozen.  I wasn’t a fan of that movie. I have a whole list of reasons – but since everyone seems to LOVE it, I better not blog about it.  I’ll be down to zero followers.

I’m not talking about the movie Frozen today – however, I’m talking about a Frozen Heart.

There are some of you that used to be Lessons of Mercy followers WAY back when I use to blog on BlogSpot, and walked through life with me while I faced broken relationships and unforgiveness.  I spent a few months in counseling (I think EVERYONE should go to counseling at least once in their life!!) and getting to the bottom of all my bitterness.

It was through that time that God really unveiled the spiritual gift of Mercy in my life (hence the name change, blog location, and fresh start.)

My relationships with some people in my life were a mess.

It had reached the point of never communicating again.  It was broken.  It was over. It was NEVER, EVER able to be fixed again. (Oh, how little I knew of the power of God at that moment in my life.)

I had a list of hurts that were brutal. Unacceptable. Unforgivable. Inconceivable.

And, they were never going to change anyway, so what did it matter if I liked them or not?!

Sure, I hurt them too… but by golly, I had a right to at this point.

Do you see the problem yet?

I couldn’t be fully 100% focused on myself, and extend mercy, grace, forgiveness and understanding at the same time.

I was selfish.

I wanted my wounds tended to and then I’d take complete ownership and offer a sincere apology for what I’d done too.

I was sorry…. I never didn’t acknowledge that I played a part, but I couldn’t take my eyes off myself and my wounds long enough to care long term.  I wouldn’t let myself scar.  I kept letting the wounds be ripped open again and again and again, and then I had to tend to my own hurts and diminish the hurts of the others.

This was a common cycle in ALL of my relationships.

I was guilty of the same behavior with my husband. And some other much older friends too.

God was doing some things in the hearts of the other people at the same time that He was doing an overhaul in mine.

But it wasn’t until I took my eyes off myself, and looked at everything, EVERYTHING from their point of view that I saw a different story.

What had I really done?  Did I have the permission to tell them what really hurt them and what didn’t?  Did I have the right to expect the things I’d done to be quickly overlooked and forgiven while not extending the same grace?

HAD I ASKED GOD TO FORGIVE ME OF SOMETHING FAR WORSE THAN ANYTHING THEY HAD DONE TO ME, BUT WAS THEN REFUSING TO FORGIVE THEIR SINS???

Had I really become the man from the parable in the Bible? (Matthew 18:23-35)

I had.

I felt compassion.  I felt an understanding.  I felt remorse. I saw my sin.  I saw my failures.  I saw the hurt I caused.

(That DOESN’T MEAN I was giving justification to their choices, but it means, I was repenting of mine!)

Then came a real, (A REAL!) apology.

I’m sorry I did……..(this and this and this and this, in my case)………. please forgive me…… I’ve changed so much and I no longer have any desire to repeat those same mistakes again.

I also received sincere apologies and healing started to truly take place.  (I know you can’t control how others respond. I have apologized to some whose heart was too hard to receive it. But I will say, 9 times out of 10, if you truly apologize and love the person deeply, it’s hard to stay mad when someone is being so humble and honest.)

The immoveable mountain, moved.

Without God breaking my heart for His beloved children, I would have remained frozen forever.

What thawed the freeze in that silly movie?  LOVE.

Bingo.

When you LOVE God with all your heart, you LOVE who HE LOVES.  And He loves His children.  Even the mean ones. 🙂

Would you believe after 10 years of total brokenness, and 2 years of healing… I recently had a visit with this friend and we let our kids spend the night together?

No anxiety.  No bitterness.  No past tension.

Biblical forgiveness is miraculous.  It is unlike anything the world can teach.  It’s complete, lacking nothing.  It’s freedom.  It’s beautiful.

Practical Application:

Who do you still have on the hook to pay you back something they can never pay back?

Who do you still want to get what’s coming to them?

Who do you still get bitter feelings about when their name is mentioned?

Who do you still feel the desire to warn others about or share your side of the story first about?

If we’re about to celebrate Jesus walking that road, carrying that cross, being nailed to it, and taking on your sins….. is it time to let Him be the payment for their sins too?

Is it time to let it go???

 

 

He looks identical to Christ.

23 Mar

Nineteen months ago, I saw myself in my marriage in a new light.  I saw how I was disrespecting my husband, how I was full of pride, how I had unrealistic expectations, how many idols I was obsessed with serving, how unforgiving and resentful I was, and how much better I thought I was than the man I married… all while thinking I was a better Christian than he was too.

It was humbling.  I shed some tears. I apologized to my husband.  And I spent a good solid month doing nothing but studying my behaviors, and setting up ways to break all these terrible habits.

It’s a life long process, I didn’t conquer anything in a month, I’m still learning and changing every single day.

I thought at that time, I saw my marriage for what it was.

I was wrong.

Thursday night, my husband and I had a long talk about who I once was and what I did in and to our marriage over the course of that first 10 years. We had already done this two years ago so this wasn’t some shocking or earth shaking conversation.

And yet, I broke.

I spent almost all of the next 24 hours sobbing uncontrollably or secretly fighting and wiping tears in front of my kids.  I’ve never cried that much before in one day, ever.

All the sudden, through some deep reflection and conversation, I saw everything differently than I ever really had before.

I was a horrible wife.  HORRIBLE.

I must have hurt my husband in ways he couldn’t even describe if he wanted to try.  I put other things above him, I have lied to him, I have belittled him publicly, I have put expectations on him that no person could live up to, I have reacted in haste and wrath to his mistakes with intensely hurtful remarks and shame, I have dabbled in the game of an emotional affair, I have carried around a list of his wrongs and dwelled on them bitterly, I have had conversations in my mind premeditating how to hurt him when I felt hurt instead of offering mercy and forgiveness….

I was wretched.  To me, completely unforgivable.  I have no idea why he stayed married to me.  I wouldn’t have stayed married to me.

I have never fallen apart like I did on Friday.  While I kept desperately trying to speak truth to myself, and let my husband and my best friend speak truth to me… I could not accept it.

I didn’t want his forgiveness.  I didn’t want his grace or mercy.  I didn’t want his unconditional love.

I wanted him to get mad at me.  I wanted him to yell and cuss and tell me how awful I was and how much I’d hurt him.  I wanted him to treat me how I deserved to be treated.

Every time I presented a reason to him why he should hate me, he offered back a loving gesture… and I got so angry at him.  Angry because I felt like he was being so stupid. I thought, you deserve better you idiot. There is no forgiving what I’ve done!!

Who loves someone like that?  Who forgives someone so completely?  Who looks at someone and says “That’s all in the past.  You’re not that person anymore.  I love you more now than I ever have.  You’re my girl.” after everything I put him through?

I know he’s sinned against me.  He isn’t perfect.  But for the first time, his sins seemed like no big deal.  And my sins seemed catastrophic.

I kept trying to compare our mistakes and his were minor and mine were major. I have always seen this the other way around.  Even after I started to understand unconditional respect and how big my sins were, I didn’t see his sins as minor. I felt like we were more even-keeled.

I know people say, a sin is a sin is a sin.  But I don’t agree with that.

Yes, a sin is a sin in the regard that all sin separates us from God.  But I believe there is a difference between sins and I think Paul makes that point in Scripture too. (For another post if an explanation is needed here.) We can be quickly tempted and make a wrong choice, or we can willfully make premeditated sinful and or even habitual decisions on purpose and I don’t think that’s the same thing either.

While I sat there sobbing to the point I could barely breathe, I kept reflecting on the purpose of marriage.

My husband had never seemed more like Christ, ever.

I represented the church – sinful: proud, lost in idolatry, unforgiving, lustful, bitter and self-pleasing.

And he stood before me as Christ – LOVE: unconditionally holding me in the palm of his hand, merciful, gracious, forgiving every sin fully/completely as far as the east is from the west.

My husband knew I was broken.  Somehow, he knew it was bad.  That I wasn’t how I’d ever been before.

Because Thursday night started this down-ward spiral, he text me during the day to check on me.  I was mad he text me.  I hurt him, why would he want to see if I was OK?

I bounced back and forth between feeling like he was literally Jesus in the flesh… loving me and giving me what I could never afford and ….not wanting to talk to him at all because how dare I cry and be the one hurt when I’m the one who did the hurting?  I was NOT interested in playing the victim or martyr in this situation.  And I knew if I opened my mouth, it would spur that “I’ll make this better for you” instinct that all men have… and I didn’t want better.  I wanted what I deserved.

He walked in the door from work, locked us in our bedroom, turned our wedding song on his phone, and made me dance with him. I didn’t want to at all.  I tried to resist him and beg him to just give me some space for a while.  But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I melted in his arms. I forgot how perfect the words of our wedding song were… especially today more than ever before.

Through gut-wrenching sobs and blurred vision, I expressed what was happening in my heart and mind – and he remained the perfect picture of love and forgiveness.

I wasn’t all better after that 45 minute unraveling in his arms.  But, I was on the road to facing this new reality.  I was either going to end up bitter or better.

I think I needed to be broken in this way.  It changed me.  In a way I’ll never be the same again.  Of course I’ll still sin against my husband – I will never be perfect.  But, it gave me a perspective on marriage I needed to literally feel to fully understand.

My husband decided we were one, and that means, we are one.  When I’m broken, he’s broken.  When I’m sinful, he’s forgiving.  In my weakness, his love in and through me makes me strong again.

He’s going to sin against me.  It probably won’t be too many days from now when it happens. I’ll be different.  I might be hurt.  We might need to talk about it.  But I will never stand myself on a throne again after seeing our marriage and who I was and what I truly had to be forgiven of in the light I saw it on Friday.

Practical Application:

I’d never accuse anyone of being as horrible of a wife as I was…. but have you truly seen your sin, as SIN, and not as justifiable mistakes?

Do you know what it cost to send Jesus to the cross?

Do you  know what your husband has had to forgive you of to love you like Christ loves the church…. even when you don’t deserve it?  Even when you’re rebelling?  Even when you’re selfish? Even when you’re serving idols?  Even when you’ve created an existence of unrealistic expectations? Even when your hormones get to control your mood?  Even when you’ve given your heart to things in priority above him? Maybe even someone else (another man, a friend, the kids?) Even when you’re wagging your finger at him because he doesn’t behave how he’s suppose to in your book?

The cross looks different again to me this Easter.  I see my husband on it.  Laying down his life for mine. Taking on my sin and saying it’s no more.  Telling me I am new.  And I am eternally loved. And it’s too overwhelming for words.

 

 

He’s sorry.

17 Mar

Have you ever noticed that sometimes in an argument, men get everything out they want to say, spend a little time in silence, and then… they’re just over whatever the problem was?

Or, you’ve made it obvious to him he’s hurt your feelings, so he gives you some space, and then acts like nothing happened?

Or, you’ve just been in an argument and you both know you didn’t really resolve anything but after a few hours, he’s moved on like the problem went away?

Ever been annoyed by this?  I have.  It’s not the way we women handle it, and it can sometimes feel frustrating or even unloving.

And in our typical female fashion, we play out a couple of scenarios in our mind of what he should do and say to apologize, make it right, or truly resolve the issue – and actually expect it to be followed pretty closely.

Before I dive in with what we women can do with this… let me make two points.

1.) For everyone reading along, a really good apology is more healing than you could ever imagine. It’s almost impossible to stay angry at someone who is sincerely repenting to you.

Saying: “I’m sorry, but you”

“I only did this because”

“I can’t believe that hurt you”

“I’m sorry you feel this way”

“Well, I didn’t do it on purpose”

are all really lousy and cruel ways to sincerely apologize. You have no right to tell someone else what hurts.  And no matter if you did it on purpose or not, even unintentional wounds need healed.

A real apology has three things:

a.) I’m sorry I …….  (no buts or howevers!!!!!) Take ownership of the mistake.

b.) Please forgive me. (Be sincere in wanting to be forgiven and reconciled again.)

c.) I will try not to hurt you in this way again. (Don’t just be sorry without planning to change… make an honest verbal effort to not repeat the offense.)

If we’re really sorry, and we really love the person we’ve hurt… we’ll humble ourselves and truly make it right with a real apology.

2.) If you’re a guy reading along…. before I defend and explain you in a minute here… I’d encourage you to do better in this area.

Work on real apologies because it’s the right thing to do.  Make time to study about women and your wife specifically and love languages – and apply what you learn to your wife. Imagine that respecting and honoring you the way that meets your needs most takes her from her comfort zone and requires her to do things she really doesn’t feel like doing, or are hard to do. And then be challenged to honor and love her in the same ways, no matter how uncomfortable it feels to build new habits or apologize in such a humble way.

OK – back to the meat and potatoes of this post.

Men don’t always say “I’m sorry” when they are apologizing.

Boys on the play ground very rarely get into a fight, spend hours talking it out, and then apologize in detail before they play together again.

Grown men are typically no different.

If he’s offering a loving gesture (helping in the kitchen, folding the laundry, rubbing your back, patting you on the butt as he walks past) he’s saying “I’m sorry. Lets be better now.”

Is this OK?  Well, yeah – it is.

The thing about us women is that we sometimes expect men to act feminine, or we reject their ideas and gestures.  Sitting around and thinking about what he should say and how he should say it is really just an unrealistic expectation and it’s causing us to plan out what to be angry at him about in advance when he fails to meet this daydream.

More than likely, even if he does say “I’m sorry” or you talk about the matter further, he isn’t going to say anything how you would say it.  He’s male, and most of them don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves expressed through hundreds of words.

Even chatty men are unlikely to give lengthy apologies. Or even desire to hash out every detail.

If we’re honest, part of what we love about these men is that they aren’t emotional babies.  We want our men to be strong and brave.  We want to feel safe with them and like they are our heroes.

Yes, when they let their shield down and let us hear some of their emotions (especially with a few tears every once in a while) that’s an incredible blessing!!

But if your husband cried randomly for no reason, wanted to talk about his feelings 24/7 and used lengthy explanations to describe how he’s feeling – it’s be more likely you’d eventually wonder when he became your best girl friend instead of your husband.

Maybe we can cut them a little slack here and stop putting expectations on how they have to behave, and let them love us like men.

(If there has been a major wound, please don’t think I am suggesting that it can be ignored or brushed under the rug without an apology. I definitely do not feel this way! I’m talking about the minor infractions that sometimes turn into crazy big arguments because after the offense, the real battle becomes in what they did or didn’t say to correct it according to what we are and aren’t willing to accept.)

Practical Application:

Give him some grace to apologize like a man.

After a minor offense, allow that pat on the butt or random question about the yard to be the apology that brings you back together. Offer some grace and let him be masculine sometimes without having to answer to your wrath.

He’s not fine he hurt you.  He’s sorry.  And attempting to come back together and play, is just a man’s way to apologize sometimes.

Oral, are you serious? (Part 4 of 5)

23 Feb

If you’ve ended up here without first reading “What is the big deal about sex anyway?” which is part 1 of this series, please stop and go read that first.  It’s important to gather all the information in a series to gain the full benefit and understand where we’ve been and where we’re going.

 If you are in an abusive marriage, a marriage with continual habitual sin (like an addiction or an affair) or have a past that contains sexual abuse or rape, please seek professional help.  This series is not written with the intent to address these exceptional situations, but rather is being written for married Christian couples who are seeking the truth about sex within marriage assuming there are no abusive or habitual sinful behaviors taking place.

You’ve had a few days to contemplate the title of this post because I let you know we’d be going here.  But just to clear up any chance of doubt… yes, this is going where you thought it was.  We’re going to discuss oral sex.

WHY ORAL SEX?

1.) Statistics show over and over and over again that only 20 – 25% of women can achieve orgasm through vaginal penetration only.  I told you in post one, and have repeated it over and over again, if there is no pleasure – there is very little desire.

Some people claim that oral sex is wrong.  Where does it say that in Scripture?  I’d actually argue strongly that Song of Solomon paints the opposite picture, but I’m not diving all the way in there today.  This post would end up being WAY too long…. and others have already handled this topic wonderfully. (If you have concerns about if oral sex is a sin, check out the thoughts posted here.)

2.) For both men and women – it feels amazing! And who doesn’t want to add things to their bedroom that add pleasure?  But I’d challenge you to think about this a little further for him….

because I’ll be honest.  I had a few hang-ups myself about wanting to perform oral sex for him, often, and all the way.  I got a little complacent in my mind that as long as I was finishing the job with my hands, or actual intercourse… he was getting fulfilled and I was doing my job.

However — doing my job is a whole lot different from fulfilling every desire inside him.  *I* am his wife.  *I* have the power to pull out things inside him that no other person on this planet has a right to do.

What if oral sex looked like this for him:

a.) A totally new visual. (Remember, men are visually stimulated in a way we often aren’t.)  He gets to watch his most intimate and pleasurable part of his body be aroused, and worked all the way to climax.

b.) You’re totally engaged.  One of his biggest fears is that you’re often passively laying there thinking you’d rather not be with him.  But when you’re performing oral, you’re the one actively pursuing and desiring him.  You can’t passively lay there when you’re calling the shots.

c.) It feels different.  Your mouth, tongue and throat do not feel the same as your hand or your vagina.  You can do things with different motions, effects and pressure that you can’t do any other way.

d.) It makes him trust you deeper because it’s even MORE intimate than sex.  (Which I’ll explain a little further in just a second.)

Before I move on — I know some of you are getting uncomfortable because I’m failing to address some of the hang-ups.  What about having a gag-reflex, thinking semen is just plain gross, that feeling of hair in your mouth, or the unpleasant smells that can exist.

I could talk on this, but it’d be a waste of my time because THIS BLOG by Forgivenwife, is a gold mine for all these concerns and answers.  I strongly, STRONGLY encourage you to pop over to this page, and utilize every single resource you can to talk about those hang-ups, get some how-to’s and read some more reasons why you might want to add this to your bedroom.

3.) The power of the mouth.  I’m taking a risk and going somewhere I haven’t seen many other blogs go to explain to you why I believe the mouth is CRUCIAL in our sexual life with our spouse.

Scripture tells us that the tongue has the power to speak life or death.  It describes it as being small but holding the power of a bit in a horse’s mouth, the rudder to steer a large ship, and a small spark that can set a forest on fire. (James 3)

With our mouths we have the ability to praise and to curse.  We have the choice to GIVE HEALING or CRUSH THE SPIRIT (Proverbs 15:4)

That last verse is REALLY powerful isn’t it?  With our tongues we can bring healing, to a husband who desires intimacy in a way he has a hard time verbalizing.  Ladies, men are not like us.  We have the ability to be emotional SO much easier than they do.  Even if they are the chatty kind of guy, or if you’re married to the strong, silent type – they rarely bare the deepest parts of themselves with anyone.  Even their wife.

However, that begging of you to give him a blow job (which many of us have been on the receiving end of) is a cry to heal his largest craving for intimacy.  Rejection is the power of the tongue to crush his spirit.  And hold that barrier of his deepest self in the prison only he has the key to.

But if you’re safe, engaged, desire him, and give every kind of healing with your tongue that no one else can give — he’ll grant you a key to that prison.  And you’ll go deeper in your marriage and intimacy than ever before.

And this applies to oral sex, sexy talk, kissing and words of praise.

Which is why we ACTIVELY practice Echad.  All forms of it.  To keep anything from coming between us, to reopen and re-engage over and over the secret depths of ourselves, and enjoy pleasure unlocked behind closed doors that no one ever sees but the two of you.

Practical Application:

Go – RIGHT NOW – and read some more from those other two links!!!

Make a list of your struggles in this area.  Be determined to finding real solutions.

Stop and consider why his requests for oral sex might be the most beautiful question he’s ever asked you before.  And decide if you really want that key only he can give you.

That person really cares about me.

7 Feb

Humility.

What is that really?  How does that look on someone? Am “I” truly humble?  Can it be faked? How do you know it’s genuine?

I’m unloading this actually REALLY big word and trying to get to the bottom of some of these questions.

This subject has been on my mind all week since the pastor said this during his sermon on Sunday.

When you have an encounter with a TRULY humble person, you don’t walk away saying “Wow, that person is humble.”  You walk away saying “Wow, that person was really interested in me.”  Humility is not seen in downplaying your gifts and talents, it’s seen in being so concerned about others, that you never even realized you didn’t talk about yourself.

I think the world has some-what adopted this idea that humility is in how someone talks about themselves, who they give credit to for their success, and how they describe their peers with similar talents/gifts.

The more I’ve thought about the world’s impression on us of humility and compared it to how scripture talks about humility, I think we’re missing the mark.

Scripture doesn’t say “Practice how you talk about yourself, reminding yourself and others of your lowly position and grateful attitude.”

I don’t see phrases like:

“Oh my, you’re so kind, but I can’t take the credit. God gets all the glory.”

“I’m so honored.  But compared to my colleagues, I’m hiding in their shadows.”

“You think?  I guess I don’t think I have that great of a gift.  I just enjoy doing this.”

Scripture says:

-“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

We see here that in humility we value others above ourselves.  Not necessarily because we confess with our mouth that their talents are better than ours, but because we’re busy looking out for their best interests.

– “Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)

We see here that humility is the fear of the Lord, not necessarily broadcasting His praises when we’re talking about ourselves. (Though please don’t misunderstand that I’m suggesting we shouldn’t confess that every good thing in us comes from God because it DOES and we should share that amazing news with others!) I’m merely making the point that humility is the fear of the Lord lived out by keeping His commands — the two greatest being to love Him with ALL our hearts and TO LOVE OTHERS. It’s not in training ourselves to vocally acknowledge Him.

– “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

Here we see that compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience are all attributes for how we TREAT OTHERS, so humility wouldn’t fit in this sequences of commands if it was about how we should talk, act and acknowledge ourselves.  Humility is a GIFT we give others by putting them above ourselves and dying to the natural love we carry for ourselves.  Just like our natural desire to be judgmental, cruel, harsh and impatient as antonyms of the other items listed in that verse.

– “These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Colossians 2:22-23)

Here we can see that humility can be false.  If the true motives of our hearts is set on becoming humble and not on attaining humility through the command of loving others above ourselves, we’ve done nothing more than learn to talk and say the right things to appear humble.

This is tough.

To be honest, I’m not humble.

I have little patience, I am not gentle when I’m being constantly requested by my family to do this or that for them when I’d rather be doing something I want to do, I am not compassionate toward my husband when I feel like my feelings are hurt (my feelings trump his in the heat of the moment) And I am not kind when I grow hungry or exhausted and desire a break from life.

Sometimes I tap into the power of the spirit inside of me to live out these fruits of the spirit better than other times.  But the truth is, WHEN I seek the path of humility through Christ’s example of becoming last and serving EVERYONE (yes, even those whom I dislike) above myself, the spirit moves through me freely without the resistance of my flesh, because I’ve died to it.

If death was something we attained once, we’d all be so much better off.  But dying to our flesh is a daily activity for us.

Maybe this will help us know what we’re really striving for when we seek to be humble. I know I needed this realization.

Practical Application:

Spend some time searching the words humble and humility in Scripture.

Consider the attitude of humility as something that happens automatically as we follow God’s commands to love others above ourselves instead of things we say with our mouths about ourselves, others, and God.  It’s something we cloth ourselves with and not something we learn to say.

When you’re looking for humility in others, look for the way they love and treat other people and less about the words they say.

Freedom to feel forgiven

19 Jan

For years, I tried to repent to God for my sins, and then wrestled with the emptiness of not feeling “forgiven.”

Partially, that unsettled confusion inside of us is one of the many tricks of Satan.  He likes to convince us that because we have a memory of our past sins, then we’re not forgiven of it.  That’s a lie.  But it’s one many of us secretly believe in some form or fashion over the course of our lives, even if we think we don’t – or don’t admit it out loud.

Having a memory doesn’t mean we aren’t forgiven. Instead, it truly can serve to be a blessing from God to help us refrain from making the same mistakes.  Consequences are good for us, and God rarely allows us to escape them because they help mold and shape our future actions.  It’s so much easier to repent and truly walk away from a sinful behavior with a memory of the action and consequences.

However, I’m going to talk about the other less mentioned reason for why we often don’t feel forgiven.

I John 1:9    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Sometimes confession of our sin can and will simply be to God alone.  But there are other times when our souls are not at rest and the guilt remains a burden to us because we know, we’ve sinned not just against God, but against someone else.

God created us for fellowship.  We NEED each other.  The two greatest commandments are to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.

So we know that God takes the communion and interaction of the body very seriously.

As much as it pains me to say this, because it’s hard to do, there will be times when forgiveness will not come, freedom will not come, and joy will not return until you confess your sins to God, and also to those your sin affected.

I’ve had to taste this medicine a LOT in the last 5 years.  I hate it.  It never gets “easy” to tell someone you sinned against them.  It’s humbling.

But as my husband told me once when I was confessing something to him that gave me the courage to spit it out, was something along the lines of  “There is freedom in the light, and bondage in the darkness. Just say it and bring it to light so you can let it go.”

There is no way to control how someone will we react.  They might be angry, they might need time, and they might forgive quickly. In my experience, I may have felt sad over the broken relationship when someone wasn’t willing to forgive quickly, however, the freedom of true forgiveness has always flooded me immediately upon confession – WHEN it’s a sin I’m repenting or have repented of committing.  ((There is not immediate freedom of guilt and a flooding of forgiveness when we confess sins but willingly continue committing them.))

I’ve had to confess a lot of sins in the past — but I’ll be square with you.  I just had to do this a couple of hours ago.  Yesterday, my emotions got the best of me, and I wasn’t speaking as loving as I should have to my husband, and sadly, someone over heard me.  I wasn’t yelling, but I wasn’t speaking with the respect that I’ve learned to use when interacting with my husband.  I let my emotions get the best of me, and I hurt my husband, and I gave a poor representation of our marriage, and of God’s work in our lives.

So, I apologized to my husband and he forgave me yesterday.  However, I was still unsettled and I knew what I had to do.  I had to apologize to the person who overheard us.  Not only because it was the right thing to do for my husband, (because it is VERY, VERY embarrassing for a man to be spoken to with any form of disrespect, especially in front of another man) I wanted to put some honor back in his heart, but also because this man is a Christian friend of ours and it was sinful for us to claim to be friends he could count on to pray for him, his marriage and his kids when we were misrepresenting Christ in his presence.

So, I apologized.  And I immediately felt forgiven by Christ and that guilt left me.  And he also was very gracious and forgave me immediately.  As I expected, he minimized the sin as if he didn’t even notice, but that wasn’t the point.  It didn’t matter if HE realized I sinned, *I* knew I had.

And that’s the other trick of Satan that keeps us in bondage.  The lie that the other person doesn’t even know they were sinned against, is already over, won’t forgive, or any other scenario where we convince ourselves that we shouldn’t confess our sins to the people we sin against.

Practical Application

Just to tie it all back together – we feel guilty and un-forgiven when Satan lies to us that our memory means we can’t move past sin or when excuses serve as reasonable sidesteps for not confessing sin to others.

So if you want to feel the freedom of forgiveness and to truly walk away from the guilt –

1.) Look at consequences and memory as a GIFT from God to help us truly repent of sin.

2.) Confess your sins to those you’ve sinned against.

The challenge to refrain from judgment.

11 Jan

No matter who you are, I am 100% confident you’ve run into this issue in your life.  And not only run into it, I am going to take a bold stance here and say that you’ve been on the giving and receiving end of this issue.  Which puts us all in the same boat.  If I’m wrong on this, and this post offends you, please accept my apology before hand — but I have never met anyone yet who has informed me this wasn’t true for them.

I’m going to talk about the reality of having and/or running into someone who has a very strong opinion or conviction about something in their life – and how we handle it and how they handle it.

Incase you’re having a hard time pulling together what I’m talking about, I’m going to give you the top issues where I believe this happens most frequently in the lives of Christians – Immunizations, Education Options, Modest dress, Alcohol consumption, Entertainment choices, Homosexual Lifestyle, and Worship Style.

I’m going to guess as you read through those, you have a preference, opinion, or conviction on them AND you can also think of someone or something that angers you on that topic because of their dogmatic approach or view.

It’s really hard to feel such a strong conviction either supported firmly in Scripture, or just by personal opinion after prayer and study and not feel like anyone who disagrees is simply dead wrong.

It’s also VERY hard not to want to help educate everyone we come in contact with about why we feel the way we feel, and hopefully “win them over” by expressing our point of view.  After all, we feel intensely passionate about our decisions, especially if we reached them after prayer.  How could they not possibly be the right answer for everyone?

If we’re honest – what is more confusing and upsetting than for two Christians to sit across the table from each other and say, “after counsel, prayer and searching Scripture, we are positive this is the direction the Lord is calling us” and they both announce opposite answers.

How can this be?

Yet, often times,  we neglect to see our own dogmatic stances and can become quickly judgmental of other “lesser Christians” for making spiritually immature choices.

But — we never miss the dogmatic stances of others.  And we take such rapid fire offense when we’re:

– Presented another option. (You know, the “I’m coming to you in love” conversation where they simply just want to tell you all the “positive” things about their choice and give you something to consider.)

– Challenged in our beliefs. (When someone comes right out and says – you’re wrong.)

Why is it that we feel such a deep need for everyone to “choose what we choose” in life?   Honestly, lets cut the fluffy ways to say it… that’s what we’re doing.

We don’t share what works for us WITHOUT being asked because we’re just sharing our success. (There is a BIG difference between being asked about a choice you’re making and finding ways to put your opinion on people when not asked.) We’re sharing because we think we’re doing something right and we want others to get it right too.

Is it a desperate attempt to confirm that we really are hearing from God?  Are we not confident enough in our own calling that we attempt to get as many other people on board as we possibly can because it only serves to confirm our choice?

We’re guilty friends.  We’re guilty of searching and seeking for like-mindedness to appease our own beliefs.  We write and read articles that appeal to our pallet of preference.  We seek counsel from those who make the same life style choices.  And we find peace in agreeing with others.

I’m not trying to say “we’re guilty” in a way that brings condemnation.  I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to seek the counsel of those who believe what you believe.  It is actually wise if you’re seeking the counsel of other Bible believing Christians.

However, I just want to give us some food for thought on how we advertise our lives.

I have a friend and I admire her deeply.  She doesn’t even know how much I admire her. But, I watch her approach to life and her spirit blesses and challenges me.

She never gives her opinion unless she’s asked.  And she always does so in a VERY loving and non-judgmental way.  She and I do not agree on everything and it has never once been an issue of contention between us.  She doesn’t lessen her friendship or love for those who do things differently than she does… and IF she struggles with judging others for making choices against her own convictions, I’ve never once see an ounce of that from her.  She has a very peaceful, gentle and quiet spirit about her that trusts deeply that God leads and convicts His children without her “vocal” assistance being forced in any way.  That doesn’t mean she believes God will not use her to speak to others in a way that may convict them, but she never feels the need to take that into her own hands.  She has total faith that the decisions they make in their family through prayer and scripture are right without seeking to prove it from thrusting them on everyone else.  Her love and friendship is not conditional.  Her convictions do not need approval from others.  And she doesn’t pick up offense when others do things differently.

She is a true Proverbs 31 woman in my book, and I hope to keep refining my character to resemble hers.

Practical Application:

Do some reflecting on how you present your convictions and accept the convictions of others.

1.) Do you offer your opinion even when you’re not asked?

2.) Do you seek to get people to agree with your choices?

3.) Do you feel like people are less Christian when they make choices that are different from choices you make?

4.) Are you offended easily when people push their convictions on you?

((To my friends who are doing the 21 day fast with me…. how are you doing?  You can email if you’d like too – gulickfamily@hotmail.com))