Tag Archives: Healing

Scarred but not ashamed…

Earlier today, I shared an image (below) on my Instagram and Facebook pages along with this message…

Scars are a reminder that wounds can heal ♡ Stay tuned… #scarred #Psalm118 #notashamed #byHiswoundswearehealed #itsbeenajourney

I’ve worn scars most of my life. At times, I’ve hidden them. Other times, I’ve been open and honest. I once carried a great deal of shame with my scars but I am not ashamed. They are a part of who I am and where I have been. They mark my journey, which hasn’t been easy.

Today, they aren’t gone…just different.

Not to cover them, but to give them more meaning, I spent some time today with a gentleman named Mike…

Mike is a butcher by day and I guess you could say another kind of butcher by night as a tattoo artist. He’s twenty-seven. He was raised in a religious home and currently lives with his parents to save money. We had the chance to talk a lot. He told me he’d stopped believing because he’d had too many questions and not enough answers. He shared stories with me and I shared with him. I didn’t push him or try to force my beliefs on him but he was graciously open to me sharing the significance in the choices I made for my tattoo as well as some backstory on my scars.

I want to share with you the significance in my tattoo as well…

First, it’s my right wrist…

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

The crown of thorns and the cross remind me…

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

The cross was also drawn from the cross on the necklace I wear daily.

The puzzle represents the small bit of life we see and knowing God sees the bigger picture. I may only get a puzzle piece here or there. I may often feel alone and invisible. But God knows.

The teardrop represents the moments when crying wasn’t safe, the years I spent unable to cry, the tears I’ve finally been able to share in the place I’ve felt safest, and this promise…

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4

The dove represents peace and hope, both of which I’ve desperately needed and He has graciously and freely given. In the doves mouth is a ribbon of teal and purple which speaks for suicide awareness. Teal is also the color for childhood sexual abuse awareness…both of which have impacted my entire life.

The dove also speaks for the innocent that can’t.

And Psalm 118 …

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say:

“His love endures forever.
Let those who fear the Lord say:

“His love endures forever.”
When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;

he brought me into a spacious place
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.

What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.

I look in triumph on my enemies.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

All the nations surrounded me,

but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
They surrounded me on every side,

but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
They swarmed around me like bees,

but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
I was pushed back and about to fall,

but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my defense;

he has become my salvation.
Shouts of joy and victory

resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;

the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
I will not die but live,

and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord
through which the righteous may enter.

I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.
Lord, save us!
Lord, grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.
The Lord is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Psalm 118:17 was shared with me a couple times before I ever knew I’d need it. Then on February 21st, 2015, I realized just how much that verse would come to mean. It was the moment I found myself at the lowest, loneliest place I’d ever been, yet God met me there.

I will not die but live and proclaim what the Lord has done. Psalm 118:17

Life is beautiful and ugly. Moments still come when I question giving up but this verse reminds me He is in control and all things in His time.

Now, I wear it…proudly.

Each of these pieces were very carefully thought out and planned as far as the tattoo goes but I believe God was working through this just as much as I was. I was blessed to meet and spend the day with Mike and his co-workers, to be able to share with them a little of my life, and maybe even bring a little light into theirs.

Not only will this serve as a meaningful mark for my own reasons, but it’s also a reminder for me to pray for Mike and be thankful for sweet blessings.

 

A Raging River…

>>>>> Yes, this post is incredibly long…what do you expect when it’s been so long since I posted. Don’t click away. Bear with me, read it until the end. Please. <<<<<

2017 Raging River

The past few days have been quite overwhelming. Change is inevitable yet so often, difficult to accept. Loss is painful, excruciating. This sums it up…

Life.

Let’s say you’re on a journey. We each have a different path. Some have flowers and butterflies early on and some have briars and thorns. Maybe some have briars and thorns the whole way. Let’s say the briars and thorns are the hurt, pain, and trauma that stings, cuts, and scrapes like the briars. Then you make it to a river. It’s fierce. It’s scary. You know to get to the path on the other side, free from the briars and thorns, you’ve got to cross the raging waters. And let’s say therapy is the stones laid out before you. You just have to take the step. You make it to the first one, catch your balance, plan out your next step and prepare to move forward. Some stones may be slippery. You may twist your ankle. It’s not an easy crossing but you press on. You step to the next stone, getting closer and closer to the other side.

The let’s say grief gets in the way. Grief over loss, losing the stones. It stops you in your tracks. There aren’t anymore stones laid out for you to step across. All you see is raging waters. You feel the sting of cold water splashing against your scraped and scratched up legs. You feel lost and alone. You wonder if there is hope…but as you glance back at the stones you’ve crossed, you’re reminded there is hope. You found it a few stones back.

Where do you go from there?

Your journey halts. You’re stuck on that stone for who knows how long while the water crashes around you. It’s overwhelming. It’s painful. It’s scary. You beg for more stones. You cry out for stones from the deepest part of your heart. But the stones are gone. How do you get across. How do you reach the other side without drowning?

You know it will happen…you just don’t know how. You know it won’t be with those stones and that is where grief has settled in. Maybe you’ll fall a few times. Maybe you’ll get soaked but you’ve made it far enough to know the river won’t take you.

Where is your path leading you? Are you headed through flowers and butterflies or are you tangled in the briars? Are you safe on a stone or treading water just to breathe? Or have you crossed the river and reached the other side, with soft green grass, the shade and protection of a giant weeping willow tree, a cool, gentle breeze, and a place to rest, where you can look back and see just how far you’ve come?

I wrote that sometime last night. Words usually come easy for me but the ability to accurately explain my feelings, well, not so much. This seemed clear enough to create a visual of what I’ve been feeling.

Why all this? I do want to offer an explanation. I owe that to myself.

Abandonment.
Abuse.
The insecurity of home.
The lack of support, love, and nurturing.
A childhood lost.
A girl growing in a world alone, a world that has mostly been cruel.

If your own mother and father don’t love you, why would anyone else?

That is a question I’ve asked over and over again. A parent’s role in a child’s life involves love, nurturing, protection, direction, guidance, support, and so much more. Those are things that can’t be replaced by another person. It’s an ugly fact.

I’ve bounced from house to house, never really feeling home.

Abuse.
Foster care.
Grandparents.
Homeless.

I’ve been in and out of therapy since around age 11. At 15, I wanted nothing to do with the therapist the courts ordered me to see. I was stone cold hard. My walls were so high, no one could touch me. It was great. And it was lonely.

At 19, after losing the one person I knew without a doubt loved me, my Papa, a part of me died with him. He was the only person that had given me a reason to live all those years. He was the one person who taught me what real love looked like, how to be kind and respectful, and how to love others unconditionally.

At that point, life became careless. I was a firefighter. Back then, female firefighters were rare. I loved that. I loved being the tough girl. I loved the idea that I could step into a burning house, with flames all around me and knowing they couldn’t touch me. I embraced the idea that I would gladly give my life in order to save someone else. In fact, I wanted to.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

And today, twenty years later, I can say there have been many times that I ached to find home. Not a home this world can offer, but an eternal home where there is no more pain and suffering.

Admittedly, I’ve attempted to take my own life. Several times. And yet, here I am. I look around and see raging waters. But I also see the path continues. I’ve learned that somehow, I’ll find a way.

So, where I am today is in the midst of grief. They say being able to feel is a part of healing. Well, I must have done a lot of healing in the past few years because I’m definitely feeling this. It’s heavy. It feels like I’m choking. It feels like there are rocks in my lungs. It feels like I’m covered by a blanket waiting to be smothered. It’s incredible pain. I’ve never known pain like this because I was never able to feel like this.

Over the past four years, I have been seeing a therapist. She’s the last of a long list of attempts to break through my walls…and she did. No one else had been able to do that. Not because they couldn’t but because I couldn’t let them. I couldn’t trust. I could talk about my past and all the wrongs but I couldn’t feel. No one could knock down the walls that kept me safe from the pain of the world around me.

Kara did. I don’t know how she did. She says I did the work.

Therapy is an odd thing. My opinion of it has changed frequently and probably will continue to change. In many ways, it’s amazing. You have the opportunity to share anything without judgment. Without anger. Without being punished. Now, don’t get me wrong…that doesn’t come easy. It takes a long time to learn that it’s a relationship where it’s safe enough to trust. A LONG TIME! (for me anyway)

But when you find that person, the one who can really see you, the one who lets you know it’s okay to breathe, the one that reminds you, you’re not alone, the one that bears ALL your secrets, the one that has loved you in spite of all you’ve been, done, and are…when you find that one, it means the world to you.

Kara isn’t perfect. She’s not some magical creature with a wand that wipes away all the wrong of the world. Nope, she’s pretty normal. She’s just a regular human being who struggles like the rest of us but we clicked. She taught me to trust. That was something I’d never been able to do.

She taught me…

to trust – that taking the chance can be worth it.
to believe – to believe I am strong, worthy, lovable, wanted.
to seek hope – that even in the darkest moments, hope is there.
to love – to love myself, to see my worth, to know myself.
to dream – to imagine where I would be when I made it to the other side.
to embrace – to seek truth and embrace it.
to grow – that I didn’t have to be afraid of who I would become.
to change – to bring truth in to erase all the lies I’d believed.
to feel – that it would hurt like hell but it would be so worth it.

And that’s where I am. I am feeling. I am grieving. When my Papa died, back in 1997, I cried off and on for three days and didn’t speak to anyone. I felt dead inside. That was about all I could feel. I wanted to die with him. I was numb. I was lost. I was alone. I wasn’t able to grieve because I had no idea how to really feel anything other than empty.

Grief sucks! Plain and simple – it absolutely hurts like hell. Losing someone who has meant the world to you, by death or by the end of a relationship is incredibly hard.

Two days ago, Kara told me she’s leaving her position in a private counseling setting and heading into the school system. It’s what is best for her and her family. It wasn’t an easy choice, but one she had to make, none the less. I care greatly for her and want the best for her and her family…I just wish I could be a part of her best.

I was/am devastated. DEVASTATED.

This woman, the one who knocked down my walls, helped me learn to breathe, taught me to find hope, and to press on, to fight death and find life…she’s leaving me. And all I can think of is I knew this would happen. Everyone leaves.

A father who never cared enough to even meet his daughter.
A mother who chose the man who sexually abused me for years, rather than her own daughter.
Teachers who cared but couldn’t realistically move on to the next grade with you, every year.
Lawyers, advocates, foster parents, friends, houses, family, etc.
A grandma, who much like myself, bounced between emotions, never really being able to express unconditional love, but rather love based solely on conditions, and fits of rage and anger.
A Papa who meant the world to a little girl who had no one else, who had the hands of strength, the heart full of love and compassion, a presence of the only thing safe in the world.

Whether by death or by walking away, the people that have mattered most, who have cared most, who were supposed to love, protect, encourage, support, etc. – they all leave.

And that’s where I’m at.
Kara is leaving.

I know it’s not the same. I know she truly cared. She’s dedicated four years of her own life and time to helping me. She’s put in countless hours of watching me stumble over words, back track on progress, question everything she’s said, argue or debate her truths vs. my truths, and lately, she’s watched me cry.

For years, pretty much all my life, crying wasn’t an option. Crying wasn’t safe. Crying made things worse. Crying meant something was wrong. Crying meant you weren’t strong enough.

But Kara taught me it was okay to cry.
She taught me I was safe with her and it was safe to cry with her.

She never took advantage of my vulnerability and what I viewed as a weakness. She viewed it as strength. Progress, she would say.

I can’t tell you the exact day when I first cried with Kara. I can tell you it wasn’t that long ago. It’s only been within maybe the last year that I really felt like I was stepping across the stones that created a path to somewhere better. And she was walking with me. Holding my hand. Offering hugs, when I was able to ask.

You may wonder, why is it a loss? It’s not like she died and is gone forever.

But it is a loss. That’s where the ugly part of therapy comes in…

Kara always said the therapist/client relationship is like no other. It’s complicated. There are ethics and boundaries she has to adhere to for my own good, but they are incredibly difficult to accept and understand. You’d think just the fact you’ve spent so much time with one another, that would be enough, but it’s not. Ethics, boundaries and the design of the therapeutic relationship don’t leave a door open for anything when the relationship ends. It most definitely is a loss. It’s a death.

And that’s what I am grieving.

I am grieving the loss of the person who knows me better than anyone else in this world.
The person who has taught me what safe love looks like, what love really means.
Who has given up much of her own life in order to save mine.
The person I pray for and want the best for, yet ache to be a part of her best.
Like with my Papa, I am grieving the person who showed me I mattered, that I was loved, that I was wanted.

I have an amazing husband. He’s caring, patient (very, very patient), gentle, and understanding. For the most part, I’ve shut him out of my therapy life and my healing journey, mostly because I’m stubborn, and partly as some lame attempt to protect him from my own heavy baggage. It was safest for me to view the time I had with Kara, in her office, as the one place, the one person I could actually let see the real me. I treasured that time. I cherished it. And I learned over time that I didn’t have to carry it all with me when I wasn’t there. She was safe enough that I could leave it all with her and actually live life in the in between. There’s so much comfort in that.

I have three beautiful, smart, amazing kids. I adore them. They are great kids just like my husband is great. They are my biggest fans, my biggest source of support, and they are honest enough to be brutal when I wear something wacky!

As much as I love them, it’s not the same. Theirs is a relationship where they depend on me. They receive unconditional love and support from me and in return, they love me back. They look to me for comfort, protection, guidance, and so on. They need me. They come to me for hugs or to fix everything.

That’s what I’m missing. That’s what I’ve lost. There is no one on this earth that can fill that role. There is no one who has known me forever, who calls me theirs, who has done and would do anything for me, who has wiped away tears, picked me up when I fell, held my hand through the hard times, and taught me what a mother’s love is supposed to look like. Kara did that for me.

And honestly, I am so truly blessed. My home…my family…I have found in my church. It took me years to get to that point to but I believe all that time, God was preparing me, teaching me, growing me. And He’s given, and He’s taken away. I’d like to put in a direct request that He stop taking away but it seems when He takes away, He helps me find many other things/people to keep me moving forward.

I have some amazing people in my life. There are women who have walked this journey with me, who have been my allies, my support, my stones along side Kara. They’ve prayed for me. They’ve kept me accountable (sheesh!). They’ve guided me and taught me. And painfully, when I look at them, I see what wonderful mother’s they are to their children, how they pray constantly for them, how they love them with such a deep, genuine love. And I see how they have that with their own mothers, how they have those people that have always known them, always cared, and always called them theirs. I realize there is no perfect family. I realize it’s a really messed up world and every family has its issues. Still, it’s hard to be loved by these amazing ladies and know I will still never matter that much…so much that I would be first in their lives, that I would be right in line with their other children, that they have watched grow from the tiniest fingers and toes, picked up from falls, held when they were sick, ached with every ounce of their body when their children were hurting. That’s what I grieve. Even Kara couldn’t offer that.

But here I am.

The river might be raging but I can still see the other side. I’m determined to someday sit beneath that giant weeping willow tree, feel the warm sun bearing down on my face, the gentleness of the soft green grass below me, and the freedom to breathe.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

But for a moment, let me grieve. This is healing, right?

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No Greater Love | Day 2

Welcome to day 2 of a three day series of the greatest love story. If you missed day 1, please check it out here. Then come back and join me as I share my own thoughts about His amazing grace and His beautiful love for us.

Friend, I’m praying for you…praying you find my words helpful and His truth healing.

We were created to need Him. Without sin, we were unable to fully see that need. But with sin, comes suffering and pain. And because He knew we would suffer, He gave us His Son…

“The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head.” John 19:3

2016_NoGreaterLove_Day2

First, let me tell you a little story about the image above…since we’re talking about love. My sweet friends, Shane and Christy, allowed me to photograph this beautiful, yet heart wrenching crown of thorns. I couldn’t look at it without knowing just how big God’s love for us is. Shane crafted this crown of thorns with his own hands and then gifted it to his beautiful bride, an example of his love and the ultimate love.

We live in a perfect world, created by a perfect God who allowed imperfections, sin, and satan. Why? Why would God allow so much devastation, pain, horror? Many stories in the Bible share evils we can’t even begin to understand. We know stories of war, death, disease, and so much more. There is pain and suffering all around us.

And…there is healing.

“Oh Lord, my God, I cried out to You and You healed me.” Psalm 30:2

What a beautiful thing…healing.

My six year old daughter is playing soccer. She seems to enjoy these bumps and bruises she is racking up on the playing field. A few times recently, she has shown me some of these “battle wounds” as we refer to them. Each time, I remind her how within a few days, they will heal and how amazing it is that God designed our bodies with the ability to heal themselves.

We don’t have to do anything to a bruise for it to heal.

“…I am the Lord God who heals you.” Exodus 15:26

Sure, some wounds need extra help but isn’t it amazing to think that our Creator made our bodies in such a way that they could heal themselves? And beyond that amazement, He gave us the ultimate Healer for the things He knew we could not possibly heal on our own.

We, born into lives filled with sin, unable to truly right our wrongs or wipe away the disastrous results of our bad choices, mistakes, and sin. We cause pain in our own lives and we cause it in the lives of those around us. Sometimes, we do this without intent and other times, we do it with full intent of causing pain or harm.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

We are incapable of repairing the damage done by our own sins and the sins of others.

But God…

Knowing this, being part of His grand design and plan, sent us the ultimate healing in His Son, Jesus Christ who would walk this earth as a man, showing us the perfect example of how to live and how to love and He would ultimately go to the grave for our sake, in our place.

He would bear the wounds meant for us.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

And as only the Son of God could, He arose, to save us from our sins and fill us with the Holy Spirit that directs us, guides us, comforts us…Only God.

One Father, One Son, One Holy Spirit – Three in One…Only God.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

God didn’t allow sin for sin to destroy us. I believe God allowed sin to show us our great need for Him, to draw us closer to Him, so we could understand the beauty in mercy, grace, hope, peace, faith, and love. By knowing suffering, we also know beauty. By knowing pain, we can know healing. By knowing Him, we can be healed.

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

God didn’t give us life to turn us over to death. He gave us death to give us life.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

Read the rest of my thoughts on this amazing love story in Day 3.

 

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Beauty in the Broken…

BeautyBroken

Words … I have missed you.  Not for a lack of writing, but for a lack of sharing.

You see, I have been writing.  I’ve been writing more than I’ve written in years.  But my writing has not been for here.  It has been too deep.  Too personal to share.  It has been in my own little world.  My striped and worn journal has been the receiver of all my recent words.  Words my soul can’t bear to release, yet words I long to pour out.

The words of recent days are filled with sorrow. pain. hurt. anger. sadness. loneliness. 

Among those words are also words of … hope.

Psalm 34:18  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I am brokenhearted.  My spirit is crushed.  But today…

I find beauty in the broken.

Today, I realized God has been preparing me for this very day, for the past few days, weeks.

Today, I saw God’s plans playing out.

The events of the past few years were made clear to me in an instant.  What I thought was a plan for others was really His plan for me.  There’s no doubt He knew I would face emotions and pain that I can no longer bear on my own.  He knew I would need to be carried.  He’s been drawing me closer to himself and all the while, placing people in my life to walk along side me, to hold my hand, to comfort me.  He knew I would feel lonely and I would struggle to ask for help.

Today, I realized that all along, he’s been preparing me and has blessed me with a world full of love, compassion, patience and understanding.

Today, I found my strength. 

There is beauty in the broken.

Beauty surrounds me.  In His words.

Psalm 46:1  God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Refuge and strength.  Ever-present.

Beauty encompasses me.  Through words of hope, love, compassion, peace, understanding and patience.  From these beautiful women He has placed in my life.  At just.the.right.time.

No mistakes.  Beauty in the broken.

Proverbs 4:20-22  My child, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.

I’m on a journey.  One I thought I had already taken, sort of.  Today, I begin to heal this broken heart.

The first step – admitting I am broken and in need, followed by working through the brokenness.  That’s not a journey I can walk alone.  So today, I praise Him for His words and for placing people in my life willing to walk beside me and lift me up when I fall.

I am blessed.  There is beauty in the broken.

Here’s a song for you…

Hyland “Beauty in the Broken”

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31 Days of Grace | Day 26 – Accepting Grace

TheUnburdenedHeart

I’ve been reading through the book, The Unburdened Heart by Suzanne Eller.  It’s not an easy book to go through as Suzanne digs deep into many areas of forgiveness, but I highly recommend.

In one chapter, Suzanne talks about grace and part of that is being able to accept grace.

Do you find it difficult to accept the idea of grace?
Mercy, love, forgiveness?
Do you feel unworthy?
Punishing yourself?

Often times we struggle to accept grace because of a past that haunts us.  Perhaps our past was filled with abuse, violence, broken trust, or other painful situations.

Part of being able accepting grace is first being able to forgive yourself.

Some quotes Suzanne shares in her book are from women who struggled with this very thought – forgiving themselves.

“I stuff it all down.  I have never given myself permission to talk about what happened.”
“I did so many bad things.  Yes, my past is ugly, but the ugliest parts I brought on myself.”
“I don’t think God even sees me.”
“How can God love someone so mad at Him?”

Suzanne goes on to say, “You bring pleasure to God, yes, you.  Right where you are.  He sees your heart.  He sees your potential.”

“Every day is a new opportunity to love Him and walk with Him.”  ~Suzanne Eller

When You Seek Me…

SeekMe

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

Several weeks ago, in preparation for the women’s retreat our church was hosting, a group of women’s ministry leaders had gotten together to finalize some things.  Each meeting had been filled with prayer over who would be impacted and affected, how God would work in their lives and ours and more, who would lead the sessions, etc.  Our meetings are always very centered around prayer and God.

During this meeting, the topics for different sessions we would be leading went around.  I quickly offered to do “games” because I’m so good at hiding anything real behind laughter and fun.  As soon as I saw session 4, I knew I had to lead it.  That session was on forgiveness.

I have struggled with forgiveness my whole life.  I have been torn on the idea of forgiving others and forgiving myself.  It’s a constant battle and in many different situations I have faced it seems nearly impossible.  For me to choose this session was very much stepping out, but I knew I had to do it.

As I prepared for my session, I spoke with our women’s ministry leader who suggested another verse to me that was not included in my guide.  The guide followed the story of Malchus, one of the guards who would haul Jesus off to his death after Judas lead the guards to him.  In the heat of the moment, Peter slashed off the ear of Malchus.  Instead of Jesus cheering him on and giving him a big “Kudos!”, Jesus stopped to heal Malchus.  This man, who was getting ready to help put Jesus to death, was healed by Jesus.

Jesus didn’t stop to tell him how awful of a person he was or how wrong he was.  He didn’t fight him or laugh at him.  He didn’t ignore his suffering.  No, he forgave him, for no reason, and healed him.

I can’t imagine how I would feel in that situation.  Terrified?  Angry?

The verse we included to go along with that story was, 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”  Matthew 5:23-24

When I studied this story in preparing to lead my session, I knew God was working in me.  He was leading me, guiding me to something more.

I lead a Wednesday night class and had already chosen a book for the class that will begin this fall.  A few days after the retreat, I stumbled across a book on forgiveness.  I knew right then, it was the one we needed to do this fall and quickly asked to change my class.

I’ve been reading this new book.  Guess what was the main story in the first chapter?  The story of Malchus and Jesus healing him!  And later in the first chapter, is the verse from Matthew.  I don’t believe that’s any coincidence.  In fact, it’s reassuring to me that I am following God’s lead and that He is working through me and in me.

With all that said, I imagine there will be a bit more to come from me on the topic of forgiveness, considering that seems to be where God is leading me right now :)  Stay tuned!

What a blessing it is when we can clearly see God work in our lives and the lives of those around us!

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

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