Forgiveness is Freeing

I have already shared part of my story about what has happened to me in my past and how God has graciously worked in my life. Today I have the blessing of being able to share another aspect of my story with regards to the abuse that I suffered when I was a little girl.

Forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense [and] lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness. Wikipedia

Forgiveness will look differently to each person though depending on what and who they are forgiving. It is not an easy process either…or as clear-cut as Wikipedia outlines it. In reality, forgiveness is hard. However, I can also say, as hard as it is, forgiveness is freeing…


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There I was, standing in a spot where his grave might have been, and I’m griping tightly onto an A4 piece of paper. A piece of paper that held the truth of what actually happened to me during four years when I grew up too quickly.

Looking around, all I see is green grass with very few markings of where graves could be. I expected to see at least a head stone with his name etched into it…something that would make it real. But there was nothing. Only little numbered markers dotted around declaring where each person is buried. With there being no grave stone or a recognisable grave, I concluded that he had no meaning to his life.

To follow the rest of my story,  please join me over at Amy Boucher Pye’s website, and you will see how forgiveness was freeing for me.


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Amy Boucher Pye is an author and speaker whose award-winning book Finding Myself in Britain: Our Search for Faith, Home & True Identity (Authentic Media, 2015) looks at life in the UK through an American’s eyes. Her second book, The Living Cross: Exploring God’s Gift of Forgiveness and New Life (BRF, 2016), engages with biblical and modern-day stories of forgiveness and freedom in a Lenten devotional. She runs the Woman Alive book club and writes for publications such as Our Daily Bread and Day by Day with God.

To find out more information on Amy, then you can visit her website here.

This Is My Story…in 5 Minutes

I was brought up in a Christian family with Christian values. However, when I experienced something in my life that was not so Christian it left me feeling confused to say the least. I wondered for many years why God would inflict such pain and suffering on a child. The suffering didn’t end either when it was over…it continued for years after when I tried to wrestle with what happened.

There are many people in this world that have experienced some form of brokenness in their lives..

neglect
abuse
death of a loved one
bullying
divorce

…the list is endless. Being broken doesn’t mean to say that you cannot be used though.

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.

Philippians 1:12

With God by my side, it has been possible to piece together the broken fragments in my life and create something that is of worth.

Me.

We may be broken, but we are not beyond repair. We will be used again for something good. It may not be how we thought it would be. In fact, it will be for something better…to advance the gospel.

We may be broken, but we are not beyond repair. Click To Tweet

I wrote this post as a response to the Five Minute Friday word prompt “story”. Click here to see what other people wrote when they were prompted with this word.

We Are Only Human

It was such a shock that Theresa May delivered her speech so badly the other day – and the media are absolutely loving every minute of it. It was just an unfortunate turn of events that took place, but one that is going to stick with her for the rest of her life.

A comedian thought that it would be a good prank to hand her a P45 declaring she is not fit for the role of Prime Minister. She then unfortunately had really bad coughing fits causing her to lose her voice slightly. She paused at various moments to sip water and was even handed a cough sweet.

You can already envisage that this is going to be one of those top 50 embarrassing moments of the century on a TV blooper type programme. Worse was yet to come though when letters started to fall off the conservative slogan behind her.

She really did have one of those “bad day at the office” type of days! Don’t we all get days like that though? Ok, so we may not be giving a life changing speech, but we do need to live a life that could be life changing for other people. People look to each other to see how they react to situations around them. A situation handled well is one that will be remembered well, but a situation handled in a bad way will never be forgotten.

A situation handled well is one that will be remembered well, but a situation handled in a bad way… Click To Tweet

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one.

Romans 3:10

So Theresa May is not perfect. Who is? Are you? Can you honestly say that you live and talk in such a way that people could say you live your life perfectly? We are only human at the end of the day – and so is Theresa May – believe it or not!

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There is someone though that we can rely on to be perfect in everything that is done.

The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.

Deuteronomy 32:4

  • We can always rely on God because He is a strong figure – He is the Rock.
  • Everything that God has done has been done well. We can rely on Him because of this – His work is perfect.
  • We can trust in God for His wisdom to do what is right – For His ways are just.
  • We can count on God to fulfil His promises because He is a God of faithfulness.

So, who do we look to for someone to rely on? Who can we look to who can truly show us the right way to live? Who Is it that we can we focus on? Someone who will not cough and splutter when challenged with whether He can uphold his promises for our future?

We can chose to focus on the One who is perfect. We can chose to focus on God.

 

The Moment I Forgot Who I Depended On

To depend on someone means to rely on them. I’m quite an independent person, so to rely on someone else for help very rarely happens. The only exception for me is my husband of course – I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.

Since I have been back from holiday, which was only 4 weeks ago (but seems like it has been half a year), I have hit the ground running with the busyness of life and what it throws at me. I have been relying totally on myself, and my husband, to get me through to the next day.

Anything that life has been throwing at me, I have been placing into a box and shelving it to one side hoping to deal with it later. Honestly though? Maybe I was hoping those things I was shelving would deal with itself and get lost in the process! Don’t tell me that you’ve never felt like you wanted to hide away from life, or to brush things under the rug hoping no-one finds it to dig it back up again.

We can’t keep sweeping things under the rug, or putting situations into a box and shelving it. You know what happens when you just keep piling things up? Eventually, one day it will over flow and topple over and make a complete mess…And it takes longer to clean up!

This happened to me last week. I was so busy with life that I didn’t take as much time out as I needed to depend on the One who can really sort my messes out. I couldn’t even go to church one Sunday because I was too busy doing something else.

I rely on going to church to set me up for the week. I depend on it. I know I shouldn’t. It’s not church that I worship – it’s God. I should be able to worship God anywhere. I have no excuse though when I am at church and I guess I saw this as my “fix” for the week. God isn’t a one day of the week kind of God – He’s in it for the long haul.

Every. Single. Day.

I should be able to run to Him to depend on Him whenever I want to (and need to).

God isn't a one day of the week kind of God - He's in it for the long haul. Click To Tweet

Last week, events finally caught up with me and I reacted in ways that I shouldn’t have done. Instead of depending on God first, I shelved it and tried to ignore what was happening. Until…BANG…it was too late and it all came crashing down around me. Or rather, I just flipped out and made everything crash down.

I lost it.

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Proverbs 3:5-6

Not completely though. I shut myself in the office and put on worship music and sang as loud as I could. I didn’t care in that moment if anyone was listening. I came to my Father because I knew I needed Him.

I rely on Him.

I depend on Him.

There was one song in particular that really helped, which is Waves by Worship Central. (See clip below). Just letting the waves of God’s love wash over me was all I needed. Maybe it’s all you need too?

Something to think about…

Are you feeling really overwhelmed at the moment and struggling to make sense of what is happening?  Don’t leave it too late for life to come crashing down.  Take some time out to breath and depend on God for a little while.  If it helps, play the clip below, close your eyes and just let the waves of God’s love wash over you.  If necessary, find a friend you know that you can confide in and just talk.

Don't leave it too late for life to come crashing down. Take some time out to breath and depend… Click To Tweet

Prayer

Lord, once again I have lost my way and I have forgotten that you are there for me to depend on. Once again, I have tried to get through life by my own strength and abilities. I thought I knew what was best, but once again I was wrong. You are the One that can do anything, and I need to remember to trust in your abilities to get me though what I am facing. Amen.


I originally wrote this post as a response to the Five Minute Friday word prompt “depend”. Click here to see what other people wrote when they were prompted with this word.

He Will Catch You

I was prompted a couple of weeks ago to think back to a time when my kids were out in the back garden. They were playing various games of hide and seek and tag and were climbing in the trees. I get a little concerned when I see my kids climbing trees as I worry whether they may get stuck…or worse, even fall from the tree.

I remembered back to when I was a child and I use to do far worse than climb trees. I use to play on the side of railway tracks and build swings from old worn out pieces of rope. I would swing as high as possible from the overhanging trees on the side of the bank. I didn’t know the dangers then when I was a child – I just remember the thrills I use to have. At least when my children are playing in the back garden now, I know where they are and what they are doing.

It wasn’t too long though before I could hear the cries of help from the back of our garden. Sure enough, when I got there, my eldest child was stuck at the top of the tree and could not get back down. So here is my cue as “Super Mummy” to come and rescue my child. I had to climb into the tree myself so that I could coax her down safely and gently.

At the last branch I told her to jump into my arms so I could catch her and not let her fall. She cried out to me “I can’t mummy. I’m too scared!” I gently assured her though that she was going to be alright. I was basically asking my daughter to let go of the branch she was clinging onto and to trust me.

She was scared of the unknown. What would happen if she were to let go? Would I catch her, or let her fall? Of course, she eventually realised that for the only way for her to reach the ground safely was to completely trust me. She needed to have faith in me that I would protect her and keep her safe. She eventually did let go of that branch. And yes, I caught her! “Mummy,” she cried. “You saved me!”

Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.  Psalm 37:4

 

When I think about some of the obstacles that I have to climb in life, keeping the faith through these times is hard. It is like trying to tell a child to let go of a branch on a tree and you standing there waiting to catch them. At times, it would seem like there are lots of branches in the way and we are unable to see a clear path that would lead us into safety. The unknown of whether we would be able to get over the obstacle and reach solid ground then causes us to stumble and sometimes we feel like we are falling.

Keep strong. Have faith. God will help us.

We are reminded though that God is there for us and is ready to take hold of our hand:

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

 

I know it’s not easy, especially when we don’t know what is going to happen. It’s the unknown of whether or not I will be safe that causes me to stumble in my faith. I get scared. Maybe you do too? Many times I have stumbled as well because I wanted to try and find my own way.

Guess what though? When we are in the thick of it, God has a better view from where He is than what we do from where we are. We cannot see what He sees. We don’t need to be scared as God can see clearly what step we need to take to lead us to safety.

When we are in the thick of it, God has a better view from where He is Click To Tweet We don't need to be scared as God can see clearly what step we need to take to lead us to safety. Click To Tweet
Something to think about…

Are you in a situation where you feel you are stuck and you cannot see where you are? Remember, when you feel like you are stuck on the top of a branch, you just need to call on His name and He will come running to you. God will be there beneath you gently guiding your every step. When you feel like you are falling in these times, He will catch you. You just need to keep the faith and completely put your trust in His hands.

Why not try letting go and leaving it in His hands today? Instead of clinging on the the branch, cling on to the arms of God. He will be your branch.

Prayer

Lord, I often find myself in places where I feel I am clinging on to a branch. I am stuck and I am scared. I cannot see which way to go. Please hear my cries as I shout to you to help me. Hold me in these times and give me the strength I need to lean on you. Guide me gently and safely as I learn to trust in you wholeheartedly. You have this in Your hands. Amen.

Building the right support

Have you ever worked for a company, or maybe at school, where you have had one of those team building exercises to see how well everyone can work together to support each other? Exercises such as building a bridge, or the tallest tower, but only using card or newspaper and cello tape. The idea is to see how much strength the structure has to be able to support something on top.

A bridge uses tension and compression to keep a balance and to stop it from collapsing. These two opposite forces work together to create a balance in a bridge’s structure. If compression (which is the force pushing down on it) becomes too much or the tension (which is the force pulling on it) overwhelms then the bridge will buckle.

We support each other

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Paul is encouraging the church in Thessalonica…and my do they need encouraging! This church is far from perfect – they struggled with sexual impurity and down right laziness. They wanted to watch everyone else do the work of the Lord but not get involved themselves.

It’s great to see that what Paul encouraged the church with over 2000 years ago, we can actually use and apply it to ourselves. Coz’ lets face it, no-one is perfect! Yes, I am a Christian, but I am far from being a perfect one…and let me give you a bit of a truth bomb…neither are you! Am I right?

How do we support each other?

We don’t support and encourage each other by paying lots of compliments. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good to tell someone that they are doing a good job when it is necessary to do so. However, you don’t want to keep praising someone for all the wrong reasons, such as getting them to like you or to influence them into achieving things you want them to do.

Supporting someone means coming along side them and getting close. Yes, it means that we need to get gritty with people with their struggles and their stories. It means we need to get close with them and to say it’s ok…we’ve been there…they’re not on their own.

Supporting someone is…

…looking out for someone who is feeling tired and saying to them to keep strong…

…noticing when they are falling down and we gently come along side to pick them up…

…gently pointing someone to the truth in God’s word when they are slightly off track…

…comforting them and guiding them when they are hurting.

But who supports us?

But who supports us when we are supporting others? When we feel that our life is a little off balance and we have forces pulling us one way or the other, we start to feel the tension. We start to get overwhelmed, and eventually we will buckle.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

We need to remember that God is our strength. He is the One that will uphold us in times when we can no longer take the strain. We need to remember in the moments when we are feeling the pressure, that we can be supported too…by God!

We need to remember that God is our strength. He is the One that will uphold us in times when we… Click To Tweet

Something to think about…

Is there someone you see that looks like they need a person beside them to ease the load? Why don’t you prayerfully consider coming along side them, in their mess, and gently guide and comfort them. Don’t forget though that God is there beside you as well in these times to be your strength and support.

Prayer

Lord, I see a friend struggling through a situation right now. Please be my guide and my strength so that I can support them through this time. Help me to be by their side and to gently comfort them through what they are experiencing. Give me the wisdom I need to speak the right words at the right moment. Amen.


I originally wrote this post as a response to the Five Minute Friday word prompt “support”. Click here to see what other people wrote when they were prompted with this word.

Reflections to encourage hope in our broken world

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