Forgiveness. This year, this Advent, this Christmas, I hear the whisper of forgiveness abounding into theme. Forgiveness. Recently, my oldest and dearest best friend came into town to visit. We finally got a few hours of some deep conversation, and we began to talk about my parent’s divorce and the impact it had on my sisters and I. I won’t go into much detail, but after my parent’s divorce, my mom moved very far away. The move was not revealed to us until after it happened, and it was a huge shock to my sisters and I. My friend, who is great at asking questions in ways that provoke reflection, asked:
“How did you come to the place where you were able to forgive?”
Forgiveness…… When my mom moved, I was angry at her and with God. Three years later, I joined the military, and I was still ANGRY. Five years after that, I got married and although my anger had subsided, I was sailing on an ocean of hurt. I sailed on this ocean for another three years or so. Then, I asked Jesus if He had room for me in His heart. And with Him at my side, I finally came to a place where genuine forgiveness planted and grew. And then, my daughter was born. I still remember her first cry and the relief that coursed through my body. She was alive! She was here! My tiny daughter, a mystery for 9 months, finally whole in my arms! As the weeks followed and as all parents do, I spent many late nights with my daughter. As I would hold her tiny, sleeping form, I would often find myself weeping, the pain of my mother’s choice to leave unannounced suddenly back. The loneliness of my adolescence seemed to loom over me, reminding me of the hopelessness I felt as a young girl. At some point, in the middle of the anguish, in the middle of the weeping, I became angry again. How could my mother leave us, without a word, without a hug? How could any mother look upon the face of her children, promising to return, but resigned not to? The anger fled….but once again, the pain remained. As the months went by, I turned to the only constant Source.
He reminded me… I desperately needed FORGIVENESS. I longed for FORGIVENESS.
- I know whats its like to need forgiveness so badly.
- I know what it is like to be so ashamed of my mistakes and past that I feel like I am unusable. Yep.
- I know what is like to want to reconcile and yet, be rejected.
- I know what it is like to be forgiven.
- I know what it is like to be forgiven when I totally don’t deserve it.
- I know what it is like to be forgiven AND be re-welcomed back into a fellowship.
- I know what it is like to be forgiven by my husband, my friends, those in authority, co-workers…
And even worse…
- I know what it is like to burn in anger against God, to purposely turn my back against God, to intentionally choose rebellion.
- I know what it is like to take small baby steps back to God and then large, running leaps backwards.
- I know what it is like to feel guilty, to struggle with sin, and to make bad choices.
- I know what it is like to question my salvation….to be completely confused by the horrible theology I was given in my youth.
- I know what it is like to feel like I’m too tarnished to be used to minister to others.
- I know what it is like to be forgiven by a Savior.
- I know what is is like to be eternally forgiven, the past forever forgotten.
- I know what it is like to be so humbled by the tenderness of God.
- I know what it is like to be beckoned into His arms, even, when in my eyes, I’m not worthy to receive Him.
- I know what it is like to rest in Forgiveness.
- I know what it is like to be assured, validated, and re-made, all for God’s purpose and all because of His great love and affection for me.
Forgiveness is the best gift I have ever received and a gift that is eternal in it’s giving. I can live my life forgiven because God loves me that much. And my mother? When I consider her life, her raw experiences, the abuses she endured as a child, I am in awe of the survivor she is. When I see my lineage reflected in her, hear about our ancestry, and continue on traditions she started, I am thankful. When I see the love she bestows on my daughter, so pure and beautiful, I am healed. When I just sit and spend time with her, sharing our life and stories, I am at peace. When our first daughter was born, she was there. Cooking, cleaning, listening and supporting. When we lost our 2nd baby, she came right away and tended to the house while I healed. When birthdays and events arrive, she excitedly prepares to be there. When my daughter takes her by the hand and leads her to her room to play, she plays. The best part of forgiveness is the consequences of it. I love my mother. I am honored to be her daughter. I am blessed by her love.
So…finally, back to the question my friend asked.
“How was I able to forgive my mother?”
The reason I am able to forgive is because I know just how much I need to be forgiven. I forgive much because I have been forgiven much.
Want to give a good gift to someone this Christmas? Give forgiveness. There is no sweeter gift. This I know.