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Entries in Forgive (2)

Tuesday
Jun112019

Clear Your Hardened Spiritual Arteries

Kathy Collard Miller writes much about the heart, because she wants people to have a right heart with God. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she focuses on the problem of bitterness, and God's solution, forgiveness. 

"Unforgiveness gives us hardening of our spiritual arteries," Kathy says. "God wants only the best for us, so he says, 'Forgive!'"

I (Dawn) know from experience the "hardening" of an unforgiving heart. I also know how forgiving my offender released me from the prison of bitterness. Kathy's personal story describes the power of living life God's way.

Kathy continues . . .  

I knew my heart had hardened toward my father-in-law. His commitment to another religious viewpoint kept him occupied when we visited, and he constantly, angrily debated his ideas with us. He could go on and on about his beliefs without ever being willing to hear anything we said.

I felt frustrated. Without realizing it, I believed I had to protect my heart by becoming bitter.

I could never think of anything he did right, only his faults whether we were visiting him and my mother-in-law or not. I focused on his lack of care for his son and his grandchildren.

Although he gave some attention to our children, I longed for him to be a patient and encouraging grandfather investing in their spiritual growth.

It appeared to me he only represented his view of God as mean and spiteful.

I knew my responses weren’t representing God well either, but I felt trapped in my bitter rehearsing of his faults.

Over time I learned three important truths to set me free from my bitterness and bring joy into our family.

1. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.

At times, I tried to forgive him. I knew my hard heart wasn’t helping the situation and didn’t help my young children either—supposedly the very ones I was so concerned about.

I forced myself to think, “Don, I forgive you,” but later, the old feelings surfaced again. I concluded I hadn’t really forgiven him.

Eventually, I realized I had made a conscious choice to forgive him and that is forgiveness.

Feelings are fickle and will return. It doesn’t mean I hadn’t forgiven him.

2. We can be motivated to cooperate with God's call of forgiveness when we really understand it’s God’s plan for our good.

God doesn’t want us to forgive because he wants us to be hurt again.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we are obligated to allow someone to continue to hurt us. Forgiveness can involve boundaries and loving strength to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

The reason God says forgiveness is for our good is because we are set free from having another person control us.

After all, if we are constantly negatively rehearsing the way they hurt us, then we aren’t thinking about the wonderful parts of our lives and God’s love for us.

3. We can forgive because God has forgiven us far more than the hurt from another person.

We don’t deserve God’s forgiveness. But Jesus’s death made God’s forgiveness possible, because He paid the debt we owed. God’s loving graciousness declares we are in His forever family and set free from our sins. We can’t earn that by being good; it’s a free gift.

Colossians 3:13 inspires us:Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Gratitude for God’s unearned and undeserved love can motivate us to release punishing someone else.

As God continued over time to help me with these truths, my anger toward Don diminished and I could more easily make that choice to stop rehearsing his faults.

He even turned from his erroneous thinking and returned to true faith in Jesus as his Savior and Lord when he was 83. He became a different person of love and joy.

Although he never acknowledged how he had hurt our family, including my husband’s mom, we knew his hugs loved us authentically.

After he had a sudden brain aneurism at age 90 and lay in the hospital dying, I was able to read him the letter of forgiveness I’d written him.

I doubt he heard me, but I knew God had heard my heart’s cry and released me totally from the bitterness I had harbored.

I also included in the letter the ways he had loved his family, though they had seemed so insignificant over the years. Just as I fail, he couldn’t be perfect. That helped me see the good parts of our family dynamics.

Today, I know the power of forgiveness, which clears our hardened spiritual arteries.

Who is God calling you to take an initial conscious step to forgive? Ask God to help you make that decision.

Kathy Collard Miller is a wife, mom, and grandma who speaks and writes about God’s work in her life, family, and marriage. She has authored 54 books including Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory. She lives in Southern California with her husband, Larry, of 49 years. For more information about Kathy, visi www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Giralt at Pixabay.   

 

Tuesday
Feb202018

Remove the Ink Stain

Kolleen Lucariello reminds us words wound us, but God doesn't want us to stay hurt. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE she shares a personal story about how the Lord helped her deal with her anger and pain.

“Sometimes,” Kolleen says, “words can leave a stain on a heart—like ink on paper.”

Oh yes. I (Dawn) dealt with horrible, painful words some 30 years ago. I cried for weeks! But I'm glad the Lord taught me the lessons Kolleen shares here.

Kolleen continues…

Within a few months of my wedding day, a letter arrived in our mailbox from a family member who decided my husband Pat needed help with a decision he and I were in the process of making. Of course, even though the letter was addressed to him, I read it.

That was when the words—which had been written in ink on notepaper—left a stain on my heart I was convinced could never be erased away.

Truthfully, for a very long time, I didn’t want it to be. 

The letter held words of criticism and words that hurt, and it also held my heart and mind for many months following its arrival.

I tucked it away in the drawer of our nightstand where it was within easy reach when I needed a reminder of why I was mad. Rereading it helped me remain steadfast in my anger, so I would read it almost every day—sometimes more than once.

Any moment I felt the grip on my anger begin to loosen, I would retreat to the bedroom nightstand, remove the letter, and read it over one more time.

Oh, what fire that little spark could ignite.

Until one day when I was advised to throw the letter away and I didn't want to throw it away. It felt good holding onto it. Or so I thought.

Until I finally threw it away.

I was surprised how much better I felt when it was no longer in my possession. Throwing it away, so it was no longer something I could hold physically and look at, released me from the stabbing pain I felt when I read that letter over and over again.

Why do we inflict pain like this upon ourselves? 

Next, I needed to stop rehearsing it over and over in my mind.

I had read that letter so many times it was memorized.

It was easy to access because it was stored like a file, and at any given moment I could search my memories filing system and retrieve it. I just needed the name of the offender to flow through my mind and boom—just like that—the file was pulled, revealing all misdeeds against the offender.

Then I began to sense it was time to delete the file. I knew this meant I needed to change the direction of my thoughts every time the words of that letter began to enter them.

That was a hard choice.

It was also a constant battle. But, I knew it was one that needed to be done if I were ever to be free from the pain of that letter.

It wasn’t enough to just delete the file and let it go.

I thought it was. I wanted it to be! However, the Lord revealed I would never truly be free until I was able to forgive. Ouch.

Extending forgiveness takes courage when you’ve been wounded.

God would never ask us to offer grace to others if He didn’t know we would benefit from it.

You upgrade your life when you . . .

1. Remove anything you are holding that keeps you tied to anger.

Holding on gives it power over you and the ability to become an idol in your life.

Remember, Jesus said to remove anything causing us to stumble (Matthew 5:29). And God has strong feelings towards idols.

2. Stop rehearsing the conversation or situation over in your mind.

"Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:2-3 AMP).

3. Forgive.

The Word is clear that we are called to forgive. When we nurture hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with our relationship with God, well, then our Father will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15, AMP).

Where we set our mind matters.

Has your heart been stained by ugly words, accusations and insults that continually fill up your thoughts? Make today the day you find the courage to remove the ink stain.

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am. Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She’s a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. She desires to help others find their identity in Christ, one letter at a time. Find out more about Kollen on her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of imelenchon at Morguefile.