Do I Have to Forgive AGAIN!?

There appears to be a recurring life lesson I keep running into on my journey. The lesson of forgiveness. I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that the act of forgiveness is simply going to be a never ending, continual, very important, have to do it every day, part of my earthly existence.

I have a little bit of a problem dealing with my desire to live in a world that is probably reserved for the after-life. I long for a place where I am loved…really loved. A place where I am understood and trusted. A place without envy and offense. A place where people understand me and give me all the room in the world to just be me. I find myself wanting to at least pretend that it is possible to live there right now. But, it’s not possible. Why?

Because you and I are surrounded every single day by insecure, imperfect people (including ourselves!).

And as a result of their brokenness, they hurt with their words, betray my trust, and cling to distorted perceptions of who they think I am. All too often, I hear of something that was said about me, or thought, or done, and I find myself, once again, feeling hurt and betrayed.

Now, This pain leaves me with two options. 

A) I can build walls around my heart that keeps everyone around me at a safe distance. A wall to protect myself from the risk of another painful relational disappointment. 

B) Or, I can choose to love by learning to live in a constant state of forgiveness.

For me, as risky as it is…I choose option B. 

Why would I make this choice?

1) Because, through the blood of Jesus, I have received forgiveness. Great forgiveness from my Heavenly Father.

2) Because I still need God to forgive me…every single day, over and over. I need Him to look past all my insecurities, fears, and imperfections and love me enough to heal my brokenness and let me try…again.

3) Because I need the people around me, those that make up “my world”, to forgive me. As hard as I try to “get it all right”, there are sometimes (no, oftentimes!) that I miss the mark. I said the wrong thing, or I didn’t speak at all, or I totally mishandled the situation. Expectations weren’t met and someone I love was hurt and disappointed. 

Since the Word promises, "You will reap what you sow,” I’ve decided to sow forgiveness…a lot of forgiveness. Because a lot of forgiveness is what I need.

When Peter ask Jesus, “How often do I have to forgive someone that sins against me? Seven times a day???" I’m glad Jesus answered him by saying, “Not seven times, but seventy TIMES seven!!!” That’s 490 times A DAY!!!

So, yes, today I will forgive again. And again.

Family Decisions

Our family went on a vacation last month. Now that may not sound like a big deal to you, but for me, vacation has never been a priority.

Until now.

As a child, the only (and I do mean only) vacation we ever went on as a family was to the annual state convention and the General Assembly of the Church of God of Prophecy. For me, driving to the assembly in Cleveland, Tennessee was more exciting that flying to Paris for a week!

But last month, standing in a little beach house with the waves of God's ocean slapping His earth outside my sliding glass door, I began to ponder what really matters.

First, God matters. More than anything else. Period.

Second, family matters. And to have a close, healthy family does not "just happen" because no one has issues and everybody "just gets along with each other."

No. Having a strong family unit requires intentional effort in several very important areas.

1. An intentional decision has to be made. We are determined that our family is a top priority in our lives. We will say "yes" and "no" to whatever it takes to keep it that way.

2. It will require intentional time. If we don't set a time for family, everything else will take it from us. Before we know it, childhood years and elderly parents or grandparents are gone. Time lost, that we cannot get back. Set in stone the dates your family goes on a vacation together. Try not to fill that time with busyness, just be with each other. Set a dinner time together once a week or once a month. Be creative by planning games and conversations. Just do what you love… together.

3. It will require intentional sacrifice. Family time is expensive. Prioritize a special family account. It is a financial investment worth making.

4. It will require intentional forgiveness and relational effort. Every family is dysfunctional in some way because all of us have some kind of an "issue." Strong, close families happen because we consider the relationship important enough to walk in continual forgiveness. We have to learn to give each other room to be who we are - weaknesses and all.

Loving like this is such a risk because as time goes on you learn those who are closest to you - those you love the most - can hurt you the deepest. If we choose to save ourselves from the risk and the pain, we will have missed the deepest of loves… life's greatest gift.

So today, I encourage you… Make the very intentional effort to have the family God intended for you to have.

Now, it's time to go on vacation!