This post is a bit long and you might want to read it when you have time or break it up throughout the day. I truly believe this will be freeing for so many of you and trust that God is already at work in your heart if you are here today reading this post.
Before going on – sit with that quote for a few moments.
Seriously, let that sink in deep.
If we really want to love, we MUST learn how to FORGIVE.
Feel those words into every fiber of your being.
Let them seep into your bones.
Trust me, they need it. They need to hear these words and so does your heart.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ahhhh…doesn’t that feel better?
Forgiveness is the greatest gift we give ourselves. Thank You, Jesus.
OK, now we are ready to move on.
November 21, 2014 I went on my first Catholic retreat and weekend away from my family in over 3 years.
I needed to get away and clear my mind.
I needed to time to be still and truly hear what God wanted to speak to my heart.
I needed to reflect on who God is and His will for me.
I traveled to Immaculata, PA to meet up with my best friend Maria and see Villa Maria Chapel. It was breathtaking to say the least. The nuns keep it so clean you could literally eat off the floor. For real!
Take a look at its beauty…
The nuns were so sweet and allowed us to spend as much time as we wanted in the chapel alone.
I walked around every inch of the chapel. The stations of the cross were just breathtaking. The stain glass windows were truly spectacular. Everything drew you into worship. Everything drew you into a sense of being on holy ground. Literally.
But what truly called to my heart was, Jesus, hanging on the cross in the back.
I knew I needed to get as close to it as possible. I could literally feel my breath being taken away by its beauty and how life like it was.
Just look at the gold mosaic tiles and the Holy Spirit coming down to Jesus. WOW!
I needed to get closer still.
All I could think about now was Mary.
Sitting at the foot of the cross.
Looking up at her son and feeling His blood dripping on her.
Knowing that her, “Yes” thirty three years ago meant more than she could have ever realized.
The pain of His death and the lose she must have felt in those moments, is too much for me to bear as a mother.
I can’t imagine sitting at the foot of my Savior and son all at once, as His blood was washing away the sins of the world once and for all mankind forever.
It was finished.
Mercy and Love poured out for the sins of the world.
All because of His love.
I sat and then knelt at the foot of His cross long enough to feel a peace wash over me that I can’t truly explain. I looked up and the only thought I had in that moment was, “Thank You, Lord.”
How could it be anything but, “Thank You?”
Go ahead and scroll back up. Then imagine being there at the foot of His cross with me.
And tell me, are you willing to let His love and mercy pour into your life, fully and completely?
As it was meant to be experienced by us?
That can only happen when we surrender to Him, and allow the gift of the ultimate act of forgiveness to change our lives forever.
What I experienced in those moments broke my heart wide open for all God had planned for me during the retreat.
There were about fifty other women at the retreat. We were at the Malvern Retreat Center, tucked away in the woods on over 100 acres. It was a lovely setting for our time alone with God.
I shared our testimony and conversion story with the group, which began a deeper level of forgiveness in my own life.
God shed new light onto our story and opened up the flood gates of His grace all weekend long.
As I cried out that I didn’t truly trust in God’s love and plans for my life, the priest so tenderly poured truths into my heart.
I came away from that time knowing that I am forgiven, loved, and have a beautiful gift to share with the world.
That gift is the story He has written over my life and through it so far.
Which is why the three R’s of forgiveness are so important to that story – every single day!
The Choice of Life or Death Deuteronomy 30:14-16
…14But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. 15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.…
R #1 Repent: Remember these are just examples.
Scenario #1: You are driving along and someone cuts you off. Your knee jerk reaction is to say something negative about that person or to them.
Scenario #2: Your husband forgets to take out the trash, again. You think mean thoughts about him, maybe even mumble them under your breath. Or worse, you call him to yell at him and tell him how angry you are for his forgetfulness. Or you wait until he comes home to do this. Or you post it and the argument you had all over social media, hoping for sympathy and validation of how right you are for being angry, etc.
Scenario #3: Your children will not listen, keep arguing, hurting each other, and you start yelling at them. “Why can’t you be nice? You are always x, y, z” They don’t clean up their room after being told and reminded several times. *You start to think thoughts of resentment over having to do this time and time again. You lack joy when spending time with them and complain about it.
Scenario #4: *When you were a child you wished one of your parents would die because they didn’t allow you to do what you wanted. Or maybe they were strict and you hated them for it. You spoke nothing but negative things about them to your friends and anyone who would listen.
Scenario #5: You were abused by someone in a position of trust. Maybe you were in an abusive relationship. You wished them dead or for bad things to happen to them. You refused to forgive them and made an agreement in your heart that there was no way, you will ever do it.
The only person you truly hurt when you refuse to forgive, is yourself. Every time you speak (or think) about the pain someone caused you, you become a victim again. You allow their bad choices to have power over you and your life. You stop yourself from healing. You stop yourself from being free of whatever it was that hurt you. (This does not mean don’t seek professional counseling and help. But if you are going to counseling for years over the same incident, then maybe it is time to truly evaluate if the therapy is indeed helping you let it go and move forward, or if it has become a crutch/excuse to relive the pain and remain a victim.) When you truly forgive those who deeply hurt you, over time when the memories come they will no longer fill you with rage, sadness, etc. They will simply move through your mind and you will be truly free from your past.
The greatest healing one can find is when you truly allow God into the painful places in your heart and ask for His help to forgive.
**Even if the words never leave your mouth, they have left your heart and caused you to put hate and death over people in your life.
You have two choices to make now:
Simply by saying something like this, “Father, I am sorry for saying and thinking that about the person driving in front of me.”
or You can allow those words of hatred to fill your thoughts for the rest of your drive, or worse yet, ruin your entire morning or day!
“Father, I am sorry for saying that about my spouse, child, parents, boss, etc. Please forgive me.”
The next thing we must do is revoke the words we spoke in haste or without thinking about how deadly they are to the one we are saying them to or about.
R #2 Revoke
This step can be done immediately, or even years after the fact. You are doing this exercise for your healing and to rebuild your relationship with God, the Father.
Here are a few examples of how we can revoke the words we just thought or spoke.
“Lord, I want to revoke those words/thoughts against that driver, my mom/father, my boss, etc. Please I ask You to remove them over the person I spoke them against.”
R #3 Replace
After you go through steps 1 and 2 – you will replace all negative, mean, hurtful words and thoughts with a blessing.
“Father, thank You for forgiving me, revoking the words and thoughts about (fill in the person or situation), and I now ask You to bless (the same person or situation).” “God, please pour out Your blessings into their hearts to overflow. Create in them a heart hungry and thirsty for You.” “Father, fill me with Your Holy Spirit and remove all bitterness, anger, malice, and painful memories I have because of (the person or situation). Please fill me with Your Spirit which is love and mercy itself. Fill me with joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, and love.”
Obviously, following these steps are just the beginning of healing our relationship with God and others and ourselves. It doesn’t end after doing this exercise. Truthfully, this is a lifetime of choosing love over un-forgiveness.
If you need help getting started with areas in your own life that need forgiveness, use the following as a guide after praying that the Holy Spirit will tell you the people in your life you need to forgive:
- Father, I forgive my life. For not turning out how I wanted it to, or expected it to.
- Father, I forgive my family. For the…NAME the specific ways they hurt you.
- Father, I forgive my friends. For….any that have hurt you with their words or actions. If you can, try to speak to them in person or at least over the phone. You are doing this for yourself first, and then them.
- Father, I forgive my children. For…goodness this one will be VERY freeing for all parents. Especially us mommies who constantly have to forgive them for not listening, breaking things, hurting each other, you, and the time they take each day, and maybe how you have allowed them to get in the middle of your marriage.
- Father, I forgive You. Yes, you might need to forgive God for any time in your life that you felt resentment or bitterness towards Him, or felt He wasn’t there for you in the way you expected or needed Him to. It’s OK, He can take it and knows how you feel. So let it all go. The truth is He was there, is there, and will always be there for you. Free will opens the door for our hearts to be hurt. Our choices and those of others warp our perception of God’s love for us. We believe lies that need to be replaced with the truth. He is always willing our good. Always. He is always for us! His love and mercy are always there for us. Always.
- Father, I forgive myself. For…this one might be the hardest to do. So take time to work through all the ways you need to forgive yourself and don’t hold back. Release yourself from negative thoughts, all the ways you are your worst enemy and hurting yourself.
- Father, I forgive all of these people and situations into Your tender compassion, mercy, and love for me.
When we repent, revoke, and replace our thoughts and words on a regular basis it keeps our hearts open to love
Remember these are just starters. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in this amazing exercise of FREEDOM!
I leave you with these two quotes: