When Forgiveness Doesn’t Feel Real

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The other night I sat in bed having my meditation time with God and within seconds I felt him tell me that I forgot to mention something in my blog post.  When I wrote that sometimes there are hindrances to hearing God’s voice I had the sense I was forgetting something.  I knew there had to be more than two things that hinder us from hearing God.  I had wrote that having a spirit of ingratitude and harbouring un-forgiveness towards someone can put up a blockage to hearing God.  Now here I was alone with God who was reminding me of my own blockage I had.  For quite a long time I struggled with not being able to forgive myself for something I had done which caused pain to others.  I had never meant to cause anyone pain.  I didn’t think it would cause pain.  Sadly, the damage done was big and I could not forgive myself for it. I wanted desperately to go back in time and undo what I had done somehow but of course I couldn’t.  And because I couldn’t forgive myself, I couldn’t feel God’s forgiveness.  Mentally I knew that God does forgive but I felt I was probably excluded from God’s forgiveness.  Mentally I still believed God loved me but I felt maybe He loved me a little…  less now.  I kept reminding myself of bible verses and stories of people who were forgiven by God but it seemed to me that mainly the stories were of people who hadn’t had a relationship with God when they had done wrong and so God is probably more merciful to them.  I struggled for a long time with holding onto my faith and still trying to grow spiritually.  I read lots of books.  I tried to pray but I definitely prayed less than I used to.  For a long time I couldn’t go to church.  Going to church was hard because I would sit there praying that I wouldn’t cry or that no one could see me crying.  My spirituality has always been (aside from my family) the most important thing in my life.  I was holding on by a thread.  I kept asking God for forgiveness and then not believing that he forgave me.  I didn’t feel his presence anymore.  I couldn’t hear his voice either.  Surely, that was proof that God didn’t forgive me.

The breakthrough happened years later and I am sorry but I don’t remember what specifically it was that finally got me believing that God did forgive me.  It was something that was said in church one Sunday. The change was quick and dramatic. I began to hear God speak to me again.  My heart began to expand again.  I was smiling and loving perfect strangers that crossed my path.  You see, the reason I couldn’t sense God wasn’t because He was keeping himself from me and didn’t forgive me.  It was my disbelief that God could forgive me that put up the blockage between us. George MacDonald (and incidentally my favourite author) said, ’Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life’. I can definitely confirm that without feeling forgiveness, it is so difficult to receive life into your spirit.

Charles H. Brent said, ‘Peace comes when there is no cloud between us and God. Peace is the consequence of forgiveness, God’s removal of that which obscures His face and so breaks union with Him’.  It is BOTH not forgiving others and not forgiving ourselves that puts this cloud between us and God.  It feels like it has been a lot of wasted years of my life not being able to be as close to God as I once was.  Still on the other hand, I still feel remorse and maybe on some other level I needed to feel this pain for as long as I did.  I now feel God’s forgiveness.  I am on the way to forgiving myself to the extent that I am trying not to dwell on it but it doesn’t mean I will ever condone what I did or that God condones what I did.  When I forgive others, I don’t condone what they have done.  I just choose to believe they did the best they could in the circumstances they were in and I just let it go.  Nobody knows me better than God.  God knows and understands what I was about at that time.  God’s love is big and therefore he forgives big.  C.S. Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”  Forgiving ourselves means believing God has forgiven us.  It is an act of faith and trust in God and it is just as important as forgiving others.

Psalm 103:8-12 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. That bible passage is so reassuring on so many levels.  He doesn’t repay us according to our iniquities?  Our own government laws do of course so it would be easy to think God would as well.  He doesn’t however, in fact that is yet proof again of His undying love for us.

Colossians 3:12-14 : Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  It is so important to have a heart of gratitude towards God for forgiving us.  Likewise, we must forgive others the same way which can also be an act of gratitude.

Today and every day I am grateful that God forgave me and breathed life back into my soul.

Forgave

Being Like A Child Part 3

Mathew 18:1-5.

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Brianna

Brianna

Part 3: How a child experiences life:

We continue with the theme based on the above verses.  So far we have looked at the intuitive knowledge that children have when they are young and what the believe about God and we have looked at how children see the world around them.  From this we have learned the importance of having a child-like faith in all its simplicity.  A faith that is not judgemental towards other but understands that God loves us all.  We have also learned how wonderfully uplifting and inspirational it can be when we take the time to really look at things and to notice the beauty of God’s creation (nature) as well as the beautiful works of various artists including architectural artists. Today we will look at the various ways that a child experiences life.

From early on in a child’s life, a child experiences intense curiosity of the world around him. He begins by gazing and listening at everything and then progresses to touching to grabbing to tasting. As a child develops he learns to feel texture by just using a gentle touch.  He also notices different scents and begins to smell things. In later development he begins to use and understand language.  He learns that all objects have names and he asks more and more questions about the world around him. oftentimes a child will want to know an explanation about something that we don’t know the answer to.  Questions like, “Why is the moon out during the day too?”

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or “How does time fly?”

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or “Why aren’t birds electrocuted on wire?”

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or even ” Why are their sneakers hanging from those wires?”

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(Actually, I’ve wanted to know this!)

Why don’t we know the answers to some of these questions? We simply stopped asking the questions ourselves. Our curious nature has waned. Some time in our life we decided that some things are worth knowing and that other things are just BORING! As we got older we also found that there was less and less time to seek out answers to questions that really don’t affect us anyway. For some of us simply being around children inspires us to wonder more. It sparks our curiosity once more. But like many small sparks they go out easily again as we are distracted by many ‘important’ things such as the phone ringing or wondering what to cook for dinner or worrying about tomorrow’s meeting.

mimicking parent

mimicking parent

Young children are able to maintain their curiosity by living in the present moment. They are not distracted by worries of what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow.  As they get older they live in the present less and less however, babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers are in the present all the time. Have you ever tried to be in the present  moment?  If you are not practicing this regularly it is actually pretty hard to do.  We as adults are distracted by our thoughts constantly.  However, the benefits of living in present time are enormous.  Worries swindle and we become more at peace and we enjoy happy moments more.  What a waste it can be to not be present during a happy moment.  We soon forget it even happened!

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Children have tonnes of energy.  I often feel this is unfair to us grown-ups.  We sure could use some of that energy ourselves.  children don’t walk.  they hustle, skip, jump, dance, leap, gallop to where they want to go.  Think of what we could get down if we had the energy of a 2 year old!  Think also how slim we would be!  Children get excited about everything such as watching an insect walk across a reed or being licked by a puppy, or pushed in a swing or cake!  They love to play.  Playing is their favourite pastime when children are small. At least 3 of my children in various times have told me that I don’t play enough.  They have also commented on what a boring life grown-ups seem to have.  It made me sad to think my children believe that growing up means giving up fun. Of course we are busy with our jobs and our chores but think how much happier we would all be if we just injected a bit of fun and playtime in our lives. I think we need to challenge ourselves to do this and if we have children than more importantly have fun and play with them.

happiness

Have you noticed that children are very forgiving?  They especially forgive us parents and those that they feel close to.  Sure they have a temper tantrum at first when you don’t let them have what they want (Chocolate) but they quickly get over it and still want to give and receive affection. Us adults in comparison?  Mmmmm maybe not so forgiving.  I’ve known people to hold a grudge for years.  We often hold out for an apology first before we forgive and sometimes even then…. When we don’t forgive others it not only ruins the relationship but it also hurts us and can often times bring about illness.  The illness however is only a physical manifestation of what is happening in our own souls which is a more serious problem.  Forgiving doesn’t mean staying a poisonous relationship.  Sometimes distance is important.  However is good to remind ourselves that every person is doing the best that they are able to at that particular moment in time when they are causing hurt.  When Jesus said, “Forgive them Father. They do not know what they do.”  It was a literal statement. They didn’t really know what they were doing. They thought they were doing the right thing. Can we forgive others that way?  Stay clear of course if the person is toxic or abusive but forgive them nonetheless.

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Children are resilient.  They fall down, they get up again and after a few tears they go back to playing. They get hurt but they heal quickly. Their feelings get hurt but they get over it quickly.  Children scrape their knees and elbows, cry at first but then get over it and become curious of the healing process. Sometimes it feels that life smacks us down but should we wallow in our misery?  Instead, wouldn’t it be better to take a step back, be present and actively engage in our own healing process?

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So in summary, we can learn a lot from children.  If we stay present and notice beauty, have the faith of a child, play more, nurture our curiosity, forgive easily and don’t allow life circumstances to keep us down we can have  much more fulfilling lives.

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