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It was a painfully early morning as I sat in the dining room. No one was awake expect me. It was so cold that the thought of eating my ham and cheese annoyed me profoundly. Because as you guessed it, it was cold as well. My hands which 98% of the time is cold, were too. And then the feeling of being alone made it worse. This uncomfortable feeling of being alone so early tempts you to run back to your bed. This morning, however, I wanted to quiet time with Jesus to be that early. As I ate, I realized that the seat across me was empty. I reminisced what Psalm 23 said of “you prepare a table in the presence of my enemies.” So, I invited Jesus to sit with me. Not the negative words and phrases I hear in my mind on mornings. After spending some time reading my bible and meditating, I realized all of the things my heart was withholding. I wrote a list of things that were bothering on a piece of paper. After folding it and placing it on the empty plate with crumbs, I pushed the plate across me. I treated those things on that piece of paper like the beets; the vegetable I dislike the most. It was my way of saying to the Lord: “Take it. I don’t want it anymore.” I tossed it in the trash afterward.
The problems with forgiving someone else is that we don’t understand why we should and how. Also, we project our failure of receiving forgiveness for ourselves, unto others. To first address the why, let’s picture the following scenario. Imagine a fluffy perfectly balanced memory foam bed. 300 thread blankets, hotel pillows, and a peaceful atmosphere are at hand. Guess who’s gonna sleep in that bed tonight? I know you’re like: “I wish that were me.” And you are correct...unless you are actually in a hotel room reading this entry. The person who will sleep in that bed is the person who hurt you. Yes, not even you person-who-might-be-in-a-hotel-room-right now. (You may be physically, but are you really in your soul?) The person who hurt you might not be even aware that he or she hurt you. That individual may know and not even care. Perhaps they do but have no intention of making things right. That person may not also be shedding tears and going to sleep at 5 am. They might be having more fun than you. My question to you is the following: Where are you right now?
“You don’t know what they did to me!” “You don’t know how much that hurt!”. I think one of the most difficult things is forgiving others just because we are so misinformed of its benefits. At this point, you might be hovering your cursor on the x button to close this page or just insulted by my endorsing of this principle. I understand. However, before you proceed with your prerogatives, ask yourself if you have ever hurt anyone in any way shape or form. Intentionally or unintentionally. We all mess up. We all hurt. We all need forgiveness.
Forgiving the person who sexually abused me was very difficult at first. As time progressed, I understood that although the person was wrong in what they did, I also was wrong in many things I did in the past. I received forgiveness, and the least I could do was to extend that same mercy to this person. Which brings me to this brief point: there is no such thing as a more significant sin than another. Can we all agree in our human minds that abuse is more significant than a teenagers lie about him or her whereabouts on a Friday night? However, what we must realize is that in the eyes of God sin is sin. It is so when we point at someone and say: “At least I'm not like______ who does such and such.” Just because they sin differently from you, it doesn't mean you are better than them. Ouch. I had to learn this the hard way.
The first step of forgiveness in my journey was to make the decision. The second step was to pray for this person occasionally. The third step I took was to pray consistently for this person. My feelings eventually caught up with my decision. It took a long time friend. I feel sorry for this person now. Till this day I pray for this person to be restored. Just in case you were wondering, forgiving someone does not mean you don’t have to press charges or tell someone. This is for specific scenarios of course. In my case, none of that happened, because the people surrounding me didn't want shame to come upon the family. Nevertheless, I forgave. With a prison sentence or not, this individual needs Jesus as much as I do. And for a long time, the one who was behind bars was me, not the perpetrator. This individual has endured many hardships since then, and the knowledge of it all grieves my soul. Forgiveness is not the absence of consequences or the possibility of a reconciliation, but it is still your responsibility. I may never get an apology, and I don't care. I am free and pray this person will be too one day.
There are three scenarios that come to my mind when it comes to forgiveness. Today we’re going to explore only one for the sake of time. The scene consists of when Jesus was on the cross.
Matthew 27:34 is the context, and it reads as follows: “They offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.” (ESV version)
To understand the nature of this difficult act from the Romans, we need to understand what they were doing and why. First, they were mocking Jesus. And to answer why they were using such items, let's take a trip down in history. The Romans used sponges on sticks to wipe their butts after you know what. They would then put the sponge in a bucket in salt to sanitize it; the next person would come and use it at their discretion. By the next person, I mean...the next person. That’s because the bathrooms back then were public. I know. I know. Super gross. The actual article on this is at the bottom of the page.
We have this disturbing image of how Jesus was offered wine on a sponge on a stick. Wine is bitter, and you can often perceive it by the smell and taste. I suppose the sponge was sanitized when it was offered to Jesus because if it weren’t then Jesus would’ve rejected it immediately. The smell of human waste would’ve been a sign not to partake of it. However, being drenched in wine I guess covered the taste of it. But still, he refused to drink from it. He rejected the bitterness, even when he was in a position of pain and humiliation. You and I should practice this more often.
Bitterness may show its ugly head to taunt you and seduce you into nurturing it but don't. If our Lord and Savior rejected bitterness, we should too. I know it's easier than done, but how has living in bitterness been helped you? I know for me it has been terrible in the past. Offenses will always come. This is why we should always guard our hearts and not take offenses seriously because after all, they are distractions. At the cross, Jesus also mentioned this: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (NIV version)
Let's recap what we have learned:
I hope you have learned today a little bit more about forgiveness. I learned so much too!
Next entry: Receiving Forgiveness for Yourself
I pray that the eyes of your understanding will be opened today. I pray that every snare and trap of the enemy will be exposed as you grow in your walk with Jesus. And, may I also pray that you would understand how precious is the art of forgiveness and how essential it is to extend it to others. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
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Golden streaks of the sun rearrange themselves to fit on painfully boring window blinds and an adjacent shy corner. As I look to my right a rather different scenario takes place. The glass windows which face the backyard, are also closed by blinds. However, there’s a larger perimeter of watercolor reflections; yellow, white, and at times a strange hue of grey. I sense a glimpse of something on the corner of my eye, and what my eyes saw surprised me. I perceive the window blinds overheard my senseless description of them earlier, because this time the glow of the sun seems deeper, richer, and warmer. I quietly apologize to them as I observe in awe this radical change. I also must take back what I said about that shy corner. The light on it is brighter than the reflection on the window and the door. The sight is quite mesmerizing. It's only a narrow strip illuminating almost the entire wall, and it looks beautiful. I'm proud of that shy corner. It proved me wrong.
The Importance of Light
I'm still sitting here like a complete clueless overslept individual, typing out these words and trying to make sense on what to write about. Also, thinking why would anyone want to read this entry. But then again as I ponder about light, reflections, angles, and blinds, my mind wonders about how these concepts could be appreciated if I were a passenger on a train. And not any kind of train, but the ones that have glass ceilings and huge windows. When you travel, you go through tunnels and pass by blankets of shadows provided by mountains or trees. Sometimes there's no shelter for your eyes if the journey gets interrupted by endless skies exposing the rays of the sun. When I was first introduced to the concept that my faith life is a faith journey, or a faith walk, I found it frustrating. As a person who needs constant prayer in the department of patience and self-control, the term seemed upsetting more than anything. Once I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I thought: "This is it! Things will finally be perfect!" The brightest light consumed my eyes exposing truth after so much trauma. However, as I kept expanding in experiences, years, knowledge, and wisdom I found out that I was missing something. Even towards the last days of 2017, I tried to analyze what that was. For years I couldn't place my finger on it. Then the lightbulb turned on. I don't know if it was my rational mind or the Holy Spirit that revealed this to me, but it turned out that I was living a joyless and hopeless life. A joyless and hopeless Christian. A unicorn amid humans. A rare thing. But is it really that rare?
The Benefits of Joy
Joy is not a quick come and get it drive through product with an expiration date. Therefore, you shouldn’t covet or envy it. It has your name on it, and it's waiting for your hands to pick it up, own it, and decide to nurture it like a freshly cut bouquet of peonies in May. You get to decide whether to choose it or not every single day. David, was known to speak to his soul when things got difficult in his life. Psalm 43:5 shows the evidence: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again--my Savior and my God!” Even in moments of loneliness, extreme isolation, and uncertainty, David chose to change his mind and attitude. Can I be honest? This is so hard!!! However, the more you practice doing it daily, the easier it’ll get. Joy has its benefits. It motivates you and it gives you strength to endure the battles of your life. Scripture tells us the following in Hebrews 12:2: “looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” You know how you sometimes read the bible and just skip verses and not pay much attention to them. Well this is one of the gems I found during the dark cave of this current season. I couldn’t help but cry. If the Savior went through that kind of depletion and still made it to the other side of pain, then I knew I could too. Friend, you can as well.
The following is a recollection of things I have learned during this season. I pray it helps and blesses you.
Let's pray, shall we?
I pray every person who is going through a difficult trial or situation to disregard discouraging thoughts and voices. I pray their soul is well during the test, and may your loving nature guide them as they pour out their hearts to you Lord. Be the lifter of their heads. Today and forever.