As moms, we’re pretty hard on ourselves. If dinner burns, we forgot to get five things at the grocery store (although, in all fairness, they weren’t on the list), the kids misbehaved in Sunday school, or the neighbor complains that our dog is too noisy, we’re quick to blame ourselves. But what about when a marriage struggles, relationships with our children are strained, or we lose a job? Right. We blame ourselves there too.
We’re human. Of course we bear part of the blame! But most of these scenarios involve situations and people that we can’t control on our own. So we aren’t wholly to blame, even though it feels like it.
How do you recover from failures like these? How do you survive the stress and strain? How do you find success again? There are solutions, and they’re not as complicated as you might expect, whether the issues are big or small:
Obviously, these are pretty vague, and they don’t apply equally to all situations, but the basic principles are there. God can help you through any failure you find yourself in. He will see you through all the pain and heartache to the other side, if you will surrender yourself to Him to bring the healing and restoration you need.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. –Ephesians 4:31-32
One thing that my husband and I have taught our children is to always apologize and forgive when needed. It is not always easy, and teaching them to forgive and actually mean it is a whole different story. My son does this easier than my teenage daughter. Getting them to really forgive has been hard. It has helped to remind them of Ephesians 4:32. To know that we should forgive others because God forgave us is thought provoking.
This past year, as I was looking for a counselor, I got a call from someone from who was related to the man who abused me. It was a very hard phone call to take and I was very quiet until the shock wore off. I finally told this person to not contact me anymore.
As I was going through counseling, I went through all of the emotions of my past as if they had just happened. I also realized that the person who contacted me was very much a part of my abuse as she would put me in harm’s way if I didn’t do what this man wanted me to do. She would be the one who would sic the dog on me; she would be the one to coerce me into this. I also found out if she didn’t, the man would do the same to her. So I was her scapegoat.
About a month later, I received a message on my Facebook page. It was a nice message telling me how they were praying for me and hoped I was getting the help I needed. I have to admit, that really pushed my buttons!
It is not easy for me to forgive someone who has hurt me. It is not easy to forgive someone who has hurt my family. It is easy to put it behind us and continue to hold that grudge. To tell people, “I don’t like so and so, because they did this to me.” That causes dissension between the people.
I took quite some time to write the person back. When I did, I wrote the words, “I can, through God’s help, forgive your family”. As soon as those words were written I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders. I felt a freedom that I’ve never felt before. The reward of forgiving was peace and freedom.
Does this mean I have to confront people to forgive them? Do I wait until they apologize? No, not at all!!! I have never been apologized to for my abuse. Yet, I forgave. It also doesn’t mean you have to run everyone who has hurt you and tell them you forgive them.
It also doesn’t mean that you have to be friends with them. God does sometimes put the people back into your life, not always though. This doesn’t mean you continue to be bitter toward them, but be Christ-like toward them. Love them with the love of God. When Satan brings up the past, forgive the person again. It is a daily process at times, but you can do it.
My challenge for you this week is to really forgive someone who has hurt you. If you talk with them, or not, get down on your knees and ask God to help you forgive with the same forgiveness that He has given you. Then either call that person, or write it down in a journal or letter, and forgive them.
I thank you today for dying on the cross for my sins, for forgiving me when You didn’t have to. Thank you for those who are reading this and making changes in their lives to become more like You. Father, I ask as they are forgiving others, you bring a freedom to their lives as You have brought me. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? –Psalm 27:1
Today I was watching a Red Riding Hood with my daughter. I was watching as the village was terrified of the Werewolf. For over 20 years this village would sacrifice their best animals to this beast so they would not be attacked. I kept thinking that is such a silly thing to be afraid of. Then I thought on my own fears.
In my last blog, I let you all know I was abused for 2 years. I know what fear can do to a person. I did not tell anyone about the abuse that I endured until we had moved completely out of Southern California ten years later. Only then did I feel safe enough to tell my parents about the abuse. Even then, I did not tell them everything. They kept an eye on me, but I was a pretty good actress (in my own eyes). Pretty soon I met my husband and we got married and lived happily ever after. NOT!!
There are times during our marriage that I fear my husband will think that my healing is not worth it and leave. I fear that he will have an affair and leave me for another woman. The fear paralyzes me and then my imagination runs wild with crazy thoughts and I blow up at him for no reason at all. Have we all been there?
Satan knows how to use our minds. He knows what will make us tick. He doesn’t want us to grow in Christ or be used by Him. He wants us defeated, robbed of joy, dead in Christ (John 10:10). He doesn’t want you to be victorious.
As a child of Christ, I don’t have to be paralyzed by fear anymore. Does that mean I’m never afraid? No way. So how did I get over this? This past August, Matt and I went to my 20th High School Reunion in Southern California. We took 3 days to ourselves and had a good time with my best friend from High School. The Sunday after my reunion, Matt and I went to visit my former church family. The worship was awesome and I really felt the presence of the Lord. Then Pastor preached upon daily remembering the promises God gave His children.
The first verse that came to mind that day was 2nd Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but, of power, of love, and a sound mind.” That was all it took for me. Every time that spirit of fear came upon me I would quote that verse. There were days I was quoting it all day.
I don’t say it as often anymore, but every once in awhile when life is overwhelming, I say it out loud for all to hear. Anymore when Satan tries to get my mind thinking that my husband is not happy with me, I say out loud that my husband loves me with his whole heart. Then I will go and put my arms around him, just to hear him say, “I love you.”
There are many other verses out there that speak about fear. One that I think about today is Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” I no longer need to fear the past, present, or future. All because Jesus paid the price so I could be His child. He is my light when my mind gets dark and goes into the shadows of doubt. He is my strength when life has me down.
So today, I challenge you to take a promise from God’s word and apply it to a situation in your life. I can guarantee that God’s word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
This verse has not always been an easy one for me. Some days it’s still not. As a child I was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused for two years by a teenager in the church we were attending. During the time of the abuse, I was told by a Sunday School teacher that if we are truly children of God and love him no harm will ever come to us.
The abuse took place almost 30 years ago, and yet I still have a problem with trust. I have a hard time trusting God, my husband, friends, etc. I spent quite a bit of time in counseling this summer to deal with the abuse and my trust issues.
I can’t quite say I’m totally ready to trust everything everyone says to me, which may not be a real bad thing. However, I am learning to trust in the Lord my God, who has used my abuse for good.
So, how did this change come about? First of all, in Proverbs 3:5 Solomon tells us to Trust in the LORD with all your heart. It sounds easy doesn’t it, until some trial or circumstance comes against us. I know when situations arise I start to doubt and freak out that God is not really there for me.
Yet, verse 5 goes on to say, “and lean not on your own understanding.” WOW!!!! What a concept! At 10 years old when the abuse started, I had no idea how this could be good. All I could think about was how to stop this from happening. I felt helpless and that no one was there for me, even God.
Growing up I still went to church and 2 years after the abuse started, God moved my family to a different church. Things got better, because I was no longer in the same church or home of the teen. Yet, with not telling anyone about the abuse until I was 22, I found myself serving God, but not trusting Him to really care for me.
I didn’t realize how it could be used for good until this past summer when I asked my pastor’s wife, my mom, if I could give my testimony during a Ladies Night Out. As I told about 20 women what had happened as a child and how God has completely renewed my relationship with my husband, and the forgiveness I offered towards the people I saw a lady, I didn’t know, who was just bawling. She came up to me afterwards and expressed how brave she thought I was to give such a testimony. She then proceeded to tell me that she was abused as a child the way I was by her own father. The lasting effects of abuse took a toll on her marriage and family. Yet now she feels that she could put her trust in God and He could help with the turmoil. I saw her recently and she told me that she has gotten help and God is really using her.
I had no idea that almost 30 years later that God cold turn something horrible into something good. Recently, I’ve felt that I need to tell people more of my testimony. I also feel that God is leading me to help those who have been abused. I do not know how yet, but Proverbs 3:6 states, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”
Sometimes trust is like faith in the way that sometimes it is hard for me to say, “Ok, God, I place my trust in You in this situation. I know that You know what is best for me. I may not understand, but I will trust You. You said in Your word that You direct my path, and no matter where that leads I will place my trust in You and learn from it.”
I want to challenge you this week to place the trial, circumstance that may arise, or even a past pain in the hand of Jesus and trust Him to take care of it. It may not be overnight, but praise Him and thank Him for the difficult time and when the end finally comes around, let Him use you to minister to someone else.
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV
Last week I wrote on grieving. Sometimes, once we have completed that step we realize we need to forgive in order to be able to move on.
Forgiveness is rarely easy to just hand out. It can be a struggle to let go of anger and hurt that is rightfully felt. Especially if the forgiveness needs to be given to someone who does not care, denies their fault, is unknown, clueless of their action, or did something unbearably horrible.
Something equally difficult is forgiving ourselves. It is often said that we are our own worst critics. Isn’t that the truth? I don’t know anyone who is as hard on me as I am on myself.
Regardless, we are required to forgive if we want to be forgiven. What all does this entail? Well, let’s look at the definition from Webster’s:
Definition of FORGIVE
transitive verb1a: to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult> b: to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) :pardon <forgive one’s enemies>
Do you have to be friends with the person and act like nothing ever happened? Absolutely not! But forgive and move on? Yes.
Easier said than done, right? It usually takes quite a chunk of prayer time to be able to achieve this step. As with all things in life, pray for God to help you. Pray for guidance. Pray for forgiveness from Him. But I guarantee that once you do reach that point, you will feel so much better. Then, you can move right along with making that lemonade!
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;4 time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV
For some reason, many people (not just men) are afraid to admit that they are not experiencing any emotion other than joy. Especially Christians. Some feel that it is sinful, or makes them not as good as the next person. However, as the scripture above points out, (Turn, Turn, Turn… Ha, you know it’s stuck in your head now too…) there is a time for everything.
To mourn and grieve is very important to the healing process. Without embracing the truth, acknowledging it, dealing with it, and accepting that something happened you may not ever truly move on. Sure, you can be all happy/smiley and say “Praise the Lord!” after everything everyone says, but that doesn’t mean you’re happy. The body, heart, mind, and soul need to grieve in a healthy matter for a healthy amount of time. It should not be rushed or dragged out.
Unfortunately, really horrible bad things happen in this world: Death, natural and unnatural. Rape. Miscarriage. Child abuse. Illness. Job loss. Divorce. Infidelity. Break ups. Infertility. Muggings. Robberies. Car accidents. Etc, etc, etc… After any of these situations, it is normal to grieve and expected. It is even normal to “mildly grieve” over much smaller less upsetting situations. Anyone who’s had a bad hair cut knows what I’m talking about. (I forgive Karen & Emily for butchering my hair when I was 16, really… but that doesn’t mean I didn’t mourn it for a few days.)
Yes, as Christians we should have joy. Yes, we should see the positive and not the negative. But we are also commanded that there IS a time to mourn. That means it’s accepted. Should you not allow this process, you may miss out on a complete healing.
Just remember, it’s called GOOD GRIEF for a reason. And that prayer is NEVER a bad thing. The more the better!