Friday, January 20, 2012

70 x 7= Forgiveness

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord how many times shallI forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times"~Matthew 18:21&22

Recently, I began working with an amazing life coach . As we discussed my childhood, adult relationships and some of the areas I struggle with it became clear that unforgiveness is a big obstacle for me. She gave me the assignment to  repeat "I choose to forgive you _________" 70 times for  the next 7 days. I wasn't entirely convinced that it would work but I'm sure willing to give it a try.

During the night, 5 or 6 inches of snow fell. It was light and fluffy and beautiful. Clinging to the branches of the trees, dusting every surface. A winter wonderland for sure. This morning I would have loved nothing more than to curl up under the covers, watch a good movie and stay warm and cozy! However, my husband is away for a few days and I knew I should go out and shovel the driveway. I didn't really WANT to but it needed to get done. I bundled up and set to work. It wasn't long before I started repeating "I choose to forgive you" to myself.

Push, puff, scrape, push "I choose to forgive you"

Huff, pause, push, push, lift "I choose to forgive you"

Slip, slide, push, breathe "I choose to forgive you"

Stop, look around, push, lift, toss, puff "I choose to forgive you"

Several times I slipped and nearly wiped out. Many times I paused, looked around and thought "I can't do this....its going to take forever!"

But I kept moving and going, huffing and puffing, pushing and lifting and throwing the snow to the side and repeating the phrase "I choose to forgive you" That's when it came to me....shoveling snow is alot like forgiveness.

I could certainly have driven over the snow this morning. It would have been the easy thing to do. In the long run however, it would have packed down the snow. A sunny day would have turned that packed snow into ice and created a slippery, dangerous, mess that would only need to be dealt with later. Inevitably, more snow would have fallen on top of the packed icy mess and created even MORE of a mess!

By dealing with the snow today, as soon as it happened I saved myself from extra, more difficult work. Yes it was an effort. It took preparation in the form of boots, mittens, a shovel etc. The right tools are critical. Flip flops and a measuring spoon certainly wouldn't work in this case.It took time, alot of time.   It took discipline. I needed to do the work and keep moving forward. There were times I slipped and stumbled and wanted to stop. If I had, I never would have finished.

Shoveling snow is hard work. The best thing for EVERYONE is to pick it up and move it out of the way. Forgivenesss is hard work too. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, I may not want to do the work. Yes, I will probably slip and fall. Reality though, is this.....if I don't move the mess of unforgiveness out of my heart, it will grow cold and hard and create a bigger mess I'll only need to deal with later.

It was  a very satisfying moment when I stood back, sweat beaded on my brow, one hand on my hip, the other on the shovel  and saw the progress I'd made. And so, I'll forge ahead, doing  the work, one shovel full, one step at a time, using the right tools and repeating to myself  "I choose to forgive you"

Dear God, I believe that you use real people and real situations to teach us. Thank you for the angel you have sent into my life and for the tools she's handing me to finally learn the gift of forgiveness. I'm not there yet but I can see the progress I'm making.  I can't wait for that moment when I stand back in awe and realize how far I've come. May I never forget that you have forgiven me as well. In Jesus' name~Amen

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What Does That Look Like?

" For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."~Matthew 6:14

Good Morning!  It has been far too long since I sat here and wrote a blog. One of my many New Year's Resolutions is to write consistently.  SO many things have happened since my last entry in May 2011. I have many many stories to share.

 However, this morning one is weighing so heavily on my heart and mind  that I haven't even had my first cup of coffee yet. For those of you who know me well, this is as near a MIRACLE as there is! Typically, I'm unable to speak or even remember my name before the first two cups of coffee have been consumed.This is and only can be God at work through me!

A few years ago, along with a group of friends, my family and I went on a Caribbean cruise.  It was an adventure we were VERY excited about. The girls looked forward to it for months and we had a fantastic time in Aruba, St Martinn, St John, Cozumel. It was the vacation of a lifetime!

When we arrived home, late that February evening, I remember rounding the bend and my home came into view. I said to my husband "I love my house". He was worked endlessly at remodeling this 200 year old money pit and has created the most comfortable, welcoming, safe haven for us all. Imagine our surprise when a few short minutes later we entered this  haven to discover it had been burgalarized while we were away.

So many emotions hit us at once. Panic, fear, anger, grief, confusion, and anger. Did I say ANGER?

Over the course of the next 24 hours, we had State Troopers set up a sting in our garage, neighbors interrogated, my daughters slept in our bed and on our floor. We had been violated beyond comprehension. Our clothes had been rummaged through, our brand new computer was gone, our food had been eaten, our DVDs watched, our hot tub soaked in, our money, cell phones, ipods.... stolen. Nothing felt safe, nothing felt like home.

Within hours, the State Police investigation revealed that the neighborhood boys, the very ones we had taken to baseball games, invited to swim in our pool, welcomed into our "home".....were the same boys who had intentionally obtained our security number and entered without our permission. Not only did they invade our privacy they invited along 5 of their friends to do the same. Over the course of days, they vacationed in my house. They took, ate, drank, and did whatever they wanted to.

It took nearly 7 months but all of the boys were prosecuted to varying degrees. During that time, the girls were harassed at school. One of them even physically intimidated by the neighbor. Our camper was vandalized by them. We received offensive obsene gestures when they drove by. Its safe to say that I'm still strongly wounded by the entire scene of events.

People have suggested that I forgive and forget. I'd like to......really I would! But "What Does That Look Like?" I truly don't know.

Last week I found amazing husband Chris gave me a lesson I doubt I'll ever forget. I had just gotten home from work and was upstairs changing my clothes. I heard a knock at the door and Chris talking with a woman. Moments later he was by my side putting on his sneakers.

"Where are you going?" I asked

The neighbor's mother.....yes, the mother of the boys who had violated our home..... was at the door. One of the boys had been in a car accident. She was crying and needed a ride to the next town over. Yes, it was one of the boys who had broken into my house. Without hesitation, Chris took her. I wasn't sure whether to be angry at his stupidity or awed by his generosity and compassion. I couldn't fathom her nerve to even ask.

And that's when God used the opportunity to tell  me "That's what forgiveness looks like."

Heavenly Father, thank you that you use real people and real circumstances to speak to us. Thank you for showing me, through a man I love and respect so much, what forgiveness looks like. I pray that my heart will soften and I too will be able to forgive our neighbors. Thank you for your forgiveness. For all those moments, I've said and done and thought the wrong things but you still love me anyway. Oh and one last thing....Thanks for the blog! I'm so glad to be back :) In Jesus' name~Amen