This morning during my planning period I began my day as I always do with a short devotional. I did not like the one that was for today....so I went surfing to find something better and this one just reached out and hit me upside the head. It is by Mary Southerland and called Remodeling 101. I look around my house....get House Beautiful online....and constantly think of how I can make my dwelling prettier.....today it occurred to me that I might need to be working on the inside of ME!The Bible lesson comes from Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Ok...so let's look at this......I promised myself that I would never again buy a house that could be described as a “fixer-upper.” The first one we bought....almost cost me my marriage....the second one did....I am a slow learner. I have to be honest....I don’t like fixing things. I want everything to be fixed before I move in. I have to be even more honest....I don't have a visual on fixer-uppers. I can't see through the grossness to the beauty it will be....to me...it is gross...period. When we began the first fixer upper I had no idea how horrible the process of remodeling could be. Layer after layer of dirt, grime, stains and ugliness was stripped away. Rotten kitchen cabinets were torn from the walls and rusty appliances were replaced. We basically gutted the wholeinside of the place and rebuilt it – while living in it. I was not a happy camper! It was never my idea to do this...and continue to trade up. I wanted to just buy it....and live in it happily ever after...with minor face lifts being done from time to time. I will never forget the day I woke up to a man-made skylight in my bedroom that was covered with clear plastic and rain was leaking in. It was at that moment I resolved to never set foot in another house that required so much work. Ok...so it took me two times. I am so thankful God didn't feel that way about me. Honestly, I used to wonder why God didn’t just demolish the old me and build a new one. Then He did just that. I don't know when it happened but sometime while I was sitting at the bottom of a deep, dark and slimy pit feeling sorry for myself, the Father lovingly stripped away all of my old fears and insecurities. From the walls of my heart, He tore the rotten attitudes, undisciplined thoughts and unholy desires that had walked me to the edge of my pit; then pushed me in. He replaced rusty old dreams with new ones and basically, gutted my life to build a new one, a better one, and a stronger one. Part of that new life was forgiveness. God taught me how to forgive myself so I could then forgive others. It was that same year that Kat and I took a trip to Prince Edward Island....just the two of us. The old me....would never have done that. Because forgiveness is so important, it only stands to reason that there are roadblocks that can hinder our willingness to forgive. We must make the commitment to identify and remove each one. And believe me....they pop up in my little world often. So what are some of my roadblocks....easy.... Selfishness - Selfishness shouts, “I have been hurt! It is so unfair. I have rights!” What I am really saying is that how I feel about the hurt is more important than forgiving the hurt. Have you ever said or felt that? I have...I remember many nights going to sleep with tears falling down my face because someone hurt me. Once, while attending a small church in town my feelings were hurt by another lady in the church. I blew a gasket....and the look of hurt on her face felt good for a fleeting moment....and then it was replaced by a bitter taste in my mouth. I should have gone to her right then and asked her to forgive me....but I didn't. I waited for another lady to come to me and tell me I needed to. Even after I apologized....I felt I was cheated....because she never said she was sorry back. It was then that I began looking at things in the grand scheme....would it matter to me in a week? a month? a year? If it was not important enough to lose sleep over...I moved on. Pride - Pride cries, “Look at what they have done to me. Don’t they realize who I am?” To receive or give forgiveness requires humility. (See story above...it fits both places.) I remember when I finally forgave my ex-husband all the hurts.....what a freeing day that was for me. Low self-esteem - Some of us have built an entire identity around a hurt. The attention we gain from the wrong we have suffered defines who we are. It is something we cherish and refuse to relinquish for the sake of forgiveness. (This one was my nemesis. I could not seem to get past it, no matter how hard I tried.) If you have read my blog for any time....you have heard many tales of my mom and her type A personality....and my barely a B one. Blindness - We may be blind to the fact that we have not forgiven a hurt. We have convinced ourselves that we really have forgiven the one who hurt us by going through the motions and saying the right words without really dealing with the pain. In reality, all we have done is dig a hole and bury the pain. As long as hurt is buried alive, it will keep resurrecting itself in our life, but when the hurt is dealt with and forgiveness is given, the pain is buried dead – and it stays dead. Pain - Forgiveness is spiritual surgery. It exposes old hurts that have never completely healed. We can move, change jobs, change churches, change friends or even change families, but until we yank up the root of bitterness and cover it with forgiveness, we will live with unresolved pain. I did not even realize that I was carrying pain around....until we began working on my mom's house...and I unearthed some old memories. Ignorance - Maybe we don’t know how to forgive someone because are under the impression that forgiveness is an emotion or feeling. True forgiveness is a choice – a deliberate choice to release the person who has hurt us from the pain they have caused. We can stop forgiving others when God stops forgiving us. We need to identify and eliminate the roadblocks to forgiveness so God can set us free, heal our pain and make us more like Him. Now that is a remodeling job I would welcome. The next part was my favorite part of the devtional I read this morning.....once I read her words...it was time for me to step up and identify my own. Believe me...I am a poster child for emotional pain....If I have learned nothing in my life it is that emotional pain can cripple our lives unless we deal with it and forgive the hurt. A family member has wounded you and shows no sign of remorse. Maybe a friend has betrayed you and refuses to apologize. Or you may be struggling to forgive yourself because you don’t think you deserve to be forgiven. None of us deserves forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift from God. Today is the day to make the choice to forgive. Beside each statement below, write the name of someone in your life who needs your forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not limited to those who deserve it. ______________________________
Forgiveness is not limited to those who apologize. ______________________________
Forgiveness is not limited to those who change. ________________________________
1 John 1:9 tells us: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Let me tell you all that God is the One who heals. Forgiveness puts us in the correct posture for Him to do so. If you are hurting....or suffering from an unforgiving heart......don’t wait another minute to deal with the issue of forgiveness in your life. Choose forgiveness...I promise you won't regret it for one minute....I didn't...and don't today. God Bless You Today!
Taken from Girlfriends in God website at: www.girlfriendsingod.com
I am a woman who wears many hats and loves them all. I am a singer - I sing with the group Still Magnolias. I was part of the original First United Methodist Church Arbor Praise Team until we moved. After 24+ years of teaching English 11 and Spanish I - II at Benjamin Russell High School I decided to take a job closer to home. I now teach Spanish I & 2 at Randolph Co. High School and Wadley. I thought I was getting close to retirement and looking forward to it, but decided to move my cheese and try something different. I am a preacher's wife and a preacher myself. My husband Frank is the pastor at Rock Mills United Methodist Church and I am the pastor at Midway (Wedowee). It has made our conversations interesting, to say the least.