I took part in a book group* during a particularly challenging season when my past collided with my marriage and then collided with postpartum depression. In this group, I was able to connect with other ladies who were also experiencing a similar season for a variety of reasons. The premise of the group was to kick start a journey into forgiveness and forgiving the ‘unforgivable’ things in our lives. We had each experienced complete brokenness and had carried with us a lot of baggage. Most of my old baggage will not get unpacked on this platform, but I was grateful to connect with people who knew exactly where I had been. They had been there, too.
I would like to say that forgiveness came easy and it was a once and done kind of thing. It was not. But, if it had not been for that book group* and those ladies, I probably would not have started jumping up and down on the diving board, daring myself to just let go and fall into the waters of forgiveness.
When acknowledging the depths of certain trespasses against me, I sank into the deep down and tried to slam the door shut and lock it. I continued to tell the Lord I would not and could not go there. I asked for a heart of forgiveness, but I told Him I wasn’t going to look at the gunk in that particular set of luggage. I told Him to just take that luggage and toss it for me.
I tried to give the key to those doors to God, but when He started to unlock them, I yanked the key back and told Him to find another way in.
Don’t you just love how we like to tell God how it is going to be done?
I started scribbling all of that gunk in a notebook, I started opening up in therapy and counseling, and my husband took hold of my hand to keep me steady.
A friend of mine continued to remind me of Zephaniah 3:17:
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.
I have that verse on a fluorescent orange sticky note where I can see it. I have had to revisit that verse time and time again. I meditated on it, chewed on it, spit it out, and then tried to chew on it some more. I was not understanding it and I prayed, “Lord, I do not understand. There is something I cannot see. Please show me!”
I ran directly into the giant brick wall I had built around myself and it was cemented with a lack of forgiveness. I had been weeping and gnashing my teeth over it. My husband was rendered into a state of helplessness and he cried with me often, trying to lure me out of that place.
I had spent 26 years of my life curled up on bathroom floors in a state of brokenness and I could not take it anymore. I asked God if He even knew what He was asking me to forgive, if He knew the sacrifice He was asking me to make.
All of a sudden, I saw Jesus on the cross and I heard a whisper in my soul, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
I broke, only this time I broke on the lap of Jesus and I curled up once more on the bathroom floor as I cried out for the ability to forgive. My mind’s eye saw the lashings Jesus took for all of our sins, I heard His cries in my soul, and my heart could not stand it for one more second.
And, then, it came. It was not my strength, it was not my own ability. But, my heart completely softened and I started naming it all to the Lord. Every last drop of my life fell into His lap and I said, “Jesus, forgive me, forgive them, and let us all go free. Please! Enough!! I need the whipping and lashings to stop!!”
The weight of His comfort swept over me and I felt a peace that blew my mind into a million pieces. I started to weep, but this time I was weeping at the freedom I felt deep down in my soul. The key to all of the doors I had kept locked was destroyed and tossed into the sea of forgetfulness (my notebook with all of the frantic scribbling got destroyed, too).
Then, I noticed I started to sing. A lot! I sang in the shower, I sang to my children, I sang to myself, I sang to my animals…I was going crazy with singing from of a place of true praise. I am still going crazy singing and my children have been having a blast twirling and singing with me.
Suddenly, Zephaniah 3:17 was alive and well within my soul. I finally got it.
*For more on forgiveness, please check out Forgiveness is Not an Option written by my friend, Anna McCarthy.
Thank YOU for the power of forgiveness! May Your Spirit guide us all through the fires of healing and freedom so we may open ourselves up to loving You and others more richly and deeply. Let us REJOICE and SING together with one voice!
Please bless all of those ladies from the book group so that Your will in their lives may come to fruition. Thank You for bringing each one of them into my life when I needed it the most.
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven…
This post also appears in the book: SHATTERED IN HIM
© 2016 JD Mays. All rights reserved.