Forgiveness…

In my quest to grow in my walk with the Lord, being “uncomfortable” has become a way of life for me over the past year and a half or so. And I have loved it! Has it been easy? Nope. Not at all. It seems like the Lord is continually bringing things into my life to spur growth, and to heal from past scars…and this week has been no exception.

Like every person, I’ve been hurt many times within my twenty-six years of life. Sometimes by individuals, sometimes by groups of people, sometimes by circumstances. Like many Christians, I have also been hurt/scarred/burned by people in the church, and I’ve found that those scars are the hardest to erase.

I’m really struggling these days with forgiving my former church. I’ve never really been a part of a “normal” or “healthy” church until I moved to Pennsylvania. My first church ended up splitting in a vicious, vindictive split when I was 17 (and I went to college before really being able to get involved in the new church, which is doing well and is healthy). The last church I was a part of is practically imploding right now, from reports I hear. And I’m honestly not surprised.  The church has lacked true leadership for years, and I have long sensed that the Lord was trying to get the church’s attention, only to be ignored. That’s all I’ll say, as the details aren’t really the point of this post. I stayed at the church until the Lord called me to Pennsylvania…

The amount of bitterness that exists within my heart (and has existed for five or six years) seems to grow daily, despite my efforts to let it go and forgive them. I adore my new church, as it is the healthiest church I have ever been a part of, and it’s pretty much the opposite of my old church in every way…but, at the same time, each time something great happens at my new church, I am reminded of the bad things that happened (or the good things that were never allowed to happen) at my old church. And the bitterness returns. While I am blessed to have this new church family, blessed to be at a church who truly loves and serves the Lord and the community, and blessed to be at a church that embraces new ideas and doesn’t shoot them down for fear of “change”, my new church is also being used by God to force me to “forgive and forget” the many scars I have from my old church. And it’s not easy.

On Sunday alone, I heard two songs that directly spoke about forgiveness. The lines were: “I’m holding on to things I shouldn’t, and it’s time to let them go” (Brand New Day, by Fireflight) and “…forgiven so that I can forgive” (Majesty, by Delirious, I think). I know what I have to do, but I don’t know how to go about it.

I’m learning that forgiveness is not a passive act–it’s very much active. It’s a choice, yet it’s also a requirement from the Lord. When I think about all that the Lord puts up with from me–all my failings, my sins, my imperfections–and I remember that I am completely forgiven in His eyes, I am reminded that my grievances against my old church are NOTHING compared to all that He has forgiven…

The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.”Daniel 9:9

I know that I learned SO much from my experience at my old church, even through the pain and the frustration. I’m trying to see the bigger picture–trying to see God’s purpose for the experience, while allowing the Lord to heal my wounds, which requires looking at the details so that I can forgive the people involved. I know that forgiving them is the only way to move on and the only way to become more like Jesus. I just don’t know how to let go.

And so the struggle continues…

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