One of the most difficult things to do is live in a stepfamily. Scars on our soul and voices of the past can torment our sleeping and waking hours. All who come into a stepfamily bring with them wounds, and images from the past. Some images are of a family that ceases to exist, and some with injuries from words that have sliced like a samurai’s sword.
How many times has Doc seen me respond in the present with words from the past? I argue with the voice of my past marriage, looking straight at Doc. Like he is the one doing it again, and the past encroaches with laughter into my marriage. How many times has the past been allowed to obscure our view of the beauty of the present and the joyful hope for the future?
If the past interferes with us only once, then that is once too many.
Holding on to the wounds of the past can be a sign of unforgiveness. We ruminate over the words and experiences that have harmed us, and the past becomes an addiction. Then we begin to identify with the words and feelings, and soon they are an intrinsic part of our soul.
Sometimes I stand in the shower and say “shut up, shut up, shut up – let it go, let it go, let it go”, to all of ghosts of the past that try to poison and cloud my head. Words that I have given to Christ. Words that should be in the grave, but they try to resurrect themselves and live again, as long as I give them a place to inhabit.
Our world is being molded each day, by the thoughts we believe about those around us, and ourselves. Holding on to unforgiveness tethers us to the past and keeps us stepping into the blade of hurtful words over and over.
Choosing to forgive may not change the person who hurt us – though it certainly could, but it changes us. Forgiveness is living a life with everything laid wide open and bleeding, and surrendered to Christ. When we surrender our right to get even, and allow God to handle the outcome, then it is like all that we have placed on the altar as a sacrifice of our will to the will of the Father. With the fire of His love, He comes in and consumes our wounds and unforgivness, turning it into ash and smoke.
Then all the ugly, all the blood from wounds of a broken heart and dreams not realized, and all that has died in us, is burned up by the fire of His Holy Spirit.
And then, like by osmosis, a change occurs. Our unforgiveness is transformed into the fragrance of Christ – that draws others to that same altar.
Forgiveness takes that which weighs us down, and plagues us in the night, and gives it flight.
“If you love me you will obey my commands.” (John 14:15 NIV)
By this flight, our addiction to the past, to lugging around the hurt and unforgiveness around like a dead carcass, is turned to ash, and we are all redeemed.
For me, forgiveness comes in two parts. .
- Forgiveness is a choice. The first step in forgiving is choosing to forgive. It has nothing to do with a feeling. It has nothing to do with any action on the part of the one who has wounded you. It is simply a choice based on the Word of God and obedience. We forgive because we have been forgiven.
- Forgiveness is a lifestyle not a momentary act. I asked God to forgive those who have hurt me but sometimes I go to the alter of grace and mercy daily and lay down unforgiveness. Some people need a daily gift of grace and mercy from us because we cannot escape their presence, and they simply don’t get it. This by far is a greater challenge. Sometimes we can “feel” forgiving, but sometimes our obedience to forgiveness is simply that – obedience to God, allowing Him to determine the outcome.
Forgive – even if it does not change the offender, it will free you. And isn’t that the whole point? For us to change and by change I mean we become more like Christ? Christ who invited Judas into His close circle of friends, knowing that Judas would betray him, sell him out, and hand him over to death. Still Christ allowed him in. Judas saw love, friendship and forgiveness. Christ gave Judas everything and left the outcome to God. Judas had choices.
Forgiveness for your past sins, and the sins of others in your life must happen, or you will be living with your past, allowing it to cut into your present removing the joy that could be possible. Don’t allow your past marriage to cut, with its poisonous razor tip, into you current marriage. Didn’t our past destroy enough of our lives?
We activate forgiveness by praying to forgive those who have wounded us, then leaving the results – our feelings and their behavior – to the Lord.
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