Tag Archives: forgiveness

The Shack

I read the book “The Shack.”  Twice.  I also saw the movie … with a friend who also read the book.  We both teared up watching God’s love in action.  For one broken man, lost in his grief and drowning in his anger.  A man who lost much, including his faith.

The Shack

A fictional story.  But one I believe is totally possible.

 

Now let’s stop here for a minute.  Because you may want to argue and fuss and disagree with me.  To convince me I am wrong.  To badger me into changing my mind.  But you won’t.  So please save us both the headache.  I am not asking you to agree with me.  I am not asking you to affirm I am right (or good).  I am only asking you to respect my faith as I respect yours.  I know who I am, and I know who God is – and these deeply rooted truths cannot be swayed with any argument or persuasion.  So if you don’t agree with me about this book, please, let’s agree to disagree – respectfully.

 

Yes, I know “The Shack” is a work of fiction.  But I believe “The Shack” can happen.  Today.  To anyone.  Because I believe in an all-powerful God who performs miracles all the time.  I believe in an agape-loving God who loves us more than we will ever know and works us toward maturity within that love.  I believe in an omniscient God who knows all and therefore knows how to get us to the best version of ourselves.

 

I believe He is a loving Father who meets us exactly where we are.  In our mess.  In our anger.  In our suffering.  In our pain.  In our fear.  In our hardheartedness.  In our apathy.  In our indifference.  In our carelessness.  In our selfishness.  In our angst.  In our hopelessness.

 

And none of this scares Him away from wanting to be with us.  None of this causes Him to leave us or walk away from us.  None of this effects how much He loves us.

 

In fact, I think any of these things compel Him to pursue us.  Because He knows we need Him.  Because He knows only His love can fill in our gaps.

 

Which is, again, why I believe “The Shack” is possible.  Because Mack was lost.  Mack was angry.  Mack was hurting.  And Mack was so wrapped up in his great grief that he wouldn’t let God’s love, mercy, and hope in.  Mack was so consumed in his great anger that forgiveness would never be an option.

 

And Mack’s darkness and anger were so great that he was stuck.  He was clinging to the past and slowly destroying his family in the present.  He was constantly reliving his grief, slowly massacring hope and peace in the present.  He was refusing to forgive and let go, slowly eroding his sanity and compassion in the present.  And as he ruined his present, he was also ruining his future and that of his children.

 

And here is the brutal truth – we are all Mack.  We all have at least one person, place, or thing that has hurt us deeply.  Possibly shaken the core of our faith and caused us to doubt God’s love.  We have all come to the intersection of pain and truth and had to choose which way we would go.  We have all had to wrestle with our feelings that were pulling us away from God.  Just like Mack.

 

And eventually, like Mack, we come to the place where our pain is so great that we have no choice but to face it.  We return to the shack, the place or event that broke our spirit, and we wrestle with truth in the quest to find it.

 

And there we find ourselves.  For we are the shack.  A broken place more prone to darkness than light, with an air of desolation and unworthiness.  A place of pain and sorrow – whether self-inflicted or at the hand of someone else.  A lost place in the middle of a forest, stuck in isolation and separation.

 

And just as God met Mack at the shack, at his lowest point, so too He meets us.  He invites us back to our place of pain – and mixes our tears with His love to sprinkle it over our desert-laden heart.  Where He plants the seeds of love, joy, peace, hope, forgiveness, endurance, steadfastness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness within us – cultivating out the weeds one at a time as we accept His work in us.  And the whole time He whispers “I am especially fond of you” to us, encouraging us to (once again) believe in His love and surrender to His grace.

 

God wants us to love at all times.  Just like He taught Mack.  The man whose hardest moment was having to say, out loud, “I forgive you” toward the man who killed his youngest daughter.  It was so painful for him, having held on so tightly to his anger, to even consider opening his heart a little to let love in.  But he had come to the place, with God’s help, of wanting to be free of the pain that was eating him alive.  So he said it.  And with every step he took from the cave containing his daughter’s body back to the shack, he repeated it.  Praying with each declaration that it would take root in his heart and he would be able to say it and mean it and finally be free.

 

And the best part of the story is that Mack does find freedom.  He does come to embrace the love God so openly and graciously offers him.  The love that he realizes never left him.  The love that inspires him to go back and live life to the full.

 

And so too can we.  As individuals.  And as a group of believers.

 

Because we are each part of God’s story.  We are included in His chapters of love, grace, hope, and forgiveness.  We are worth redeeming.  Just like Mack.  Just like the shack.

 

So if you didn’t read the book or see the movie, here’s my takeaway – God loves you.  More than you can ever imagine.  Mack is proof.  His story may not be real, but God’s love always is.

 

Marie Fremin.  6/4/17

I Wish My Former Friend Well

Do you ever wonder if God has truly changed your heart?  Have you ever noticed the evidence of Him doing it?

 

I saw such evidence recently in my life.  And it amazed me once again how good God is.

 

I had a friend at the beginning of this year.  I didn’t seek him out.  I didn’t approach him.  I didn’t pursue him.  He recognized me from a group event and took time to speak to me.  Then we started sitting together at church.  Just friends.

 

And it was God ordained.  For when my car died, he was in the neighborhood and picked me up.  I didn’t ask him to.  He just did.  He made sure I was safe and took me home.  I will be forever grateful for that.

 

And then one day shortly after that incident, we weren’t friends anymore.  Because he started dating someone.  And this girl seemed to decide I was a horrible person for saying I disagreed (mightily and vocally) with a comment made to me.  And all of a sudden I was not a part of their lives anymore.  My friend abandoned me, and it looked like he was told to cut me out.

 

And it broke my heart, for a few minutes.  And then I decided to roll me eyes and write them off.  Because who hugs someone in public after greatly criticizing them in private?  What kind of person is your friend one day and being understanding and then the next cannot make eye contact or offer any support?

 

And I just gave it all to God and chalked it all up to a learning experience.  I decided to be thankful that I did not get in any deeper and perhaps was being spared from something dangerous or disturbing.

 

And I wished them well and hoped they would be happy.

 

And then God tested me a few weeks ago.  Because He allowed me to know this couple, who had quickly married, also quickly separated.  And when I found this out, I knew my response was important.  I knew my initial reaction would be the evidence.  Did I really let it all go?  Or was I holding onto unnecessary (and harmful) grudges?

 

And my reaction even surprised me.  I was genuinely sad.  My heart immediately filled with compassion.

 

It didn’t matter how either of them had treated me.  It didn’t matter hwo offended I had felt.  It didn’t matter how no one had accounted or apologized for his/her behavior.

 

What mattered was a child of God was hurting.  Possibly two of them.  And it touched my heart in every place the truth echoed.

 

And I pray that they can figure out what went wrong and fix it.  I pray God’s favor on them for a long and happy marriage.  I pray healing for all the hurt and broken places within them.

 

And it’s not just lip service when I say this.  It’s not just Christian platitudes to make myself sound holy.  It’s not just a public confession designed to make myself look good (but fails to match up with my private actions).

 

I am sincere.

 

And that surprised me.  Because it makes realize that God has done a great work in my heart.  Because God has taken the cracks of disappointment and filled the hurt with compassion.  Because God has taken the broken spaces and filled them with forgiveness.  Because God has taken the hurts and filled them with grace.

 

And now I am one revelation closer to being the new creature He calls me to be (2 Corinthians 5:17).  And now I am one good decision closer to Him completing His purposes in me (Philippians 1:6).  And now I am one choice closer to seeing all my former sins and ways be overwritten by His grace (Isaiah 1:18, Isaiah 43:19).

 

And why is it all important?

 

I Wish My Former Friend Well.jpg

 

Because God says “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  If I can’t get my heart right, I can’t give away grace.  I can’t free offer forgiveness.  I can’t experience true joy or peace.

 

Because my heart is the core of who I am.  It is the holding place for my faith.  It is the starting place for my reactions.  It is the deciding place for my relationships.

 

So if my heart isn’t right, my life isn’t right.  And I want my life to be a beacon that draws people to Him.

 

So when I had the choice, I chose God’s way.  I know I could have been happy and glad that someone who offended me was hurting.  But that’s not love.  That’s not forgiveness.  That’s not grace.  That’s just selfishness and self-righteousness in action.  And that’s not how God calls us to live.  So I was amazed at the good work God is completing in me, where grace supersedes grudges and forgiveness overwrites feelings.

 

So thank You loving Father for showing me that my faith is not in vain and my hope is not unfounded.  Help me to continue to grow in every way possible.  Help me to continue to be overcome by grace and guided by compassion – so I never put people after my comfort.  Thank You for continuing to do a great work in my heart.  I pray Paul’s prayer now that You continue it to completion.  In Jesus’ all-mighty name.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin, 9/18/16

70×7

Chris August has a song based on Matthew 18:21-22, where Jesus says “I say to you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven”.

 

The chorus is powerful.

What can it teach us about forgiveness?

 

7 times 70 times.  Stop counting how many times you forgive someone and just keep forgiving them.  Because it is important to your well-being and your relationship with God.  Because God doesn’t count how many times He forgives you.  Because it isn’t about quantity but about quality.  He means to keep forgiving, no many how many days or tries it takes to be real to you.

 

I’ll do what it takes to make it right.  Forgiveness is obedience.  I will allow God to speak to me about the right way to go, and I will willingly follow Him … no matter how difficult it is or how uncomfortable it makes me.

 

I thought the pain was here to stay.  Forgiveness is a balm.  I could not see beyond myself to see God’s goodness, so I focused on my pain.  And then I got stuck.  No growth, no forward movement, no pure joy.

 

But forgiveness made a way.  God loves me too much to leave me wallowing, so He provided a way for me to get unstuck – so I can be free, joyful, and prosperous.

 

7 times 70 times.  It doesn’t matter how you feel, what you think, or what has happened.  Make the choice to forgive – again.  And again.  And as often as necessary to move beyond that moment.

 

There’s healing in the air tonight.  “God picked up my heart and helped me through” my darkest thoughts, my hardest seasons, and my most hopeless situations.  He released me from the prison I created for myself with my hard heart and self-righteousness.  He broke the chains I had placed around myself.  He gave me hope that things would get better.

 

I’m reaching up to pull it down.  Forgiveness is a choice.  I am making the conscious choice and purposed effort to look outside of my feelings and beyond my experiences to find God.

 

Gonna wrap it all around.  Forgiveness is a comfort.  I am choosing to replace my hurt, my pain, my sadness, and my shame with God’s grace and to receive His grace fully to fill in the cracks in my broken heart.

 

Forgiveness is us accepting God’s grace in our life.  And then making the grace-full choice to reach out and do the same for others – “I forgive you”.

 

Who do you need to forgive today?

 

Marie Fremin.  6/7/16

 

 

Forgive Us

1 John 2:12 – “I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.”

 

The disciple John, the one beloved to the Christ, is writing to the church.  To encourage believers to love.  In the same way Jesus loved them.  Which includes forgiveness.

 

Matthew 6:12 – “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.”

 

Forgive us our selfish choices, so we can forgive those who have been selfish toward us.

 

Forgive us our thoughtless words, so we can forgive those who have spoken thoughtlessly to us.

 

Forgive us our mistakes, so we can forgive those who have made mistakes against us.

 

Forgive us for our wrong choices, so we can forgive those who have wronged us.

 

Forgive us for our knee-jerk quick reactions, so we can forgive those who have not overreacted toward us.

 

Forgive us for our fits of anger, so we can forgive those who have been angry with us.

 

But it goes so much deeper than this.

God, forgive us.

For every time we have failed to live up to Your image (Genesis 1:27).

Forgive Us

Forgive us for not living up to our godly potential (walking in our godly gifts), so we can be free to help others know You and love You (Matthew 28:19-20).

 

Forgive us for not being the poetry You created us to be (Ephesians 2:10), so we can be a living expression of Your love and grace.

 

Forgive us for being stingy with our love and compassion, so we can be better at being Your light (Matthew 5:16) and measuring out great amounts of Your love (Luke 6:38).

 

Forgive us for not being quicker to forgive or not forgiving completely, so that we may help others find the peace and security they seek (Matthew 6:14) and we can help release people from their bondage.

 

Forgive us for not stepping out of our comfort zones to touch and impact people, so that we find boldness to reach out to people and go the extra mile with them (Matthew 5:41) whenever we are called, despite how uncomfortable it makes us.

 

Forgive us for not trusting You more and for choosing to focus on our problems instead of Your solutions, so we may have big faith that moves mountains and sees the impossible happen (Matthew 21:21).

 

Forgive us for every moment we should have depended on you but didn’t, so we can rise above ourselves and live completely dependent on you (Matthew 5:3).

 

Forgive us for every time we refused Your grace or denied Your love, so we can learn how to trust You completely without reservation, hesitation, or doubt (James 1:6-8).

 

Forgive us for being controlled by our old habits and wrong thoughts, so we can be transformed completed into Your image (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

Forgive us for not allowing You to help us with our concerns, so we can learn to receive Your care and then help others walk through their trials (2 Corinthians 1:4).

 

Forgive us for our lack of humility that keeps us from following You, so that we can learn to fully submit to You with an open heart (James 4:6-7) and willing feet (James 1:22).

 

Forgive us for those moments of silence when we should have been speaking Your truth, so we can learn to speak up with “My tongue … the pen of a ready writer” (Psalm 45:1).

 

Forgive us for every time we gave up and refused to continue, so we can learn to “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31) to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

 

Forgive us for every time we offered You are good works instead of a faithful heart, so we can learn that our heart is most important to You (Psalm 51:17).

 

Thank You, loving Father, for Your extreme compassion and expanding grace that cover us through all our human moments.  Thank You that, despite all we do, we can always “come boldly to the throne of grace” to find forgiveness and “obtain mercy” (Hebrews 4:16).  Thank You for helping us to accept where we are but not be limited or stuck there forever.  Thank You for helping us grow beyond our present season and our recent choices into a blessed and prosperous future.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin, 6/6/16.

Love Your Neighbor

Love.

 

We use the word frequently and without discretion.  We use it to describe people, places, experiences, and possessions.  We use it to express a variety of emotions in response to the moment.

 

But God is specific when He says love people.  Jesus commanded it, and His disciples quoted it repeatedly:

  • John 13:34 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
  • Matthew 5:44 – But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you
  • Matthew 22:39 – And the second [great commandment] is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
  • Mark 12:33 – And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
  • Romans 13:8-10Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
  • Galatians 5:14 – For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • 1 John 4:7-8Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
  • 1 John 4:11-1211 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
  • 1 John 4:20-2120 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

Love Your Neighbor

What does this mean?  We have to love people at all times, in all places, through all difficulties.  We have to love people as God loves them.  Which means at all times.  In all circumstances.  When they are angry and obnoxious.  When they are wrong.  When they are abusive.

 

Because everyone is a son or daughter of God, whether they acknowledge Him or not.

Because everyone matters to Him, whether He matters to them or not.

Because God sees the heart He lovingly formed (1 Samuel 16:7, Psalm 139:14), not the hurt they have caused.

 

To love.  To forgive.  To reconcile.  To be at peace.  With all people.  Jesus says it is the second most important thing we are called to do.

 

But it is hard.  I struggle with this.  DAILY.

 

Because I want to repay people wrong for wrong, hard word for hard word, sneak for sneak, and bad attitude for bad attitude.  I want to lash out and slap back.  I want to yell and fight.  In my head I have numerous conversations where I do all these things and come up with a lot of put-you-in-your-place retorts.

 

And my problem is that I don’t let is go quickly or easily.  I allow it to take over my thoughts and emotions.  I allow it to speak a harsh diatribe in my head whenver I see the person.  I allow it to invade my peace and steal my ability to forgive.

 

I know it.  I recognize this dysfunction in myself.  I hear its footsteps in my thoughts.  I taste its bitter feel on my tongue.  I feel the stone wall being erected in my heart.  I know my ability to love languishes.  My capacity to forgive fades away.  My ability to be compassionate is chased away.

 

I am currently going through this now with someone in my life but not close to my heart.  Every time I see this person, I feel myself change into someone I don’t want to be.  I feel myself tense up at the thought of expelling my frustration.  I feel myself skirting toward the edge of temptation to lash out in retaliation.  I feel myself sticking out my tongue and making obnoxious gestures after the person walks by.

 

This makes me human.  And it points to my need for the Savior to continue His work on my heart.  Because I need an attitude adjustment.  Without a heart transplant – where Jesus fills up my holes, waters my dry places, and mends my broken spots – I cannot live up to my spiritual obligation to love.  To love people as much as, if not more, than I love myself.

 

So I will continue to pray that I can live above my emotions and beyond the moment to be someone who can love her neighbor.  At all times.  In all circumstances.  No matter how my feelings are trying to guide me in the wrong direction.

 

Because my goal is to be a Romans 13:10 girl, a person who lives by this guiding force: “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law”.

 

Because harsh thoughts cause harm.

Because harsh words cause hurt.

Because harsh feelings cause hatred.

 

And these things don’t allow us the opportunity to think beyond the emotion.  To consider anything (positive) beyond the moment.  To offer grace instead of growling back.  To extend forgiveness and forfeit revenge.

 

It is hard.  Again, I struggle.  DAILY.  But thank God I am a work in progress and each day I get a new opportunity to love.  To love my neighbor – anyone I come in contact with – as much as, if not more than, I love myself.  To love.  At all times.  In all circumstances.  No matter what someone throws at me, right or wrong.

 

And daily I pray I take advantage of every opportunity He gives me.  So my heart softens, my heart opens, and my heart loves.  Willingly.

 

Because every day I will have the chance to love my neighbors.  And I want to be ready!

 

 

Help me, Father, to see people the way You see them.  Help me to see them through Love’s eyes, which see the heart and not the behavior.  Help me to see the potential, the poetry, and the possibilities You have embedded in each person.  I pray You continue to soften my heart against anger, retribution, and harsh words.  Help me to replace my negative reactions with Your influence of love and grace.  It is hard, since I am human, but thank You Father that You are not – and so You walk with me to help me.  Replace my words with Your love, my reactions with Your grace, and my anger with Your forgiveness.  For to truly love my neighbors, I need to be an extension of Your love … which means replacing all my human frailties with Your divine sureties.  Fill my human holes, my human emotions, and my human limitations with Your divine power, divine insight, and divine grace.  In Jesus’ almighty name.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin. 4/17, 4/18, and 4/24/16

Forgiveness is NOT Optional

Is it just me, or does everyone else feel like he/she is constantly being bombarded by offense? Persistently being chased by aggravation? Always being assaulted by annoyance?

 

Aggravation is inevitable. Because God knows we need these things in our life. To learn patience. To practice kindness. To walk in love. To find joy and peace in the midst of all circumstances.

 

But most importantly? To extend forgiveness.

Forgiveness is NOT Optional

Because forgiveness requires a full dependence on God to change our heart and soften our emotions to someone who treated us unfairly. Who abused and hurt us. Who ignored us. Who belittled us. Who abandoned us. Who disappointed us (regularly).

 

No matter what happened, we are called to forgive. Commanded to forgive. Commissioned to forgive. Because God says forgiveness is not optional. It’s not a suggestion.

  • Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25-26 – “14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
  • Matthew 18:21-22 – “21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
  • Luke 6:37-38 – “37 Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
  • Luke 7:44-47 – “44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
  • Luke 11:4: – “And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”

 

So it’s not optional. Just as we have been forgiven for every bad thought, bad decision, wrong emotion, and wrong judgment, so too are we supposed to forgive everyone who hurt us. Offended us. Wronged us. Because that’s what His Cross is all about. A love so big and so epic that it forgives everything. Colossians 2:13-14 says “… He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses … He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

 

So God says we have to forgive. No choice about it. But sometimes it just isn’t easy.

 

Sometimes forgiveness is a process. You can start by saying the words “I forgive you” every day and at every resurfacing of the memories. And you keep doing it. And one day you’ll find that pretty soon they have taken root and aren’t just words. You have truly forgiven.

 

And it’s SO important to forgive.

 

Because you do it for YOU. When you don’t forgive, you are only hurting yourself. You are keeping yourself in bondage to the pain. You are keeping yourself from moving forward. You are stealing the future and its joy from yourself.

 

Because forgiveness is freedom to live life to its fullest. It opens the doors to God’s opportunities, and it gives you the ability to walk through them freely and unencumbered. Because you aren’t weighed down by your pain or held back by the burdens of the past. You become a victor, filled with power, instead of a victim, fueled by pain.

 

Because forgiveness is healing. Forgiveness heals fully and finally the wounds from your past that you keep rubbing and picking. No more painful scars or itchy rashes. Just the evidence of His grace filling your empty spaces and hurting places and redeeming all your tears. So you are whole – body, mind, and emotions – and ready to follow Him. And then your scars become testimonies of His grace and His love that others can see and benefit from.

 

Because He wants His best in your life, and unforgiveness stops it from coming to you. It is so natural to want to hold onto and hoard our hurts. But it is so counterproductive to what God wants to do. It is so harmful to our spiritual life. It literally eats us up from the inside out. It keeps us off balance so we never let people get close to us. We even hold God off at a distance. We’re not quite right in our behavior and our reactions. And forgiveness will break every chain that keeps us from God.

 

Forgiveness needs to happen, whether there is an apology or not. Because forgiveness is about us being free of an unmanageable burden. Because forgiveness brings overflowing grace that is bigger than any abuse, bigger than any pain, bigger than any shame. Because forgiveness is necessary if we ever want to make progress and grow.

 

So decide to let go and move forward.

Let God be good, faithful, and true in your story.

Let God enhance your life with freedom and joy.

Rise above your trial and choose the better way.

 

We will all be defined by something. Let it be God and not unforgiveness. Let it be God and not your past. Let it be God and not your offense.

 

For what we let God define He will refine. For your good and His glory.

 

Let today be the day you choose forgiveness. Let today be the day you (start to) forgive. Let today be the day you (begin to) let go.

 

For when we open our hands from holding onto the hurt, our hearts immediately open to God and His goodness. And what we think will be a great effort to forgive will become effortless. Because His grace will enable you to forgive completely.

 

So let today be the day that you allow God to change your life for the better. You will never regret that decision!

 

Marie Fremin. 1/10, 1/16, 1/19, 1/23/16

 

Boiling Point

NOTE: An apology/addendum has been added to the end of this post on 3/13/16, since a lot of emotions and reactions resulted from the original post.

 

I am a natural redhead, which means that all of my life I have comments in the genre of “wow, you must have a wicked temper”. And I used to. I may have been a great mobster, because in those moments of anger I didn’t care what I did and who got hurt. Because I was intensely angry. Now, I won’t say the temper has anything to do with the hair color but think what you want.

 

Now I have what I lovingly refer to as “flash and burn” moments. When something crosses my path that doesn’t agree with thinking or agenda. When someone says something that doesn’t agree with my ideologies. But it has to be something big. Something that basically calls me stupid on multiple levels. Something that calls my God or my faith onto the carpet in very obnoxious or judgmental ways. Because most of the other stuff is now in the “too piddly to worry about it” category. Life is too short to be bogged down in that minutia. So for the small stuff, I flash mad and then calm down, realizing that it isn’t worth the effort.

 

But when someone comes to me and says I am taking liberty with God’s holy Word, I get mad. Not a quick moment of mad. A boiling furnace. A raging river. A four alarm fire. Because in those moments who I am is being challenged. What I think is being denigrated. And I am being told I am wrong on so many levels that it becomes very personal.

 

And when that person doesn’t have the authority to be saying this, doesn’t have any kind of conversation with me about my thinking to have an adult discussion, and comes out publicly to declare my errors, the flash is long lasting. The burn continues. And it rages for a while.

Boiling Point.jpg

Because who among us really knows anything? Who can declare himself/herself most knowledgeable about God? When we are honest, we admit that we know nothing. We have a minuscule understanding, a brief glimpse, and a tiny speck of truth in His Word to go by to try to understand an infinite, eternal, and sovereign God. He even tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9 that we have no idea the scope of God’s love and plans: ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

 

His thoughts are light years and centuries beyond ours. Deuteronomy 7:9 says God thinks many, many generations into our future – ““Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” Psalm 90:4 says that God sees each day in the scope of eternity – “For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night.” Ephesians 3:17-20 tell us we cannot even begin to comprehend God’s love for us and the blessings He wants to give us – “17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”

 

So how can one person say that he/she knows more than someone else? How can one person be declared wiser or more knowledgeable than the next?

 

Because we’re all on the journey together. We all learn the most about God from our experiences – in life, with people, with Him. Some of us have had more experiences and learned more lessons. Some of us have to learn the hard way, but we eventually get it.

 

It is in sharing our experiences – in having conversations, sitting in group circles, telling our story – that we refine our faith. In seeing and celebrating God’s goodness in each life. In recognizing God’s grace in our life. In seeing God’s footprints on the path with us, guiding us away from our selfishness and closer to Him. In honoring God’s blessings in all lives, no matter how big or small.

 

But to try to be part of the conversation means risk. It means feeling safe enough to express an opinion or share a thought. It means sharing the whole journey – what you think, what you feel, and what you believe. Because the whole point of community is shared faith – to learn from each other, to grow with each other, and to share from our life experiences. And so what if we don’t agree about an interpretation of a verse? That’s not what it’s about. For we each have something valuable to say and something important to share. There is something we can learn from each other, whether we agree or not.

 

And to say we can talk about anything and everything within a face-to-face setting but not on a daily message board? To say we can’t share an opinion or a thought that would cause people to question their ideology? And to give one person free reign to say and do but everyone else has to be monitored? That’s ludicrous. That’s audacious. That’s ridiculous.

 

So right now for me the struggle is real. The anger is kindled and keeps refiring. The hurt is festering as an open wound. The audacity is glaringly evident and continues to slap. The journey together has been suspended.

 

It is a hard place to be. To feel like Joseph in the pit, wondering what will happen. To not know if or when a conversation can take place to heal toward reconciliation. To see the root of bitterness trying to give itself life in the heart. To wonder how this will all turn out. To be torn – to feel the conflicting emotions of being offended and being humored.

 

For I know at the end of it, I will have to let go and forgive. Whether an admission of error is made or not. Whether a conversation is ever had. Whether a (fragile) peace can be made. And I will.

 

Right now I am walking through it and trying to filter the offense through the lens of God’s love. Right now I am wondering how personally it should be taken.

 

Because it feels very personal. It feels very wrong. It feels very offensive.

 

So I will continue to struggle with it. I will continue to weigh my feelings against the grace of God, knowing that I can end the struggle anytime I wish. I will continue question what happened and what I can learn from it. I will continue to wonder how something so innocent and honest could explode into something so ugly and hurtful.

 

In this moment, I don’t have the answer. I don’t have the solution. But I know one thing – God is good. God won’t waste this opportunity to teach me something important. God won’t let this moment pass by without covering it with His glory and giving me a testimony. God won’t stop loving me or give up on me to make it right and do it better.

 

Because no matter how angry I am, whether I am at my boiling point or not, God has covered me with grace. God has given me the chance to forgive and repent, to make it right. God has given me the chance to grow.

 

God never promised the journey of life would be easy. In fact, Jesus taught repeatedly about trials and struggles in life – to let us know that there will always be curves that come up unexpectedly and hard times we will have to contend with.

 

What we are promised is a divine peace that can supersede all the stuff we deal with – “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). A Savior who understands all our struggles and walks with us through them to the other side – “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15). A command to not let anything or anyone stop us from approaching our loving and generous Father – “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). And a heavenly Creator who is waiting for us to run to Him, no matter what we have done, what we have thought, and how we have reacted – “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy” (Psalm 145:8).

 

And what more could a mere mortal ask for?

 

Marie Fremin, 1/17/16

 

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Addendum written 3/13/16:

I have been thinking and praying about our situation. I know there are a few words I owe you.

 

I don’t hate you. I never hated you. Yes, I did get furious, but it never turned to hate. Because hate is such a powerful and overcoming emotion that is not easily shaken off. Hate absorbs and hate controls. Hate refuses to let in the light of God in any way, shape, and form. Whereas anger is reactive and temporary. Anger is confined in the situation and not carried over. I was angry, but I never hated you. I never will hate you. If you got that impression, I do sincerely apologize.

 

I should have talked to you. I should have sat down face to face and worked out whatever we could. But in that weekend and in those feelings, I honestly could not. I was unable to have a reasonable and rational conversation. I was unable to behave in any kind of sane way. Because I was still working on processing the overwhelming emotions I was feeling. Because I am deeply scarred and wounded by people in my past – who have repeatedly taught me that opening my mouth results in verbal abuse and accusation. So I let my hurts and my brokenness stay my tongue from resolution. I need to work on this. I sincerely apologize you were caught in that wake.

 

And finally, I apologize that you were offended by the blog. My intent was never to publicly condemn or criticize. My intent was (A) to work through the dangerous and damaging emotions trying to manipulate me; (B) to open a door for God to speak truth and peace to me; and (C) be real about my journey. I see my blog as a mirror to who I am and who God is – and who God is calling me to be. I will never be all sunshine and rainbows, painting a fake ideal of real. My blog is real, and the emotions – as bad and as deep as they are – are real. Because Jesus didn’t come to heal the well – He came to save and guide the sinners. And I readily admit I am a sinner. I am not proud of how I behaved, and I am not proud of how it made you feel. But it is real life that once again points me – and hopefully others – to grace. Unfailing grace. Unending grace. Unconditional grace.

 

I will be honest and say that I will most likely not take this blog down. I need the very real reminder of how dark and low I can go without looking to and leaning on God first. I need the realness to remind me how much I need to trust God with every emotion. At this point, I feel that taking it down would be untrue to the purpose of my blog and would be a minor victory for the enemy, who would turn it into an instrument of shame. If it does stay up, I will definitely post some kind of intro or addendum to clarify. If this hurts your hurt or upsets you, I sincerely apologize. I don’t want to hurt you or offend you, but I do need to be true to myself and my journey.

 

I honestly don’t know where to go from here. You were entirely correct in it now being an unsafe space. I don’t fault you for being wary, and I assume you don’t fault me for being skiddish. I have no comfort level sitting with my mouth closed, feeling unable to share. And I understand you will constantly wonder when (not if, I know) I will “blast” you again. That’s not healthy for anyone.

 

So I am officially stepping back and allowing myself a season to renew, refresh, and regroup. I need time and space to come to a place of full healing.

 

Please know, again, that I do not hate you or want to see harm come to you. Know I appreciate your gifts and talents. Know I appreciate your willingness to apologize (something I have not experienced in the last 10 years). Know I understand we are all human and make mistakes – thank God for grace! Know that wisdom and growth are coming out of this situation.

 

I do hope God continues to bless you, keep you, and guide you. I hope His hand and His favor are obvious on your life. I hope you are well and healthy in all areas.

 

Flow in grace! Marie (3/13/16)