I'll be honest...I had the hardest time knowing what to say to Dee. Finally, after a number of days of staring at her e-mail, I did what she originally asked me to do....share more of what I learned on my journey.
Today I'll share my response to Dee. My hope and prayer is that if you (or someone you know) wrestle with thoughts of self-condemnation, perhaps the correspondence Dee and I have shared will encourage you on your journey towards freedom and wholeness in Christ.
Hello dear Dee,
I have prayed for you every day since you sent your note. I wish I had all of the right answers or a verse that would make it all better, but instead will share what I've learned and pray God would encourage you with my words.
First, please know, walking in forgiveness (of myself and others) has definitely been a process for me. When I turned to Jesus in 1996, I was carrying HUGE burdens of shame and guilt. The choices that I made during the years of my life “before Christ” were horrible. When I finally hit bottom with my addiction, I was a real disaster. Trust me.
God really used a Godly mentor named Michele to help me on the road of forgiveness. One of the things that Michele had me do was make a list of all of the poor choices I had made, and write them on a balloon (I actually needed two balloons!!)
Then I prayed that God would forgive me of all of my past choices (1 John 1:9), and let the balloons go. This was very healing. The balloons were such a great visual reminder of my sins being GONE ~ really GONE.
When the enemy (the devil) tried to remind me of my poor choices, it was helpful to remember that sin was GONE (just like the balloons). I was forgiven! No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t take the sin back.
Michele also asked me to make a list of every person I needed to forgive. Kids that had teased me. The people that had hurt me. Myself.
Then she gave me a bag of stones. I sat by a lake and pulled out a stone one by one for each person. I took the stone, prayed a prayer forgiving them for their action, and then threw the stone in the lake. It was a day of immense freedom and victory for me!
It was amazing how many of the people I had forgiven I would "run into" after the lake episode (at the store, etc). It was so helpful to think “you have no more control over me. I’ve forgiven you” rather than have such hurtful thoughts toward that person. I was free!
I realized how much FREEDOM there is in letting people off of the hook. The unforgiveness of others was not hurting them, only me.
I've also learned the beautiful thing about life with Jesus is that He does give us do-overs, Dee!! Jesus is a Savior of 2nd (and 3rd and 4th) chances!! He can take your poor choices and make something beautiful out of the mess. Only God can do that. He will make beauty out of your ashes, in His timing.
And not only did God give me a do-over, He also gave me a new reputation. Only God! And if He can do it for me, He can do it for you!! Guaranteed!
One last thought… Forgiving myself has been a mental choice. Even if I don’t "feel" forgiven, I need to walk in the Truth that I am forgiven. I asked God to help me see myself as He sees me (I still pray this every day).
My mind tells me that I am not good enough, made horrible choices, a disappointment to my parents, etc.. I MUST FILL MY MIND WITH THE TRUTH OF WHO GOD SAYS I AM. I MUST!!
And when the enemy starts to fill my mind with guilt and shame, I throw God’s Word back in the devil’s face.
God’s Word says I am forgiven.
God’s Word says there is NO CONDEMNTATION for those in Christ Jesus.
God’s Word says I am Lavishly Loved.
God’s Word says I am accepted just the way that I am.
Julie wasn’t kidding when she said I have verse cards everywhere. It’s true. My life has been transformed largely because my mind has been transformed. I still live this way today.
I don’t know if any of this is helpful to you, Dee. Please just know that I care and that you are not alone. It is not a coincidence that God brought you to our group. Or that He had me walk over and hug you Monday night. Now I look back and see that as God saying to you “I love you, Dee. I forgive you. I’ve forgotten. Let Me help you forgive yourself. Let’s walk in forgiveness and peace”. Jesus came to set you free, Dee. Victory is yours in Him!! In Him, Cindy
Dee's response to my response on my next post...