Journey from flames to forgiveness-Part I

I could feel that familiar, yet unwanted sensation rising first in the low of my belly and then moving into my throat, sticking like gum to hot cement.

I swallowed, trying to stuff it back down. But it spread, creating sticky strands in the firing emotion. My skin tingled then heated, ignited wounds of anger and hurt.

Those flames alighted those unforgotten (why?) offenses. Those lacerations that I thought I had exonerated, soothed then salved so no traces present, now flared.

I became internally enraged, inflamed by the duality of my frustration for these undesirable feelings and my sense of justice that I know is not mine to administer.

Outwardly I spread out kindness, grace, even good-deeds, believing my actions would convert the pain of betrayal, blame and condemnation. Act yourself into a feeling, so to speak.

Outwardly I resisted, controlling and protecting through avoidance by positioning myself to not be in the offenders presence for a duration. Time heals all wounds, so to speak.

Had I not then authenticated my forgiveness in gracious acts? Had I not healed my wounds through protection of situation vulnerability, giving time for the terrain to ice so no flame of ill will could ignite?

Why was I shifting back to condemnation of self and my offender again?

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“When,” my soul and heart cried out, “will this be over?”

And the Spirit whispered: When you have truly forgiven. Forgiven yourself and forgiven the offender. Why do you still fear? 

Fear?

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

John 4:18

When in fear, when feeling exposed, vulnerable, trashed, and deeply wounded, perceived  threats of others judgement and perception of us emerge. In other words, our identity is jeopardized.

When agreeing with the perceived threat against us, we condemn ourselves (what is wrong with me that they would think that of me?) and condemn the other (how could they have done that to me?)

And we become reduced to a slave of blame, betrayal, and criticism.

But there is another way.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

We can offer love, following Jesus’ teaching of the gentle way. And remember our safety from the perceived threats of the world (where we will always have trouble) lies in the confidence in the truth that we hold-complete in Christ.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

 

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus

Ephesians 2:4-6

We can give-up what we think we have a right to when wronged: judge the other. We can surrender and let go of the offense, ‘turn the other cheek’ (Matt 5:39) and be free of the chains of blame, criticism and betrayal. In this way we are The Way, turned to the light within us, our True identity as daughters/sons of Christ.

It’s our choice. “What choice will you make, Lynn?” the Spirit asks.

“To be free in love, or chained to judgement?”

Yes, I see now how I have not completely forgiven even in my doing of being outwardly kind, and in my resistance of being vulnerable to the offenders presence. And I know I cannot do this on my own. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can I so forgive, radically and completely. 

So I take a moment, close my eyes and envision that moment where the waves of judgement threatened to crush the safety of my boat. Terror comes over me as I watch my offender rise out of the waves and enter my boat, standing dripping wet in front of me. I twist away. And He is there too.

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“Why are you afraid?” He gently asks. “There is no storm or wave that rise above the love of Me in you. There is no judgement that can change your identity in Me. And there is no offense that is above my grace.” He smiles at me.  “It is finished.” 

And I see Him turn to my offender, His eyes pouring out such light of love and compassion I had to blink several times before able to really see. And my heart warms, but not like the heat of flames that destruct. But rather this warmth is like a sunbeam, embracing and restoring. 

And I cannot help but be engulfed by this love that surrounds both of us now-my offender and myself, both broken people navigating this sea of life. 

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I release my  hands that have been clinging to the boat. The waves still. And I find myself weeping in understanding. It is finished. All is forgiven. 

Part 11 next week

(This story is inspired by my healing journey this past 3 years that included pastors and counselors leading me to bring Jesus into times of trauma, as well as more recently the readings of  The Forgotten Way Meditations and Water Walker by Ted Dekker)

 

 

 

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22 thoughts on “Journey from flames to forgiveness-Part I

  1. This is so beautiful, Lynn. So true that we need to receive all He’s holding out to us, before we can forgive, to understand who we are in Christ and just how much He loves us.

    Something that has also helped me immeasurably is understanding the spiritual battle against evil and seeing those who have hurt me as victims of the enemy’s lashes. It has helped me to look for and acknowledge the hurt done to them, which is at the root of their hurt to others (including me) and see the extension of forgiveness as a healing salve for both of us. That’s why I love this line of yours: “And I cannot help but be engulfed by this love that surrounds both of us now-my offender and myself, both broken people navigating this sea of life.”

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  2. Thanks Anna. And you bring up a good point that the battle is not of flesh and blood, but of principalities. There’s a saying that hurting people hurt people. But this can be broken when starting with the understanding of His love for us, as you mention. Have a wonderful day!

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  3. Grace is it not amazing that when we see it working for us that we need to grant it also to the ones that offended us even if they don’t know God.
    Now that’s amazing grace for he first loved us so that we can love others.
    Thank you Jesus

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  4. Lynn this is filled with aching beauty! You describe so well how unforgivess clings to our souls and yet what gorgeous, mystical words spring forth from you with images and scriptures of the One who heals. Supernatural forgiveness from Christ is needed with deep betrayals! This was such a deep snd meaningful piece!

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    1. Thank you! I liked how you put it really simply–‘unforgiveness clings to our souls.’ So true! I’m super visual and see ‘movies’ basically in my head so it’s hard not to get into story whenever writing! This post is inspired by the healing journey I have been on that included pastors and counselors leading me to bring Jesus into the scenes of past trauma, and more recently readings of the The Forgotten Way Meditations and Water Walker by Ted Dekker. Always blessed to you hear and be over at your beautiful place too!

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    1. It is so true that it is ‘bit by bit’ Valerie, the waters of grace wash over us. And gosh, it is so true about the freedom Christ so much wants for us! Letting go of being right can be hard on my ego too, especially as a studious personality! Those photos were taken way back in 2008 when my daughter and I took a trip to Nova Scotia. The Atlantic ocean is so strong in character!

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  5. Hi Lynn! I really found the sentence: “Those flames alighted those unforgotten (why?) offenses.” I think it’s so true that we question why we hang on to feelings, remorse, old hurts. All it does is eat away at our lives.
    What a joy to read that Jesus led you to let go! What a powerful image you painted for us all. He truly is love. I know you must have felt so light again.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. Hi Ceil! Yes, learning day by day, moment by moment, more who Christ is and what my identity is in Him. And, you put it so well, how we can hold onto old hurts and it can ‘eat away at our lives.’ This post was inspired by many healing practices that included bringing Jesus into those old hurts, the trauma, as well as more recently The Forgotten Way and Water Walker by Ted Dekker. I love how God uses things of this world, the Holy Spirit workings, to point us to Him. Blessings to you too!

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  6. Loved this post and it certainly spoke to me. I myself have been on my own journey with working through forgiveness of a loved one who hurt me. For so long I allowed these hurts to eat away at me and it affected my life in many ways, but I have been working through this. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  7. I came here to simply read your blog post and reciprocate the love you showed me by tweeting mine through CWBU on Facebook. I had no idea that I would end up in tears – convicted and crying and once again surrendering all of the hurt (oh the hurt!) inside of me. I’ve been struggling with deep, deep hurt for several years because of a falling out between my siblings and me. In my family, we don’t truly forgive. We more like stuff it all way down, laugh it off with fake smiles, and never talk about it again. It’s a vicious cycle of hurt and has damaged me so deeply. I know it’s damaged all of us. There are character flaws that keep me from getting too close anymore — but forgiveness doesn’t require a perfect relationship with someone. It requires a perfect surrender to Christ! It’s so hard to let go of that feeling of self-righteousness. “I’ve been hurt – and they deserve to be punished.” So wrong! It’s even harder when we truly do work toward forgiveness … and make great strides in doing so … only to have the offender(s) stomp back into our lives and toss the tables of peace right on their side. And then I have to fall on my knees all over again – and plead for the Holy Spirit to give me the strength to forgive all over again. What a mess. But the light at the end of this dark valley is how I absolutely see God at work – not just in my own life, but in theirs too. If we will just keep seeking Him – His glory, His will, His love, His mercy – I know He will be faithful to work even this for our good. Romans 8:28 I needed this post! It’s beautiful – and so true! I’m going to be “chewing” over it all day today. Thank you! *tissue please?* lol

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    1. Amen! Thank you Rachel for sharing your story. I so get the frustration of when we worked through to forgiveness and then…wham…they stride back in and those hurts well up! But I love how you mention you see God at work, His faithfulness. I have no tissue for you but lift you up in prayer and virtual hug!

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  8. WOW Lynn… Just so incredibly powerful this was to read. As I read through your words, I found myself feeling those same emotions erupt from past hurts and circumstances that still sometimes twist my own heart tight into that fire… It’s an agonizing yet miraculous process to allow God to pour His grace all over the flames. You described it here so exquisitely, my friend.

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  9. This is beautiful, Lynn. Both the messages and the photos. This part especially touched me – “Why are you afraid?” He gently asks. “There is no storm or wave that rise above the love of Me in you. There is no judgement that can change your identity in Me. And there is no offense that is above my grace.” He smiles at me. “It is finished.” It brings tears to my eyes. Jesus overflows with love and grace for us, doesn’t He? Have a soul rest weekend! Hugs!

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  10. Thanks so much for sharing this, Lynn. Wrestling with some things in regard to fear lately, and this parallels what I’ve been meditating on. It is finished. He did it all for us, to restore us and set us free. Blessings to you, sweet friend!

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  11. I can feel and understand your struggle because I know that feeling.
    Such painful words could really leave a mark and make it hard to forgive.

    Thank you for sharing your journey to forgiveness. You have inspired me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I loved this: “And I cannot help but be engulfed by this love that surrounds both of us now-my offender and myself, both broken people navigating this sea of life.” Praising Jesus for the healing He has done in your life and mine–seeing people as Jesus sees them.

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  13. You provide so many beautiful images through your words today. I can relate to many of them but the one I find the most powerful is being in a boat with Jesus and the person you need to forgive. There is something about water, Jesus and crashing waves that speaks to a place I have been before. Your words inspire and heal and I am blessed you shared them with us today. Looking forward to Part II.

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  14. Lynn, this is truly a beautiful, powerful post. Your words spoke straight to my heart. I have a someone in my life I am struggling to forgive. This paragraph spoke to me:
    “When in fear, when feeling exposed, vulnerable, trashed, and deeply wounded, perceived threats of others judgement and perception of us emerge. In other words, our identity is jeopardized.”

    I hadn’t thought about my struggle to forgive as being tied together wit my identity, but it fits. Fear can definitely be a motivator in our decision to hold onto unforgiveness, no matter how slight. Thanks for making me think about this.

    Liked by 1 person

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