During Launch Week (December 9-15) for Doug Bender’s, Live Second, I have been asked to participate in writing four blog entries telling the story of my spiritual journey as it correlates with four separate entries from his book. Come along and experience … and learn why I live second.
Page 46 – Release
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! Matthew 18:21-22 NLT
With the help of Scripture and emotionally-healthy friends, I began my journey to becoming not only the person I wanted to be, but the person I was meant to be. I learned that to grab onto the life I so desperately wanted, I first needed to let go of all elements of my previous life that were damaging. I needed to understand as best I could all the areas of my life that had caused me harm.
Supported by prayer and guidance, I allowed myself to look at areas in my life—with honesty and rigorous honesty—that I had spent a lifetime trying to avoid. I looked at old wounds from childhood that were never addressed as well as recent pains that I never wanted to acknowledge. I looked at my choices and actions from long ago to recent reactions that I hated myself for.
I looked at all the ugliness; then I humbly offered it all to God. OK, God, I said, this is who I am; can you really love me like this?
The relief was incredible!! I got a glimpse at how awesome God’s love for me was. He sent his son to take all my disgusting choices and covered them—paid for them—at the cross. He was waiting to forgive me, and all I had to do was admit my need for a Savior and accept his forgiveness. He made it so simple!
But he wasn’t done; he wanted more from me. He wanted me to also forgive those who had hurt me.
Oh, Father, I said in a panic, how can you expect me to forgive them? I was sure I misunderstood. But it was clear; I was to model Jesus’ act of forgiveness.
Again with the support of scripture, prayer and guidance, I learned how to forgive those who had hurt me. I also learned that forgiveness was a choice for me, not a feeling. I was to choose to forgive and trust that God would bring the feelings to match my obedient heart. I was to forgive because I had been forgiven. I needed to only concentrate on offering the forgiveness; I have no control over whether it would or would not be accepted or even reciprocated.
I spend lots of time in prayer, asking God to help me forgive those who caused me harm. I wasn’t sure if I felt like it, but I knew I needed to choose forgiveness…
…and the most amazing thing happened. After a time, my heart started to change toward those who caused so much pain in my life. My anger toward them lessened and was replaced with compassion. I began to see them differently; not as the villains I had once labeled them, but as hurting people who needed a healing touch from Christ. Because I offered forgiveness as God directed, some relationships were healed. Unfortunately, some relationships I needed to walk away from. But the relationships I walked away from, I walked away because it was the healthy thing to do.
Before I knew it, I had peace for the first time in my life. No fanfare or balloons came with my new peace. Just the quiet comfort that I could look those around me in the eye and not turn away. It was simple: I had been forgiven and I had forgiven others. For the first time in my life, I was free.
I realized that God didn’t want me to earn his love as I thought for all those years. He just wanted me to accept it. Through years of brokenness he waited for me. I had turned my back on him, but he never turned his back on me.
And he continues to be good. I have heard God’s leading and am dedicated to telling others about what waits for them if they only give up the illusion of control in exchange for peace.
My name is Robin Gilbert Luftig, and I’m second.
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