What I Believe: I Can Do Hard Things....Including Forgive-Part 2

Isn't it strange.  Quietly, struggle internally with something for a long time...then no sooner it's put out into the universe, and God answers.
(I guess last week's post was an uttered prayer of sorts.)

He did so.  Loud & clear.  Twice.

FIRST:  Yeah.  So, the individual I mentioned I've been having a hard time with?  Wouldn't ya know?  I wound up stuck in the same room with them.  No joke.

This hasn't happened in a long time.  I mean loooong, long time.

Whenever we've been near each other, it's been strained to say the least.  This person has known I haven't anything to say to them for a long time.  And forget about trusting them.

That's what was so different about this time.  No avoiding a conversation with them.  But it was good.  No awkward silences.  We even had some laughs.  Our conversation went on for a while, and we each came away from it in one piece.  Fancy that!  Turned out better than I've been imagining it would.

As I also mentioned before there are changes a-coming.  I keep asking if I'll be ready for them.  Ready to embrace them.

Still not sure I'm ready for them...at least not to embrace them per se.  But considering how this situation just went down....Christmas may turn out okay-ish.  By next year's family reunion, maybe there'll be some semblance of harmony.  At least I feel like it's possible.

I haven't felt this hope in a couple years.  So this is progress.  And progress is always good, right?

SECOND:  Was sitting in Stake Conference on Sunday, jotting away at my notes as I listened to the speakers.  Our stake president reflected on a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, & spoke further concerning Lot's wife of the Old Testament and a correlation with our own lives.

He touched on how often we start out in the right direction; abandoning sin & temptations, ways of thinking & worldliness.  But many of us, like Lot's wife, can't let go completely.  We hold on to how things USED to be....habits...ways of thinking....what we value.  We must put the will of the Lord before our own always.  That way we won't be like Lot's wife.

"...Remember Lot's wife." (Luke 17:32)

Now, this primed my spiritual pump.  (Does that make sense?)

Considering what's been consuming me lately, I needed to hear that....especially the stake president's emphasis on "how things USED to be" & habits (including my habit to hold a grudge with a particular person), and what we value (do I value my grudge more than peace & the will of the Lord?  Really?!?).  So my heart was definitely opened & my understanding was enlarged through the Holy Spirit.  I could feel my heart start to rise in my throat.

Then, the very next speaker was a young man who'd returned from his full-time mission about 2 years ago.  I don't remember what the entire message of his address was about, but one thing stood out more than others....the New Testament of Christ saving & forgiving the adulteress.  He told her "go, and sin no more" (John 8:11).

The words hit me like a ton of bricks!

Christ's commandment to her was to let go, to move forward, to not even glance back.  And to cease living as she had been.  His commandment is universal.  It applies to me as well.  I am no adulteress, however I have my own existing way of thinking, and my inability to forgive another person....and I need to let go.  Move forward.  Not even a glance back is acceptable.  So by that point, in addition to my new throat condition, I started feeling a little misty-eyed.

After I took a deep breath, and let it out, a bit of the weight seemed to slip from my shoulders.  An answer!  It was nice.  Relief felt good.

However, without warning, again I felt like I'd been hit by a Mack truck, for my understanding of the lesson started to expand even further from there.

The lesson wasn't just in His response to the woman; not solely in the words He used.  It was in how He said it.  How He forgave her.  He forgave her simply.  Without an excruciating trial or accusations.  With no lecture.  A simple commandment & release from her sin.  The quiet thought came to my mind, "You've got to let go."

By that point, tears were streaming down my face.  I was sobbing, and Mr LKP had noticed.  He gave me the "what?" eyebrow, and I showed him the thought as I had jotted it in my notes.  He squeezed me gently.  I was still sobbing.  He gave me the "is there more?" look...and at that moment another quiet thought pierced my heart: "If Christ would forgive so simply, even THIS sinner with THIS sin, so must you."  I could barely see, but I scribbled it down for him, and I had to leave the room.  I was a complete mess.

Consider this situation in the scriptures for a moment.  There is much to the story that is in the words, without having to have more written.

One word in particular: adultery.

The story does not read 'fornication' in this woman's case.  The difference?  One takes place between married people, the other between non-married people.

The rest of the story is that she, the sinner, had family that were affected by her past, no doubt.  The scriptures don't note who her family was, where they were or were not in this interaction with the Savior.  We know it was the scribes & Pharisees who brought the woman before the Lord.  What isn't outlined is how she'd been found out.  Who ratted her out....could it be a dishonored family member?  Could they possibly have been standing on the outskirts of the damning party?

Matter of fact, it's quite possible considering that beastly honor killings have been common in the Middle-East for ages.  Adultery was grounds for capital punishment as far as Hebrew law was concerned.  And traditionally, the family was the most important institution in their culture, to bring dishonor or shame upon the family meant she would be completely abandoned. 

The commandment issued by Jesus, "...He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone..." (John 8:7), was directed towards all of her accusers.  Same to her family members.
...Same to me as a family member.

After she was told to go & sin no more, the scriptures do not mention that her life following this experience was easy. 

Also, considering the inevitable abandonment from her family, despite not being put to death, it may have felt still like an uphill battle to live down the past...even though the Son of God himself forgave her.  Must have been excruciatingly lonely at times.

More reason I, as family, need to forgive & let go.

I'm not sharing this with you because I think I'm so great, or that I want attention.  I share this merely to testify that Heavenly Father hears our prayers.  These are prayers I've been praying for 2+ years.  I've felt numbness in those 2 years that's frustrated me, that's stunted my spiritual growth and I know it. 
(Lack of progression = regression.  We all know that.)

Perhaps it's been so hard for me because I figured this person deserved justice, NOT mercy.  Perhaps cause I thought I had it all figured out...and that God would vindicate all those that have been hurt over the past 2 1/2 years.  Perhaps I figured it would've & should've happened a heck of a lot sooner.  Yes, perhaps I WAS thinking I knew better.  And I recognize now that, not only do I NOT know better, but I have the greater sin for being one too eager to condemn.

Regardless of when in my time the grievances have come to pass, and when I've finally gotten my "a-ha" moment....it's all been in God's time.  I don't know better than He.  And He hasn't forgotten my prayers or my family's prayers.  He knows all that's gone on, even stuff the rest of us may still be unaware of in this scenario.  Yet He's here.  Offering peace if I will but obey.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."
 (Matthew 10:29-31)

(What's still to come may seem/feel weird, but today I'm grateful for answered prayers.)


Garden of Egan said...

Beautiful story my dear friend! Thank you for telling me what I needed to hear.

I love yer guts.

M-Cat said...

Absolutely beautiful post! Forgiveness is something that every single one of us struggle with. Some to harsher degrees than others prehaps, but it's a struggle for sure.

I loved your phrase "primed my spiritual pump" Gonna remember that one!

Julie said...

I loved this post! We are far to quick to hold a grudge...and yet unforgiveness is truly the "bait of Satan"!! I love how this lesson so beautifully unfolded in your life!

Kim said...

Thank you for sharing your story, it stregthens others. No one knows better what we are going through than the Lord. His timing is everything. He know when we will be willing to listen, hear and most of all feel when to "let go" I have been doing something similar, but my grudge, hurt, disappointment has been going on for many, many, many years. I have been searching for a way, an answer of some sorts to forgive. I know I have to, but sometimes the hurt is the only thing that keeps me going and connected somehow to this person. I know it sounds strange, but I fear that if I let all the above go, I will loose my dad forever. (WOW!!! BIG AWE HA MOMENT RIGHT HERE! with tears streaming down cheecks) something I need to consider. Thanks. Love you girl!

Cherie said...

It is definately not easy but letting go free's us. I have a testimony of this and I have definately lived it -more than once in my life!!
You are getting way deep in the spiritual things - Loving it!

S.I.F. said...

I have a feeling I am going to need to be taking some lessons from you lady. I'm proud of you. I need to be more like you.

Valerie said...

I am so behind reading everyone's blogs. I'm glad that your time together went okay. What beautiful, perfect words that you needed to hear at stake conference. My stake conference is coming up next weekend and I Can't Wait!

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