I'm working on a non-fiction project called Bohemian Forgiveness: Five Unconventional Paths to Forgiving What You'll Never Forget. There's not much to see on the Facebook page for now but it will come, and I'll be sure to keep you posted.
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I spent years wondering the same thing. As a matter of fact, I once spent four days in a mental institution to keep from killing myself, and it was there that I first asked myself that question.
There was a woman who shuffled around in a bath robe, heavily medicated, who read the Bible to everyone. She routinely "preached" to those of us who just wanted to smoke our cigarettes in silence, while wearing a T shirt that read: It's Who you know that determines where you go. I remember thinking Lady, you're in a nut ward with me!
I hope you have a twisted sense of humor--it helps in the healing process. Okay, now for my answer.
First I would like to clarify that I'm not referring to the people who only go to church on Sundays, never read their Bibles, or spend time with God. So please don't confuse them with the authentic seekers I am referring to. I once heard Joyce Meyer say that if she hung out in a garage all day it wouldn't make her a car, so hanging out in church on Sundays doesn't make a Christian.
I know women who love God. They really do. They go to church, study their Bibles, and give back to their communities. They want their lives to be an authentic example of Christianity. But if we are truly following Christ on a daily basis, He's going to ask us to follow Him into the painful places in our hearts. Not because He wants us to suffer, but because He wants us to be free.
That's what He did with me. And I discovered two things about that process that will separate the girls from the women. When I said yes to facing my past, my behavior took a turn for the worse. Initially, I confirmed what He saw in my heart with a few swear words and by not treating others with respect. Then I downshifted into "coping" with the pain instead of depending on Him. For example, smoking, abusing alcohol, shopping . . . if by now you can relate, then name your poison.
All that "bad" behavior presents a problem for those of us who sincerely want to be good Christian examples, because Satan is faithful to put an onlooker in our paths when we're blowing our "Christian testimony." And that's enough reason for many to remain unhealed. They would rather stuff their pain and maintain their "good" behavior than risk the expression of an unhealed wound. And I don't think it's generally a decision made from a point of vanity. Many a devout Christian has painted herself into a "spiritually mature" corner that leaves no room for a very human grieving process.
Here's what I have learned: You can trust God with the outcome. Hang in there; get professional help if needed, but keep in mind that time alone with God is essential to your healing process. The bad behavior will eventually subside, and you will emerge healed and way more compassionate toward others who are now going through what you just overcame.
The love of God covers a multitude of sin . . .
There were times when my children were small that I placed tough demands on them. Naps where missed, lunch was late, and during that last errand to the grocery store, inevitably, fits were thrown. But because I had required something difficult of them, I was merciful toward their behavior, whereas on any other day I might have swatted behinds.
God is no different. I'm not condoning bad behavior and neither does He. But I am saying that when He asks one of His children to face an abusive past, there is grace for the bad behavior that can't help but surface. He knows that He's asking a lot of you. He knows you are overwhelmed and frightened. Trust Him.
He will cover your sin and He'll also take care of the people you blew it in front of. God is bigger than the mistakes we make when we're learning to trust Him as He calls us to go deeper. He always blesses those who are willing to follow Him through painful places.
So give yourself a break if you've just screwed up big time. If you messed up, fess up. Now keep movin'!
"I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you" (Isaiah 44:22 NKJV).
"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:13-14 NIV).
Published on Thursday, March 26, 2009 @ 5:54 PM CDT