Often, we are told, in the name of being obedient or “good”, to forgive and forget. What does this really mean, and is it possible to truly forgive and forget?
I suppose that depends upon what you are forgiving and forgetting. If you are forgiving and forgetting someone cutting you off in traffic, or taking the parking place you were going for in a busy lot, maybe you can forgive and forget that.
What happens when we consider something on a larger scale?
You or a family member or close friend becomes the victim of a violent crime.
A doctor misdiagnoses you, and now you face a deeply rooted serious illness.
Your spouse abandons you without reason, and your personal and financial life is devastated.
You are unfairly fired from the job you badly needed.
You are the victim of domestic abuse, or, more accurately, home violence. You leave your home one day with only what you can carry.
Yes, I believe you can work on forgiving the person or persons responsible for these things. But forgetting these things? No, I don’t think so.
When events are major markers in our lives, we don’t really forget them unless something happens to damage our memories or thinking processes.
Just as we don’t forget the high points of life ( graduating from school, a first job, a wedding day, a child’s birth, a grandchild’s birth, that first apartment or house, etc.), we don’t forget the deep injuries because these events shape our lives and often permanently change life’s direction.
Forgiveness does free us, and keeps a single event from destroying other good things life could offer. What about the forgetting?
Well, you might not be able to forget the event, but you can choose to forget how it made you feel. You can forget the sense of being less than, the sense of being unappreciated, the sense of being forgotten and disrespected, the sense of being unwanted and uncared for, the sense of being less valuable than others seem to be.
You can remind yourself on a daily basis: what someone else did is not the defining moment of my life, unless I allow it.
And actually, why should you forget? Someday, you may be able to help someone else by saying: “Yes, it’s possible to overcome _______. I know, because I’ve been there and I’ve done it Let me help you on that path.”
In the back of my mind, there’s also my little suspicion that people who say we should forgive and forget sometimes just want to set us up to be hurt over and over again by someone who doesn’t care about us and doesn’t deserve the right to injure us without limit.
Forgive because forgiving is one of the most healing gifts you can give yourself. You have to do it on purpose and no one can do it for you. You put your own life back on course when you forgive. It’s a reclaiming of your power. Without forgiveness, the injury-maker reshapes your entire life and you shouldn’t give them that right.
In the back of your mind, you know the person who injured you really can’t heal you, so if you want to be healed, why keep your energy pointed in their direction? Get help if you need it, but release the injury-maker and take your life back.
Forget the pain and remember the victory. Grow stronger, share, help others, and widen the circle of your life. That’s true winning.
(c) 2014 Deborah Evans
Spiritual Lessons from the Gym
Early in 2013, I switched gyms and worked with a trainer who helped me put together a program that led to a huge increase in my fitness level throughout the year.
I also spent some time reading exercise and strength training books and articles. I found several principles about working out and exercising that made it easier for me to understand why I needed do to the things I needed to do.
Some of the principles are:
“You must become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
“You must do what you do not always enjoy doing.”
“You must get enough rest; relax, and reward yourself for accomplishing a major goal.”
“What you eat and drink---food---will determine what you are capable of doing.”
More and more, these principles seemed to also have a spiritual application.
1 Corinthians 9:24, etc., says it this way:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
The good thing about the Christian life is that everyone who wants to win can.
The hard thing about the Christian life is that no one wins without following a training program. The training program has already been set up.
If I do not consume the right “spiritual food” (Scripture, prayer, good fellowship, Sabbath rest, listening to God), I won’t be capable of doing what I am supposed to do. There will be no resources for me to draw on, no reserve of energy waiting to empower me to finish what I’ve begun.
It is OK to say “no” to someone asking me to do just “one more little thing.” I must remain aware enough to know my limits and protect those limits. I am not indispensable and flattery will not trick me into attempting more than I should within any day, week, or month.
I do not usually enjoy apologizing to people I’ve wronged, or extending a hand of reconciliation in a damaged relationship, or trying one more time to forgive the person who has wronged me. But if I don’t do these things, the person and work of the Holy Spirit cannot flow through me as needed, and I will become limited and frustrated and fail to meet my purpose.
How to do I become comfortable with being uncomfortable?
I accept that I must walk by faith, not expecting to fully understand every aspect of everything that happens to me, and trust God to handle my circumstances when I can’t. Over time, my comfort zone will enlarge. If I refuse to experience any discomfort, my comfort zone will stagnate, and possibly shrink, making me less available to do whatever God wants me to do. That’s failure.
The opposite of failure is getting into training and staying there, allowing the lessons of the gym to guide some of my spiritual “strength training.”
(c) 2014 Deborah Evans
This statement, made by Jesus while he was engaged in what some might call a “lively conversation” with religious rulers at the temple in ancient Jerusalem, is one of the most controversial statements he made.
In my religious tradition, the church celebrates themed days on an annual basis. Almost everyone knows Christmas and Easter as two of those days, but Christ the King Sunday seems to be sadly fading into obscurity in some corners.
The revelation of Christ the King is clearly seen in the first chapter of the Book of Revelation, in the New Testament. Revelation is one of those sections of Holy Scripture that frighten some away, while others focus on small and difficult to interpret details of what’s known as “the end times.”
A man known as John the Revelator (possibly the “beloved apostle” John, who wrote other parts of the New Testament) describes his experience in encountering the ascended, supreme Jesus who bears almost no resemblance to the God-Man person who spent approximately thirty-three years living among regular people in Palestine and teaching about the Kingdom of God.
Here is what John says about his encounter with Christ the King:
“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man”, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.
In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” –Revelation 1:12-16 (NIV)
Depending upon how you read this, John is describing a horrible image of an unnatural being, or John is using a series of similes to describe someone whose presence challenges effective description.
If you are a student of the Book of Revelation, you may be familiar with the many ways in which writers have attempted to explain the person described here. The long robe represents honor, authority, and royalty. The golden sash suggests a unique, eternal priesthood. Snow white hair speaks to agelessness, while eyes like blazing fire suggest a penetrating, never dying insight into all that is. The glowing bronze feet imply stability, certainty, upstanding and unwavering status. A voice like the sound of rushing waters? Such a voice has no beginning or end, is irresistible and unstoppable; it is beyond ignoring and impossible to deny. The two edged sword in his mouth tells us this person speaks the word of God.
But what does it all mean and why are these words in Scripture? How do we benefit from knowing how Jesus chose to reveal himself to a lonely man who was in exile because of his testimony of and for Jesus? John says he was a “brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus.” (Chapter 1, verse 9)
Jesus chose to reveal himself because we need to stay clear about the Savior and Lord we are worshiping and following.
How often, when we think or speak of Jesus, do we imagine a human-looking person walking or riding a donkey in an ancient culture? Do we have crosses and crucifixes as symbols of Jesus? Do we imagine someone exiting an empty grave, or someone speaking to a crowd about how to live in the Kingdom of Heaven? Do we think of a man who worked miracles, ate with sinners, and incurred the wrath of traditional religious leaders?
All of these would be accurate, but none of them would be complete images of who Jesus is today.
He is one “like a son of man”, but he is also the eternal God. He has complete and total authority over all that has been, is, or will come into being. He is observing, walking among, evaluating, and protecting the church (the seven stars referred to by John). He holds the “seven stars” (the seven churches later referenced in the Book of Revelation) in his right hand, a place of honor. The church is never far away, unimportant, or absent and unaccounted for by Christ the King. His face, “shining like the sun in all its brilliance”, represents a Presence too powerful to resist. John says “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” In other words, John passed out. Then, John adds, “He placed his right hand on me and said ‘Do not be afraid.’”
He says the same thing today to anyone who will listen.
As we leave Christ the King Sunday (November 24, 2013) and head toward the beginning of the Advent season, let’s remember Jesus no longer lives as a baby, or a carpenter, or a rabbi, or a master teacher and storyteller. He is God Almighty, who decided to become like one of us for a while: to live, to eat, to work, to cry, and to spend time living as we live, so that we can trust him when he says, “Do not be afraid.” He knows exactly how we feel because he has been one of us, but he was always more than we could ever be.
We can know him without fear, and experience all of the life and love he has for us. He is Christ the King and makes all things possible and do-able for those who follow him.
(c)2013 Deborah Evans
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