Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do but to be Forgiven is one of the hardest things to become
Once again, I don’t necessarily have a Scripture reference or a quote to headline this post with. This will be sort of a continuation from my previous post. While this may not have the same theological power my other posts have had, I want this blog to be a reflection of me as a millennial. I never want to convey myself to be something I’m not. I like to be transparent and real. With that said, I am not perfect by any means. I have my flaws. Perhaps what most would call my “fatal flaw” would be that I am incredibly unforgiving of myself, and at times, others.
Since either right before or right after Christmas, God has had me in what He has deemed to be my “Season of Forgiveness”. Spiritually, this was uncharted territory for me. I had never been in a season like this before and it was out of what little comfort zone I have. It was the first time I really allowed God full access to my heart where He ripped it apart layer by layer and piece by piece, exposing the deep wounds I claimed were healed but instead were buried beneath the surface. God brought me to a place where I was able to deconstruct the walls I built around myself and my heart to allow Him in. He began bringing back all of the wounds I’ve starved, cut, self-medicated, and drank behind. He brought me to a place where I was able to begin seeing the trauma I experienced for what it was. The humbling part about this season I’ve been in—God showed me how I emotionally and reactively handled certain situations rather than handling them with a clear mind and teachable spirit. As I said, I am not perfect and forgiveness is a relatively new concept for me. One of my worst habits is that I don’t verbally express when I’ve been hurt. I internalize it and suppress it.
In this season, God brought back all of the heartache, pain, and trauma I’ve suppressed over the past 6 years. As I prepare for my ministerial licensing, I wanted to really begin making peace with my past. This new volume of my life’s story is like a new beginning and I don’t want these ghosts to follow me. As I actively prayed about this season, the past few weeks into the past month, God has been moving in my life like never before. A wise mentor in Bacone’s Center for Christian Ministry told me recently, “When God is leading you, you have to run to keep up.” That has definitely proven to be the case in my life lately.
As I mentioned in an earlier post a while ago, I experienced a great deal of spiritual trauma 5 years ago from the administration from a college I attended for a year in Shawnee. When we were at the disaster relief training, we stopped for a snack on the way back. While our group was waiting, we were talking amongst ourselves and I saw someone I recognized walk through the door. It was the president of the college. This was only God that I was able to do this— When I saw her, I didn’t have any hard or bitter feelings. She approached me and gave me a hug and we talked briefly. There is a leadership conference that takes place at the church this college is part of. After 5 years, a lot of pain and heartache, I’m at a place where I’m able to look back on that particular year, marvel at how God carried me through, and that that experience is why I’m in ministry today. It has shaped and formed me to be the person I am today. I’m ready to go back one last time as an act of closing that chapter of my life and moving forward. I couldn’t make the spring one due to other commitments but am planning on going to the one in the fall.
Essentially piggybacking off of that, there was a situation involving a domestic violence situation that was the driving force behind a one-way ticket to complete and utter self-decimation. I was thrown against the mouldings of my bedroom doorframe by my father in an act of blackout dry-drunk rage. It completely destroyed our relationship and we spent six months to a year living in the same house, barely speaking a word to each other until we began family therapy. I never vocalized the damage it caused. I internalized it and while I thought it was buried, the pain was still there. It impacted my relationships with others. I’m still working on this, and it’s getting easier, but I was holding peers in my degree program who are in all reality like-minded and like-hearted, but I was afraid of getting close to them. I was holding them at arms-length, not allowing them into my life out of fear of getting hurt again.
In the same theme of getting hurt, there’s a scar on my left shoulder from the physical altercation that took place. It’s since faded with time and there’s a tattoo over it. I tense up when people touch it, mostly out of shame and because I know what they’re touching. In trying to forget, it’s a reminder that it happened.
In this season of forgiveness, I was convicted by a sermon in church yesterday. In talking about the story of Lazarus, Pastor Moore used the analogy of Lazarus coming out of the grave, still in his wrappings, and then posed the question, “What anger are you holding on to against another person because of who they used to be? God healed Lazarus and he was a new creation.”
It convicted me and made me think about this specific relationship. I’ve gradually begun to let myself heal in a real way but there’s still a part of me where I was holding on to the past. Our relationship has improved significantly since this situation. He’s active in church and our household is more Christ-centered than it used to be, but I was still having a hard time with letting it go. It’ll take time but I’m finally ready to let it go and move forward. I’ve been held captive by my past for far too long.
To segue from that, before I came to worship at Summit, I spent the first part of the morning at my home church, First Christian Church in Wagoner. All of my spiritual milestones have taken place there. I started going with my parents there in 1996 and left in 2014, due to some leadership issues and now-since healed church hurt. Yesterday was my first time back. I was worried about how I would be received, or even if I would be.
This is where this post will take a more transparent and personal turn. A situation happened between my family and one of the elders that required local law enforcement to get involved. We were in uncharted territory and as a family, made the decision to leave that particular church due to poor leadership and decisions from the church leaders. I was driving to Summit after, trying to prepare to lead worship and decompress from the morning service. I’m not sure if it was the Holy Spirit that laid this on my heart or something I came to on my own, but I was thinking about the situation we found ourselves in and came to the following conclusion:: “With all the love and support I had welcoming me back, why didn’t I even give them a chance to help us? We made the snap decision to leave when we could have stayed. I personally should have stuck around and given them a chance before making such an emotional and reactive decision.”
I have no plans to leave Summit and I’m there until God calls me somewhere else but I loved having the morning service to calm my nerves, settle my spirit and heart. I love being in ministry and I love my role on the praise team, but it’s so easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. It’s almost too easy to forget to be a worshipper. Something I’m having to learn, especially now that I’m on the threshold of being a Christian counselor and being licensed in ministry, you can’t pour from an empty vessel. It’s very hard for me to minister to a congregation without being ministered to myself. I need that and while it makes my Sunday a little bit longer, there is nowhere else I’d rather be than with my two awesome church families.
If you’re part of a church family, you’re blessed. I feel so fortunate and blessed that I have two churches that I call home.
I think what I want to do with this blog is continue to show life as a millennial in the church. That is going to include what God is speaking, reflections and thoughts on various things, and posts like these that aren’t necessarily deeply theological but more like pages from my personal journal.
Definitely leave me a comment in the downbar to let me know what you want to see next.
Love and light,