As I was thinking about this topic, the verse, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” just kept coming up over and over again. The Bible never ceases to amaze me. I am often struck by the powerful message that comes through in the simplest of phrases. But, that’s God for you. My mess of a brain is filled to the brim with chaos and noise and then a word or two from Him clears it away. This verse was no different.
The thing I had never noticed before was the vacillating within the sentence. It goes from “us” to “our” to ”we” to ”those” and back to “us” again. I am left with a blurred feeling as if the entities in the sentence are all merging into each other. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe “I” am “them” and “they” are “me.” Maybe we are one body. Obviously this is not a new concept and I am certainly not the first to write about it. But how interesting that when speaking about “forgiving our trespasses” the sentence seems to put us all in the same boat with each other.
Moms: Masters of Daily Forgiveness
As moms, we forgive a thousand and one things on a daily basis. It seems that through raising children it becomes even more apparent how “wild” WE are as humans. The discipline, teaching and coaching that goes into helping a little human grow into a person who is respectful, thoughtful and considerate of others is no small feat.
I can’t help but think that is how God feels about us. He watches us fumbling around, making mistakes, hurting ourselves, hurting others, being selfish, saying mean things and the list goes on and on. He watches, He forgives, we (hopefully) learn and we try again. And gradually, we get better and better the more we learn. I don’t know for sure, but I think He probably has some proud “Papa” moments when he sees us growing. I know as a mom, those are the best moments. It’s when you think to yourself…”Oh my gosh, some of this is working!”
So, as mom’s we are definitely not strangers to forgiveness. But, what about forgiving ourselves and what about forgiving others who have GREATLY wronged “us” or “our” family? What then? I don’t know about you but that is SO MUCH harder.
The “Trespass” that Almost Consumed Me
I remember struggling so much with the topic of forgiveness in one of the worst times of my life. I had so much rage, so much anger, so much disgust that I literally couldn’t see straight. My days were consumed with it. I was very “new in my faith.” A more accurate description was that I was desperately trying to believe in God after years of having no belief in God. I started listening to Christian radio as much as I could during that time. I needed constant reminders that there could be something else beyond this disturbing world I was living in.
Looking back it almost seemed as if the “wrong” that had been done to me attached to me and was spreading like a disease. I just couldn’t shake it. I had thoughts of revenge, manipulation and punishment that were beyond unhealthy. I was using every counseling technique I had in my arsenal. The techniques took SOME of the edge off but they just weren’t cutting it.
I became so tired of having my days and nights consumed with this darkness that one night I literally fell down on my knees, head on the floor sobbing, “I can’t do this! It’s too hard. I don’t want this anymore but I don’t know how to get rid of it! You do it! Please God, You do it!” And then as if it was literally placed into my brain the words, “YOU can’t do this, but HE can,” entered my mind. It made me sit up. It was the first time something had brought calm and peace to me in months..
Face to the Mat Moments
There was something about that moment with my face on the floor. I am no wrestling expert but I seem to recall that when a wrestler’s face is pinned to the mat, arm twisted behind, they are incapacitated and the match is over. They are pinned so to speak.
That’s all I could think about after that night. It’s a moment of realization that there is nothing else you can do. You are done. You surender. In wrestling, this would be perceived as a loss. In life, I feel it can be the true beginning to healing and an opportunity for a deeper relationship with God.
There is no earthly explanation for the change that occurred in me after that night. I gave up and I let Him take over. The best thing that ever happened to me, having a relationship with God, truly started at the worst moment of my life. I would never change it. Do I ever want someone to “trespass against” me again in that way? NO WAY! But I know God will carry me through again, if it happens.
Things I Learned From Forgiveness
1.) I learned through this process that growing and fostering forgiveness does not make the thing that happened “o.k.” It was a “trespass” and it always will be. Somehow, that feels good. I don’t rejoice in it, I don’t hold a grudge because of it. But allowing it to be a “trespass” allows me to acknowledge that it happened, it was wrong, and that I am “normal” because I struggled with recovering from it.
2.) I learned that a “darkness” that seems to consume your every moment, can fade away to nothing except an occasional fleeting memory that seems like another lifetime ago. It gives me hope, that with God, the impossible is truly possible.
3.) I learned that forgiveness can give you your life back. I feel like myself again. It helped me much more than it helped anyone else involved.
4.) I learned that forgiveness is freedom. Freedom to live your life without fear. You don’t have to prevent someone from hurting you again. Inevitably, it will happen. But, I don’t live in fear of it happening, because I know that if I call on God, He will walk with me through it all.
5.) I learned that we are all “lost” at one time or another and that we can all be “found” again. We all engage in activities that have hurt people at times, whether we intended it or not. It helped me think about the major “trespasses” I had engaged in in life and to think about what a different person I was am compared to the time of those trespasses. It confirmed for me that people are fluid creatures, capable of growth and change. It reminded me to not “write people off” just because they were acting in ways that didn’t align with where I was at in the present moment.
6.) I learned that our struggle can become a gift to our children. I have been able to take the things I have learned and instill them in my child. I don’t give specifics, because that’s not his burden to bear, but I do share the intensity of the spiritual struggle and how to turn to God in moments of despair.
If YOU can’t, He Can
I realized that I didn’t have enough strength to forgive and I realized I didn’t have to. He had already taken away the sins of the world. He had paid for all of us and through Him, and only through Him, I could forgive. That’s what it took. I had to stop “trying” to figure it out. All I had to do when I struggled with it, because I did continue to struggle, was to say, “God, I don’t have the strength, the desire or the willpower to do this, please help me forgive.” Each moment passed on and led to ultimate forgiveness.
There is no doubt in my mind that that was a miracle, because I will tell you right now, this girl DOES NOT have it in her to do that kind of forgiveness. There is NO WAY, that was me! HE did it and HE will be right there doing it for YOU if you ask him to.
So, if YOU can’t, that’s ok and it’s actually an opportunity to ask God to carry you through. He will do things in YOU that seem impossible.
Maybe He already has.:)
Thank you so much for being here today! If you would like to hear more on this topic, check out Kathryn’s wonderful video Conflict, Anxiety and Forgiveness at the Holidays: 4 Steps to Healing Your Heart.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and any questions you might have.
Take care of yourself and God bless you and your family!
Shayla, mom and LCPC
Tranquility Moms Team