Monday, October 6, 2008

Forgiveness, Worship

This weekend I went to a retreat for women here on post. It was hosted by the local PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) group. The retreat speaker was Audrey Meisner. She has such an amazing testimony of the love of Christ. I won't go into details because you can read it all on your own at her and her husband's website.

God is so awesome in who and what He uses to get Himself across to us in our lives. I sometimes (okay, usually) feel forgotten and little... insignificant. Every other relationship in my life is based on performance. At least I feel like it is. As a wife there are things that are my part of the relationship, things I have to do. As a mom there are things I have to do for each kid, or I feel like I've failed. As a daughter... as a friend... as a sister... as a volunteer in my church... every aspect of my life there are expectations. And if I'm being completely honest I also have expectations of the people in my life that, when they're missed, frustrate me.

Okay, back to the point. At the retreat, the first night the talk was about forgiveness. At the end we were all bowed in prayer and Audrey asked some questions. Who have you not forgiven? Who do you need to forgive for past sin? Have you forgiven yourself for past sin? Immediately two past sins came to mind. The two default hurts, the big hurts in my life, came to mind. I prayed on those. I made a conscious effort to choose forgiveness. I decided to make the choice to stop letting Satan hold those things over me any longer. They're both really big hurts, but in the interest of keeping relationships I won't go into them here for the world to read. Just know that they were big hurts that have since changed how I live my life on every level.

I thought that would be that. Okay God, I chose to forgive these two people. In the past when I thought about forgiving these things I thought that somehow it would lessen the pain I felt after these hurts. So making a conscious choice to choose forgiveness was a huge step for me. Huge. But then, as I was singing, just after praying that prayer, more hurts came to mind. The things I'd never made the choice to forgive. Things I was still holding on to, but didn't even realize. Some things I hadn't even thought about in years. Other things weren't even meant to directly hurt me. In that moment, as my mind was flooding with the hurts, God spoke to me in my heart and said, "Until you choose to let these things go, Satan can use them as a foothold in your life." And as I heard that I realized just how many footholds were there. I have a spirit of unforgiveness. I thought I was doing well. I thought I was walking along the "narrow path." Instead, I was still looking back. Choosing to remember those hurts when the potential to be hurt was brought back.

I just got the picture of Lot's wife looking back on Sodom and Gamorrah (sp?) because she thought it was better back there. Am I choosing to keep looking back on my own personal Sodom? I don't think I thought it was better "there" but at the same time, I keep looking back there. Almost making those pains my own personal god. No let's be honest, making those hurts my own personal god. Those hurts have become the focus of my life at points. And Satan uses those hurts at his will to remind me of the pain.
*"You can't completely trust that person. Remember s/he hurt you."
*"You know s/he's lying to you."
*"Remember how much it hurt when s/he did X?"

In that moment of flooding thoughts I wanted to walk forward and throw myself on the altar at the front of the church. I wanted to lay sprauled out and let God's forgiveness wash over me. I wanted to let His Perfect Love wash over me and make me white as snow. Instead though, always worrying about who might be watching and judging, I stayed in my pew and laid out in my mind. And now I'm realizing that in that moment I gave Satan another foothold. ("Well God, you might be able to save me, but people might look at me funny and think badly of me if I'm just laid out there at your mercy.")

Fast forward...
Sunday's sermon at church was about Worship. Yep. Less than 48 hours after I ignored the prompting of my spirit to enter into complete worship our sermon was about just that. I've become so worried about what people think about me that I just won't let myself enter fully into His house. In my van, where I somehow feel like no one can see me even though I'm driving right next to people that CAN see me, I am completely open and honest. I'm raw in my worship. I'm loud. I make a joyful noise. In my house, when it's just the twins and I, I crank the music up loud and we just dance for Jesus. We sing. But then... something happens and I let those doubts creep in again. I worry that the people in my life would think I'm insane if they could see how crazy I am for God. I've become so concerned with other people's opinions that I hold myself back from authenticity. I'm scared that people will judge. I'm scared to be hurt again.

Lord, please forgive me for not being transparent in all areas. I want to be open and real. I want to be authentic in my worship in all areas. Lord, please give me judgemental amnesia. Take away the thoughts of other people's judgements. Help me forget the pain. Help me choose to believe you and your promise to never leave me, even when I am judged and hurt by people's opinions. I want to be real. I want to focus on you alone, to live for you. If I can just keep my eyes on you and your love, everything else will fall into place. If I can focus on you, your love will overflow into the people in my life. I can be a good mom, wife, friend, daughter and leader. Give me the strength Lord to choose to keep my eyes on You alone. Amen.

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