Wednesday, June 17, 2009

clean slates

This morning I was thinking about a key relationship in my life. After experiencing a season of incredible closeness and love, it feels like we have started growing a part.

When the realization hit me, I immediately felt sad. That feeling quickly changed to feeling hurt and offended. Before I knew it, I had a list of all of the recent ways that person had wounded me lately. Words spoken. Or not. Actions taken. Or not.

When I first realized there was a problem, my first thoughts were, "I wander what I can do to bridge the gap? What kind of nice gestures would this person appreciate? How can I make them feel special and loved?"

Godly thoughts, right?

Within seconds, however, the enemy had turned my attention from acts of love to thoughts of sin and judging. Surely, I wasn't the one in the wrong, right? (Wrong.)

Relationships take two people. Whenever a relationship is struggling, both individuals have a responsibility to take steps towards each other. It's never easy though, is it?

As soon as I realized the thoughts I was meditating upon weren't mine, I sought God's wisdom (and forgiveness.)

He responded immediately. I love it when that happens!

I heard the words "wipe the slate clean" whisper within my spirit. As only the Holy Spirit can do, He began to show me and teach me exactly what those words meant.

Yesterday I became so frustrated with one of my children's attitudes towards a sibling that I lashed out with harsh words and then went on to lecture. In anger. :-(

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I knew I was doing exactly what my child was. And I knew it was sin.

I felt horrible. Awful. Dreadful. My sin not only hurt all three of my children, especially the one it was directed at, but it grieved my spirit. Deeply.

As soon as I could reign in my control (actually, as soon as I had my say,) I apologized, asked their forgiveness and then prayed out loud to God for forgiveness.

I won't lie. I carried that grief with me until this morning. Instead of feeling angry with my child, I was now angry at myself. I continued to rehearse over and over my sin and the horrible feelings that resulted.

In my mind I know that God forgives me every single time I sin and repent, but I couldn't imagine that He could forgive that sin.

It was so wrong. So hurtful. My poor child. And yet, I knew that I needed to receive His forgiveness in order to move forward.

As I heard the Spirit speak the words, "Wipe the slate clean," the struggles from yesterday soon began to meld with my struggles this morning. And then everything became crystal clear.

God was calling me to forgive the person I felt distant from. Rather than keep track of all of the ways this person I loved had hurt me or let me down, I was to forgive them. Immediately.

"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Matthew 18:32-35

When I fail to forgive those who hurt me, I prevent the Lord from forgiving me. As my heart began to understand the complexity of this, I saw myself carrying a backpack full of stones. Each time I am wounded by another, I add that stone to my pack. Along with my own sins.

The reality is that I sin many times every day. Others sin against me many times, every day. The sins add up.
And, unfortunately, just living in this world can cause me to be offended. And the sins begin to multiple, as do the hurts.
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times" Matthew 18:21-22

We are called to wipe the slate clean each and every time we sin. Each and every time we are sinned against. If we choose to do it immediately, we reap the blessings God has for us. Peace. Love. Joy. All good stuff.

If not, we suffer the consequences of sin multiplied. Anger. Hurt. Pride. Revenge. Anxiety. Fear. Doubt. It goes on and on. And none of it is good.

I realized the beauty of Jesus' words. If someone sins against me 490 times, that's more than once a day for a solid year. If I forgive them immediately and allow God's Spirit to wash my heart clean, then the enemy loses his power and control over me. As does the hurt the sin brings.

I imagine that before I ever reach 400, I will no longer be phased by that particular sin. What an incredible thought that is. What freedom!

(That doesn't mean that we should allow someone to hurt us repeatedly. Boundaries and safety are in fact godly.)

And so, today, I wiped the slate clean. I chose to allow Christ's sacrifice on the cross be enough.

He carried the cross and bled for my sins. There is no reason that I should be carrying around such a heavy backpack. In fact, who needs a backpack anyway? :-)
Forgiveness and clean slates = LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Loving God's eraser,


strandfam said...

WOW AMY!!!God is speaking to you, and using you! You have a gift to be able to express in writing what He is doing in your heart. Thanks for sharing! God is so good and I am so thankful that He is slow to anger and abounding in LOVE towards His children. How blessed we are!
love you

Andrea said...

Thank you for your honesty and speaking the truth! You are so right, I carry a pretty heavy backpack myself. I will be in prayer for you and me.

Wendy said...

There are so many reasons why I love to read your blog. Today, you just showed me one of the biggest reasons, your honesty and longing to be right with God!
Thank you,
~ Wendy

HisFireFly said...

Beautiful, simply beautiful example! I have heard similar words, the Lord said "erase the tape"

Now I need to go d my eraser too!

Thank you for your words.

Denise said...

Such grace is found in a clean slate! I don't know if you remember me...was at She Speaks last year and we shared our writings at the table of three. I have lurked for awhile and have enjoyed every visit. You have such a way of expressing a heart full grace.

Just wanted to stop lurking and say, hello!

(formerly, teacupsandtime)

Dawn said...

Once again, you touched my heart with your words in just the right way on just the right day... God was definitely speaking to me through you!!! Like many have said, what a gift you have with words.
My heart is heavy towards someone right now, and you couldn't have spelled out better what I need to do and remember. God is so forgiving, and should we be.
Love you

Joy Portis said...

What a beautiful post Amy! Every time I check in on my sweet friend I am humbled, convicted and challenged! Thank you! These days I can barely post photos much less deep thoughts :-) Thank you for sharing your heart and your journey with the Lord with us! We are on it with you and learning with and from you my sweet friend! Keep enjoying your summer and your clean slate!