Saturday, December 27, 2014

"God bless us, every one..."

I am sitting at my in-laws' kitchen table while (most of) the family is in the living room watching The Muppet Christmas Carol. We celebrated our Christmas today (a day late since my brother- and sister-in-law were out of town). I cannot help but think about all the amazing blessings God has given me throughout my lifetime. We had an amazing, generous Christmas, thanks mostly to my mother- and father-in-law, siblings, and of course, David...but beyond the gifts, traditions, and food, I am so thankful for a family that loves one another--on both sides, both David's family and mine.

I have wanted to write about the topic of forgiveness for some time now, but just haven't gotten around to it. One thing I am so thankful for is my husband's forgiving heart. This is something that was instilled in him by his parents. I love how David is so quick to forgive and forget. Forgiveness was a concept I knew about my whole life, but it was something that was so hard for me to practice. What is forgiveness? Merriam Webster states that forgiveness is "to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong)" or "to stop blaming (someone)." I used to always think I was forgiving someone, but inside, in my heart, I still harbored blame or resentment for a person and a particular wrong he or she committed. I "forgave" ... but not completely.

When I read Joshua Harris' Boy Meets Girl, I had an epiphany. The following passage from the book was so profound to me and completely changed how I looked at forgiveness: "Because of the Cross, you can forgive the past sin of another person...When you forgive other people, you're making a promise not to use their past sin against them."

You're making a promise not to hold someone's past sin against them. That means it's erased. Forgotten. Gone. The slate is wiped clean. What?! Suddenly, things became clearer. I wasn't truly forgiving. I was harboring a little bit of anger, hatred, and resentment within me. I wasn't letting the wrongs go. I was holding onto them. Isaiah 1:18: "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'" When we repent, God forgives us as if it never happened. It's gone. We're clean as snow, white as wool. 

2 Corinthians 5:17: "The old has gone, the new has come!" Psalm 103:12: "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." These verses suddenly meant something new to me. I realized that forgiveness is a concept that we cannot fully achieve as human beings...but it is something that we can ultimately strive toward, to be forgiving like our God, and to try in our hearts to do so on a daily basis.

My husband has further taught me what it is to have a forgiving heart. Everyone fights and everyone argues. Sometimes I'm not feeling well, or I've had a bad day, and I'll snap at him, and we'll get into a small argument...but when I've calmed down and apologized to him, or vice versa, he is so quick to say "It's okay. I forgive you." and then actually get over it and not be mad. I realized the other day that he is like my dad. If my dad is upset with me, he doesn't hold a grudge. After we talk about it and the steam blows over, he is back to his happy self, and I love this about him.

I realize everyday how much I need to strive to forgive the way God forgives us. It's a hard thing to do...because we are humans, we have memories, and we can't mentally or physically just "erase" an event that has occurred, or words that have been said...but it's something we can try to do. It's something we should want to do. I find myself very easily not trusting someone or disliking someone after they have wronged me a few times. While it is perfectly normal to be weary of someone who has offended you before, and you don't have to bend over backward to be best friends with them, I think it's important to try to forgive them, and try to love them, despite your past grievances. This is something I'm still learning to do everyday.

I was thinking about how forgiving my husband is, and I realized where he gets it from--his parents. They are some of the most slow-to-anger, quick-to-forgive, loving people I know and I am so blessed to have them as my parents now too. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder once wrote that Christmas seems to get better year after year, and I have to agree. Although I have so many fond memories of Christmas, I've learned to appreciate and value different things as I've gotten older. I love this life, and I am determined to start the new year with an open, forgiving heart.

In the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us, every one!"

the Bride


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