N
ot all enemies carry arrows.

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My grandfather just carried a six pack and a pitiful hangover.

Julie Redbook, she carried a grudge so heavy it crushed a few bones of my childhood.

And there’s this woman I know who carries around the shame of slapping her son.

And tearing into her good man with a tongue blade sharper than any scalpel.

Sometimes we make meals and sit down and eat in the presence of our enemies.

Sometimes our enemies just stare us down in mirrors.

All my life I had liked to think it was only David who had his enemies. Is it easier to say we don’t have any enemies — so we don’t have to figure out how to really love them?

And from the heart?

But who hasn’t been cheated on, talked down, lied about, pierced right through and left heart-broken on some beaten-down back road? There are a thousand ways to bleed, to nurse wounds and bitterness, and no one knows.

I have twisted limbs on my family tree, but no one burnt the fig tree down. Just this one little girl burned with shameful memories, dirtiness right under her skin, and how to get clean? I remember asking my mama why some relatives are called grands. How many years have I have stood in sanctuaries and murmured that one line of the Apostles Creed? “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” Have I really believed?

Do all the creed-keepers believe only in the forgiveness of their sins alone? Or do they, the Christ-bearers, really believe in the forgiveness of sins and sinners? In a culture of wholesale forgiveness? Weren’t we once the enemies? Aren’t our enemies our kin? Don’t we have to let them into grace?

My dad loved another woman and another woman belittled my mama while she slept in her bedroom and scrubbed mama’s memories out of her own house and I’ve done my own spiteful share of burning. I’m the fig branch that should have been hacked off. I have bowed and said it aloud for decades.“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Who lives this?

If we only got into the Christ-faith through the door of forgiveness, how can we claim Christ as our home if we aren’t people who forgive? Words and ideology on a page are cheap. Grace and incarnating the love of Christ isn’t. I do want there to be another way —another way, where they pay their debt of pain. I forget that I haven’t had to pay, me bought with the blood of God.

If forgiveness isn’t central to our faith, is our faith really Christian?

A stranger drove over my sister and he drove home to his family. The grief of her gravestone drove us mad. My little brother and I used to imagine finding that man. Does “love your enemies” have any loop holes? How far can forgiveness go?

I have known this though: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves us all starving and groping in the dark.

In the evenings, in the dark setting in, I sit and knit a bit. There are lilacs on the table, a bouquet spraying over the vase, over the edge. A twisted old limb that somehow bore grace, somehow blossomed. And I move them, these two wooden needles, these two pieces of wood pointed, sharpened at the ends.

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I knit and pray my wrestling through of an old prayer for old pain:

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.
Enemies have loosed me from earth more than friends have…
Enemies have made me a hunted animal, finding safer shelter than an unhunted animal does.

I found safest sanctuary in You…may too my enemies-made-grace.
I found greatest grace in You… may my enemies-made-grace find Your generous grace alive and radical in me.
I found fullest forgiveness in You… may my enemies-made-grace find faith and freedom in You and Your forgiveness working surprising ways in me.

The longer I walk with you, Lord, I find I have no enemies: only your gift of chisels etching me deep.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

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In the shadows, these, the murmured prayers, the needles with pointed edges touching each other, theses needles looking like arrows, looking like they’re looking for loop holes out of love…

But then this slipping of delicate prayers around each other slow and an act of the will, this knitting and uniting, these strings all knotting now real close…
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Text and photos by Ann Voskamp@ Holy Experience

Q4U:
How do you deal with being wounded, cheated, disappointed & heartbroken?

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  1. 2

    How true!! This is such a hard thing to deal with in life — but with prayer and petition, He’ll help us forgive. Thank you so much for just writing… I’m sure you don’t know how many people you bless!
    In Christ,
    Acacia

  2. 4

    I deal with it in probably one of the worst ways possible. I get even more introverted than usual and I don’t address it. I hide it away and let it fester till it boils over. I know I do this, I “try not to” but I don’t actively work to adjust how I handle it. I really am working on it, and I’m better than I was 6 yrs ago, but I still need work…

    • 5

      Oh Phronsie… don’t I know it. Hiding it away… God is a gentle Jehovah Rapha — a tender doctor who wraps our wounds if we will offer them? With you, Phronsie…

  3. 6

    Ann,
    Even tonight I was shocked (dismayed, disgusted?) at the unforgiveness and hardness in my heart toward my mother-in-law as I realize how much I blame her for the problems suffered in my marriage–even as beauty begins to rise from the ashes with my husband (yes, it is true!). But, I feel helpless to curb the tide of those ugly and judging feelings as they rise in her presence. I receive hope from reading about your own journey of forgiveness in family pain, and wow, the prayer above. Something new to try . . .
    Thankful for your discipleship and sisterhood, Marsi

    • 7

      Marsi… your honesty is a testament… My own often dismays me too. Together — could we reach out today? Let’s, friend… Praying with you, ((Marsi))

      • 8

        I’ve been there too – feeling “helpless to curb the tide of those ugly and judging feelings as they rise in her presence”. It’s something I’m still working through, but I’ve found that forgiveness has given me the freedom to move forward, to see the one who hurt me in His eyes. I am still a work in progress and so are you, Marsi. Praying with you too!

  4. 9

    How do you deal with being wounded, cheated, disappointed & heartbroken?

    I’ve been dealing with it for the past 3 1/2 years. Really dealing with it, facing it head on even though doing that has been scarier than anything I’ve ever had to do. But God is good and he understands my anxiety and he walked with me slowly through the mess and heartbreak and disappointments and longstanding deep wounds. He put people around me who would help guide me, give me encouragement and share their wisdom. People who wouldn’t walk away. One thing that this question makes me think of is a time when I was in weekly counseling last year. I was trying to re-wire my thinking from believing the lies I was told my whole life. I had to believe the truths that God told me instead. That was hard! I went away for a weekend and had a meeting with God the whole weekend! It was awesome. For every lie I would write as I journaled a truth immediately came to mind and I wrote it down. I took these truths and I decided to make a quilt out of them. I printed them on fabric and place each truth in the center of a block. These blocks evolved into a cross with the truth square in the middle! The 4 corner blocks are scriptures that helped me during that time and they are holding in those truths. The colors–the truths are white, the crosses are green and the backing is pale blue. My reason for these colors-green/blue are from Psalm 23-green pastures (growth) and blue waters (peace and the water I left all this stuff that is in my head/heart when I was baptized 6/9/09)! This quilt hangs on my living room wall where I can see it everyday! It has been named my quilt of truths and when I need to be reminded I can take it down and wrap myself in those truths and thank God for getting me where I am at today.

    • 10

      Would love to see your quilt. Could you post a photo? It is so wonderful to see how God uses our struggles to bring forth creative works of art that glorify Him and give us opportunities to share how He has ministered to us.

      • 11

        Oh. My. This is truly beauty rising out of ashes. A Truth Quilt! Can I whisper it too with Teresa — might you share it with us?

        Your story deeply ministered to me, Lisa — *thank you* for this…

      • 12

        What a creative way to celebrate truths. I too would love to see the picture, if you care to share it.

      • 13

        I agree, please share with us. I have heard of women knitting prayer shawls using a knit three purl three, representing the trinity. We are all on a journey and thanking God for where we are today and that its not the same place we were yesterday. It might be painful, but I do find that the hard times do push me into his arms quicker than the easy ones.

        • 14

          This is absolutely, completely beautiful. I would love to see a picture of your quilt…and I’m already dreaming of creating my own Truth Quilt. I love it! Blessings, sweet sister in Christ!

    • 15

      The quilt is such an inspiring idea… Would also love to see a photo of it.

    • 16

      I’ll join the chorus ….would love to see your quilt and glorify God in how he takes what is meant for evil and turns it to good!

    • 18

      I would so love to see your quilt, too! And I completely relate to this concept. I struggled long and hard with child abuse, forgiveness and all the issues that go with it. The hardest was changing the wrong thinking, the lies, into right thinking and truth. I began embroidering primitive stitcheries — sayings, little poems of truth, verses, hymns, etc. —- hundreds of them. It was just yesterday that I found a whole box of these that I had tucked away. I wondered if I should just throw them away or. . . do what with them. A quilt is the answer! Thank you so much for sharing this. A Truth Quilt, for sure!

      • 19

        WOW! Thank you all for your words! I didn’t expect any response for what I posted and now this! I will post a picture but I don’t know how on this site. Ann can I email some to you and you post them?

        • 20

          Yes, do! Email them to Ann or to me at (in)courage – email address: incourage@dayspring.com and just put it to my attention – we’d love to share it :)

          • 21
            Lisa H says:

            Lisa-Jo
            Last night I sent 2 emails to that address. It was too big for one. It is 3 pictures-1 of the whole quilt, 2 of the quilt close up so the words can be seen. The other email is the list of lies/truths. Feel free to share whatever you would like to share of those 2 emails.
            Lisa

    • 22
      Vicki Holmes says:

      What a beautiful message of healing! So appreciate your application of making God’s Truth’s, which He spoke to you,into a quilt. Not only do they speak to your heart and encourage you/ remind you, but you can actually wrap them around you! Just like our Heavenly Father, wraping His arms to comfort and let you know His amazing love!

      • 23
        Lisa H says:

        Vicki,
        I did use this quilt a lot right after it was completed to wrap up in! I despirately needed to feel God’s arms around me. I would sit with this quilt on my lap and I would trace the words with my fingers as I spoke each truth aloud. I’m happy to say that God pulled me through that time and I now display my quilt on the wall in my living room but its easily removed for the times I need to be reminded and I wrap up in it all over again!
        Lisa

        • 24

          Oh, what a beautiful idea… and how I need the keep the Truth in front of me at all times as I wonder this path of life…This post has blessed me beyond measure this morning and I hear His voice encouraging me to come up higher! Thank you all for sharing your hearts and His Love, Mercy and Grace!

    • 25
      Laura D says:

      Hi Lisa,
      Your story has been a blessing to me. I too am currently going through anxieties, heartbreak and toxic shame from my past that I have never realized I had buried deep down inside. My current relationship, God bless him, managed to bring it up to the surface. I didn’t understand why it was so hard for me to show love and affection with hugging, holding hands, etc even though my heart longs to do them. He figured that I had something buried deep down and with God’s help, brought it to the surface. I believe with all my heart that God needs me to deal with the root cause of my shame and for Him to heal those deep wounds. I am in the process of taking each lie, as you called them and replacing them with God’s truth about me. I keep repeating over and over that God loves me! Trust in God! I pray that God put people around me to encourage me, guide me and never walk away when I need to be in loving relationships the most. I am currently seeing a counsellor once a week and she too determined that I am dealing with alot of shame. However, it is disappointing that it feels like my current relationship is not able to see me through this. He helped to resurface the shame and yet I sense that he is walking away. I hardly see him, he barely phones me like he use to and it just brings on more shame to me for having it….wondering if it is driving him away. I was feeling overwhelmed and went away for the weekend as well to start the process with God, re-wire my thinking which is where I am at and yes, I do agree, it is very hard!…I really need the support and to feel God’s truth wrapped around me. The quilt of truths is helping to heal you and I pray that God will reveal Himself to me. Thank you so much for your story…it has given me hope that it will be ok.

  5. 27

    First I’d like to say that this is my first encounter with your writing and I am gripped by it. And touched in all the soft parts of my being. How sad to lose your sister that way. This is an important topic. It has been brought to my attention in the last few years that I’m not as “nice” and “peaceful” as I think I am. In fact, after failing to meet a holiday engagement, my family of origin turned their backs on me and said that they hoped I would die alone. Times of hurt usually occur when I fail to live up to expectations. I discovered that if I just let things lie, God will untangle the knots. Living fully in the present moment helps too. Thank you for the great insight and writing that knocked my socks off…especially the line “bones of my childhood.” I’m going to be back for more.

    • 28

      Dear Jenny… I am sorry. Sorry for the words that have hurt, the pain. Oh, to keep eyes fixed on Jesus, and He does untangle all the wounds, making us more like His Son. I am praying with you right now, beautiful Jenny….

      • 29

        I love your words here, Ann…”He does untangle all the wounds”. A truth I am going to share with my counselor tonight as I work through my own wounds and allow Him to untangle them and make me whole again. Praying with you, Jenny.

  6. 30

    I was desperate for a word from the Lord this morning and God gave me this, thank-you. God has used you tremendously in my life. Thank-you Ann.

  7. 32

    On the heels of just such a difficult evening, I awoke this morning ready to get with GOD and see what I could do to fix myself – always and continually making the same mistakes. Ugh. But HE spoke early on, and I, for once, heard it straightaway. :) Grace. All’s grace. Yes, Ann, HE’s finally getting through my tough veneer with your pen to paper, your fingertips to keypads.

    In my situation, I don’t need to DO anything. I need to cease striving yet again. I need to be still, to let GOD do the work, to wait and believe that HE will.

    Between your words dripping grace and Mark Buchanan’s reminder to choose rest (The Rest of GOD), perhaps HE will emerge victorious this time?!? Thanks yet again.

  8. 34
    Bernice Shupe says:

    I pray, “Lord, help me to love my enemies as You love them.” And He gives me His peace!

  9. 36

    how do i deal with the mess? the healthy way? or unhealthy? unhealthy – by starving myself. healthy – daily sacrificing myself and choosing to stay on the altar.

    • 37

      Kendal? Choosing to stay on the altar? This is hard. And healthy. And your courage… it touches me deep. May Jesus keep filling you friend — making you oh, so beautiful.

    • 38
      ellen mcneill says:

      oh, how I know the tempting whisper of the coping pattern that is broken and yet ever-too-familiar. Sweet Kendal, know there is total healing in His presence. He is willing and able; we open our hands and hearts to a God of gentle love and perfect knowledge of exactly how and why we choose to use eating habits as maladaptive coping. Praying us both through the veil and into His victory.

  10. 39

    THank you for this Ann -it was an amazing read purging the soul and setting my sights on our eternal forgiveness and how we must always extend that which we are so undeserving to have -forgivenss!

    • 40

      Isn’t that it, Kerry? Our own forgiveness — so undeserving. Might I offer it to others who aren’t deserving? Isn’ t this what He whispers for His followers? Yes, Kerry… me too, learning too…

  11. 41

    When hurt, we have a choice…to continue to offer our hearts or to hide them away. Our beauty as women only becomes more beautiful when we continue to offer our hearts irregardless of the result in the end. We have to refuse to agree with the lies that are whispered in our ears when we don’t respond with love and forgiveness…when we do bite back with an eye for an eye. we are still loved and are lovely and our God has moved heaven and earth to rescue us from those lies and to forgive us when we dont forgive or love well. We just have to “trust God with our hearts and how it goes when we do offer them, because what happens is out of our control”
    (quote from Captivating by Stasi Eldredge)

    • 42

      Oh this, Aimee: “Our beauty as women only becomes more beautiful when we continue to offer our hearts irregardless of the result in the end…”

      Oh this… I will carry this today. *Thank you*

      • 43

        Oh, this learning to love even those who hurt us, to forgive and LOVE well…it is SO hard, but it is SO worth it. I read in John 8:36 yesterday that “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” We are called to freedom and OH how I want to LIVE in that freedom every.single.day.

  12. 44

    I’ve recently finished a study of Acts-watching closely as an enemy becomes a friend. Paul was killing and stalking Jesus followers and then Jesus followed him. And Jesus’ words? ‘Paul, you’re persecuting ME!’ And before the end of the book, Paul is a friend-of Jesus and his followers.

    In my better moments, I remember whatever hurt someone’s caused, because of my union with Christ, He bears it as His own. And, through forgiveness-Ananias like forgiveness, those enemies might just become friends.

    Reading your book now Ann-all early this morning, just don’t want to finish the story. So thankful to Christ that He’s made you His friend and now mine too!

    • 45

      This, Nicole, the truth in this: “In my better moments, I remember whatever hurt someone’s caused, because of my union with Christ, He bears it as His own. And, through forgiveness-Ananias like forgiveness, those enemies might just become friends.”

      You minister, friend. *Thank you*…

  13. 46

    This made me catch my breath: “I do want there to be another way —another way, where they pay their debt of pain. I forget that I haven’t had to pay, me bought with the blood of God.” Because I feel that way so many times especially when my children are the ones being hurt.
    Lord, teach me and help me teach them forgiveness without wanting vindication because you have forgiven us and paid the ultimate price.
    Thank you, Ann.

    • 47

      Praying with you: “Lord, teach me and help me teach them forgiveness without wanting vindication because you have forgiven us and paid the ultimate price.” Yes, yes, yes…. my humble thanks…

  14. 48

    So, beautiful, Ann – your heart. And I am blessed to have *seen* the beauty of grace that lies there in your words, a reflection of your sweet Jesus-touched-heart. And I am blessed more to come closer to Him as I read your words. Always.

    Your own life stories are used for such purpose. Even for my own little unknown-to-you life. He has touched me through your life and He has brought me closer to *knowing* His grace.

    I have struggled all my life with forgiving my own family. And I lean into Him and find deep rest, knowing that they hurt, too. And we all need His Grace.

    Rich blessings to you, Ann, as you continue to trust in His ways and trust that Him drawing you out of the quiet is for purpose…

    • 49

      Oh Amy… I have struggled, still struggle, am deeply convicted of my own sin. All is grace — how can I live this in radical, real ways? He calls me to this, and gives strength for this… Amy? Thank you. For walking the road with me. A companion on The Way is a gift. Together friend — to forgive as He has forgiven us… Grateful for you…

      • 50

        Me, too, Ann…me, too. I struggle with my own conviction of sin and I struggle with not receiving His forgiveness for ME. I so cherish your words, Ann. I’m there with you…

  15. 51

    I am pierced through. Two events this weekend opened old wounds. Self-pity, frustration, anger, and complaint reared their ugly heads. Thankful He does not leave us to our own devices when we belong to Him. May we imitate Him in blessing….even when life hurts.

    Thank you, Ann.

    • 52

      Dearest Jenny…. Your words: “Thankful He does not leave us to our own devices when we belong to Him. May we imitate Him in blessing….even when life hurts.”
      Yes… this. Praying with you, sister…

  16. 53

    I pray through it. I pray to not stay mad or unforgiving towards someone who has done me or my family wrong. I’ve noticed that I really, really get upset when someone does something to my little family. I just have to pray through it, especially when I see them out some where.

    The power of prayer is really amazing!

    Thank you for sharing this blog post! Even though I can’t in real life at this moment, you deserve a*hug* for this.

    Thank you.

    • 54

      True, Hope — the power of Jesus when we pray to Him — how He changes hearts. Pray for me? To pray more. This really has become the cry of my life. To pray more. Thank you, Hope…

  17. 55

    Sweet words of truth spoken here Ann. Thank you. A good reminder to examine our own hearts and look intently upon and to our Lord Jesus Christ. Lord help us to forgive when we’ve been wounded, cheated, disappointed & heartbroken. Help us to walk ever close to you, giving to to other the same grace and forgiveness you have so freely given to us.

  18. 57

    I’m still working it out. It’s easy to offer up blessings on her behalf when I haven’t seen her in a while. It’s much harder after an attack. I really do want to forgive–sometimes feelings try to get in the way.

    • 58

      This. This is *exactly* it, Courtney…. the feelings can get in the way. Oh, do I hear you! I am slowly realizing that forgiveness isn’t a feeling… but an act of faithful obedience. And as we obey Him in loving those who hurt us — He meets us and fills with an other-kind of love, a love like His. He provides and makes a way where there is no way — when we begin to walk in that direction… Walking with you, Courtney. Walking with you.

  19. 59

    Forgiving my “enemies” is an over and over again process, reminding me how my need for Jesus is so real. The forgiveness He provides is thorough – once and for all. The forgiveness I offer is often fleeting until the next emotionally vulnerable time. And I’m back at it, trying desparately to let go of the bitterness and turning to my Jesus for help. The effort to forgive my enemies is a process that can draw me closer to Jesus if I really seek to forgive. Any forgiveness I offer is so imperfect that it has to be an ongoing process, while what Jesus gives is a once and for all, done, finished, gone are the sins forgiveness. The very fact that I cannot do what He did is proof of my need for him.

    • 60

      Susan — you encapsulated what I only stammered around. You write my heart. Thank you, friend. This: ” The effort to forgive my enemies is a process that can draw me closer to Jesus if I really seek to forgive.” *Yes*… Thank you.

  20. 61

    As always your words go straight to my heart … God uses you in amazing ways … GOOD reminders … PERFECT truth … forgiveness is for all of us – the wounded and the wounders … may I cling to that … may I let His grace cover my hurt … IT IS BIG ENOUGH!! Praise the Lord for that truth!! Blessings!!!

    • 62

      Oh this, Ter— the wounded and the wounders — forgiveness for us all. *Yes* — this is the Christian faith we believe! Thank you, friend…

  21. 63

    I’m a big mess too. My problem is that a lot of times I don’t get angry or have unforgiveness toward the one who has hurt me, instead my unforgiving heart—attitude and blazing tongue is toward the very one who loves me most. The one who died for me. I get upset {not as much anymore} with Him for allowing folks to treat me in a bad way. “Lord you could have stopped that …” is always my speech with Him.

    I am realizing more and more, especially with blogging and reading other blogs just how flawed I am. And I know that nothing good dwells in me and no other human who walks the face of this earth; therefore, I am learning to extend grace and accept it much more than I ever have before.

    Since reading your book, I am learning to see the ugly that God sometimes allow in my life as even beauty from His hand … a grace given gift, seeing it through this type of lens helps me accept what His hand has to give. Just last week my father passed which was really a blow to me. I hurried ran my minds eye through words from your book. “Even this … this thing right here … this death of my father is from the Father’s hand.” In this new season I have seen His gift and the extension of His grace though it still hurts. Family members, some of them wanted to bicker, but I so kindly told them, “Let’s not fight…lets get through…walk through together.” And we did. At one time, I would have been the one so ready to fight back. All is forgiven with them. Usually I would be so hurt and hold this toward God, but I don’t thanks to your blogging and writing. It’s simply the “ugly-beautiful” I had my daddy for 45 years and it was such a treasure.

    • 64

      My humble condolences, ((Angela)), as you remember, celebrate, miss your dear Dad… The ugly beautiful — our Jesus raising up beauty out of the pain — it is taking me a lifetime to learn this, live this. You living it out, Angela — offers another example of how. You bless, friend… *Thank you* for the way you love like our Lord.

  22. 65
    Megan Edwards says:

    I read your book a few months ago as I was in a challenging (sleepless) place with my second child but only recently started reading your blog/website. Now I follow it every day! :) This particular post is so appropriate after the long weekend and being with some family that at times have felt like enemies. What I am finding helpful is first and foremost to look to God to fill me and meet my needs. Secondly, I am reading about Boundaries and learning what is my responsibility and what are other people’s responsibilities. Third, I am trying to live in a place of thankfulness because I do believe this opens my hands to receive His grace and truth about me! Thanks for writing this. I love it.

  23. 67

    I never thought about the fact all of us have suffered, gone through something of significance – a light has gone on this Tuesday morning – thank you.

  24. 69
    Heather says:

    I try to bury it, way deep down inside. Just try to get past it all. But it comes up and it surfaces. Usually in a very ugly way. Then I am left with a bigger mess, deeper hurts, and more wounds to bind and nurse. Thankfully there are instances like last night when God gives me strength to bear my broken heart to wonderful, loving, and forgiving parents or other friends who offer His grace and are His arms to me here on earth. Thank You, today Lord, for a Momma and a Daddy who are Your hands, feet, and heartbeat to their 25 year old daughter. It is Your grace, Lord.

  25. 70
    all shall be well says:

    “The longer I walk with you, Lord, I find I have no enemies: only your gift of chisels etching me deep.”

    Holding on to this thought today…….
    Thank you, Ann.
    karen

  26. 72
    annonymous says:

    Your words are always uplifting, and a blessing. I am also dealing with learning to forgive, and reminding myself daily that as God has forgiven me.. so I must also forgive and teach my children to forgive…. an aching heart… who longs to share Gods forgiveness with others, yet struggles daily to forgive myself, to accept that God has forgiven me… and to forgive those closest to me.

    • 73

      Dear One…. ~tears~ … I know this: the struggle to daily forgive ourselves. And realizing: When I can’t forgive myself as Jesus has forgiven me — I struggle to forgive others. If I believe His grace is really for me… that He fully forgives me — then grace flows easier for others too? Can you hear Him, sister — Him whispering how you are Loved, Forgiven, Held? I’m leaning in to hear it too — This changes everything. May you know it in the marrow of your bones today — the saving love of Christ, my friend….

  27. 74
    Peggy Lorenz says:

    Ann, my husband has taught me the meaning of forgiving “seventy times seven” for the past 15 years of our 21-year marriage. I live with emotional pain almost every day, but am praying that this will transform me, draw me closer to God, and allow Christ to love my husband through me. Prayers appreciated! Love to you…

  28. 75

    Unwrapping raw wounds under the light of day and exposing the heart-blade that dealt them then moving forward in trust that the Redeemer heals even while the blade remains very much present in the motion of life … growing within a place of wounding cannot be done, except by grace. I’m never entirely confident that I have truly forgiven, but I am willing to be forgiving. I have to count on Christ to work in me what I could never do, and every thought (positive or negative) pours out before him in a constant flow. Oh, that my desires would be purified before they become word and action.

  29. 76

    Oh, this: “your gift of chisels etching me deep…” So often what I somehow already know, what I already feel, is put into words as I read your blog. And this? This is the truth God showed me recently put into words and actions and illustrations that point me closer to where He would have me. I needed these words, especially since lately, my own family tree has left me hurting and bruised. Thank you, Ann.

  30. 77

    I fail daily and then find myself on my knees, asking forgiveness. Some wounds, some faces… are harder than others. Yet the call is to love, forgive, and offer as much grace as I’ve been given. Since I needed it so badly, why do I falter in giving it in certain places? Is it because I love my wounds more than Him and His grace to me? I don’t know. If that’s true, it cuts me deep. Still learning, I am, and a continuous work. But I know this– it’s these wounds that have brought me closer to Him, and He’s walked right into my broken heart. I find strength there, at His lap, His mercies are there for me each day, and He loves me right through to the point I can surrender the pain into His hands.

  31. 78

    Beautiful post. One thing weighs heavily on me, lately, and it’s how we turn other believers into enemies. I don’t understand why we can’t think differently from one another and just shrug and say: well, we’ve both been bought by the blood of Jesus, so how much can it matter? I don’t know. I mean, I understand God’s word does matter, that conveying his word truthfully DOES matter, but I wonder: does the devil distract believers by pitting us one toward another? Even as I type this, I know I have more to say and think about it. Thank you for this post.

  32. 79

    I’m still learning. I can’t say I’m there, but the Lord is quickening my heart sooner and sooner. I am like the woman “tearing into her good man with a tongue blade sharper than any scalpel.” He wounded me deeply, and I have struggled for the past 3 years to move beyond the hurt and betrayal. Instead, I stuff the pain deeper and believe the enemy’s lies until all at once, they bubble over, exploding like hot lava. Everyone is a casualty. This is not the life I want, nor the home I want for my girls.

    Today, I am clinging to Lamentations 3:22-23 (Amplified Bible):

    It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not.

    They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.

    Thank you for writing this, Ann. Especially today.

  33. 80

    Ann, this is a brilliant piece of writing, I especially like the prayer that you have added in, what wonderful words, for when we have no words – and how true that it is our enemies who drive us deeper into the father’s embrace.

    Forgiveness – for me it’s a lifestyle choice, its not something you do once, but again and again, and again, relying on his grace to get you through.

    Thank you for your words.

    Nics

  34. 81

    Ann, this is a brilliant piece of writing, I especially like the prayer that you have added in, what wonderful words, for when we have no words – and how true that it is our enemies who drive us deeper into the father’s embrace.

    Forgiveness – for me it’s a lifestyle choice, its not something you do once, but again and again, and again, relying on his grace to get you through.

    Thank you for your words.

    Nics

  35. 82

    Ann, this is a brilliant piece of writing, I especially like the prayer that you have added in, what wonderful words, for when we have no words – and how true that it is our enemies who drive us deeper into the father’s embrace.

    Forgiveness – for me it’s a lifestyle choice, its not something you do once, but again and again, and again, relying on his grace to get you through.

    Thank you for your words.

    Nics

  36. 83
    Misty Dawn says:

    this year has had terrible heartbreak… no sleep, tears, questioning, but i found ‘one thousand gifts…’ in my darkest hour, God brought me back… The past few years I had lost that wonder, that grace, that love. And it has flown back in and settled in my heart with a vengence to whittle out all the doubt, the hurt, the pain… the grace and hope that have settled in my heart are like a mama bird, feeding and protecting her young. At times it gets scary and I get hungry, but the grace and hope pour in again. And it’s in those times, the forgiveness pours out.

    I have had hope this past month… I have yet to see my full miracle, but I absolutely believe that it will come. My miracle will come ‘my deliver is coming…my deliverer is standing by… He will NEVER break His promise…He is written it upon the sky.” My deliver is coming and he will restore life to this dry ground. All is grace. Every single piece of my heart is wrapped in His grace.

    • 84

      Oh Misty! Yes, He is faithful! His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness! May the years that the locusts have eaten be restored to you and your hope become a wellspring of life. And never forget, dear one, that He loves us!

  37. 86

    like you – i knit and pray. there is something so soul-restoring about knitting a piece of string into something beautiful and useful, about knitting your soul to god’s…

  38. 87

    I needed this today. Forgiveness, or lack of, is what holds me back in so many ways. I KNOW it, but need to LIVE it.

  39. 88

    Hurt and hiding live hand in hand in my wounded but so very grateful heart-wounded by words of hate spoken on school playgrounds, wounded by hands of other wounded children doing the unspeakable to an innocent child, wounded by betrayal of a woman whose friendship I had poured myself into. But so very grateful for the healing and gracious touch of my Jesus as His love and strength continue to bring my dead parts to life, as he shines His beautiful light on the shadows of my pain and I see that it is His pain-He suffered and became the evil ugliness that wounds all of us. He sets us free from the chains of our own sin that wounds others and from the prison of hiding, closing, refusing to forgive,and vengeance that are born out of others’ wounding sin. I am still walking, sometimes crawling, this path of open and extended heart as His love covers me and His grace compels me to extend myself even as my scars scream at me to build those walls again.

    Thank you, Ann, for this post. Thank you for putting your own heart in the open places so that we can be encouraged. Thanks to all of you who commented. Your stories and heart words expressed are gifts to me.

  40. 89

    I am learning to acknowledge the pain, instead of pretending it isn’t there and drowning it it self-harm. I’m learning to be honest with myself, and not give in when they try to explain it away and tell me that I am wrong, because they do not define me anymore. I am learning how to caste fear aside and be who

    • 90

      be who I am without apology. I am learning how to break the chains and be the parent I want to be for my children, the parent I always wished I had. I am learning to reject the hateful angry perfectionist God I grew up with. And I’m struggling to leave the door open for a God who seems to be non-existent or at least non-interested.

  41. 91

    Beautiful…….just what I needed to hear today…..thank you so much…….

  42. 92

    Wow, the hurts rage but I guess when you realize that if we are called to a life in Christ and to be Christlike, it is through HURTS that we learn forgiveness, grace and mercy. If we are to be Christlike, we must have an understanding of those characteristics and a practicing or working knowledge of same. During issues of abandonment and betrayal I just picture JESUS being my advocate and after time (not good at immediate, still working and growing) I forgive knowing that GOD’s Justice on my behalf will be more productive than anything I could merit out. Blessings and thanks Ann for another amazing glimpse into pruning and growth.

  43. 93

    i needed this truth today- how easily we forget that we were once enemies of God. sunday we read the book of Philemon- the forgiveness example Paul called his brother Philemon to offer towards his slave Onisemus revealed anew the unforgiveness i harbor within my heart. thank you for reminding me again today.

  44. 94

    You ask, How do I deal with being wounded, cheated, disappointed & heartbroken?

    I am a wallbuilder. Time and repetition is a good teacher. Able to stack bricks around me at the speed of light. Occasionally removing one to peek out to see if it is safe, quickly replacing for fear it is not. Who made me so afraid? Church people, God’s people, and me the preacher’s wife. By His grace I walk out from that wall and allow myself to be vulnerable to the hurt again, to love His people again. He gave me a sanctuary, a place I call “home” where I am 30 miles from the place where our church family for the last eight years meets. Here they seldom reach me, touch me, hurt me. Here He protects me, comforts me, assures me.

    Wonderful piece. Thank you, with much love.

  45. 95

    I never thought I was an unforgiving person until someone hurt me beyond what I ever thought possible and my own sin wrapped up in it only served to make the unforgiveness look back at me in the mirror. And there are those that make up the other branches of this family tree…those that should love and support, but don’t. And this marriage that for 10 years has been weathering winds so strong that it seemed that it was going to fall.

    I do also wish there was another way.
    Everyday I long to forgive and each inch I make towards it, I find the enemy pushing me backwards even harder. It’s tougher to forgive those that never change…those whose sins continue. Those that you know you will have to forgive tomorrow and the next day and the next…and so on. Having patience with myself as God grows me…patience as GOd grows my husband and purges us from the burdens we came with. We lay under such a large pile of bones, I sit with a God-given desire to bury those bones in His grace, so that my children never have to carry them.
    Daily, I see that my precious Life-Giver is my hope and that I am desperate for Him. He keeps me in the toughest place, not far enough away from those that wound so freely. He keeps me here till I can forgive. It’s daunting and frustrating. To try to forgive those that are no longer in my life and even those I live with. Those that I can’t imagine God using…but then I can’t see Him using me.
    I realize that the pain inflicted does not compare to the punishment I should have paid….you reminded me of this today. What a sweet gracious God is He who waits on His people’s hearts to heal.

    • 96

      Oh, such poignant words here! “We lay under such a large pile of bones, I sit with a God-given desire to bury those bones in His grace, so that my children never have to carry them.” There is such a thing as generational sin and it is painful and difficult. Forgiveness is necessary – because it is an act of faithful obedience – and because it is the place of healing for us.

      However, reconciliation may or may not be a part of the forgiveness process. I know nothing of the details of your story, but just wanted to encourage you to keep learning the language of forgiveness – it is the mother tongue Jesus came to teach us to speak and to sing. It comes straight from the heart of our Triune God and it is exactly what we need and what helps to make us whole.

      Yet… that reconciliation/living together part does not always come along with our forgiveness. And sometimes that’s what we have to learn to live with. Trusting that God alone can work that winsome voice of love and forgiveness in the hearts of those whose words/actions/betrayals have so wounded us and others. That’s part of the boundary making we must do as we grow in our understanding of ourselves and of God. May you be blessed with wisdom as you walk forward, modeling for your children how to live in forgiveness but how to wisely choose where you will and will not place yourself (or them) if there is no forward movement from the other side. These choices can be made without anger, without vengeance and sometimes that is where God has us for a while. Oh, so many blessings, dear Kara, as you walk this road!

      And thank you so much Ann, for this beautiful, thoughtful, grace-filled writing – as always. This is the song of the ages – the one that marks us as belonging to Jesus. And it’s the toughest one of all to learn to sing well, isn’t it? Thank you for adding your beautiful harmonies to today’s article, a gift for us all.

  46. 97

    There is this place…a place of grace and amazement in my own heart…and sometimes I catch the true essence of it. In this place I have no enemies save sin….no flesh and blood…only sin. In this place I can sense the true glory of God…His love for ALL…and His true humble care of His creation. This place feels totally free…free to love, the path to Heaven. Lord help me find this place today and everyday. Thank you Ann.

  47. 98

    This has brought me to tears in my office. Sometimes you just don’t feel “good enough” and it hurts and at those moments I always hear Him tell me “but you are for me”. It is hard to walk in forgiveness when everyone around you in the world is screaming how can you forgive him. I am walking out of a marriage where drugs were more important than me and my child. As soon as he told me the truth about a life time of drug addiction and hiding it from me I was able to forgive him. He doesn’t believe me that I forgive him because I don’t trust him completely to be left alone with our child but one day it may be restored. We (my son and I) pray for him every night even though we are not together as a family and there are days it is hard to pray for his soul. Sometimes it is just hard hearing him say “well it isn’t very christian of you to file for divorce” or “well you just remember your sins are still just as great a sin as my addiction…” it is hard to forgive him when he says things like that. But I have a great church family and a MIGHTY God that reminds me I have to leave a legacy for Breckin to follow and living in bitterness, anger, fear, loneliness, and rebellion against God will not teach my son to live as Christ did on this earth. Knowing that one day I will stand before a just God and will be held accountable for how I raised my child helps me get over the hurt.

  48. 99

    Your words are going deep in me today, Ann. Thank you. I, too, have known this mighty struggle of forgiveness. My way of dealing with the hurt and pain of the past has not been healthy…protective withdrawal, playing it safe, wariness. But I am trying to run to Jesus when I feel these old “walls” going up again. Worshiping Him helps expose the lies and build walls of truth. “Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table, Jesus, thank You.”

  49. 100

    this post has really touched me, my way of dealing with these things has been my writing. not all of it pretty, but honest.reflections of my experience and how i found a way to cope. in the last five years since i found God…my poetry has turned a page. this is a gift that i cherish every day. between long years of counseling and God’s grace~filled healing i am able to work thru things better…not always so gracefully…but i keep trying. thank you for the post and “Angela” thank you for your comment on the “ugly~beautiful” you inspired me this morning… http://discoveringraven.com/journal/2011/05/the-uglybeautiful/

  50. 101

    My dad left my mother with 6 children , a pile of debt , no resources and a debilitating illness that almost sent her to her grave – yet if i do not forgive him there will be no heaven for me – the wounds are still raw 11 years later

  51. 102

    Needed to read this today…struggling to forgive a family member for years and years of hurts.

  52. 103

    Thank you for letting God use you to speak to my heart, once again, Ann. :)

  53. 104

    How do I deal with it? It has taken me most of my adult life (now 43) to realize that I don’t have to deal with heartbreak, hurt, and sour feelings alone. That saying, “Whey you point a finger, there are three of them pointing back at yourself.” I have stopped pointing blame, and I have changed myself. Walking with God has truly helped me deal with the sours of life. I have also found out that I can’t live for yesterday, yesterday cannot be changed, I have to live for today, tomorrow, a keep myself (goals) moving forward.

  54. 105

    It wasn’t until about 3-4 months ago that I realized that someone had hurt me when I was 8 and I had yet to deal with it. Almost 15 years after the fact, and I still haven’t thought completely through the situation. Part of me knows that God will have me work through it when he knows that I am really ready to work through it. The other part of me, on days that I’m reminded of the very tender, still open wound, I wish that I could just move on from it.

    Growing up books were always my escape. I would go in my room and read for hours on end. After all, the life going on inside of the book was a lot more kind then reality. As I got older, got more responsibility, I have stopped reading as much, although, I have found that many times, I have replaced the reading with either TV, or just killing time on the internet. The catcher is, my life today is more amazing then I could have ever imagined. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what i’d known.

    I’m going to strive to get back to my crochetting. Use that time, as you do with your knitting. Use that time explicitly for reaching out, crying out, screaming out to God, and wrestling through any issues that I have in my life. Thank you for this post.

  55. 106
    Puffin Hen says:

    I love that prayer by Bp. Nikolai Velimirovich. The whole thing is beautiful and ministering, but I think you extracted and adapted the essence here so well. Thank you for the reminder.

  56. 107

    IN the midst of almost 100 comments, I must put a recommendation in for l.l. barkat ( Laura) book: Stone Crossings. Must read for those in pain, abuse, woundedness, struggles with forgiveness.

  57. 108
    Rachel Snyder says:

    I return to the Gospel…and usually on my knees I return, to the ultimate story of cheating, wounding, disappointment and heartbreak, I remind myself that there is an eternal perspective I need to have, a “seeking His kingdom first” life I need to be living.

    I used to just say things were forgiven and “felt” as though this was true, all the while not truly being a participant to the circumstances of life, and therefore, being numb or exempt to any pain those same circumstances could or would cause.

    For me, I have to step even one step further back and start with actually being present in ALL circumstnaces, living without fear of the the consequences and actually being vulnerable and opening myself up to the hurt, pain, betrayal, etc. This place was only reached by understanding the Gospel…and if we are created in the image of God, if Jesus was Who He said He was, if we have been given LIFE to live abundantly, than what can be said other than “I am here. Lord send me.” HERE – loving, serving, obeying – SEND – wherever that might be, even right into the arms of an enemy…

    Love your blogs, love the parts of the book I have read, love what God has brought to my life and other’s lives through your obediance to the Cross. Blessings-

  58. 109

    ~ Dearest Ann…

    Having known much betrayal in my life; abuse for years and years, emotional, verbal, physical and perhaps sexual (I think that thing is still buried deep within) and divorce; adultery, gossip, slander, being stolen from, lied to over and over again…and the list goes on ~and some continues even today…

    I have found that true forgiveness is like all else good ~ it is a *gift* from our God. For I have struggled, certainly, over and over again; and of this He knows. And He never condemned me while I wrestled; a most pitying and tender God He is.

    At times I was not even willing ~ but I kept, by the grace of God, seeking Him, fleeing to His sweet heart. And taking a tiny step of obedience finally, and seeking help for myself, He has blessed greatly any sacrifice of time and effort and *given* to me what I could not obtain myself; and the layers of unforgiveness, bitterness and anger melted off of me… flowing downward to pile a of ash upon my bedroom floor one day out of nowhere.

    …And then He gave me the the sweetest of all to follow ~ He showed me that in allowing it to come my way, and my enduring…I have entered into the deepest of mystery ~ the fellowship of His suffering ~ and “if we suffer with Him we shall reign” (with Him).

    Of such I will not fully understand until those days…when we are with Him, gazing upon the Lamb upon His throne…

    …And I am now at rest ~

    …And I thank you for your prayers of the past for they have been answered ~

    • 110
      kathryn says:

      “…if we suffer with HIM, we shall reign” …such comfort. I too have experienced many of the things in your list. and have found such comfort in the scripture which tells us that we who have NOT seen [Him] and YET believed are blessed! and if we endure, we shall receive the crown of LIFE! and to be at rest…a state i have known and lost countless times. but i know, ONE DAY, face to FACE, i shall be fully and finally at rest. thanks for sharing this…

      • 111

        Kathryn,

        Sweet sister, I just found your reply to me. I am sad, so sad you have experienced many of the same as I, but so grateful you have also found *Him, through His Word, to be *enough.

        Sometimes (as this week was) the suffering was near unbearable. I am grateful He understands us so, and knows our limits better than we; thankful He is so intimate with each of us and measures out not one more drop of suffering than we can endure.

        Oh, to receive the crown of LIFE and be at rest, to see Him face to face; these things you remind me of are most glorious indeed and I so needed to read this *today…

        Thank you so much for taking the time to reply for you gave me strength I needed ;)

    • 112

      Yes Virginia,
      me too!
      I too see now that forgiveness is a GIFT. A gift from our heavenly Dad to enable us and others to have peace and helaing and to grow in awe of Him.
      Sometimes it is hard. I used to say Lord make me willing to be made willing to be willing to think about forgiving etc. Now thanks to Him I am quicker to choose to forgive. But with the hard hard things I say Ok God I choose to forgive this person. I do not like it or want to or even feel like it but I know that You call me to forgive and I choose, I want to, help me. And He does help me and I am able to keep choosing and come to praying blessing for them and thanking God for them.
      Forgiveness frees us from the bad connection we have with that person.
      Forgiveness enables God to forgive us (see the Lords prayer)
      Forgiveness sets us free to love and it is wonderful.
      Yes, “the fellowship of His suffering” another gift
      I appreciate your words Virginia
      And Ann , Thank-you!

      • 113

        Dear Jill,

        I so appreciate your being vulnerable. Oh, how often I have struggled…so long been wounded and so many have wounded. I think He calls some to this *mystery of suffering for very strange reasons when I am honest with myself and Him. I don’t understand suffering!

        But I know saints of the deep did not become deep without deep wounds and I believe the greater and deeper the wounds, the greater the capacity for all things good and of Christ, if we let the wounds drive us to His sweet heart.

        Yes, I too have done the Lord, make me willing to be willing, etc. more times than I care to confess. But is He not so lovely because He knows just how to help us?

        Thank you for reminding me of the choosing. I know that the gift of true forgiveness often comes following our small (and often large) steps of obedience. Thank you for reminding me that we don’t need to like it or feel like it!

        I imagine that Jesus often felt that way when He was here and faced such a constant battering from His enemies!

        God bless you for taking the time to share with me!

        I appreciate your words, also!

  59. 114

    Oh Ann,
    This can be so hard. Easier for me when the wounder is an outsider, an unbeliever who has no heavenly resource to be better than they are. Oh, but so much harder when the wounds and damage to loved ones come from Christians, leaders even, who not only should know better, but whose own story is told again and again about how far God reached to extend His grace to them. I struggle with the fact that it feels too often that the most dangerous place to be is in the church (not just a single church, but many churches). It doesn’t help when all our attempts to reconcile and heal have fallen flat and no real accountability seems possible except knowing that God knows and will deal with it all in His own way and time–I absolutely know He will. In the meantime, we hurt, we are prevented from ministry in that place, we feel sidelined–so hard. Time helps the sharpness of the pain, but with no real resolution the restrictions remain. Praying for the Holy Spirit to move where we cannot, for wisdom in placing each and every footstep, and for peace where we feel powerless to resolve conflict . . . and LOVE to cover a multitude of sins–only He can provide what I do not feel in my own strength.

  60. 115

    Such pure and true words, Ann. God is always able to pierce my heart with your beautiful writing. I’ve been working through the fact that the hardest person to forgive is so often myself. The fear that I am not forgiven for even the tiniest things creates so much anxiety in my life. I am slowly approaching the truth that I cannot earn forgiveness, such a hard lesson to comprehend in a world that is so fixated on earning the approval and affection of others. Thank you for this, your words were just what I needed! What an amazing gift you are!

  61. 116

    Again your words astound me, knock me off my feet. I love your book One Thousand Gifts. I dont know if i should start with my now and work backwards or start at the beginning and work forward. Right now i’m trying to find peace with God. Everytime i turn round there seems to be something else to be mad at God for; 26 years ago my best friend died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty heater, 4 yrs later my father-in-law died suddenly from a stroke, my now ex-husband left to stay with his family for awhile and had an affair, he came back, we had another daughter and we tried again. Well i did he just continued to have one affair after another. We had been married for 12yrs to the day when i left him for good. To cover up his guilt he was abusive to me and our children on all levels. I had to let go of what was most sacred to me, my marriage. A year later i had survived but then i had a nervous breakdown. 4yrs later i found out he had sexually abused our beautiful daughter, social workers, police and still he got away with it. We survived but my mental health crashed into one hole then another and another, suicide was comtemplated but i couldnt leave my children because he would get them and he didnt deserve them. 18ms ago my beautiful niece died in a car accident, she was 21 and no one can tell us why. 3mths ago i slipped down some stairs and hurt my knee, i thought it was nothing but now they are saying they dont know if they can repair it and if they cant i wont be able to return to the job i love and if i cant do that ive no idea what i will do. 4 weeks ago another niece gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Ava, 8 weeks early, they survived but if they had waited the 2 hrs the doctors had told them too they wouldnt be here. I am alone God did not send someone else to love me and those that should help me, turn away. God told me to lay everything at his feet and walk away, it’s not so easy. Someone wrote about laying everything down and allowing God to untangle it, do i have an option? I read blogs and i look for answers and i find amazing people which gentle spirits and kind hearts, but i do not know where God is?

    • 117

      I will pray for you. I am divorced. The week before we signed papers to do so my oldest daughter came out that she was molested by her father. (We share three young girls together.) Though the state and militarty dismissed it I chose to fight in court. So two years later we are still in court proceedings. Hand tight to the word and God. A dear friend told me this when I first found out, “God brought this to light for a reason. Only things still hidden in darkness can win.” Psalm 18 is my life scripture. It is not easy or painful…but God is there to hold you. I am trying to lean and remember that it was finished at the cross. That God loves my girls more than I do so he will protect them and me.

    • 118

      Bev,
      I struggled for so long trying to believe God was with me through all I went through. I heard everyone tell me but I needed to feel him, to hear him, to see him! I understand oh so well when you say you do not know where God is! God has not gone anywhere, he is inside of you. I am so very sorry for all you have endured I really am. Psalm 18:6-19 helped me greatly. He hears your cries. He even records all your tears on his scrolls–Ps. 56:8. It was so hard to believe in the midst of the chaos, I understand that. It was the people God placed in my life to help me specifically get through an issue that helped. It was these people who kept saying the same thing over and over. God is inside of you Lisa, He is ahead of you, He is with you every single step of the way. It was so hard to believe when everything seemed to be falling apart around me. I realized it was a trust issue. I didn’t trust God to not let me down just like everyone else around me had in my life. But what he told me through a friend was; that was then, this is now. Who of my friends that he gave me specifically at that time had left me behind and gave up? No one! Bev I will pray for you, prayer is the ONLY thing that pulled me through. Having a dear friend pray for me, holding my hands and taking me to the feet of Jesus as she prayed whenever I needed, is what pulled me to the surface long enough to take one more breath so I could go a little further down the path!

      • 119

        Yes without my friends, mom and girls I wouldn’t keep going. Without my mentor I wouldn’t have caught my sin of holding so tightly to outcomes and fears. How could God give me the gifts he had waiting to bless me with if my hands were closed? I have seen God protect us in small simple ways when the world failed. I choose to see the choices as sin and Satan hand and know that we are Christ so it has no lasting power over us. It is God’s battle..not mine.

        On my roughest days my girls hugs and loving words are my encouragment. They are so full of love for all that Christ has put in out lives. My oldest, who was abused, forgives her father but knows he needs to get better for there to be safeness. She tells many God is her Daddy and Jesus lives in her heart..and that is enough for her. She is a miracle and that how I walk by faith and choose to forgive because there the darkness has no power.

        In Psalm 18 it states God puts the peice of my life back together when I placed them before him. I have been learning to put them back over and over..I always want to take something back after I surrender it. I try to remember “open hands.”

  62. 120

    first, I cry . .then, I pray, and listen . . . waiting for healing, seeking others to pray with me. and yes, sometimes in the midst of the pain, there is anger, hurt, disappointment to deal with – - -but I know He is always near.

    oh, I want to be like Him, is that why this life brings so much pain, so we can have our hearts molded to be like His?

    • 121

      Yes, I agree as HE said in 2 Corinthians 3:18
      “But we all with unvelied face, behoding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,we are being ransformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the LORD.”

  63. 122

    Beautiful hard truth. Forgiveness doesn’t often come easily, but how gracious the gift when it DOES at last come. Long ago, I learned that forgiveness, true and pure, has nothing to do with ‘feelings’ and everything to do with faith and making the decision to forgive. And how rich the blessing is to your own heart when you can at last breath clean, without malice and hurt seeping through…. Thank you, as always Ann, your words are so rich and powerful. Always pointing towards the cross…. Bless you, beautiful Ann. <

  64. 123

    The Father has been pressing this truth on my heart in recent days Ann. Your words echo the whisper of the Spirit in my heart. I have been so bitter and angry at my sister. It is wrong. So much, so very much has been forgiven me. “As we forgive….” I would not want my miserly forgiveness to be the standard by which He forgives me. He is lavish with grace and mercy. He calls me to be the same.
    Thank you sweet friend. I send you dearest love.
    Linda

  65. 124

    The list of “injustices” I have experienced grows longer as do my years: the father who left and escaped support for 17 years, the motorist who crashed into my vehicle when I was pregnant and due for delivery of our second daughter, a scarred extended family who struggles in their view of a loving and sovereign Father….”But God…” Yes, Ann! It is only through His exchanged life that we receive the ability to forgive. He gathers every tear. And “there will be a day”…In Him, we are redeemed and our Hope is eternal. Thank you for your faithful witness…for ministering the Christ-life daily. He is shining in you. :)

  66. 125

    wow, just wow. You’ve nailed my current struggle right on the head today. Right now as I write this we are praying and fighting desperatly to save our daughter (my stepdaughter) from a cult ran by her own mother and stepfather, she’s been gone for months and left her baby daughter behind. It’s been trying to seperate my own emotions from my prayers, and I only recently relized that I must pray for her mother and stepfather. Honestly praying for their own healing is so difficult when you constantly think back to what they have done to our entire family. It has taken several babysteps, praying first for help to forgive them then praying for their own healing. Thank you for sharing such a deep, moving, personal post… I needed to hear every word you wrote.

  67. 126

    Still dealing with my own pain and suffering over a betrayal, my own path to forgiveness keeps opening wider and wider. So much has helped to move my feet along the path, though sometimes my mind moves but the heart and body resist. Knitting is part of my path. Though my forgiveness helps to restore my soul, I carry an awareness that forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation or restoration of relationship and that’s okay, because sometimes those relationships are best kept at distance or left in the past. Someday God will set all relationships at right and the past will no longer bear on the future. Praise God for these indescribable gifts!

  68. 127

    Dear Ann,
    It is lovely what you share with us, can we plys join in prayers so that we can forgive and let go that wounded heart that just wants to love and be loved, to be strong in faith and closer to God?

    Love you lots, and thank you this is my #440 gift of the day! :)
    Mariana from Mexico.

  69. 128

    I am having to learn forgiveness in the most painful way for me. After 24.5 yrs of blissfully happy marrige, my husband, who was a pastor, got depressed, made some poor decisions, and resigned. Now he is jobless, changing my whole world because he is changing who he is. Claims that he never felt close to me, and yet I have to endure. I have to forgive all the hurt he has caused and is continuing and chose to love him like Christ, knowing as 1 Peter 2:19-20 says it is a gracious thing, when mindful of the Lord, to suffer injustice. How can i expect anything more or better than Christ had here on earth? He suffered rejection from those He loved and came to save. He gave us an example on how to suffer.
    I have forgiven but am struggling with the hurt of being wounded and walking into the unknown. it is dark and i don’t know the way, but I do know the One who does and I am clinging to His hand like a frightened child. One step of obedience at a time, and when i dont know what to do, I chose that which shows love. I dont know that it will end as I hope and pray. I have expressed my frustration and even anger with God, but I know the truth that He is good and faithful. I dont see Him working but I trust He is.
    The questions of how, why, …only haunt and grieve me. Its done, Im here, I can chose how i will live from here on out. Wallow or worship while im waiting. ….
    But i know that if I am not His tangible hand of forgiveness that restoration would e hindered if not impossible. Forgiveness is another aspect of dying to self, that is so hard to do because we feel we have rights. Im learning a deeper walk than every before, its not fun, but I know good will come out of it.

  70. 129

    Thank you so much for your book and your daily blogs. I happened upon your website when I truly needed it, I know that it was only His intervention that led me there. Your sweetness towards our Lord is so inspiring to me. My heart was once young and so filled with His love, but life has aged my heart and I sometimes see myself as only black and stained with sin. Dear friends have hurt me deeply and some days I feel that I can never be enough to anyone. Each day I know that His mercies are new and He is always with me and He shows me His light, but I still stumble. You remind me of the good when I read your words.
    All I can say is thank you.

  71. 130

    I fall on my face, in a pool of tears, praying to see them as Christ does. I am a single mother of three girls whom love the Lord! Yet they are young they pour Christ into me time and time again! My oldest was molested by my former husband (the girl’s dad.) Watching Christ heal our lives, restore and bring so much love and joy out of the pain is what brings fruit of forgivness. I chose this for us because bitterness brings death. Through Christ we are new and can use this great painful trial to help others.
    Though I don’t know what lies ahead in our next court tail…I know who our God is!

    • 131

      Oh Amber, my heart breaks for your family…but I LOVE your words “praying to see them as Christ does”. This is such a hard, hard thing to do. It’s crazy to know that all sin is just that – SIN. And we are ALL sinners. The pain your child has gone through (and I’m sure you as a mom and wife) seems so unfair, but we serve a God who is the God who heals. Praying for healing, forgiveness, restoration for all of you.

  72. 132

    Intention is wrapped up in forgiveness for me. Yes, people cause great harm, but so often it is not intentional, we have the soft spot that rubs raw with their ignorance….this I find easier to forgive. The intentional wasting of this gift of today, the intentional tearing down of a soul, the intentional destruction of a family struggling to remain whole, the intentional tripping, pushing, taunting of a person trying to stand…….these intentional acts I find impossible to forgive. I burn with righteous indignation over these intentional, deliberate acts of destroying God’s gifts and grace, and I just don’t know how I might move past that, even with your wisdom words today. Surely some sins are just not forgiveable in this lifetime?

    • 133

      Oh, MJ! I (another MJ) so struggle to forgive the intentional sins, too. Yet I’m pierced to realize that Jesus has done just that – offered, bought, forgiveness for every sin (and for sin as a “condition” not just an act). Many of those sins are mine – many (most?) of them intentional.

      Only through Christ can we do this thing.

    • 134
      Tracy in NJ says:

      Certainly not by our own power but only with the grace of God! Surely if it were not important to Him it wouldn’t have a front row seat in the Lord’s prayer. But oh what a struggle!

  73. 135

    Ann – firstly thank you! Bright blessings to you and your family, always and in all ways!

    Secondly, you touch me with your words and your images. I struggle with this healing journey, with honouring the scars and healing the wounds, leaning on Jesus and not falling hard when the tripping, stabbing, stumbling and crashing down.

    I pray, I love, I give them back to God. Sometimes not so gently as I should, perhaps. I surrender to grace, to love, to peace and remember that I have no cause to raise a stone as I too am a sinner. I cry though, all to human, and I rage, all to me, and I feel miserable and question it all…and I remember Jesus and the rejection He faced. And I know I am not alone.

  74. 136

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I am being treated for anxiety brought on by a very stressful week and a half long vacation for a family wedding that we had to travel to by plane with two toddlers along with a slew of other things that started a downward spiral of depression in the past year. I have been hurt, mistreated, and heartbroken. To protect myself, I did what I knew best…I buried it deep within my heart. But the thing about burying or hiding it is that eventually it becomes too much, eventually it has to come out. And, for me, it came out as anxiety and anger and fear. Two weeks ago, I had a heart to heart with God. He spoke to me about how He forgave me and set me free and that I needed to forgive because He forgave. I am still learning, but forgiving the one who hurt me is the first step. Learning how to work through my emotions, to know when they are deceiving me, instead of hiding them, is the step I am still working on. But I am so thankful He is still working on me and that He works all things together for good to those who love Him. He is good, in the good times AND in the bad, He is always, always good.

  75. 137

    Ann, I have been thinking a lot about what you wrote in a previous post about burying your hurt and hopes in the soil of faith. I am beginning to see that is how I am to deal with what is currently breaking my heart.

    I planted sunflowers this week, as a sign, and to watch God grow something beautiful out of the unseen, dirty places.

    • 138

      Abby that is so inspirational; now I want to do that too!! You’re right about God growing unseen dark places. God is everywhere.

  76. 140

    On Monday I learned my husband (we are recently divorced but I didn’t want that and I still think of him as my husband) was getting remarried in a couple of months. I was so angry and bitter and certainly unforgiving. I was also very angry at how hurt the kids were/are by this turn of events. I decided to take Tuesday off work to spend time with my kids and to spend time writing and listening to God. I felt wounded, cheated, disappointed, heartbroken. When I woke up Tuesday morning the very first thing that came into my head was ‘You will go forth with joy’! I turned to the passage in Isaiah 55: 12 and 13. So yesterday I tried to think of every moment as going forth with joy. I never expected that was the way God was going to change my unforgivingness. Today I’m going to go forth in joy again. What an amazing God! Then i read your blog this morning and the words that really hit me were the ones about how I’ve been forgiven so how can I not forgive others.

  77. 141
    Aly Brewer says:

    What a blessing you are to me Ann :) Your blog and your book… it has been a cup of cool water. Thank you.
    My own healing journey has taken me deep into the heart of forgiveness, and what freedom has come because of it! I always felt like I was “letting people off the hook” if I forgave them, as if they would not have to answer for the pain they caused if I released them… They don’t “deserve” forgiveness… Ahhhh. Jesus, so gentle, showed me that I don’t “deserve” forgiveness either. And the only one ‘hooked’ when I walk unforgiving is me. Usurping God’s role as judge sucks the life out of my bones.
    The hard work for me now is daily forgiving myself. Harsh words to children, lack of self control, not living the gospel… There are so many days when I look around at my grouchy self and fussy kids and books and papers and dishes and dirt, where the only science project is the one growing in the bathroom. Deadlines not met, murmur at my husband, discontent… and then the realization that it’s me. My attitude problem. I am flailing and failing. So with all you sisters here at this blog I set my course toward the cross, headed in the right direction, believing that the Holy Spirit within can bring about the change that in and of myself, I cannot. Day by day…

  78. 142

    I have a port-wine stain birthmark…the wounds from wearing this love-mark from God have cut deep. Recently, I was asked to speak at a “Beautiful You” conference for high school girls. Even before I penned one word or uttered a syllable, the Holy Spirit was hard at working applying salve to my still-raw wounds and freeing the hardened callouses of my heart. When I stood before those girls, it was in the freedom and grace of forgiveness…for all who had hurt me and the hurt I in turn doled out in my own pain. How truly beautiful we all are, adorned by His love, grace and forgiveness. Thank you for sharing and reminding to forgive…

  79. 143
    Natasha says:

    Ann, thank you for sharing your wisdom and insight, I praised God today for the grace working in you and your willingness to share it that He may reveal His grace to me more deeply…today I was wondering how to give thanks in the midst of pain and that prayer brought tears to my eyes….how true that the enemies, the wounds and the pain drive us to our Lord and leave us with so much more, more of Himself…..your book has made its way into my hands, all the way over in South Africa, and it is one of the first gifts listed on my way to 1000….thank you and may God continue to bless you and use you.xxx.

  80. 144

    Ann,

    I’m not sure if I can convey what my heart feels after reading your words. It is as if you see deep inside and speak to the most secret parts of my heart. And, then I remember…it is He who sees, He that speaks through you. My Father, and yours.

    I do not knit or crochet, but I have most certainly been wrestling with this very love you speak of…searching for loopholes rather than surrendering to love and grace for those who have hurt me deeply. A father who walked away, leaving me with empty places. A string of fathers and stepfathers…always with the leaving. A family full of brokenness…unmended and filled with hurt and longing and expectations left unmet. Disappointment and regret…and pain abound.

    I have been redeemed by grace…and I have offered grace many times. Still the hurts pile, heaping high above my head and heavy on my heart. My mother, sweet mother, writhing on her bed as cancer steals all that was beautiful on this earth within her. My babies laying in tiny graves. A life of accepting less and being filled with more, trusting when we can’t see, embracing beauty as it rises from ashes. There has been much beauty…I am reminded, even as I look on the ashes.

    I know there is a place where I am free to love with abandon…to offer grace without expectation. A place of perfect peace and security in His arms. A place of being confident in being His…so confident that I can love without the fear of being hurt once again.

    Still I wrestle. I wrestle and cling….

    Thank you for speaking of this wrestling…and yielding to Him… yielding to love, the love that is beyond me to give.

    Love and prayers…for both of us…

  81. 145

    I don’t have many words to say today. All answers gone, I walk alone with God through yet more deep blows to my heart. I am weak. No longer proud and outspoken, the blows of this last year have humbled me to a different place.

    “You’re not a good fit here” were words spoken to me at my job, working with children I loved, with staff I loved….the administration did not return the love. Then, our son with severe autism tries a community placement and he gains 100 pounds and bites chunks out of people’s arms. He makes sexual advances towards my husband. He scares us. Back to the State Hospital he goes, his home since age 9.

    Last fall of 2010, I wake up with my joints hurting all over….overnight my knees are permanently damaged. No one knows why or what happened.

    My childhood was one of the most abusive I have ever heard of. I struggle to take the thoughts out of my mind that I will repeat the past. I am 55. I have not repeated the past but I can’t seem to silence my tormentor, the enemy of our souls.

    We are empty nesters. My husband struggles with ADHD, constant ringing in his ears, and now needs a hip replacement. He sleeps much of the time when he is home.

    I have prayed a million prayers of forgiveness towards my mom but my heart still locks up when I talk with her. Do we ever truly forgive, completely, and totally? My un-met mother needs still surface when with certain people. Father, can you be my mother too?

    Ann, I have started a journal and have been journaling for years….thankfulness is always there, but the pain never seems to go away. I have experienced the power of the holy spirit and been walking with God for 34 years…..I am quiet and wait for Him, yet again.

    • 146

      I speak to myself, today, Kim, don’t rehearse the pain. What can that do but cement in old hurts? Speak, yes, and the Father hears…..but to retell the old, old story again and again, is futile. But yesterday, my heart was full of sorrow. Today it is less so. There has been a bit of a release, a letting go, a lunch with a good friend,

      Ann, I have shared your book with many. Including my husband, who loved it so much he read it twice. Thank you.

  82. 147

    Ann, this post was beautiful and transparent.. who cannot relate? I experienced the biggest growth in my spiritual life, new strength, a new heart when I had the biggest hurt and betrayal. I praise God for the Grace that sustained, renewed. I was pruned, painfully God chopped off all the dead in me. Everything I believed in came crashing down around me.. I even contemplated hurting myself. 19+ years of living seemed to be a lie. The only thing real was Him, He who held my hand. HE WAS AND IS MY COUNSELOR. He was AND IS my strength. Slowly, I rose from the mire I was dragged into and He gave me new garments. He renewed my life, my marriage. He taught me new truths, he said “See I have made all things new”. He said “Do not look back, the door is closed” He gave me strength to forgive and grace to endure. It is a long road and I still travel, still slip sometimes and get dirty, shadows of the old me rise up, but He takes my hand he cleans me up, he banishes the darkness with wondrous light. I survived pain, betrayal, I learned to trust and to forgive and to love better than I did before. It was and is because HE IS MY PHYSICIAN. All I learned, I learned at His feet. HE IS MY TEACHER. Still learning, still growing, still climbing.. I’m just a student.

  83. 148

    How I’ve dealt with this has changed over the years.

    Before Christ, I held a grudge and lived “once an enemy, always an enemy.” Humility wasn’t part of me. In high school I went to bed hoping my best friend would have a good Dr. appt., then woke the next morning with a plan to encourage her, only to learn by afternoon that she had died in her sleep. God became my enemy. (Does the freshness of that pain ever die?)

    After I decided to follow Christ and gave myself to Him, I had a lot of unlearning to do. I used my tongue to vent my anger (my husband told me I shouldn’t bury it; he probably wished he didn’t say that).

    And now, so many years later, I weep in prayer, pleading that God would help me to give it ALL over to Him and not hold any anger or pain for myself. I am still learning and it is wonderful when I have victory.

  84. 149

    Weeping. How could you have known? Thank you for writing His words for me today. Overwhelmed with gratitude for that…

  85. 150

    We can forgive individuals who have hurt us, but we are not required to continue fellowship with them, or be their best friend. I do not curse them, and when encountered, I show love. If the persons have not repented and discovered the forgiveness of God for themselves, I always leave them in God’s hands. The Bible tells us that vengence is mine, I will repay says the Lord.

  86. 151

    It is what it is… I know many find that phrase negative and without faith. To me, it is just the opposite. Only by accepting that this is a fallen world with sin and pain can we truly put our hope and faith in God. I recently heard something that helps me deal with life’s pain and disappointments, “we must be accepting of the mysterious if we are to be Christians” The Bible clearly teaches that we cannot understand. Our “whys” won’t be answered this side of heaven:

    Why did my sister die in childbirth and leave behind a 5 year old girl, new born son and angry parents?
    Why is my friend sending her husband off for his second deployment and saying goodbye to her brother dying of cancer ?
    Why does the young soldier have to bear the weight of his son’s death alone , since the grief and guilt destroyed his marriage?
    Why were precious children ripped from their mother’s arms as she desperately tried to protect them from a tornado?
    There are no answers, I will drive myself crazy trying to make sense of the senseless pain… but there is hope, there is grace, there is His presence.

    Life is what it is and even though I can’t fix it, I can live it. He came to bring us life: life abundant and life eternal.

  87. 152

    About a year and a half ago, I suffered the worst attack on my character that I ever had in my entire life. People told me how terrible they thought that I was, I was accused of saying things I did not say, and I was told what “I thought” which were someone else’s perception of my thoughts, not my thoughts. I had changed so much and had come so far and was never “as bad” as even what they were portraying me to be now. I wanted to cry, and I wanted to just run out, but I stayed. I knew it was a direct attack from Satan, just as I began to be vocal about my walk with God, he was using the oldest trick and preying on my insecurities concerning what other people think about me. I did not fall for it. I sat through the whole thing, asked Jesus to sit by my side, and somehow it kept popping into my mind the whole time they were accusing, “forgive them for they know not what they do.” And that was the key. They didn’t know what damage they could have caused. They were out for some personal agenda that had nothing to do with me. I couldn’t see it as a personal attack. I refused to let them beat me down and I stood tall with the knowledge that I’m not exactly where I need to be but I am for sure not at all like I used to be so I couldn’t let them convince me I had not changed at all. The devil wanted to stop my progress. I refused to let him, and in forgiving them, he didn’t win. And every time those events, or others, pop into my mind, I forgive. I actually tell God when I don’t “feel” like forgiving, that I don’t feel like forgiving but I want to obey him and so please help me to want to in my heart. I used to think that when those things came back to me in my mind that I didn’t really forgive. I finally realized that’s not true. You have to forgive over, and over, and over, again as many times as they come into your mind. Forgiveness is so much easier for me now. You actually wouldn’t believe how angry I was for things that went on for 20 years and in the last year and a half, I have let them all go and it was all through forgiveness. Satan knew what it was about. That’s why he threw that confrontation at me. God knew we would win. That’s why He allowed it to happen!

  88. 153

    Ann,
    Your words are truly a gift from God. I know you give Him all the glory! Who penned the prayer you prayed whiel you knitted?

  89. 154

    I’ve been wounded many times by those who were suppossed to protect me… all too common story. However, what I’ve learned is that by allowing God to work in me, allowing him to open the wounds, clean them out, and bind them back together, I can forgive, I can heal. And even better than that… I can grow closer to my heavenly father who is the only one who can perfectly care for me. Not easy… terrifying. But I trust in Him alone. I place my heart in his hands.

  90. 155
    Elizabeth Corona says:

    Amazing! I read this entry and felt it was written for ME. Thank you!

  91. 156

    Who of us has not been wounded, cheated and heart-broken? It is a universal affliction, and it is comforting to know there are others who know our pain and our brokenness, and really hear us when we spill over. I brought my brokenness to the table of your inspiring book, now your daily insights, and you lift me up. I feel you ‘heard’ me. You bring me along the road leading closer to God’s embrace, to His limitless mercy. In the late autumn of my years to be so ‘afflicted’, so broken, faced with the journey to healing the wounds as deep as deep can be, would be an impossibility were it not for the grace of God, and those He uses as instruments of compassionate giving. You are His instrument. As I read your words, wherever I read them, I want to hug you tight to myself in thankfulness, to feel the surge of your spiritual energy. And I know God is hugging me back, and I am not overwhelmed by aloneness and betrayal, not longing for what was or could have been. God is the end of aloneness and loneliness. God is the beginning of everything good that is yet to be, and He brings us to the place where we can receive. Thank you, Ann. In your personal revelations, through your courageousl honesty and deep humility, and your sharing the road to your own eucharisteo, you have reassured me ‘a thousand’ times that humanness is OK and there is hope, and there are ‘a thousand’ nuggets of God’s gold that make the simplest, broken life divinely grand. Ann, you help me to keep going and to keep my eyes on Him, in every moment, in every circumstance, in every gift, in every trial. Thank you, thank you, thank you. God sent you, and I am stronger.

  92. 157
    Janette says:

    When my precious boy was 4 years old, the doctor diagnosed epilepsy. My heart broke, and then healed over time to accept. Three years back he crashed his truck . Head injury. A life and a family, changed forever. So much PAIN. I cry out to my God, whom I love so much. “Help” Please, help. Them – my son and his family who hurt so deeply and wrestle daily with The Plan. How is this Lord? Your Plan?? We grieve the enormous loss of the son, husband, father, brother, who is now so broken and so unpredictable. Whom must I now forgive? My God? O help me Lord.

  93. 158
    Jessica says:

    Struggling to forgive once close friends for offenses they don’t even know they’ve committed. Trying to get over good intentions carried out without discretion or sensitivity. How do you explain an offense to someone who’s convinced that you’re the messed up one–who believes that they know how to “fix” you? I pray for grace for us both to shed the pretenses and live real and humble.

    Thank you for the reminder to forgive, and remember how much I’ve been forgiven.

    • 159

      Jessica, I was once (and probably will be again) that “once close friend” who thought my intentions were good, but lacked discretion and sensitivity. When I came to realize the depth of the pain I caused, I was undone. The months I lived after that, longing for my friend’s forgiveness, were so long – but also, now, so precious. It was there that I learned the depth of my pride, and then, in a much deeper way, the reality of Jesus’ love and forgiveness. Then, finally, came a vivid moment – branded even now in my memory – when I knew that God had enabled my friend to forgive me. To this day, most of what I know about forgiveness I learned in this experience of being forgiven.

      It’s not easy to bring to light those kinds of offenses – but may I encourage you to consider the journey? Both for yourself, and for your friends-like-me.

  94. 160

    Wow! Let me say that I think I do have a story for you. The Lords been moving so much in my life, mind, heart, and family. Just the other day, I came across A Bloggers Prayer, Then the 3 encouraging posts that it linked to about blogging in an upside down kingdom. And I found the direction of a calling beginning to piece together. Those posts played a big role. I was touched and I felt at home. So I began to obey the stirring. It’s here if you’re interested…. http://thismamasjourney.blogspot.com/2011/05/secret-place.html
    It’s just a beginning. And see, then I found THIS post, and I’m even futher encouraged because YET AGAIN God has used you to confirm some pretty extreme workings in my heart. I’ve been reading, studying, and praying on just this theme. It’s part of the whole thing I was blogging about, and the story is supposed to be told. So I see Him laying down the steps for the next post, the answer to such a question as this. Thank you for letting Him use YOU so clearly in my life this week and at the beginning of this new chapter! I can’t wait to read more!

  95. 161

    Oh my Ann…I whispered a prayer to the Lord today that went something like this: “Give me a crumb Lord, anything that will move me through this pain.”
    He gave me your post..
    What do I do when wounded? I rage. Usually. I used to try to get back with emails or posts that hinted at the person wounding me, but by grace have realized, and only by grace, those acts reek of unforgiveness..not forgiveness..
    Almost 2 years later, I pray…I put on the armor of God and I pray more..I can say now I ask the Lord to bless them, again and again..but where it’s tough for me, is that I want to see something–anything that assures me my prayers have bee heard.
    Silence is at these times is loud..
    I rest in God’s character and His assurances through those precious promises, not on what the other person may or may not do. It is not up to me. They are up to God. I cannot change them, but I can pray and that dear Ann, is the best, most powerful way for me, to handle, deal with, walk through, forgiveness…

    thank you for writing the desperate answer to my prayer today..
    You are loved with an everlasting love…
    me

  96. 162

    It’s hard to remember, in the painful moment, but there is always more peace when I can come around to remembering that those people, the ones with the arrows and six-packs and hurtful words and grudges and shame are often acting in their own hurt and brokenness. And since I, too, am so steeped sometimes in my own pits and shadows, forgiveness comes quicker when I can realize how very alike we all are… me and those hurting, hurtful others that pierce and maim. It’s hard, too, when it is not people that hurt but circumstance… just raw, crude, life… and hard to remember, but worth remembering, that He is still. in. control… despite all doubt, fear and worry, and beyond all I will ever understand… this is just part of the story.

  97. 163
    Christa says:

    Wow. How He has used my hurts to strengthen my relationship with Him. He rains grace on me and teaches me the beauty and freedom forgiveness can bring to a relationship. And the generatonal blessing we share with our children when we practice forgiveness; grace.

  98. 164

    I am so grateful to God for you. He has gifted you with such an amazing gift with words and it always goes deep into the places that need great words.

  99. 165

    Thank you for this beautiful word my mind knows so well and my heart so desperately needed! Your words are life because they flow from the Source of all life! Blessings to you and thank you!

  100. 166

    Oh, Ann, how I needed to read this today! For months I have dealt with a relationship that, for reasons unknown to me, has deteriorated. My heart has been hurt to the core, and I want to lash out and blame. I have wrestled with knowing that that’s not the right response, and no way to reconcile at all. I needed this reinforcement of grace today. I will go forward, reminding myself that I’ve received His grace in order to extend that same grace to others…and if He goes before me, maybe things can be reconciled. I pray they will, but if not…I will still pray for her. Thank you!

  101. 167

    For two years, my husband, three of our daughters, and I have been in a valley- tho it has seemed much more like a torrent of water beating against us, attempting to drown us daily. Our adopted daughter has “divorced” herself from us. In the process she has told lies about us, and unfortunately has made the name of Christ a stench in many nostrils. We have lost all but one family member, and many friends. Our characters have been decimated. Many times we have desired to speak out and defend ourselves. Yet every time we begin to move in such a direction, God shows us that we are to remain silent; if they desire the truth, they will ask. Biblically speaking we have come to see our daughter as our enemy, and we choose daily to love her and pray for her. Just yesterday, after plowing through the first three chapters of balm in One Thousand Gifts, I realized we needed to thank God for this trial. He is waiting to use us, and we are willing. My husband and I, because of this tragedy with a silver lining, now realize we have nothing where we are. We are willing to move on- uproot ourselves from our home- his family home for over 100 years, because we see it is nothing more than an earthly shell, perhaps encumbering us from doing His will. And maybe, just maybe, something incredible and beautiful and wondrous will emerge from this pain. Just maybe. But if there are no fireworks, no daughter running home in repentance, no family members coming with words of healing, no friendships restored, we will chose forgiveness and gratitude. Thank-you, Ann, for your words. They reach down deep to the recesses of my soul that seem shredded beyond any healing and caress.

  102. 168

    Dearest Ann,
    Each one of us have been broken, or cracked in life at some time. I am no exception to that rule. Praying for our enemies is the best place to start healing. They really do drive us into the arms of our heavenly Father and into His precious Word to find relief.
    I had a difficult relationship with my mother for many years. If I performed and did what I was supposed to do, I was loved. So when I got the news that my sister no longer wanted to look after her when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she moved to Florida. I had four young children I was homeschooling at the time. I did not know if I could do this. Anxiety, panic attacks and even depression hit me hard. But underneath the pain were the everlasting arms. For ten years, I looked after my mother until she went to be with the Lord. These dark days brought me closer to the Lord as I had to look to Him for strength and the answers. I also came to forgive my mother and I came to love her more than ever before. It is amazing how God can play upon our heartstrings and teach us a whole new song if we let Him!
    Thank you for sharing your heart as you do so well. There are so many stories to be told and all of them lead to the throne room of God. It is there where we find the answers and solace we need in this fallen world. He is the lifter of our heads.
    Blessings sweet sister in the Lord!

    • 169

      This is an amazing story of the power of forgiveness! Bless you for being open to such a sacrificially loving act after years of pain. Thank you for singing that song!

  103. 170

    I absolutely love this post Ann! =)

    What a wonderful and exposing truth. It is outstanding to see God work through our brokeness, pain and utter dispair.

  104. 171

    How do I deal with being cheated, wounded, heartbroken and disappointed? I breathe. Well, I breathe Him in, His promise, His choosing me, His not dying in vain for me… and He pushes these suffocating lungs to make me exhale. I fight my very real enemy and his lies telling me that to love Him has no gain, that He has forgotten, or that He is utterly done with me. I fight him by breathing in God’s grace. It is when I am totally undone of me that I feel the life-giving oxygen of His sweet, honey words. To breathe Him means to take a step in hope… to take that step in hope means to move. And it is in that step when I know I am yoked to Him, moving me to learn. I am walking this today. Learning today. … fellow sojourner.

  105. 172

    Ann,
    I enjoy reading your posts each day. It is amazing how each one always ministers my soul. I too have struggled with childhood abuse and forgiving those but through the power of the Holy Spirt, I was able to do so. I have maintained a relationship with those and recently, there have been more harsh words and actions that have made all the lies and abuse resurface. It has bothered me a great deal that they can still have this power over me. Todays post reminded me that I am not alone on this journey. There is so much heart ache out there that the enemy wants to use to rob us from the joy and abundant life that our Father has for us. I know the freedom that comes when we are not only able to receive His love and forgiveness but also extend His love and forgiveness. There are seasons of my life that it seems effortless and others, like now, that it is a constant battle of prayer and His word to renew my mind and way of thinking so I won’t go back to believing the lies that have been spoken over me. I must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. God Bless you Ann for your ministry and to the others that have responded.

  106. 173

    My mother died in Hospice last August and I was given a gift of “comfort” from Hospice…a handmade lap afghan that had been on my mother’s bed. I found so much comfort from that simple handmade item. It inspired me to search my heart and pray to God about what I could do to comfort others. He said that I should reach out to comfort others by praying and knitting. Little did I know, until I searched the internet, that there was something called a “prayer shawl ministry”. So I birthed a ministry called “Covered in Prayers” and finished by first prayer shawl for a dear friend that had just gotten married. I believe that hidden in God’s instruction was the message that when we focus on helping others we are able to overcome so many things and climb out of the places of our heart where we have been experienced being wounded, cheated, disappointed and heartbroken.

  107. 174

    Your words hit hard tonight. My mouth says I’ve forgiven, but my heart more often resonates with wanting to “make him pay.” I’ve long since let go of the hurt from my former husband’s betrayal years ago, but it’s much more difficult these years with him being a distant yet controlling, selfish, self-absorbed father to my two children. How I wish I could take away their pain and throw it back on him who doesn’t see, who’s completely blind to what he is doing. It’s a daily struggle for me, and I so wish I could wave a magic wand. I pray that God uses every bit of this to draw them close, so they lean into Him—as He has done in my life, through my pain. And, yes…if I desire this blind father pay, shouldn’t I also be required to pay for all of my ugliness? Oh, purify my heart God!

  108. 175
    kathryn says:

    …and sometimes, our enemies climb into bed with us and wear the rings that we placed on their hands on the day of our weddings. and there is no “escape” from the pain. three and a half years. i related. i am in year eighteen. and still…waiting, weeping, begging God for the grace and wisdom and forgiveness that only He can give. because it is true: I believe in the forgiveness of sins and I was once the enemy. and now I am NOT. i am HIS. and so is the wearer of the ring. HIS, though broken and defeated and a source of great pain. i, too, long for there to be another way. but as Amy Carmichael so eloquently said, “settle it once and for all: there IS no other way.” our Savior took the path to death. for us. the Father of the universe chose the way of PAIN for the Son of His love. there is no other way. a price was paid. for him, as well as for me. i too am the fig branch that should have been hacked off. but i wasn’t. how can i want less for “my enemy”? if i do, then i know “nothing of Calvary’s love”…thank you Ann. am relentlessly grateful for your willingness to share your thoughts and wisdom gleaned. we need the pictures that God creates when He shines through your “window”.

  109. 176
    Danielle says:

    Ann, so why did this have to be the post I read tonight? After I just finished wiping up my dripping face…after my husband gently reminded me again that I need to forgive my dad. Forgive him for taking what was mine–”normal” high school years, my mom who worked so hard for his business that she didn’t have time to be there for me when my babies were born, an inheritance he believes is his because he “invested” in my mom. I thought I had forgiven him. Yet I’m realizing that once i married my soul-mate, he was so not my dad that I didn’t have to face all this. And now I am. Thank you for this.

  110. 177
    Hilaree says:

    I have found that sometimes the best, most Jesus-like thing to do is absence from the hurtful relationship and distance or complete estrangement from the one who is hurting me. And then offer them up in prayer…all the time. Love them from a distance. So, hopefully, the evil will stop. And then I hope for heaven, where we all will be made new and awesome.

  111. 178

    My children are raised now but I was left with four little children under five yrs old,on a Blessed Easter Sunday several decades ago my husband was killed in and accident. The Holy Spirit gave me the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness…that was not always so but it is now most of the time. I rejoice because I shall see my loved one again.

  112. 179

    My own worse enemy.. Fear… worry… distraction.. Depression… grumpiness. “But God” is ever patient and loving and gifted me with an amazing husband, one that loves so well I can’t imagine better, and through my man has taught me trust, prayer, focus, peacefulness and joy.

  113. 180

    AMAZING post. It partially inspired MY blog post today. Thank you!

  114. 181

    For the most part, I accept it and go on. If I hold onto something, it will weigh me down and not allow me my God given talent of flying and soaring above the trouble makers. When I accept the issue, I am free to forgive and move on. I gain my confidence and faith in knowing that my God has it. He will take care of it. And He will provide the wind beneath my wings so that I can be free of the wounds, disappointment and heartbreak. I give it to Him and I strive for my autonomy. It works for me. And comfort comes to me in giving it to God. ~Mindy

  115. 182
    Tracy in NJ says:

    Pray, pray , PRAY! Because we have been wounded, cheated, disappointed and heartbroken and people who do that to us don’t deserve our forgiveness. Yet Jesus Himself came to set us free from our sins by forgiving them before they had even happened. Has anyone of US been nailed to a cross and left to die? So important to God is forgiveness that it occupies center stage in the Lord’s own prayer. How can we pray that and not try to forgive. But by our own power? Never! Because after all we HAVE BEEN wronged.

    I’ve heard sin described simply as that which separates us from God. I’ve also heard it said that if God seems distant or silent, perhaps it is because we come before Him carrying sin in our hearts and Holy God will not occupy the same space as sin. That sin is all too often unforgiveness. We have the choice to nurture our bitterness or cry out to God to remove it from us. And know it is a cry we will have to make over and over again. But God is GOOD and He rescues those who cry out to Him!

    For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,…bringing each thought captive to obedience in Christ.–2 Corinth 10:4-5

    Please note: these words from one who has been working on forgiving one person for 8 years! I challenged myself as part of my new years commitment to pray for someone who had wronged me everyday until I am free of unforgiveness. About 4months into my project, I “bumped into” the person for the first time in 8 years and was able to speak and even hug her. I’m still praying though!

  116. 183

    Q. How do you deal with being wounded, cheated, disappointed and heartbroken?

    When I was a new Christian at the age of 31, I didn’t deal with any of the four experiences above well at all. Sad to report. But now at 63, because of His grace and His patient love for me through Scripture and other believers, I quickly ask Him to take me to Thankfulness in my mind and heart, “because no good thing does He withhold from those whom He loves”. If he allowed this pain, He’ll use it for my gain. While waiting to get to that “place” in my heart, a friend once advised: Just think of Him on the cross suffering for you, this makes any of our burdens just a tad easier to bear!

  117. 184

    In bare honesty, I can’t deal with these wounds. Not yet. I start to think on it, and am lost in tears, so I cork my emotions and function as a wife and mother. Everyday I have to will to forgive enough to face him; and he sleeps next to me. It is hard. I wonder if it will ever not be hard, and my hope is dimming. Thank you for these words; it is a balm to know I am not all alone. Thank you.

    • 185
      kathryn says:

      wow. my words from someone else’s life. i’m so sorry that you are living it too, dear sister. it helps to know that we’re not alone. will pray for you…

  118. 186

    I find that my thought patterns get stuck when someone does something to wound and I have to recognise that and turn it over to God. Asking God to bless the person who has wronged me helps, though not always easy, and asking Him to give me opportunity to bless them is a good way to turn my thoughts around and my heart.

  119. 187

    Just got back from a weekend where I left my children and husband to travel seven hours away to a feast of enemies/family. Should have been a wedding celebration but instead for me it was sitting down to eat in the presence of my enemies. My mind raced at first w/ such “I deserve this or I deserve that” ..I said things that I should not have said trying desperatly to defend myself…THese empty blind enemies will never understand me until they too have been shown this grace and mercy I now bask in (oh and maybe I am the one who is to show this). I just wish I did not always feel like I needed Justice..like I need to explain who I am..Why can’t I just let Jesus be Jesus to and for me! So wonderful to come home from my trip and see this is what the encouragment was ..My Abba Father rocks!

  120. 188
    co lawalata says:

    I thought there are no tears anymore to cry, there is
    thanks for your incouragement and prayers to pray
    forgiffnis day by day

    thanks Ann

  121. 189

    Dearest Ann,
    I do not know you in person but have been blessed many times over this year by your book and your blog. It is changing my life – thank you! How Do I deal with heartbreak? I cry, scream, yell at children . . . I use sharp and hurtful words to those I love. I fill my house with Truth reminders – the very breathe of a Living God – written everywhere – maybe that will help? Sometimes, in my better moments, I run to the One who has made me and remember that forgiveness isn’t free (it cost my Jesus everything) and that forgiveness is free (it cost me nothing). Thank you for your words – they inspire me,
    Elizabeth

  122. 190
    Betty Draper says:

    I am compelled to write something that your blog stirred in my memory. there are not enough pages to write all the wounds, disappointments, heartaches that a 64 woman could have. But the one that stands out that taught me a pattern for forgiveness was concerning my Dad who also carried that six pack that brought out words and actions that wounded my mother and we three children for years. When i got saved at 35 like all new believers i prayed for my family to be saved and for my Dad went that one step that everyone would say , oh you don’t want to pray that way. I prayed God please WHATEVER it takes bring my Dad to salvation. That whatever would turn into a test ( a gift if you will) only a loving God could design to teach me He could love through me and bring forgiveness into my heart. after years of abusive drinking Dad had a stroke that reduced him to a child. God begin to work on that “whatever prayer” and the desire in my heart to know the King of Kings more fully. God spoke to my husband and I exactly the same time and about the same thing…take your Dad into your home and take care of him. This man who never called us much except pitiful and put wounds upon wounds on our young minds and God was asking me to take care of him. interesting enough He never told me to feel any love toward him..good thing for there was none there. But i was learning love is not a feeling but an act of my will. There were so many lessons to be learned in those four years we had Dad..yeah…we did what horrified some in my family, we brought him into our home, hospital bed, wheelchair for he only had one leg. God begin to teach me as my hands begin to take care of him the way you would take care of a child.
    first i begin to see Dad through the eyes of God, a sinner just like me. Second the wounds and pain from that hurtful childhood He wanted to take and use them for His glory if i would but release them into His hands. Along with that “whatever” prayer was an intense desire to get to know the Lord and His ways. Third and most important was II Cor. 5:14 For the love of God controls us…(NASB)…the KJV says For the love of God constraineth us: For years my husband worked for the airlines and when they loaded a jet they would throw a net over the cargo to “constrain” it from going through the sides of the plane when going through a storm. Oh how i love that message in the first part of that verse for it’s been my safety net through so many wounds, disappointments, heartbreaks. It does not say my love will constrain or control my action but His love for me. I have to keep focus on His love for me, there is power in that to forgive. there is a song i sing when i tell about my Dad, called, scars are a sign of healing. i have scars but i can talk about them, touch them and they don’t hurt anymore, they healed over a period of time.
    the best is yet to come. Four years we took care of Dad, never an I’m sorry from him or a thank you. there were moments when i knew his mind was clear and he knew but those moments passed quickly. Since we were “every time the doors were open” church goers..guess who always went with us…Dad. But we could never tell what was getting through. He took sick again and finally the doctors said Betty you must put him into a nursing home for cancer had set in his lungs. about four days later we visited him in the VA hospital, that night my husband went up to see him and about half hour later he returned his face was glowing. Ace said, honey your Dad’s mind was clear as a bell as if he never had a six pack and never had a stroke and tonight he accepted the Lord as his Savior. the next day they called to tell me Dad had died, like the thief on the cross he went home to be with Jesus. I was a pretty new Christian then but II Cor 5:14 became so real to me that it has carried me through years of other hurts and disappointment. You see to not forgive makes us a slave to that person and to this day i have one brother who is still not forgiven Dad so he is enslaved to a body in the grave. I with my will choose to be enslaved to a risen Savior that no grave could hold.
    thank you so much for the blog….going down memory lane has once again has encouraged my heart for i still face as everyone does hurts, disappointments. but with God’s help it will not enslave me. By the way i ordered two of your books, One Thousand Gifts…really looking forward to reading it.

    • 191

      Thank you for this beautifully-written and starkly honest comment. Your words have pierced my heart and confirmed what God has already been whispering to me about forgiveness.

      Thnak you…and may God richly bless you.

      When I feel those arms of unforgiveness entangling around me, I will remember your words:

      “You see to not forgive makes us a slave to that person and to this day i have one brother who is still not forgiven Dad so he is enslaved to a body in the grave. I with my will choose to be enslaved to a risen Savior that no grave could hold.”

    • 192

      Dear Betty, thank you so very much for sharing your beautiful story. It is beautiful because your forgiveness and acts of love and obedience glorifies The One Who Loves Us Best. You are so very right: forgiveness is for us, not others. It frees us. I love your statement, “love is not a feeling but an act of my will.” I am praising Him from whom all blessings flow for you and your testimony.

    • 193
      Jennifer says:

      Betty,
      Thank you so much for sharing with honesty. Your actions are an example to me.

    • 194

      I don’t understand how a miserable abusive human being is “allowed” to wait until the final moment and then gets to claim to be one of God’s chosen…..then what is the point of living well, everyday doing our best, falling down and getting back up over and over, when we all end up with the same grace in the end?

      • 195
        Betty Draper says:

        MJ, it is the same grace but not the same rewards when we get to heaven. I don’ think God will say , “well done my faithful servant to my Dad”, he will have no works to be tried by fire. Dad did not have time to understand all the ramifications of the scriptures that talk about these kind of things but I do, I have been given that chance to here on this earth to be Jesus to those who do not know Him. He came to seek that which was lost and Dad was lost…just like I was. Dad had no time to live out being one of God’s children. I do not even come close to having all the answer to your question but I sure do understand it. This much I know God wants to pour out His love within our hearts to be given to others. Romans 5:5. Grace for salvation is the same for all who come to Him. You see it’s not about Dad or even me..it’s about Him….but Dad had no time to give God glory, he’ll never know the thrill of leading a sinner to the saving knowledge of an Almighty God. And now this is just my country humor. I think my mansion will have a bigger fire place…and my six babies that i lost will all be there for me to enjoy….not the perfect theology but it works for me instead of questioning God’s ways. They are so much higher then ours. We only see the “not fair” in our hurts, He uses the not fairs to grow us more into His image. I don’t need things to be fair anymore…I have the perfect in Christ. If God played by our “not fair book” then I sure would not be going to heaven. At the judgement seat of Christ our “works” will be tried by fire and Dad will have none to even be tried….I want my life to be tried and come out pure gold, that why I get back up when i fall, that why I try to do my best for Him, Him alone. Thank you for your honest question to my testimony. Betty

  123. 196
    vonnie says:

    My heart is so heavy today. Woke up to discover my husband (pastor and my one true love) of 32 years has let a counseling session go too far. So betrayed and heartbroken. We have 6 children and I am trying to be strong so that they will not discover it and we can let God shower His forgiveness and mercy on our marriage. I do not want to let go of all we have, or the ministries God has provided. Satan wants to ruin it, but … I just don’t know what to do except pray and try to gather strength.

    • 197

      Oh Vonnie how I pray for you now, for comfort & peace & healing as only God can give…My heart just breaks for you. I will remember you in my prayers!

      • 198
        Betty Draper says:

        Today I prayed for you too Vonnie….that God will help you be a courageous wise hearted woman in this trial that has come your way. You will need courage to get through this battle. I have actually ask another lady to pray for you too. Take courage in the fact God has never betrayed you and never will. He took on flesh and blood to prove that. Because he knew all of us, our flesh would fail ourselves or someone else at one time or another or many times so he had to take on flesh and walk perfectly to prove He would not betray us. I too have felt the pain of betrayal from the one I trusted and it is possible to forgive. There is a song I love, Broken Pieces, goes something like this, Pick up the broken pieces and bring them to the Lord…your world had been shattered, continue to take those shattered pieces to Him the potter who can put them back together again. All these replies to Ann article has stirred my heart to once again use the the encouragement God has given to to encourage others. Your hit home for I too have suffered the same trial and we are in the ministry, missionary in a foreign country at this very minutes. Praying. Betty

    • 199

      Vonnie, I understand the place you are in. I’m here to tell you that your words about Satan are absolutely true, but our God is Almighty and He can use this for His glory. I was so weak before, I didn’t think I could face the pain and I almost (if not for Jesus’ loving strong arms) contemplated taking my own life, the betrayal and pain was that much. You CAN do this, don’t let the evil one win, remember to look at the sin and not the sinner, the one who is behind the sin and not the one who committed it. Pray hard for your husband, he is weak, just as mine was, pray for strength for Him and turn to the One who is the Divine Physician and Counselor. Like you, I hid this from my family, inlcuding siblings and my mother. I don’t think anything good could come from anyone else knowing, except judgment and poor advice. I found someone trustworthy outside of my church to talk to, I didn’t want my husband to be judged, but mostly I went before the Lord as often as I needed to. It was at His feet I found my strength. Praying for you sweet sister, have courage!

  124. 200

    I find this blog to be a safe haven – a sanctuary where I can hold on to the horns of the altar. I too was faced with a challenge whether to ask forgiveness and to forgive – I did not want to – I don’t like them – I don’t even know why – oh God…life is so full of uncertainties…I want to be filled to the brim with God’s forgiving grace – see through His eyes – “…for we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is…” I want to look like Him…Look at circumstances and people like He looks at them.

  125. 201

    As always Ann, your words touch me deep. I have the old scars of childhood as well, but for the past year, a new enemy has crept into my life. A fear that grips me & steals my joy. My dearest friend has been betrayed & left by her husband… My father cheated many times…. As I go through this heartbreak with my friend, I hardly know how to help her, & the fear of ever going through the same thing, strangles me tighter… How I long to be free of this enemy. He rules me, makes me suspicious & sad..
    Thank you for always sharing as you do Ann.

  126. 202

    Last night I read this and started to share the story of how I forgave my dearest friend last January. I felt a little proud. A little accomplished. Today, I sit ten feet from a woman who spent a year making my professional life incredibly difficult. Who hated me. An enemy. I want to say biting things. I want to flaunt my success. I am ashamed of the depths to which my lust for vindication will reach. But I’ve been forgiven for far greater offenses than this one I’ve suffered. And I’m grateful. Looks like today…I get to prove it.

  127. 203

    In the last few days I have noticed a hardness in my spirit. This shutting out and shutting down. They enemy lurking in the shadows, picking such seemingly insignificant things to cause me stumble great…he spins his web of lies and I fall frozen, trapped and tangled in my bitterness, anger and resentment. The more I struggle with them on my own, the more entrapped I become…until I can’t move. God needs to step in and rescue me. It’s when I fall prey to these lies and believe these untrue whispers that I will feel better if I get even or show them how badly they have hurt me…I not only withhold grace from my fellow neighbor, I am refusing to received the blessing of them in my life. They are not my enemy… we have only one enemy of our soul… God continue to call all to himself… shouldn’t I do the same? There is only one truth – what am I believing today?

    So hard to let go of the hurt, betrayal, bitterness, resentment… thankful we have a faithful One who sets us free … an ever present help in time of need. May we all find a bit of peace and shelter in Him today.

  128. 204
    Kristen Waller says:

    Ann, I love how your words point directly to God. Thanks for your honest thoughts and feelings and how the Lover of your soul directs you to Him. Oh, how I want that in my life and to extend that to my handful of children. “Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.” Wow, Yes! Amazing! “The longer I walk with you, Lord, I find I have no enemies: only your gift of chisels etching me deep.” One child has driven me into the Lord’s presence more than any other– really, I’m thankful for that!

    ~Kristen

  129. 205

    Just knowing He sees it all…all of it.
    My hurtful-ness….their hurtful-ness…
    My hurt…their hurt…
    I think that helps.
    Puts me in check, aware of how much I need forgiven…and helps to “let it go”…entrusting myself to Him.
    Not easy though…is it? I was just talking with a friend this week about–taking every thought captive to obedience in Him–because it’s in my thought world, where the bitterness and unforgiveness can really take root.
    This was beautiful Ann…thank you!
    And the letter from Holly (not sure how I got there through all the links exactly)…that was incredible. THAT is such an offer of true friendship…the kind of friend I want to be.

  130. 206

    So, what do you do when you don’t trust God? I love all these comments from people, but they only work when you trust God. What do you do when you don’t trust God?

    I mean, I’m a Christian. I KNOW in my heart that Jesus, the Son of God holds the only truth that will stand. But I don’t trust God. How do I get to where I can trust God, and where I CAN run to him with my broken heart. How wonderful that would be!!

    I feel mad at God, and like I need to “Forgive” God. How does this work? God hasn’t done anything wrong. (except to my accusing eyes).

    If anyone has gone through this before, I would love to hear how you worked through it!!

    • 207
      VHiggins says:

      *hugs* I would definitely recommend getting your hands on a copy of each of these books, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and Believing God by Beth Moore. Both of these have helped me with my “issues” with God and truly trusting/believing Him. But even more than that, what changed my heart was laying before Him all the things I really blamed Him for and reading/memorizing His Word. Just having a heart open to Him and allowing Him in to speak to your heart will do so much. He meets us right where we are at (thank heaven!!) and knows and understands our weak humanity even more than we do.
      The verses that have helped me hold on to Him and most of all change the lens that I view Him through are these:
      Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
      Your faithfulness to the clouds.
      Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
      Your judgements are like the great deep;
      Man and beast you save O Lord.
      How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
      The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
      - Psalm 36:5-7

      Most of all, I realized that I choose to believe my emotions much more than His Word, which is the ultimate Truth, way too often. I would be tossed around in my storms because my emotions seemed more true, slowly I am learning to remember what the real Truth is and give my emotions and hurts up to Him (sometimes every couple minutes or seconds!). This is a hard road, it isn’t our nature to chose to believe differently than we feel, but it is a path worth walking on and He is so faithful to love on you where you are at and work with our broken and hurting hearts. I will be praying for you!

      • 208

        Dear VHiggins,

        THANKYOU Thankyou so much for your reply. I came back to the website so hoping someone would reply to me.

        Thank you for the words you speak, the truth you share, and the books you recommended. I am currently reading Ann’s book which is amazing, and does speak to some of my trust issues with God. I haven’t even finished reading it yet, and I want to read it again and dig more into those parts!

        I will read the Beth Moore book you recommend, and write out the verses you mentioned. Thankyou!

  131. 209
    Anonymous says:

    Thank you for these words today. I needed to be reminded that just as family members can be our actual enemies, I am called to give them the forgiveness that I enjoy in Christ! I have recently experienced some hurts at the hands of my family and have been nursing lots of bad feelings and grudges. Thank you for the call to work on forgiveness!

  132. 210

    This site was shared with me & i am glad i have read it. I know that i am not a perfect child, sibling, wife, friend or parent or anything else. during my /relationship/marriage i/we have endured trials from day 1. I “ignored” signs from the get go that showed me that this was not the relationship to be in, but i am a “fixer” or “healer”, i want to fix others hurts & issues & i tend to ignore the signs (even thoughs from God) to say this is not the path i should be on. I had hurt, anger & even hatred for my mother in law for the things she put us through, that she did, I had never had or felt a constant hate for someone in my life before her & even if she called, i was filled with so much hate & anger that i would shake & have to leave the room. I knew it was hard on my husband so i had to find a way for us both to release these feelings & I finally did. I sat down one day & wrote her a letter (we lived in the same town), I saved it came back to it a day or 2 later, re-read it, re-wrote some of it & saved it again. Did this about 3 times before I mailed it. The pain she caused, the hate i felt towards her for what she did, all went away when i sealed that letter & mailed it.
    A sense of peace came over me instead. I had/have forgiven her.
    My husband has been very cruel & hurtful over the years & i discovered something last year that literally shattered my heart & spirit, while he is a very hard worker & treats strangers with respect & curteousy (sp), he forgets to do this with me or our children. He’s been very emotionally & mentally abusive during the entire course of our marriage & I am working on filing for divorce. But during this past year of dealing with the pain he’s caused, the issue that shattered my heart/spirit & trying to see if there’s some way we could stay married (because we have children), i have forgiven him for what he’s done/said over the years, especially during the times that we should have come together, but didn’t, I have had the same strong sense of peace come over me with the decision of filing for divorce.
    I have realized that we were never friends to begin with & that REALLY makes a difference in a relationship, he’s also got some mental/chemical issues that I have realized that i can not fix, change or help.
    i may not love him anymore, but if we can focus on our children…we can be better parents even if we are not together, but he’s got to want to be a parent. I can’t make him be one, anymore then i was able to get him to want to love & respect me & be my partner.
    God has helped me get through a lot of turmoil & when you have forgiven your enemy as well as yourself……i think you have a sense of peace within. I have a LOT of work to do & I know that God will once again make me strong & whole as i once was.

    :)

  133. 211

    Thank you Ann. Thank you all ladies. God knew I needed to read all of this from you. I know He loves me. This post caused me to feel it. Now I have some tools to pass that love on.

  134. 212

    Are you suggesting that we never seek justice or closure?

    My sister was raped, and was about to go to the police when the pastor of the rapist came knocking at her door and essentially convinced her it was unforgiveness and vengeance she was seeking and not to do it.

    Doesn’t love compel us to hold each other accountable?

    • 213
      VHiggins says:

      Forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things, her rapist will have to deal with the natural consequences of his actions. I highly recommend Boundaries by Drs Cloud and Townsend about how love doesn’t always look like we think it will and by shielding people from the consequences (not punishment) of their actions is one of the worst things we can do for those we love. Accountability is necessary for us to grow.
      I’ll be praying for your family. Maybe one thing to bring up would be that without consequences, what happens if it happens again? I hope that isn’t too straight forward.

      • 214

        I agree with you, actually. I’m hoping Mrs. Voskamp will answer, because I’m truly interested in what she has to say in such situations. Where is the line? Does Grace and Forgiveness always look the same?

        • 215

          Forgiveness does not mean not holding people accountable
          That pastor was wrong!
          Abusers often say they are sorry when they get caught
          Repentance is turning arround your life
          It is confessing to your church and family
          It is taking responsibilty
          it is going for counseling
          It is giving money for professional help or whatever the victim needs
          It is having a group of men in yourlife who help you be accountable
          it is never being alone with any woman for a long time, until they are sure you are safe
          it is being removed fromany postion of leadership or authority in your church.
          Yes I am passionate about this
          and our job is still to forgive
          and that forgivng is hard work but with Jesus it is healing

          The perpetrator needs to be held accountable

  135. 217
    VHiggins says:

    This is a path I have just begun in earnest. I’m still not sure how to walk it… How does one forgive an abuser? What does that look like with skin on when the person has not changed? But I’m trying, one broken step at a time. It hurts to try to process and release this pain, but your prayer made me realize that maybe… Maybe it’s *because* of this very pain that I have the heart that I do, have the amazing freedom in Christ that I do. I pray that those who have hurt me will find that freedom and that I will have a heart open to giving them grace and love without it being about me.

  136. 218

    Deal? I don’t always. I sometimes bury those hurts and wounded places. I sometimes pretend they don’t exist. But they always resurface and then I finally know I must deal. I must forgive. Sometimes, I think I need to re-forgive. Yet, God has forgiven me but once and I learn and am still learning that that forgiveness was and is once and for always. So, too, my forgiveness of others who have cut deeply into my psyche is once and for always. I learn and am learning here too.
    I must turn to the One and Only Who loves me as I am for He created me. He holds me and comforts me. He reminds me of His forgiveness and that the price has been paid. His Word, His love over me, His Spirit covering me is all I need.
    Thank you, Ann, for blessing me this day.
    loving you, ~ linda

  137. 219

    On The Loop Hole-

    Thursday, June 10, 2010
    Neighbors! Gee Wiz!
    Anybody else find it hard to love thy neighbor? Kids in Ethiopia, I’m all over that, the homeless guy down town, I’ll give ‘em a buck. Troubled teens, bring them on. But the lady who lives next door who hates kids and has a mean yappy dog…well, she’s just plain unlovable.

    “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
    Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Gnarly. There’s no loop hole…I’ve looked…but still all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

    So earlier today when the “Mean Lady”(as she has been not-so-affectionately labeled by the neighborhood kids) approached me, wagging her finger and hollering complaints and annoyances, clearly I had not only a responsibility, but was actually commanded by the creator of the earth and skies…to love her.

    I told her that if she didn’t like it here she should just move out.

    She pointed her finger at my face and told me I was evil and my children were evil and that she didn’t know what sorts of things I was being taught at my so-called church but that I wasn’t a very good Christian.

    She said that to me and stared me down with her beady little eyes…while over a dozen kids sat out in the driveway watching.

    Well, this just made my Russian blood boil!

    In my defense, for the past two years since the Mean Lady moved in, she’s done nothing but scream and yell and complain and alienate every neighbor on our street. And in all this time, I’ve never had so much as a single unkind word with her. But she’s been so unbearable for so many of my friends that I figured this time, she had it coming.

    Or did she?

    Two commandments, Love God, love your neighbor. The first is the greatest, but the second is like it? So you mean to tell me that loving this Mean Lady is like loving God?

    Gee Wiz!

    So the drama continued with just about half a dozen ticked off neighbors gathering to talk smack while she huffed and puffed and took pictures of the kid’s scattered toys and sidewalk chalk drawings. She said she was gonna get us all restraining orders. A few of us said we were gonna get em for her too.

    Then she stormed into her house and we let off all the steam we could muster. We said, “Yeah, you’re right…she’s mean…she’s crazy… you don’t deserve that…”

    Then a moment later, she came back. She was shaking with big-baby tears pooled in her eyes. “We should talk,” she says.

    Now I reckoned that this was a divine appointment.

    So me and two of the other Christian moms stood with our arms folded across our chests. And then she hollered a bit more and then we hollered back…nobody really listened much. But somewhere in the messiness of all the “she said, she said”…the Gospel shone through.

    She said, “I just feel like you all just hate me,” which wasn’t entirely untrue.

    But then she said, “I just wish we could have a fresh start.”

    Ahhh..so there it is…the loop hole…a fresh start. Loving God and loving your neighbor is in it’s very nature all about screwing up and having the graceful opportunity to try again. And somewhere in the messiness of it all, is truly where the magic of God’s love is glorified.

    “Well,” I told her, “we are actually all about fresh starts.” Then we talked for a good while about the healing and restorative power of Jesus Christ of Nazereth and then we even prayed together …and like balm to a wound, things softened.

    Eventually, we came to some compromises on her demands and we all promised to wave and be more friendly. Turns out, although her list of gripes was long, at the very top of that list was that she felt left out and unloved.

    I wonder if now would be a bad time to tell her that her yappy dog woke me up at the crack of dawn this morning?

  138. 220

    How I needed to hear this! Thank you, Ann, for showing the many ways in which we forget to forgive. Ways we think are justifiable to cling to. Ways that wound us as much as the one we are trying to wound.

    Blessings,
    Janis

  139. 221

    I fight it, daily. Daily, sometimes isn’t often enough so I fight it hourly.
    I hoped that prayer would cover me for an expanded time, but God keeps me close and reminds me everyday to get out of my head and live in this world, letting go.
    Thanks for your vulnerability!

  140. 222

    Forgiveness is a process that we can’t force but we can choose to let the Holy Spirit work the miracle of humility in us. I’ve found if I choose to pray for God to bless the offender (like the beautiful prayer you shared, Ann), the offense grows smaller and I am blessed with His flow of forgiveness. I believe grace is a treasure we hold in these jars of clay and we must pour it out on each other, even as He fills us.

  141. 223
    ginger says:

    I have a question…not just hypothetical, I really want feedback. Seven years ago, I learned that my husband, whom I adored, had an affair early in our marriage. I learned years later when paternity paperwork showed up. We worked HARD, spent lots of time in Christian counseling, and came out better than ever…even did a TV show, wrote for infidelity forums, and worked with other couples who couldn’t afford the counseling we had. I eventually forgave (hardest thing I’ve ever accomplished because this event drudged up things from my past that hadn’t been fully resolved). We renewed our vows, and started over. I felt safer than ever. He swore on our baby daughters life he never take us back to that horrible, hopeless place. Last fall, I caught him in another affair. There was never a question as to the consequences of a relapse, I kicked him out and got an attorney. After talking to Chris Beall, a pastor with a similar story, he came to a new understanding…he was told he had to bring “everything onto the light” for it to lose its power over him. Over the next few weeks, he confessed to a total of 6 affairs over 14 years (all but the most recent one were prior to the paternity scare), one was just weeks before our wedding! Many of the confessions involve things I would never have otherwise dug up, which is his argument that it’s “for real” and that he is truly trusting in God rather than thinking he knows whats best, telling only the parts he chooses like before.

    Since I’ve seen all this before, I am skeptical…since his own moral compass doesn’t keep him from breaking his vows and he can so easily forget how painful it is and he actually said “I meant it WHEN I SAID IT” (referring to renewing our vows 8 years ago). He is radically exploring his childhood and personality aspects that lead him to self-destructive patterns through counseling. We hear all the time about second chances, but not THIRD chances…is that because someone who has had two is a bad risk? Is there anything that makes one worth the risk…when he’s begging and full of self-hatred, I want to believe that no one is a lost cause…but am I delusional for even hesitating in ending this marriage?

    I am having difficulty knowing that he could do this again after seeing the pain he caused me…so if he perceives that he’s not happy again, wouldn’t he again justify himself in the future? I’ve got zero support…there are two groups of people…those that think I’m nuts for even spending time with him and want me to castrate him financially and ruin his life, and those that have a simplistic “God can fix everything” mentality without getting in the trenches with me and seeing how that plays out in my life and the life of our children…but how do I navigate that area between the two extremes? I have prayed and prayed and feel like I am just supposed to “be still” right now, so I haven’t flipped the switch on the divorce and we are basically living in a state of limbo. I’m so sad, in shock, and feel stupid for loving a man that can do this to me no once, but twice…

    • 224
      picturelady says:

      Ginger, my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry for all that you are going through.
      I was in a destructive marriage for 25 years…the repeated behaviors you are describing are something much bigger than simply “bad choices.” Have you considered that your husband may have mental health issues? You probably have, so I hope this is not presumptious of me. Mental illness is not cured by sincere effort on the part of your husband. Even if he totally owned his problems, made and kept his own therapy appointments with a skilled therapist, and had the necessary support and accountability, he might not be able to sustain his wellness.
      I stayed in my marriage because of our 4 kids…because I could not find a way out…because of fear….because of religious rules. My four children suffered immensely. I have not seen the face of my oldest in nearly 3 years now. She has a full-blown serious mental illness herself, combined with alcoholism and more. If someone had predicted this 5 years ago, I could not have imagined it in my wildest dreams – she and I were close and she appeared to be straight as an arrow.
      I truly understand your statement about the two groups of people! We ended up very much alone. At one point I worked for a large church, and one of our pastors knew of an incident involving a gun….he pretended like it never happened. My husband explained it away to me as if I misinterpreted the incident. I thought I must be going crazy. I started going to therapy for ME, which was probably one of the best decisions of my life.
      It took me many years to realize that I was waiting for someone to tell me what to do – to tell me what was “right.” I finally realized that I needed to figure that out for myself – just me and God.
      My heart and prayers are with you tonight. Sending love and strength.

    • 225

      Don’t trust your husband. Don’t ever trust ANY human being. That is my first advice. Human beings are fallible and cannot be trusted. Human beings are fading away. Don’t even trust me! But at the same time, always trust! How is this possible?

      First Corinthians 13:7 says “love always trusts.” First John 4:8 says that “God is love.” If God is love and 1 Corinthians 13:7 says that “love always trusts” then this means that God always trusts. The King James and American standard read, love “believeth all things.” This means that God believes all things! God believes more in Himself and in you, than you do, because He is love. If you are in God, in Jesus Christ, then it is also possible through Him for you to always trust or believe all things.

      If you put your full trust in God, in Jesus Christ, then you can always trust. This is not simple, but it is the same message as those in the camp of what you call “simplistic” who believe that “God can fix everything.” God CAN, indeed, fix everything, if you believe in the God that is portrayed in the Bible.

      And if you believe the Bible, then you should believe that everything is spiritual. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and is God NOT spiritual? And in the beginning, if we believe the Bible, then every problem is first and foremost a result of a fallen angel and are angels NOT spiritual? Every problem we face we must approach spiritually, because everything is spiritual if we believe the Bible. We must first bring our problems before God, before Jesus Christ, and then we must also spend a little time rebuking the ONLY enemy of the human soul, who is satan.

      I’ve been through trenches, and I am ready to go through trenches with you.

      Please feel free to e-mail me at sarah.oyerinde@hotmail.com

    • 226

      Oh Ginger, you are not stupid. You are a woman with the Holy Spirit beating in your heart. Dear one, you are not stupid for the very difficult choice you made to walk the road of forgiveness and offering second chances. And with that same Spirit and same longings that God has given us as women, you face more difficult decisions with no clear answers.

      I know it can feel like stupidness. But look at what God did for the Israelites over and over and over again. Look at what Jesus does with each of us – he knowingly sends us out on the Great Commission, to be His ambassadors to everyone we meet – while at the same time fully knowing our capacity to sin and dishonor his name! You are not stupid Ginger. You carry God’s heart to love. You are strong and courageous.

      You, like anyone in your situation just want help to know how to wisely respond to your husband, care for your self and care for your children, while honoring the God you love.

      I do not know if you’re “delusional for even hesitating in ending this marriage.” And I’m so sorry there are not clear answers. And I’m so sorry that the Body of Christ is not supporting you!

      I am sorry that I cannot give you any answers. But I will risk giving you some resources. You may have already sought these out, and with exhaustion can do no more, and just want a decision, a plan and to implement it. but here goes…

      (1) Whatever your next difficult steps are, whether you stay together, separate, divorce or just wait, I would also recommend that both of you look into getting help through Desert Streams & Living Waters. (they are kind of hard to find on the internet because of other ministries with the same name. Use these links.)
      http://desertstream.org
      http://desertstream.org/Group/Group.aspx?ID=1000040175
      Their mission is to help people trapped in sexual sin, like your husband. They have groups all over the US, and they also invite you to write them for more information. So If they don’t have a group near you, please write them to find out what they might be able to do for you!!

      (2) As someone else mentioned I would definitely consider the implications of any mental health issues your husband might have. If there is a diagnosis, this does NOT give an excuse. Rather, it is an explanation and can help guide you toward next steps. It helps him and you know “what you’re working with.” (I’m a teacher and a big advocate of diagnosis, when there is a real one.) Usually going to a Psychiatrist to consider any mental health issues is best. (I go to one and they aren’t crazy, and don’t make me feel crazy!) Though the input of a good psychologist/ counselor can be helpful with the Psychiatrist.

      (3) If you decide to give third chances, it doesn’t mean you can’t have certain boundaries, parameters, consequences. You will likely need the wisdom and help of an experienced and specially-trained person to put these in place. (a counseling pastor?) And, that will take time to find that person. I’m so sorry. I hate the hunt too.

      What I have found is there are Christian counselors, who, theoretically “can’t” “intervene” because that’s not what counseling is. They won’t give you the advice you need. Then there are pastors who have large hearts and Truth in their bones but don’t always have the rich background of counseling to be able to give specific advice relevant to the situation!

      And so here we are, Christians, longing for directed help with no where to turn. I say all this to help you identify what it is you need from someone to help you with your next steps, whatever they are. I would look for a professionally trained counselor who will help you navigate your course like a pastor or elder would. Or, you could say, you want to find a pastor or elder, professionally trained as a counselor and with some experience.

      Please don’t give up, whatever direction you choose. I am sorry if I have offered too many “suggestions” and have not listened enough. But I felt like you were wanting some direction. I know I just gave you more information, maybe none of it new, and maybe you have exhausted all the possibilities you can already bear…

      My counselor tells me “God does have a plan.” Why this makes me feel better, in the midst of my bitterness toward God, I don’t know, but keep seeking help, keep being honest with others, and God.

      http://desertstream.org
      http://desertstream.org/Group/Group.aspx?ID=1000040175

    • 227

      Dear Ginger

      I have been in the trenches and I also, stand with Sarah, if you need someone to talk to who understands. I agree that you need to look at your husband’s actions via the spiritual realm, he could possibly have an addiction or, and this may seem extreme to some but I’ve seen it personally, have a spirit of lust possessing him. Please stay strong and you can reach me if you want to @ lo.supersunshine@gmail.com

  142. 228

    I’ve had more knives in my back, through my heart, and still I yearn to trust more and open my heart more to enemies and friends no matter how many times my heart shatters and God puts a new heart together. I asked Him one day to help me to love others as He loves them and to see others as He sees them. It’s a dangerous prayer with dangerous results. It brought me out of the darkness of my own prejudices and selfishness and I died to self that year. And still I batter down my own walls to let others in to share the grace and love He gave to me and show them that friendship is valuable and grace and love is meant to be shared, not hoarded (as your latest chapter read last night).

  143. 229

    It never is easy, but I know that I have to intentionally make a choice to NOT get offended especially if the person who has hurt me is another brother or sister-in-Christ.

    I spent 15 years of my life running away from and fighting God over the bitterness I chose to hold against my earthly Dad who is also a brother-in-Christ. I would blame my heavenly father for it and feel justified in hating my earthly Dad, but I am SO grateful and thankful to God that He didn’t abandon me and that He didn’t treat me the same way I treated Him.

    I finally let go of the offenses I held towards my earthly Dad and God gave me a gift beyond my imagination in, not only restoring fully my relationship with my earthly father, but restoring my intimacy with my heavenly father.

  144. 230

    Honestly, I feel like others mistakes have always poured over to me. I am a responder to OPD, other people’s drama. That gets tiring. But all in all, I have drawn closer to God because of OPD. Not all bad, not bad at all. I have tried to walk a no drama path of my own life and for the most part, I have. The lesson is that no man is an island, our mistakes do affect others.

  145. 231

    While not all enemies carry arrows, sometimes, unfortunately, our enemies are our brothers and sisters in Christ who use the Bible as a weapon that inflict deep wounds. What God has been teaching me is to pray for these people. But I don’t want to. It. Is. Hard. Yet when I do, when I can overcome my anger and pain and whisper “Father, please help them”, I find the wounds heal just a tiny bit.

    I love your “old prayer for old pain”. Good words. I’m going to try and add them to my prayers.

    Thank you, Ann, for writing this. I love how you are able to use words to paint such a beautiful picture of how He is working in your life. The knitting thing – so cool. :-)

  146. 232
    Rhonda says:

    Ann-
    I have been struggling for the last few years with forgiveness. . .and how in the world to love, to “keep my heart open, no matter what the end result” and WOW, when we take a little step, Jesus is there. I didn’t trust him for a long time, and was ashamed to even admit that I didn’t trust him. Now I KNOW and trust that he is there and helping me! So many times I had to cry out to him with my broken heart in my hands. Slowly, he is putting it back together, and it is unbelievable. Sister- you have been anointed to bring the good news and to assist in setting the captives free. THANK YOU for your obedience to live as we are all called. . .and sharing your experiences with all of us!!! Blessings on you!!

  147. 233

    This line, so true in my own life: “Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.”

    And while I know it as truth, the idea of asking God to bless them? Radical grace. Scary grace that dares me to leave my stinky flesh on the cross. Painful hope.

  148. 234

    Too true, so hard… and the ones who have hurt me the worst have been those in God’s name. Forgiveness is so hard, and often a daily battle. I think I’ve got it….but then… it’s another thorn and splinter driven here and there that bring the whole bleeding mess back. :( I wish it could be cast out for good.

  149. 235
    Asadsoul says:

    A sad story it is. Two people coming from a terrible background of sin shame rebellion divorce adultery on both sides and going to bible college and covering up old hurts and habits with new legalistic behaviour. Getting married…..and being still so sick in heart. One with addictions to sexual sin and alcohol, one with a hole so big in her heart she looks everywhere frantically to fill it as her husband simply can not. 4 years of porn addiction 3 years of alcohol hiding under the couch and a man so filled with God simply becomes a shadow of what he can be. filled with so much shame. A wife so hurt and empty she finds comfort in a another guy at work. Before she knows it her sick heart is causing her to rationalize as her own husband who was supposed to be so Godly and loving drinks his pain away. His anger burns towards her. She feels ashamed and repents crying out to God. The man refuses to forgives and only points the finger at her for being the cause of his terrible unhappiness and drinking. When both really need a saviour and contentment from Christ so badly. Hearts hurt. Marriage is falling apart. My dreams dashing in the sight of both of our sin. He refuses to repent and forgive. What can I do. finally had to leave as living with an addict can make you crazy yourself and the pain. The uncertanity of the future. wanting to cry out WHY GOD? But seeking His peace and direction despite my own desire to run as fast as I can and be free. Where can I go to flee from you? A crisis of faith…..does God really care? Is He even there? Why all this? why? Seeking to trust.

  150. 236

    The most significant thing I’ve learned/am learning about forgiveness is that after I have forgiven my “debtor’s” debt the lingering pain is not between me and her anymore. I need a doctor for that. One who knows my insides better than I do. One who can gently invade, cleanse, and heal. One who will comfort me in the memory and gently lead me to the cross where I find forgiveness for myself. Then to an empty tomb where sin loses its sting. And finally to his bosom where He sings my soul to sleep until the day I awake and the pain is gone and I have beauty for ashes.

  151. 237

    Thanks for this wonderful post!
    Smiles, Cyndi

  152. 238
    Susan Miller says:

    I was never normal. Diagnosed with a congenital abnormality at birth meant that I could never be perfect. My earliest memories involve monstrous, loud x-ray machines, hot and uncomfortable casts, and the stares and whispers of strangers. I was eventually diagnosed with congenital hip dysplasia and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). My right hip had failed to develop in utero and the complications from EDS, a genetic defect in my collagen, left me unable to stand unassisted or walk for many years. I grew up hearing my parents speak in hushed tones about my congenital deformity and birth defect to their friends and my family. So, that meant that I was deformed, abnormal and defective from birth.
    People can be very hurtful without meaning to. I remember well the parents of my friends telling my mom ‘how pretty’ I was instead of looking down and telling me. I wanted to scream that my legs, not my ears, were broken but then I was after all defective. If adults were bad, children were worse. My parents enrolled me in a Catholic school because it was the only ‘handicap accessible’ school in our district. I will never forget the day that I slapped a second grade classmate across the face because I couldn’t take her taunts and ugly insults any longer. I was told in no uncertain terms that my response was inappropriate and unacceptable. In other words I was to live by the old saying ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me’. That’s a lie. Words scar much deeper than any physical injury. That day, as a seven year old little girl, I was bullied into submission. School would forever be the place where I didn’t fit in. A place where other children could use me as their verbal punching bag.
    Home was worse. I don’t think my father ever forgave me for being defective. I brought stares of pity his way, not the stares of admiration that he had expected when at long last my mother announced her pregnancy. He hated me and he hurt me for as long as I can remember. The slaps, kicks and punches were bad but not the worst. The worse abuse came in the form of words. “You’re ugly”. “You’re useless”, “you will never amount to anything”, and “no-one will ever love you”. The words scarred deeply and I believed them. It never occurred to me that HE was the one with a problem. I accepted his lies as truth and grew up to believe that I was nothing more than an ugly mistake. I carried the shame like a blanket over my stopped shoulders. It wasn’t until I met an angel in a truck stop, of all places, that I began the journey towards finding out who I really was.

  153. 239
    Bonnie Holmes says:

    Ann, this barely relates to the topic but I wanted you to keep me in your prayers. I had to have a spinal tap last week and all signs are pointing to MS but I won’t find out until next Wed. My anxiety is through the roof and I am praying that my enemy will not be my own self. Please pray for peace and calm as I await the results of the tests.

  154. 240

    Beautiful. True.
    I’ve held the grudges far too long, only to find myself my own victim. It’s not God’s plan.
    Thank you for sharing so poignantly.
    Karen

  155. 241
    Darla Baustian says:

    Thank you for your blog. So true – each step like Joseph refining me into a vessel fit for the Master’s use.

  156. 242

    Hello,
    I have recently been going through a very hard time due to a really close relationship with my best freind being broken. This situation has hurt me so bad that I have closed up, The gifts that GOD has given me as an encourager and exorter has been closed because I spoke into her life in love for something I saw was happening and instead of coming to me to have me explain why it was said and to help her see her actions with another freind has shown bad fruit…she has shut the door and through her actions has basically made known she no longer wants me in her life after 4 years. This happened almost a month ago and yet she still has not come to talk to me. It hurts. I miss her, I know that GOD was clearly directing me to speak to her about the way things were becoming with her other freind, so now what, well as much as it still hurts a week ago I was led to write on my blog about “SHACKLES”…GOD revealed to me that though unknowingly we put our selves in shackles and you know what its true in any facet of life.
    Though this has caused pain, discouragement and for me to shut down, I am trying daily to break free of the fact that I allowed this to take me to a place where I said I will no longer speak of what GOD puts on my heart in doing that I shut the door to HIS WORK to be down, I will not do that, I thank GOD for the gifts HE has given me as a prayer warrior, exorter and encourager….I SERVE HIM, and if in doing so I need to loose but to gain even more, then I will do just that.
    GOD is more then enough, and HE is all I need!!
    Healing will come if she and I are meant to reconcile and if we are not, then I will pray for her, love her, and keep her close to my heart!!
    Community is so important as all of you have said, We all need it in some form, many blessings and love to all.
    Tina

  157. 243
    Christine says:

    After reading some of the responses here, I can’t wait for Jesus to return to bring an end to all of this pain once and for all. I have my own share of burdens I wish I didn’t have. Pain, rejection upon rejection, and wounds that are still seeping. I wish I knew how to make a quilt, too.
    I imagined all the voices here, rising up to Heaven. All these voices mingling together like an endless prayer to the ears of God, who is listening so intently to our cries. His response: “It won’t be long.”

  158. 244
    Stacy Carto says:

    Wounded, disappointed, & heartbroken by a close friend recently, I found myself numb with pain. A wise mentor of mine told me to IMMERSE myself in God’s word. So that’s what I have done. I bought the bible on CD and put it in my car. When I drive, I hear the Word. I found a free download online of the New Testament and put it on my iPhone. I listen to the Word while I’m doing dishes, cooking, grocery shopping, and when ever else I can. I CAN hear God’s word (even with my small children listening! What amazing conversations we’ve had just because they are hearing the Word too!) Even if I am not completely paying attention it is going through my head and I pick up things here and there. I have put down any other books I was reading and have picked up the Word..Psalms, Proverbs, Ephesians, and so forth! I am AMAZED that when I put the Word into me like this I find myself WANTING, EVEN LONGING TO READ IT!!! I have experienced freedom in my mind. For so long I have replayed the tapes in my head of all that went down. It always left me in a state of sadness and anxiety. Now, I find that the Word is going through my head and not the things of the past! Oh! What relief it is to have a peace of MIND!! Thank you, Jesus!

    You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy
    that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.(AB)

  159. 245

    Tears & prayer

  160. 246
    Tear-Stained Sheets says:

    I sit here alone, reading this and weeping. I am a wife and mother to many small children, and my husband has left us all just weeks prior to this. He still pays the bills, but he does not want to be the husband any more, he does not want to be a father every single day for our children. He doesn’t want to be with me because there is another woman at work who has caught his attention, and he’s believed the lie that he is more ‘compatible’ with her than he is with me. He has looked back over our entire marriage and is dwelling on all the mistakes, too many to number. In his darkness, he is hurt and confused and suffering, yet still makes great claims that he has never seen more clearly.

    I stay home with our children, feed and bathe them, show them stability in their mommy and give God all the glory for it. He goes out, spends all the family’s money, and takes the other woman to eat dinner, expensive concerts and the like. I take my children to church and play with them. He drives over to her house and eats the meals she makes for him, and plays with her children.

    I am embarrassed, afraid, alone and silent. He is also silent, but more than anything, our silence might be for the embarrassment it will bring once it’s officially made public. The fact that something so severe and tragic and Godless would happen in our hearts and lives is too big a problem to face head on. Of all the couples in the world, this should have never have happened to us. We were the strong ones, the ones who’d been together since we were kids. We were the ones who always did everything in life together as a family. We were the ones who saw this happen to other families and taught our children how wrong it was, and is not God’s plan for marriage.

    Our children are forever traumatized by his actions. We have had quite a time attempting new family routines without the head of the family. They have not wanted to leave my side, as I reassure them again and again that I will always be here for them, always love them with all that I’ve got. I can see times where they are strong and the times where they are so weak that it nearly breaks me in two. We have all spent many times, all of us, holding on to each other and crying the worst, gut-wrenching cries that come from the pit of your stomach.

    I am ever so tired and weary of the heavy load of being a full time mother and teacher to my blessings, with almost never a break until I crash on the pillow each night. I do have many sympathetic, caring, loving family and friends who have been all too willing to step in and help me, but they can not live this life for me. In my deep, deep sorrows, I am learning new ways to find great strength in a great God.

    Yes, I am angry and hurt, and how can I forgive, for once and for all, the continual lying and cheating heart that I bound my soul to? I never knew that hurt could run so incredibly deep, and could cause road blocks down every single avenue in my life. How do I move on past the only man I have ever known? How do I live out the process of truly giving this over to God and not taking it back again the next morning or the next hour or the next minute? How do I breathe??

    Restoration of this marriage and family, I know, would be God’s best for us. It would take real forgiveness of God and of us from every angle.
    I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m desperately seeking answers from God in my life right now.

  161. 247

    My name is Rob. I’m 42
    My Girlfriend is 39.
    We are dating 8 months.
    She is my world, and it’s mutual.
    She feels I betrayed her when I talked to her family about her drinking that I was worried about 6 months ago. She just found out. I didn’t hide it, I forgot, since her family did nothing to help. She still trusts me, but is furious I did it and said she can’t get over it and wishes were were the same way we were before this happened, and she thought I was “the one”. I am torn up sad. I love her and she loves me, and she is heartbroken because she saw our future and this ruined it. Please help her understand I did it out of concern. I apologized for the way I did it. Please help. I love her so much ! Thanks !

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