…about forgiveness?

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When it comes to love, people have a lot of expectations. Some of those are reasonable, good, and necessary. But, sometimes these relationships are unhealthy, unbalanced and even abusive.

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The Bible has a lot to say about love in all avenues of our lives.

Love between neighbors:

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.” Leviticus 19:18a

The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1973, 1978, Zondervan Corporation.

Love for God:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5

The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1973, 1978, Zondervan Corporation.

Love for your enemies:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:38-42

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48

The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1973, 1978, Zondervan Corporation.
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Love between husband and wife:

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church–for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:25-33

The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1973, 1978, Zondervan Corporation.
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Love between parents and children:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise–“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1-4

The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1973, 1978, Zondervan Corporation.
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What happens though, when the relationship isn’t healthy? What happens when the relationship is abusive? And there’s a whole lot of ways a relationship can be abusive.

A relationship between a church member and a church can be abusive if scripture is twisted and used as a means of control or to excuse sin. We tend to think of this relationship as between a cult and their members but I’ve known of it to occur in churches where leadership is uneducated, where tradition is taught more than scripture.

Relationships between husband and wife can definitely be abusive. The ways are many: physical, emotional, sexual, verbal, psychological, financial, and spiritual. These relationships do so much damage to the partner being abused. It can be either way, husband to wife or wife to husband.

Children can certainly be abused by a parent, older sibling, cousin, aunt or uncle, or another adult, such as a live-in partner. A child who grows up in an abusive home is likely to be an abuser or to accept abusive behavior toward them because it’s all they’ve ever known.

When abuse happens, when someone is swallowing their emotions, their words to avoid making the abuse worse at some point an explosion occurs, scores must be settled. Healing can and will take place if you are able to forgive.

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Especially when you get yourself out of the abusive relationship and are working on moving on from it. The Bible is also clear about forgiveness.

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

“So watch yourselves. ‘If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4

The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1973, 1978, Zondervan Corporation.

God’s Word is clear in His expectation we forgive those who hurt us. What that looks like, how that happens isn’t quite so clear a picture so I speak from experience.

My father was physically, emotionally, financially, and even spiritually abusive to us. There were times he struck our mother, many, many times he was physically abusive to two of his three children. He was emotionally unavailable to us usually except for the youngest child. That turned out to be abusive too.

The church we attended in my teenage years was spiritually abusive in that tradition was taught, scripture twisted to make their point. For example that women should not wear pants inside the church building. The first time I did after I left home for college I got nothing out of the service because I was afraid God was going to strike me with lightening during the service. It was a physical relief when I walked outside after service in one piece.

One summer between the first and second grade I was molested by a family member staying with us to help my mother with a sick child by caring for us older two. My parents were so angry with me.

As a young adult trying to make it on my own far away from home on February 9 I was raped in my apartment.

There have been a couple romantic relationships that were emotionally abusive.

Sadly, even a relationship with a family member became emotionally abusive as we moved into adulthood.

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Each of these relationships have had an event that set me on the road to forgiveness for the abuser and myself. Sometimes, I can reach that point easier than others. But, each time I have forgiven, without giving that person the power to hurt me again.

There have been some relationships, some abuse that lasted longer in my life and I’ve forgiven, reforgiven and repeated the act, the prayer, the release multiple times, sometimes daily. But, I keep on doing it because God tells me He expects me to forgive for He has forgiven me.

When God forgives me He forgives the sin but He doesn’t remove the consequences of my sin. I had opportunities in life that I failed to take advantage of because my self-esteem was beaten down so low. God would have helped me had I been willing to try, but I was still convinced I was meant for the back row, not the front.

I encourage you to turn to God for help forgiving those who have hurt you. Live your life where God wants you. Forgive, forgive and repeat until the need lessens. Don’t expect the other party to ask for forgiveness, or to even acknowledge the pain they’ve caused.

Forgive because God expects you to.

Forgive because God loves you.

Forgive because God forgives you.

Forgive because it will keep you from carrying the burden of unforgiveness one moment longer.

—-Donna

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…if it feels “right” then why not?

“If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. If being right means living without you I’d rather live a wrong than right. Mama and Daddy say it’s a shame, it’s a downright disgrace, But as long as I got you by my side I don’t care what my people say. My friends tell me there’s no future in loving a married man if I can’t see you when I want, I’ll see you when I can. If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right…” ( —-If Loving You Is Wrong, as sung by Barbara Madrell, written by Homer Banks, Carl Mitchell Hampton, Raymond E. Jackson)

While I don’t suggest anyone base their values/morals on the lyrics of a country song, these lyrics do illustrate something. The person in this song has decided that having an affair, committing adultery knowingly, is okay because “it feels right”. Despite knowing she is choosing to become involved with and remain involved with a man committed to someone else with children involved. “Am I wrong to fall so deeply in love with you, Knowing you got a wife and two little children depending on you too.”

The lyrics echo is much of the decision making of the population today. “It feels right for me to ______________.” You can fill in the blank.

There are guidelines beyond the “social norm” that are meant to keep us at peace with God and with others in our lives.

"I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.  Keep away from them.  For such people are not serving out Lord Christ, but their own appetites.  By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people."  Romans 16:17-18 (NIV)

Are we naïve, is that a reasonable excuse? The definition of naïve as an adjective is “showing a lack of experience, wisdom or judgment,” “natural and unaffected; innocent” or “of or denoting art produced in a straightforward style that deliberately rejects sophisticated artistic techniques and has a bold directness resembling a child’s work, typically in bright colors with little or no perspective”. (Oxford Languages)

The Bible speaks to that too. “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” I Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)

Reasoning that it’s okay to have an affair with a married person because it feels right is in fact wrong. It’s as naïve as a child eating so much sugar they puke even with warnings from their parent. The same goes for anything else you put in the blank, “It’s okay for me to do ____________ because it feels right.”

  • It feels right for me to lie, regardless of the hurt, pain or damage my lie may cause, because it feels right.
  • It feels right for me to abuse this child, because they belong to me and I can do whatever I think feels right.
  • It feels right for me to cover-up what someone else has done that is illegal, unethical, or dangerous because it pushes forth what I believe feels right to me.
  • It feels right for me to take my anger, disappointment and pursuit of my goals out on someone else, because it feels good. It feels good to vent. It feels right.

Yet, it’s so wrong. So, so, so wrong.

From the beginning of man’s time on Earth God has been giving directives of how to remain in fellowship with Him. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17 (NIV)

Initially there were two rules. Work and care for the Garden and not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve was conned by Satan in the body of a snake to eat of the fruit of that tree. She allowed herself to be tricked. She in turn gave the fruit to Adam and he too ate it. It wasn’t an intelligent decision. It wasn’t based on truth. Read Genesis 3 – 4 and see the beginning of the outcome. It felt right to Eve and Adam too.

Thus the beginning of mankind. One book later in Exodus 20:1-17 and three books later they are repeated in Deuteronomy 5:6-21 those two rules had become ten. God hadn’t changed, but the hearts of man had and not for the better. If God had to address them in this manner, then the sins must have been prevalent in society.

1.  You shall have no other gods before me. 
2.  You shall not make for yourself any idol in the form of anything or anyone.
3.  You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
4.  Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
5.  Honor your father and mother.
6.  You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not give false testimony.
10. You shall not covet any person or anything that is your neighbors.

There are lots of scripture pointing us to what values/morals/lifestyle choices we should make to live a life pleasing to God. If pleasing God isn’t your “thing” this same advice will point you towards making decisions that will lead you to a more peaceful life at the least.

When we as humans feel the desire to do what “feels right” even if a sin in God’s eyes it just proves that we all need GRACE. Every single one of us. Not just a select few.

"For it is by grace you have been saved through faith--and this not from yourselves it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast."  Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)

God calls us to holiness, to live a righteous life, not to sin. To base our decisions not on what feels right but on WHAT IS RIGHT.

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."  Hebrews 12:14-15 (NIV)

Not everyone is the world believes in God. Believes in His Word. I accept that. It is your decision. But, even without taking God or His Word into consideration, take a good look around just the United States these days, how is the “it feels right” mentality working for all of us, not just yourself, not just your cause?

—-Donna

The Cost of Crying Wolf

Across this planet we’re all caught up in the Coronavirus pandemic. If you’re human and alive, this is your war as much as it is anyone else’s. In no way am I making light of the danger we’re facing. In no way am I suggesting we shouldn’t be taking it seriously or how you should handle following the criteria to “flatten the curve” as this medical disaster swarms our land’s citizens.

What’s making things harder to navigate isn’t a new issue.  Let’s be real.  We just don’t know who to trust, do we?

Can’t trust those saturated in their own power so much they believe they are above the laws they create.  Who abuse those powers seeking, truthfully, to be the ones lining their safety deposit boxes and controlling every America’s life.

Can’t trust the “experts” who can’t make up their minds about how the virus is spread, how to prevent it’s spread, how to treat those who have COVID-19 and of course, whether or not wearing a face mask helps or aids in the prevention of contamination.  They don’t really know and many times they will tell you they don’t know and some arrogant reporter or self-serving politician keeps asking them for their expert opinion.  

Which brings me to one group of people we really can’t trust.  The media.  Mainstream.  Online.  Underground.  They remind me of the fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. 

It’s plot is fairly straight forward.  A young lad was assigned to shepherd the sheep for the entire village in a nearby field.  It wasn’t too isolated for the villagers could hear him call for help.  But the boy was bored.  He began pranking the villagers. 

Three times he called for help.  The wolf had come to take the sheep.  Three times everyone dropped their jobs and chores racing to his rescue.  Every time he laughed at them. After the third time he tricked them he was told  no one would come if he called again.

The wolf who had witnessed it all, came out shortly after the villagers left.  He did take the sheep.  The boy did call for help.  No one showed up to assist him.  He was missed when night fell and he didn’t show up for supper.

Some men went looking for him.  The fable’s ending varies through the years.  In some the wolf has eaten him.  Others the villagers find him alone, crying and miserable.  In some they locate the sheep the next day.  In others the sheep are lost forever.  When the boy is found alive he has learned the harsh reality of what happens when you lie to people.  

Sure wish the media would learn this lesson.

Some people in the journalism profession itself saw this day coming.  One was the dean of our hall of journalism at the university I attended.  

At the end of my education the dean saw me in the hallway.  He demanded to speak to me and I agreed.  Then loud enough that anyone else in the hall could have heard, he angrily informed me I didn’t have the heart to be a journalist.  He had a list of reasons why. 

My plan to be a missionary journalist was ridiculous.  I couldn’t get past the truth of a persons whole life to write a piece designed to shred their professional, private, and community life.  He said, “You really expect to look at all sides of something.  That doesn’t make for a good journalist.”

I was stunned.  If the profession he described was the one I’d spent all this time learning about it didn’t describe one I was any longer sure I wanted to work in.  I never worked on a newspaper. 

Except for editing pages of ads for a company that published thousands of newspapers for churches, a dozen attempts at novels, ten years spent doing every aspect of monthly church newsletters and weekly bulletins; for over ten years and the same ten plus years doing weekly bulletins (writing the copy, layout, everything) I have never used that journalism degree.  Though that does sound closer to my original goal.

Yes, the question has crossed my mind, that life altering moment.  But at the end of that road, I don’t see me being in a place I would like myself very much if I had determined to prove that professor wrong.  And now, as media, reporters, lie mongers prevail in the journalism industry, I’m embarrassed by them.  There seems to be little if any sign of the truth being sought.   

I see instead the main stream media filled with journalists, reporters, writers who feeds off the pain of people, who can’t be trusted to report the truth, whose sources are “anonymous” who turn around to be “anonymous sources” who confirm their own lies?  

Who, in this day, trusts what mainstream media or special interest online sources report?  I don’t.  They are the boy who cried wolf.  Lie repeatedly and even when caught, refuse to set the record straight.  They take joy at ripping a person’s life, family, career, soul apart for something they know are lies.  Furthermore, they often include the lives of everyone around them.

I’m really glad now, I took the other road.  I’d rather keep trying to be a author who writes, even if I’m never published, than a liar who reports but  who has lost their own humanity.

—Donna

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