Category Archive: Forgiveness

FOREVER FRIENDS

I was discouraged and frustrated–and I blew up! Ugly. Heated. Off-putting.

I felt a medical need I had hadn’t been respected, and that my friends were not supportive of my being in a new relationship. I understand now; they were afraid I might have to experience widowhood a second time. At the time, it just hurt. So I blew up. I’m not proud of it. I acted badly and was not at all Christ-like in my demeanor or, for that matter, my heart.

But … one friend determined that I am a “forever friend” and stuck with me. The other turned away from continuing a friendship in which we had supported each other through some difficult and, in one case, frightening times. The difference? One chose to forgive and rebuild; the other, to say she forgave but yet to walk away from any ongoing relationship, despite my efforts at reconciliation.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God … since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” I John 4:7, 11

Compassion

Forever friends … incredible gifts in a mobile society, and a life filled with transitions and political turmoil. Friends one knows will always be there for me, even if they disagree with a choice or behavior of mine. Who will tell me when I’ve offended, or confront me (in love) when they see sin in my life.

Two of my forever friends are moving out of state–at the same time!  Oh, how I’ll miss them! But, because we’re forever friends, our relationships will continue across the miles, with phone calls, prayer support, emails, and hopefully some visits tossed into the mix.

I’m also grateful for those forever friends who are still nearby. My life, my walk with God, my relationships are enriched by people who see me as I am, and choose to love me. First among those is my husband, Don. So to you, Don, and to my other forever friends … Thank you! I love you too.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

I expect many of us have gone through times when friendships were not easy. Perhaps there was a need for forgiveness, on either or both sides. Maybe a need to challenge a friend in a difficult area. And maybe a dear one who, it seems, was “born for a time of adversity.” I’d love to hear your experience.

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Why we Need Girlfriends More as We Mature

Driving alongside a full, flowing river after California’s years-long drought, we saw the pines and grass and rocks, with stunning, snow-capped Sierras in the distance. Water flowed through the canyon, greening up its surroundings. Seems I was constantly saying, “Look how beautiful this is” or “This view is magnificent.”

Just as marvelous was the time spent last weekend reveling in a few days with two close, long-term girlfriends. Such a great time, I missed posting, and apologize to you, my dear readers.

So I’ve been thinking about friendship, and its importance in our lives. I’ve had several precious friendships for more than thirty years, three or four for forty plus. Newer friends add more joy to my life. Friends grace us in many ways.

  • With friendship, laughter, and tears through the stages of life–whether that’s from singles to married and moms; or just the stage we’re in currently.
  • With hearts and ears that listen and don’t try to fix us.
  • With honest feedback and sometimes, correction. “An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship.” Prov 24:26 NLT
  • With forgiveness when they’ve seen us at our worst, and encouragement when we’re doing well. “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9, NLT
  • With frequent calls or visits to check on us at times of crisis, from boyfriend or husband trouble, to divorce, death, illness, or family crises.
  • With the freedom to hang out with them even when we are numb and disengaged because of our own pain.
  • With the support we feel because of their loving friendship.

Years ago, when another friend and I were both single, we would call each other if either of us was sick. The non-sickee invariably brought over cheetohs and tomato soup–good recipe for a sick day, and a great friendship!

I’ve been blessed with two terrific husbands. But someone once said, most women will have their girlfriends longer than their husbands. We tend to be widowed first; and sometimes husbands leave for what they believe will be greener fields.

A writer younger than I saw a group of 50-ish women laughing together, and commented on their obvious bond. In an article in the Huffington PostKari Kubiszyn Kampakis relates that one of the women told her:

   “’Don’t ever lose touch with your girlfriends, sweetheart. The older you get, the more you’ll need them.’

   Kampakis continues: “The women in the elevator that day were spot on. And now when I see a group like them having fun, I realize the laughter is only part of the story, what comes after the complicated grown-up stuff. And while we certainly need the wonderful men in our lives, for they play a crucial role, too, men simply aren’t designed to understand us like one of our own.

   “Sometimes it takes another woman to intuitively recognize what needs to be done — then do it. Or to sense what needs to be said — then say it. Or to take the thoughts and emotions we don’t voice — and know what to make of them.

   “Having great friends is largely a matter of being a great friend … girlfriends matter in good times and bad, laughter and tears, and through the highs and lows that reveal who’s with us for the long haul, and who’s willing to share in our suffering so that one day, when we’re laughing again on the beach, there will be a history that makes the laughter sound richer and stirs the curiosity of anyone in earshot.”

The laughter my girlfriends and I shared last weekend is richer because of the history we’ve shared.

What has made your best friendships rich? Are there friends you need to forgive? I’ve had to forgive and be forgiven; and the friendships that have remained are richer for having gone through the fire and persevered.

Friendships. Important? Critical, even?  YES.

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“It is Finished”

We ran a few minutes late. The parking lot was FULL. Don and I parked next door at the college and walked over. Our hearts thrilled at the church,d filled with those wanting to honor the sacrifice of Jesus for us.

Good Friday–good because God came to earth to live as one of us, to die an anguished, shameful death in order to redeem us. Easter is a time of great joy as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, his conquering of death. But we can’t have Easter without Good Friday. And it wasn’t a good day for Jesus, or for His disciples. Jesus agonized, hung on that rough-hewn cross, struggled to pull himself up for every breath until he gave up his last breath. And his disciples grieved, fearing all their dreams, all their time spent following Jesus was for nothing. Hopes dashed, vision dimmed, grief all-consuming.

He held out his arms and died

He stretched out his arms and died

But the sixth of Jesus’ sayings from the cross was “It is finished.”

It IS finished. He accomplished all that was needed to buy our freedom from sin and eternal separation from God. There is no more I need do to achieve his love, forgiveness, peace, except receive it. Receive the finished work Jesus did when he died, for me. As I acknowledge that he paid the price of God’s judgment on sin and that I am a sinner in need of his forgiveness, he begins his work in me, to change me from the inside out.

My hairdresser and I have been together about fifteen years. A few days ago I told her a few things that weren’t feeling right about my last cut. Finally she looked at me and said “Boy, you’re just imbalanced everywhere aren’t you?” I looked back and responded, almost without thinking, “You bet. I’m so thankful for Jesus. I’m a mess!”

And it’s true. I get jealous, am selfish and prideful. Occasionally I hurt someone I love. I don’t want to do these things. I still sin. But thank God, I am saved by grace. My guilt is gone, covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.

“It is finished” – but it is NOT over. Christ is continuing his work in me, transforming me more into His image. And one day I will be sinless, whole, complete in every way. I look forward to that day. How about you?

Phil. 1:6″… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

How does God’s promise to complete his work in us encourage you?

“I Stand Amazed in the Presence”

The church was dim, with strings of white lights draped from the ceiling, chandeliers giving a warm glow. Vocal, guitar and violin music had been rich and sweet.

Bob stepped to the microphone to welcome us. “Dawna would be so pleased. While she is not with us in person she is here in spirit.” This grieving husband shared with us the unconditional love his wife gave him throughout their courtship and marriage. “Of the five love languages, Dawna had two–touch, and touch again.” If they were in an argument, Bob could always refocus the discussion by hugging her. Whether or not the argument was easily resolved, the touch reminded both of their love and commitment to each other.

sleepoverTogether, Dawna and Bob mentored young married couples, coordinated block parties, and participated in Bible studies. Dawna encouraged her children and their friends by filling closets with extra pillows and blankets for regular sleepovers, and bringing quesadillas on her car pool runs.  She volunteered in the classroom and the church nursery, where the babies she held were invariably calm. Dawna encouraged her two children to “choose each other as friends”; and their mutual love and affection were evident throughout the service.

Hannah and Ben both spoke with love, respect and depth of the mother who invested intentionally in their lives. When Ben wanted to try out for sports but was afraid, his mother said “You’re going, son. You’re loved. You can do this.”  These twenty-somethings who just lost their young-ish mother to cancer, spoke with wisdom, heart, and clarity about their faith in Jesus Christ, the One who carried Dawna throughout her life, her battle with cancer, and her death.

The following morning tears filled my eyes as we sang the words of this rich old hymn.

In His Presence -- Awe

In His Presence — Awe

I stand amazed in the presence
of Jesus the Nazarene,
and wonder how he could love me,
a sinner, condemned, unclean.

He took my sins and my sorrows,
he made them his very own;
he bore the burden to Calvary,
and suffered and died alone.

When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
’twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.

Refrain:

How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful
is my Savior’s love for me!

Dawna chose to live her life to the full–welcoming others into her life, family and home; giving “great hugs”; loving God and others. She lived well; she died well; and her legacy of faith and love will continue. I thought of Dawna’s transition into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the hope of all who put their trust in Him. We will one day join Dawna, and Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, for all eternity. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I walked out of Dawna’s memorial lifted up with hope: the hope that Jesus brings because the end is only the beginning

What is the most uplifting memorial service you’ve attended? What made it hopeful?

Grief and Guilt … and Forgiveness

 

God's grace

God’s grace

I was in a dilemma. My husband was still in the hospital, five months after a dual organ transplant. He was very, very sick. But several friends God had surrounded us with in Florida, 3000 miles from home, had made a special Thanksgiving dinner. They invited me and another transplant wife to join them. I wanted to cancel and stay with Jerry. But I feared that if I backed out, the other woman would as well, since she didn’t know these sweet friends who were reaching out to both of us.

Jerry was not happy that I left his side. He may have sensed he would not live long; and in fact he died three days later. Torn that Thanksgiving night, I left, then returned to the hospital as soon as I thought polite. Walking into Jerry’s room, I greeted him with a smile and a warm kiss. I walked around his bed, and what I saw made my heart shatter. A pile of clotted blood, about five inches high, sat beside my husband’s open, but packed, abdominal wound. I looked up quickly. “WHAT IS THIS?”

“Shhh,” responded the nurse as she called for help. Within minutes several doctors were in the room. Tension, and my fear, ran high. I stayed until Jerry was stabilized and could sleep, then left the hospital for my own bed about 2 am.

Would anything have been different if I had stayed with Jerry that evening? I’ll never know. He had multiple episodes of internal bleeding. But I had to deal with the question and its resulting guilt.

As Rene said two weeks ago, Christmas is a magnifier of our emotions. When life is great, Christmas is fun, uplifting, warm. When there are tensions in our homes, we suffer loss, loneliness or guilt over real or perceived mistakes, Christmas increases those feelings exponentially.

Are you grieving the loss of someone dear to you? a decision you made that you aren’t certain was best? After Jerry’s death there were things for which I felt I needed to ask God’s forgiveness, and other things for which I had to forgive myself. I made the decisions I did with the information I had, and with wise counsel–could I have done better?  Guilt–real and imagined–nagged at me.Jesus forgave me; forgive self

My brother Melvyn, a doctor, encouraged me not to go to the “what ifs”. “They change nothing and will only keep you in a hole.” That helped, but I also needed to receive God’s forgiveness, let go, and move forward.

If you’re dealing with guilt, real or false, find a trusted friend to pray with. Ask God for forgiveness and help to forgive yourself, and accept that He knows the past, the present, and the future. Ask Him to bring beauty from your ashes in the New Year.