One of the seven phrases Christ said on the cross was, “Father, forgive them” Luke 23:43. To me, these words are as fresh today as when He first spoke them. I believe in this phenomenon because of what Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
That means to me that when he said, “Father, forgive them,” they weren’t meant just for the high priests, the local government, the soldiers or the scoffers that day. No, these words, “Father, forgive them” transcends time and is also an appeal for you and me. “Father, forgive —all of them.” Especially me.
I am thankful that Jesus has interceded for me so many, many times in my life. Times when I wasn’t even aware I was doing something wrong—back as an unrefined child. For the mean things I said on the playground, to a sibling, or to a classmate.
Moreover, I am grateful for Jesus’s very personal plea, “Father forgive (Tanja).” He asked God to be open to me when I’d finally wake up after willfully sinning—as a rebellious teenager, or worse, as an inconsistent, lukewarm, so-called Christian. I may have known the rules, yet I flaunted them.
Still, Jesus spoke on my behalf. I didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness, but reflecting these times in my past, I am overwhelmed with the advocacy, undeserved love, and forgiveness.
Since I’ve experienced this blessed forgiveness, when I hear, “Father, forgive them,” I also feel I need to be more of what Jesus modeled. That is, to try to be more forgiving to those who have hurt me, betrayed me, and caused me pain. I have made some good strides, but I am not 100% there yet. I wonder if I’ll ever be?
For the time being, I can only try to follow Jesus: Marvel at His strength and love for us on the cross, and be guided and healed by what He says and does today.
Living Out Loud and shamelessly playing my air guitar to Foreigner’s Juke Box Hero karaoke after Sean’s cousin Jeanne’s cruise wedding. We were all a bit pie-eyed “performing” in front of a bewildered if not disgusted audience. Good thing they didn’t have rotten tomatoes!
Happy New Year! I removed the word “Healing” from my homepage tagline “Living and Healing with Passion and Faith” to “Living Out Loud with Passion and Faith.”
Why? Because after four years of blogging and therapy and getting deeper into my faith, I felt it was time. I feel more whole. When I first started blogging four years ago, I was in the throes of therapy working out forty-something years of hurt, anger, righteousness, and conflict. Some of the junk was due to the cards dealt to me; some of it was self-inflicted. Many of my posts talk about facing stuff, shedding old skin and growing some new.
I’ve been able to forgive myself and forgive others. I’ve learned the blessings of extending grace instead of waiting for the other person to bend first. I’ve become a bit more discerning before jumping in. It is OK and sometimes crucial to say “no.” I remind myself to consider the big picture, to be still and know that God is God. More than a few times, I’ve given a tricky person or difficult situation over to the Divine to duke out, instead of me.
I’ve also gained peace by disengaging when it just wasn’t worth the effort or damages to hammer my point home.
So, here’s to a new year of living up to my new tagline “Living Out Loud with Passion and Faith!” I expect to laugh more, cry more, praise more, forgive more, and play more air guitar!
Is it time for you to have a new tagline in 2016? What would it say?
I just had to share this with you! Heard highlights of this on the radio (K-love.com) on the way to work. There’s actual medical evidence that we are made sick by holding grudges and refusing to forgive! It is so important to let it go when we are wronged for the sake of our own mental, spiritual and physical health! It’s not easy, but I have personally experienced the benefits made possible by giving it over and over and over again to God. How about you?
Today, (June 10th) I humbly and gratefully observe the three year anniversary of our horrific motorcycle accident where my husband Sean broke his neck in five places. I firmly believe God sent immediate help and spared us from long-term injury, paralysis and even death! Here are two previous posts explaining what happened and why I say Thank You, God! God sent helpMan’s Craving for a Beer Saved My Husband’s Life
Click here to hear Sean’s theme song by Chumbawamba
Another “Godincidence” (a.k.a. something unexplainable that seems to be divinely directed, not mere coincidence) happened recently. Both of our children— Erin, 24 and Chris, 21 had come home for Easter weekend. As we were finishing breakfast, I was talking up the praise band that we’d be seeing at the service that morning. Chris, rather out of the blue said, “If I hear God of Wonders today, then I will believe there is a God.”
I sipped my coffee and shot up a quick and silent prayer, “Please let him hear that song today.” Chris and I have a little history with the song God of Wonders by Marc Byrd and Steve Hindalong. It seems that whenever he and I would have a discussion about the existence of God, faith, or organized religion, Chris would spoof-sing in a hippy sort of way some of the lyrics, “God of Wonders beyond our Galaxy, You are holy, holy.” He had heard this now-19-year-old song during his childhood when he and Erin attended a vacation bible school at an evangelical church in our area.
Though, or maybe it’s because he had received the same rudimentary Sunday school education I did—learning the basic tenets of the Christian faith and how to find the old and new testaments of a Bible–his current take on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit was colored with age-appropriate, healthy skepticism.
“It’s nice that you and Dad are into it, but I just don’t know about it for me.”
We headed to Easter service in separate vehicles. Chris rode in Sean’s car and Erin rode with me. While driving, I had 106.9 FM, K-LOVE on my radio. Granted it is a Christian radio station, but in my experience listening to it for almost a year, I’ve only ever heard them play current Christian artists and new songs. All of a sudden, God of Wonders started playing. “Erin!” I screamed, “The song! The song! Call your brother right now! Tell him to turn on 106.9 on Dad’s radio!”
Erin looked stunned as she dialed Chris on her cell. “Mom, don’t cry, you’re gonna make me cry!” Then to her brother, “Mom says to turn on 106.9 right now!”
Chris was on speaker, “I bet I know what’s going to be playing,” he said.
“I can’t believe it, Chris! I’ve never heard this song is played on this station! You asked for it, Bud!”
Just for fun this weekend, I searched my name in meme using Google Image and my oddly spelled T-A-N-J-A. I thought “Tanja with a “J” would never come up. Lo, I found this among other “Tanja” memes, a good number in German. At first glance I thought this rather duded-out rendition of Jesus could be a bit irreverent, but I have come to know that divine messages are delivered in all shapes and forms.
My husband who is far hipper on-line than me is well-versed in memes and explained that this is the “Buddy Jesus” meme. I realize that someone generated this meme for another “Tanja” somewhere out there, but since we share the same spelling, I hope she won’t mind if I claim this meme as a personalized message for me today. It rather reflects on my current faith journey status: I am seeing Jesus not only my Savior, but as “my bud” who gets my back as a Heavenly bro. God uses the world wide web as well as burning bushes to get our attention. Can a I get a witness?
Raw emotions had inconveniently bubbled to the surface in early December threatening to ruin this holiday season. In spite of lots of hard work to try to heal after I left my church of 46 years in April, I just couldn’t keep a lid on it.
I was stunned at the intensity of this sadness and anger that demanded to be dealt with. I so badly wanted “drive thru” healing, to be completely done with negative feelings by now.
In reality, I had not dealt with feelings of huge disappointment in the way things went down at my former church. It wasn’t so much about the leaders of the church, it was more about family who still attended there, who in my estimation, didn’t “get my back” for one reason or another. I was also mourning the fact that I would not be attending Christmas Eve service there this year. In spite of it all, that church did offer a beautiful Christmas eve service that meant so much to me and my family.
It all just came to a head in early December. Facing the holidays, how was I supposed to just paint a smile on and conduct “Christmas-extended-family-business as usual”?
I confessed to my new pastor and to my former therapist (she called me “out of the blue” in early December to check in), that I was struggling this particular holiday season. They understood my unresolved, raw emotions, and gave me permission to be a little ripped, and to give myself some more time. It had only been 8 months.
What I had read and been counseled struck chords deep in my soul. I began applying Cloud’s suggestions to make changes that heal by navigating with Truth and Grace and allowing for Time to pass. In the meantime, I needed to stop blaming others, take responsibility for my actions, create new paths and draw healthier boundaries. I was honest about the way I felt with the people I love. It was a little messy at first, but enveloped in God’s mercy and grace, I was able to see them in a new and healthier light. I felt myself grow up. Things still aren’t perfect, but at least they are honest.
I want to share some of the highlights which turned out to be wonderful and merciful gifts I’ve received this Christmas season:
Getting a handle on bitterness. As I continue to harbor bitterness towards someone it will only stunt and make me ill. I will be estranged and/or only fake being “nice” and “loving” to that person, but the ugliness will eek out or spring forth eventually if I don’t deal with it truthfully. I have learned that sometimes the only way to start dealing truthfully is to confess to God, “I really suck at being loving and forgiving towards ________right now. I just don’t feel it.” God knows our hearts anyway, so we don’t have to fake “being good” when we’re just not there. When we admit we are weak that is when God makes us stronger, shows us the way.
Expectations. I need to stop expecting others to behave or “be” a certain way for me to accept them. I have been guilty of expecting more out of others (and myself). This doesn’t mean I have to be a “doormat,” accepting unacceptable behaviors. It means setting respectful boundaries. I can hope for “the ideal relationship” by modeling how I want my relationships to be.
Forgiveness. I recognize my need to forgive (and be forgiven) to eradicate the bitterness I have towards others. Sometimes forgiveness seems a tall or impossible order. In such cases, I need to give that person or relationship over to God. Let it be “between them and God.” That way, I can be “unstuck” to grow and be who I am supposed to be! Happy and blessed New Year!