The Struggle to Forgive

When I got divorced. I felt rejected and unlovable and my future didn’t feel very bright. Honestly, feeling so unlovable and depressed made it hard not to feel somewhat bitter and resentful about my circumstances. I was angry with my ex and angry with God. I would listen to people talk about forgiveness and I would cry. And not just a few tears. I would really cry for a long time, wishing I could let go of the ongoing story in my mind about how my ex hurt me and feel truly free.

I don’t think about it as much anymore. The main reason I kept bringing it up in my mind over and over again is because I BELIEVED the negative things my ex said about me. Going over the painful story of what happened in my mind was my way of trying to disprove what my ex said about me. I wanted to believe I was a person who was lovable and valuable and normal but kept thinking – what if the things he said are true? What if I really am abnormal? Would everyone reject me?

The thing is as much as the comments hurt, they don’t have to define who I am. I can choose to remember what the Lord says about me instead of believing the crap other humans say. Christ thought I was valuable enough to suffer and die for. He feels the same way about you.  (To learn more about what the Bible says about how God sees you, read Our True Identity)


Seeing a Glimmer of Hope

Another reason I had so much trouble letting go of the past was the hopelessness I felt. Like life was dark and I’d never feel happiness again.

One day at church, I heard a pastor talk about the story of Joseph in the Bible (Genesis 37-50). Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and then thrown in prison because his slavemaster’s wife falsely accused him of rape. He was in prison for years. He had every reason to be resentful of his circumstances! But he wasn’t. After many years, he was released and became governor of all of Egypt. A famine came and Joseph’s intervention saved thousands of lives. Including the lives of his brothers who sold him into slavery in the first place. Instead of retaliating against his brothers, Joseph talked kindly with them and gave them the food they needed. He told them “What you meant to harm me, God meant for good to save the lives of many people.”  

THAT is the key. It is horrible the way people hurt each other in this fallen world. But, that is NOT the ending. Whatever others do to harm us, there will come a day when something good will be brought out of it. No matter how dark it feels right now, you won’t feel hopeless forever.

If you are struggling to forgive someone, please don’t give up. It’s hard, I know. It can feel like you want to let go and just can’t. It’s common to feel that way. It can take time for your feelings to line up with your actions and your will. Keep praying for those who hurt you, keep trying to let it go, keep reminding yourself of your value, keep holding onto hope. Eventually, your feelings will change for the better, but it will take persistent effort. You’ve been hurt enough already, please don’t hurt yourself even more by going over what happened again and again in your mind like I did.

Knowing that Christ suffered to forgive and heal me can also encourage me to keep going in the struggle to forgive. To read more about that, please click here.

Receiving a Harvest of Blessings

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. – Galations 6:9

Do you ever get discouraged trying to do the right thing? I was struck reading the first chapter of Luke the other day. Elizabeth and Zechariah were both very focused on living a good life. Verse 1:6 says they were “righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all the commandments”

What amazes me is that they had been through a huge disappointment. They had been unable to have children for many years. In those days, being childless was seen as a huge shame, sort of a curse from God for bad living. I can imagine their heartache. Hoping and praying for a child month after month, year after year. Living the best life they can, serving God with all their heart. They certainly deserved to be blessed with a child. And yet, they grow very old and God still hasn’t answered their prayers. That’s enough to discourage anyone, maybe even enough to make us want to totally give up on God. Here’s the part that amazes me – neither one of them gives up on life or on God. They keep going, serving God and listening to His commandments day after day for many years.

Then one day, an angel comes to Zechariah and says

“Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord.” (Luke 1:13-15). 

God saw that they were really something when no one else did

John is born. Elizabeth and Zechariah are rewarded for many years of patiently serving God despite their hardships and shame. Honestly, I’m not as patient as they are. I get frustrated when things don’t make sense and it feels like God isn’t answering desperate prayers. In the end of this story, God made it clear that He did hear Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayers. (Luke 1:13). He brought them great joy and gave them the honor of raising John the Baptist, the man who would lead many to God and prepare the way for the Messiah’s coming.  The people around them may have looked at them as disgraced and cursed by God for many years. They waited so long – not because they were cursed but because God saw them as extremely valuable. He waited to give them a miracle and to give them the responsibility of parenting a child who would be a prophet and one of the greatest men who ever lived.

Keep going when it feels like the good you do isn’t being rewarded yet. Keep going when it feels like your prayers bounce off the ceiling. Keep going when people mock you and when you’re ashamed. Those people don’t really know you. But God does. You’re great in His eyes and it may be that you’re waiting so long because God has something really incredible planned for you.

Beating the Blues

I wanted to share an exercise that can be helpful for easing blue moods. I got this from a sermon at my church. Don’t worry though, I’m not going to write a novel with this post or beat you over the head with the gospel. (However, if you would like to be beaten upside the head with the gospel, please let me know, I’d be happy to help you out with that). Anyway, since this is the cliff notes version of the exercise, click this link if you want the full version.  I literally go through this exercise with a pen and paper, focusing on  the following four things:

1) Focus on God’s Promise

Many Bibles have a topical index that can be helpful in finding verses that speak to your specific situation. If you don’t have a Bible, http://www.biblegateway.com is a great free way to read the Bible online and it contains a keyword search. Spend some time thinking on that verse and focusing on that promise rather than on the circumstances or on your feelings.

2) Focus on God’s Presence

Even when you dont feel His presence, He is there. It doesnt change the reality of His Word. Focus on the fact that God is with you. I find it helpful to imagine him holding my hand and putting his arm around me. There’s scriptures that vividly describe God’s presence with us.

For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your God. And I say to you,  ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. -Isaiah 41:13

The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.
– Deuteronomy 33:27a

But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. – 2 Timothy 4:17

3) Focus on God’s Purpose

I say, How can I accomplish Gods purpose in this adversity I find myself in? Here in this dark period, this winter period of my life, how can Gods purposes still be accomplished in me? What is He trying to teach me? What is He trying to show me? What can I learn? How can I grow? How can I use what Ive learned for Him in this winter period of my life? Asking these questions sounded like a lot of work to me at first. But, I get tired of the alternative (worrying, wallowing).

4) Focus on God’s Power

Remember, you won’t always be suffering through this situation. We’re promised that the problems we’re going through now are nothing compared to the joy awaiting us in Heaven (2 Corinthians 4:17Romans 8). There will come a day when we’re glad we grew and served God, because that brings rewards that last. (James 1:2-4Luke 6:38). The Lord promises to rescue us and bring us safely home to Him. His power will ultimately triumph over this situation.

Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
-2 Timothy 4:18

I hope that going through this exercise makes a difference in how you feel and that it gives you a fresh perspective. I wish you many blessings.

*Note: if you suffer from clinical depression, please don’t feel bad if you need to take a pill or go to counseling. 

I found some comfort and hope when Christ found me. To learn more about beginning a relationship with God and going to Heaven, please visit The Path to Heaven.

Not Yet Home

This world is not our home. I am grateful for that. There will come a  day when we don’t have to deal with illness, car problems, work stress, layoffs or irritating people. Our real home is in heavenn. Knowing this can dramatically change our perspective.

Sure, I get discouraged by troubles. But, keeping in mind that earthly problems are only temporary brings me fresh hope. An it gets me thinking about what I should do wihile I’m here on earth.

Two things strike me as important – my relationship with God and doing good to others.

The really cool thing is that other people aren’t the only ones who benefit when we do good things. Scripture promises that we ourselves will be rewarded for every good thing we do.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  – Luke 6:38

And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”
– Matthew 10:42

Rich rewards are also promised for those who seek God.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
– Hebrews 11:6

I found God when I heard about what Christ had went through for us at the cross. To read more about that visit Path to Heaven

To be honest, I frequently struggle with earthly problems distracting me. Writing this article has reminded me that I need to focus on what is truly important. I hope this inspires you o refocus on the things in your life that truly matter.

Many blessings.

Purity

As a divorced woman, sexual purity wasn’t exactly the best news. Who does want to think about not getting any for a loooooooong time – if they do dare to remarry?

I’ve heard many who have struggled with this issue. A lot of people almost feel like they HAVE to sleep with their significant other in this day and age. Or else that person might leave them for someone less old fashioned.

I can empathize. When I was dating my ex-husband, I had made up my mind to wait for marriage. But I was tempted and I was afraid of losing him. So I compromised. I thought like Bill Clinton. I figured as long as we didn’t go all the way, we could fool around and it would be okay.

We eventually got married. Then all the marriage troubles started. Being with someone who didn’t share the same beliefs wasn’t working out for either of us. I ended up losing him to divorce. The headaches and heartache were incredible.

I truly believe now that even fooling around before marriage is so not worth it. I now look at waiting as a test of someone’s love and commitment for me. If I was going to make a commitment to someone for the rest of my life, I would definitely want that person to believe I’m valuable enough to wait for.

And in God’s eyes, I am so incredibly valuable, there’s no question I’m worth the wait. And you are too. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

I know the whole purity thing is never easy and relationships and marriage aren’t exactly a walk in the park either. I find comfort knowing Jesus walked through temptation and suffering (Luke 4:1-13, Isaiah 53). He does understand. He is more than willing to help when we’re hurting (Hebrews 4:15-16) When I’m discouraged, I also try to remember the hope God has planned for me. There are many promises in scripture that remind us what we’re suffering now is nothing compared to the blessings God has in store for us. (Romans 8;18, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Jeremiah 29:11, Zechariah 9:12, Psalm 16:11, 1 Corinthians 2:9, John 10:9-10).

I hope you have a blessed day.If you want to know more about your value to God, check out Path to Heaven and Our True Identity.

God’s Attributes

My image of God, honestly, kind of sucks. Sometimes, I get hurt and discouraged by the problems of life and it’s easy to start to feel like God is either mad at me or picking on me.

I started reading through scripture and the image of God I found was drastically different:

He is gentle

“A bruised reed he will not break, a dimly burning wick, He will not quench.
-Isaiah 42:3”

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
-Matthew 11:28-30

He cares about you

“Cast all your anxieties and worries on God for he cares for you.”
– 1 Peter 5:7

Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
-Isaiah 49:15-16

I have cared for you from the time you were born. I am your God and will take care of you until you are old and your hair is gray. I made you and will care for you; I will give you help and rescue you.
-Isaiah 46:3b-4

He is a teacher and a guide

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.
-Psalm 32:8

Lean not on your own understanding but acknowledge Him in all your ways and He shall make your paths straight.
-Proverbs 3:6

This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lordyour God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.
-Isaiah 48:17

He gives rest

My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.
-Exodus 33:14

The Lord shall give you rest from your sorrow.
-Isaiah 14:3a

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He restores my soul.
-Psalm 23:2

He listens

Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!
– Psalm 116:2

He understands what we’re going through

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

He (Christ) was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
– Isaiah 53:3a

He wants to heal us

But he (Christ) was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
– Isaiah 53:5

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.
-Psalm 147:3

He wants to bring us hope

I have come so you may have life and have it to the full.
-John 10:10

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
-Jeremiah 29:11

He has even more hope for us in heaven

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have troubles. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
-John 16:33

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
-2 Corinthians 4:17

He likes to reward people

Without faith it is impossible to please Him. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him.
-Hebrews 11:6

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
-Romans 8:31-32

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
-Luke 6:38

He gives us the commandments because He cares.
He doesn’t want us to have unnecessary troubles of our own making.

Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.
-Isaiah 48:18

“But no, my people wouldn’t listen. Israel did not want me around. So I let them follow their own stubborn desires, living according to their own ideas. Oh, dear people, will you listen to me now? Israel, will you follow my ways? I’ll make short work of your enemies, give your foes the back of my hand. I’ll send the God-haters cringing like dogs, never to be heard from again. But, you will feast on my fresh-baked bread spread with butter and rock-pure honey.”
-Psalm 81:11-16

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD.
-Psalm 119:1

Encouraging Bible Verses

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
-Romans 8:18

Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us.
-Romans 8:37

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Romans 8:38-39

I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.
– Philippians 4:13

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
-Romans 8:28

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
-Ephesians 3:20

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.
-Mark 10:27

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord.Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
-Psalm 27:13-14

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
-Isaiah 41:10

Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
-Isaiah 43:1-3

But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
-Isaiah 43:18-19

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
-Jeremiah 29:11

With God’s help, I will do mighty things, for He will trample down my foes.
– Psalm 108:13

What shall I say about such wonderful things as these? If God sis for me, who can ever be against me?
-Romans 8:31

For the Lord my God is living among us. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in us with gladness. With His love, He will calm all our fears. He will rejoice over us with joyful songs.
-Zephaniah 3:17

And may you have the power to understand as all God’s people should. how wide, how long, how high and how deep His love is.
-Ephesians 3:12

Pay no attention to insults, and when mocked don’t let it get you down. Those insults and mockeries are moth-eaten, from brains that are termite-ridden, But my setting-things-right lasts, my salvation goes on and on and on.
-Isaiah 51:7b-8

As He (Christ) saw the crowds, His heart was filled with compassion for them, because they were worried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
-Matthew 10:36

Loyalty makes a person attractive.
-Proverbs 19:22a

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
-Isaiah 40:28b-31

You are So Beautiful in God’s Eyes

In 2004, Dove released a study regarding women’s opinions on beauty. In this study only TWO percent of women described themselves as beautiful. Two percent. If you feel unattractive, you are not alone. I also struggle with feelings of unattractiveness.

God, however, sees us drastically different from the way we see ourselves:
– He chose us to be holy and without fault in His eyes (Ephesians 1:4)
– In Him, we will blossom like the lily (Hosea 14:5)
– The Lord will rescue His people. We will sparkle in His land, like jewels in a crown (Zechariah 9:16)
– We are God’s masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10)
– We are amazingly and miraculously made (Psalm 139:14 God’s Word Translation)
– Forget the people of the past. Your royal husband delights in your beauty. Honor Him for He is your Lord. (Psalm 45:11)
– To Him, we are beautiful beyond words (Song of Songs 4:1)
– We have captured His heart as His treasure, His bride (Song of Songs 4:9)
– As His bride and princess, we look glorious (Psalm 45:13-15)
– We are His special possession, that He will never abandon (Psalm 94:14)

Christ understands what it’s like to feel like He doesn’t fit into prescribed, narrow views of beauty:
– There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him. (Isaiah 53:2)

It may sound cleshe but there are internal qualities that influence a person’s attractiveness:
– Loyalty makes a person attractive (Proverbs 19:22)
– Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful face on an empty head. (Proverbs 11:22, The Message)
– Make yourself attractive by the good things you do (1 Timothy 2:10)
– Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
– Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. (Proverbs 31:30)

It also helps me to remember that this body I live in is only temporary. Someday, we will all have amazing new bodies in Heaven:
– When this earthly tent is taken down, we will have an eternal body made for us by God himself. (2 Corinthians 5:1)
– When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. (1 Corinthians 15:36-37)
– Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. (1 Corinthians 15:43)
– Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.(1 Corinthians 13)

I would encourage you to read through the Bible, try to see yourself through God’s eyes. You don’t have to cut yourself down or believe any lies about yourself. You are so much more than what others have said about your and you are much, much more than the narrow mold society tries to squeeze you into.

Do you ever struggle with doubts about whether or not you’re going to Heaven? I have too.
This article does a good job of explaining how to know for sure: http://www.insight.org/library/articles/how-to-know-god/relationship-with-god.html