Set It Free.

Forgiveness

I thought I knew what forgiveness was. It’s when someone says they’re sorry and you accept their apology, letting go of the offense they made towards you. Isn’t it?

Well, yes. But forgiving someone and letting go of what they did to you doesn’t always take away the pain and the hurt that they caused you, no matter how unintentional it might have been. And usually, people don’t intend to hurt us, but they do and it’s in those time when it hurts the most.

Today during church, the pastor said that he felt someone needed prayer for forgiveness. Instantly, my mind went to one person. It was the same person that just this morning I had written about in my journal…

“So many times I just want to text and tell him how much I miss him and how much I hate him for everything he did and to thank him for all the lessons I learned and tell him I’m happy for him and ask him what wasn’t good enough about me and just cry so that he can see and feel and deal with everything he just dropped when he stopped giving a damn about me. But I never will. I will never again let him know that he had such a strong impact on who I am today. Because he won’t care enough and I’ll care too much. And that’s not worth it anymore.”

I didn’t go up for prayer.

I continued sitting with my legs crossed in the very back row of the church like I normally do. I figured he wasn’t talking to someone else. I had forgiven A quite some time ago for all the things that he had done to me. It wasn’t until I was in Europe that I realized I was truly over it all. I let it go. That meant I forgave him, right? I said I forgave him. Then that day that I was back home and I broke down in tears because I didn’t feel like enough, the day that God met me right there on the driveway as I cried out to Him. Surely I had let all of A’s offenses go for good that day. Hadn’t I?

When he walked away, I was devastated. After everything we had been through. Even after it all, I had stood beside him, and then he left. Just like that, with no explanation. No phone call, no apology, nothing. I let him go, knowing that I needed to, but that didn’t make it any easier.

A part of me was still hanging on. Why? I don’t know, and I may never know.

But I do know that when the pastor continued waiting as one then two and three then four others walked up for prayer, that he was waiting for me. I kept sitting, shifting ever-so-slightly in my seat from the discomfort of the heaviness I was feeling in my chest. With each second, it burned even more.

Before I knew it, I was moving towards the front. I heard a whisper, “there she is” from someone in the pews as I walked. I stood at the front of the church fighting tears as I twisted my rings around my finger, as I often do when I’m thinking over something I’m not sure of.

“What if it wasn’t me he was talking about?”

Usually when someone else goes up for a prayer call, I sigh a breath of relief that it wasn’t me who the Lord was calling out. But not this time. This time, I knew the moment pastor spoke that it was me he was talking to.

He confirmed that when he anointed my head with oil and breathed the words “thank you for your obedience” onto my forehead.

He clasped both his hands on the back of my neck and I sobbed. His words aren’t something I’ll soon forget, nor will that prayer of forgiveness I repeated. In that moment, I was setting it free. I was once and for all letting go of the hurt and the anger and the resentment that I had towards this person who had damaged me so badly.

For the first time, I was finally forgiving him and meaning it.

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Here I am, send me.

These last few weeks, I’ve been struggling with what to do after graduation. I haven’t taken the GRE, I haven’t applied to graduate schools, and I’m only half sure I have a job lined up.

My time has been completely consumed with classes, my internship, homework, workouts and God. I am growing in God ever-so-slowly, but ever-so-beautifully. In the past, I’ve jumped in to my relationship with Him after youth camp, weekend seminars or just spiritually-intense worship session. And as I returned back to every day life from those incredible experiences, I lost my passion and the fire that I so immensely felt just a week before.

I am not a prime example of a Christian. I have drank, smoked and lived a very worldly life these past few years, but I have always kept my relationship with the Lord. Sadly, I left it sitting on the back burning, just barely warm. I don’t know when I felt him tugging so hard at my heart again, but suddenly, I could no longer deny that he was. No task, amount of alcohol and fun, or relationship with another person could keep away the fact that the Lord was calling out my name.

I wish I could tell you that it was loud and clear, but it wasn’t. It was a gentle tug, and a soft whisper.

 

I used to have a heart for the Lord and for missions. My senior year of high school, I wanted nothing more than to do a year-long program through my church to grow spiritually while reaching out to those in need. However, many voices told me that was a silly idea and that school should come first. So it did. I packed my bags and moved three hours from home, only to return a year and a half later with still no idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I’m three months shy of graduation and I still don’t have a plan. I’ve been flip-flopping back and forth from just working and saving up for graduate school in London, to working part-time and getting my Master’s at Lindenwood. However, neither one of those options is thrilling me.

One of my prayers has been for the Lord’s guidance. I know that His plans for my post-grad life are far, far greater than mine. Missions has been on my heart lately. I kept seeking the Lord about my heart for missions when I was younger and how I fell away from that desire to serve. I have lived a very selfish life these last few years. I have put myself before others, going so far as to distance myself from the friends and family who love me the most. I have become so involved in the material things of this world that when I don’t have them, I act in a way that I am not proud of. I have gotten so wrapped up in the social aspect of my life and career that I have trouble interacting with people sometimes. I was mean and cold-hearted and bitter over so many things.

But I’ve released all of that. Or at least I’m working on it. It isn’t a quick and easy process, it’s slow and it’s steady and it’s a lot of hard work and pain and tears. But, my, oh my, is it ever worth it.

This morning, I woke up in a pretty good mood. I got ready, then sat down with my breakfast and devotions. I’ve been working my way through the book of Psalms, five verses at a time. And I’ve just restarted “One Minute of Praise” by Darlene McCarty (a short devotional my mom had bought for me years ago that I never made it through). After that, I ran to Starbucks to get a latte so that I could make it through my morning classes and test. As I was sitting in class, deciding that my coffee was not tasting good, I suddenly had this…I don’t know what it was. It may have been a feeling or a thought or even a still small voice I’ve not yet learned to recognize, but suddenly, I found myself googling “missions trips for college students” on my handy dandy iPhone4.

The results led me to Experiencing Missions, a program I had never heard of but quickly became very interested in.

All throughout summer and these last few weeks, I’ve been freaking out about graduation and graduate schools and where I was going to live, and in these past few hours, I have suddenly realized that the reason that no program was settling well with me was because that might not be where I’m meant to be. I honestly feel like God is calling me to do a missions trip. I’m absolutely terrified. I am so accustomed to this ever-changing, fast paced world of technology and communications (I’ve been studying it for three and a half years, so it’s hard to not completely immerse yourself in it…even my friends worry about my social media habits). But my fear is so great that I won’t be able to spend time in a third-world developing country without my phone and friends.

I was so overwhelmed when I thought about going into the missions field for SIX MONTHS, both with excitement and fear. I saw a three month program and then thought that maybe the two-week trip would be better for me. But as I browse the website more and more today, I realize that I can do the longer trips. I know that with God, I can do something so incredible and worthwhile.

Right now, I’m praying hard-core about it. And if you’re a prayer warrior, too, I ask that you keep me in your prayers. I first and foremost am waiting for God’s guidance on this. I want to be absolutely sure that this is from Him, and not from my own desire to travel. Second, I will need financial support in funding this trip. I am unsure of where begin with that, but know that if this is truly from the Lord, then He will provide. Last, I will need to break the news to my mother, which may be the hardest part.

But I’m trusting in my Savior to lead me right to where I am supposed to be.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send me.” – Isaiah 6:8