Saturday, December 26, 2009

Forgiveness part 2

Forgiveness is a hard thing to write about.  I have no degree and I'm no theologian.  But I need forgiveness, I've received forgiveness, and I've given forgiveness.  So I know a little bit about it. 

It involves so many emotions and decisions that we may not want to deal with.  Forgiveness means recognizing that we have been wronged, yet letting go of the anger so that we no longer feel bitterness toward the person/people who wronged us.  It means that we can no longer complain about it, and frankly, we often get comfort from our pity parties, so forgiving means that we no longer wallow in the junk that feeds our anger.

So instead of giving a whole systematic thesis on anger and forgiveness, I'm going to keep this personal.

For it to make sense to you why I feel the way I do, I'm going to have to tell you some other things about me that you may or may not have picked up if you've read much of this blog.  Stay with me, here...I promise this is going to make sense!

I am a Christian and I believe that the Bible is God's Word, that is, it is what God Himself has said to us.    The one true God who is portrayed in Genesis through Revelation is perfect and holy and completely sovereign over His creation.  And all of us, from our first parents, Adam and Eve, to the tiniest embryos are sinners by nature and choice.  We all rebel against God, whether we do it consciously or not.  We hate God, and everything He is.  We curse Him with every breath we take. 

When we do a job, we are paid for our labor.  The same principle is true regarding sin; when we sin, we earn our punishment.  We don't all sin the same.  Hitler is the poster boy for the horrendous sinner.  We are not all Hitlers.  We aren't as bad as we could be, but we are bad enough to deserve hell. 

So when God changes our natures, He picks us up out of the sin and death that we love, and He takes out our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh.  A heart that beats FOR Him now instead of against Him.  He forgives us for our offenses against Him.  He is under no obligation to forgive us and He owes us nothing but punishment.  It is only because of His mercy that He gives us the gift of life.  Jesus lived a perfect life and died on the cross as a propitiation for our sin - He satisfied the Father's wrath on our behalf.  He took the curse of sin on Himself so that we didn't have to bear the punishment.  And what's more, not only did He take away the punishment for those who believe, but He gave us Himself as our reward.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and to purify us from all unrighteousness.

In the book of Matthew (18.21-35), one of Jesus's followers, Peter, comes to Him and asks this question, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?"  Here is how Matthew puts it:

Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.  When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.  So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.'  And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 

But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.'  So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.'  He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 

When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.  Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' 

And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.  So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

I am the first servant - I had a huge debt of sin hanging over my head.  The Lord forgave me and took away that huge burden.  If I refuse to forgive my parents, it tells the world that I haven't been forgiven of anything myself.  How can I be forgiven for my sin against God, yet refuse to forgive something against me?   I forgive because I've been forgiven, and not just my parents, but the doctor who set this whole thing up. 

Honestly, Dr. Aiman is the one with whom forgiveness isn't coming as easily.  And the problem isn't that he started the problem, but that he refuses to return my phone calls.  There is nothing like forgiving someone who refuses to acknowledge they've done anything wrong!

And therein lies the rub when you look at the big picture.  There are so many of us who refuse to acknowlege that we ourselves have sinned.  We are told to repent, to turn away from our sin, yet we continue in it as if our disobedience isn't a reality.  That's what makes forgiveness from God so incredible - He gives us the ability to repent and ask forgiveness, even when we don't deserve it.  The apostle Paul puts it this way - we all lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind, and were by nature children of wrath, but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he love us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive with Christ - it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, though even this faith is not our own doing, but it is the gift of God so that no one can boast.

Because I love my mom and dad, and I know that they love me, and because I had such a good childhood, and mostly because I've been forgiven myself, it's been easy to forgive them.  I have no bitterness toward them.  And because I know that God is working all things for the good of those who love Him, I cannot be angry at Him for doing this.  I know Him well enough to know that there is a purpose to this, and I just need to sit back and see what happens.

All that said, there is a place for righteous anger in this.  I'll talk about that in my next post. 

And I hope to have an update on my search to report very soon!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


It's been quite a while since I've posted here...but not because I didn't want to.  December is always a busy month for us, though I'm not sure why.  I guess all the extra shopping and planning.  All of the children have been/are sick and for the first time since I was a teenager, I've got strep throat.  I've been doing as little as possible for the last two days, and I could use two more days in bed or on the couch, but that isn't going to happen!

So I've been thinking about anger and forgiveness lately.  I really want to blog about it, but I'm not sure where to start.  I think it's safe to say that many of us don't forgive very easily, whether it's the car that cuts you off while driving or the whole donor conceived situation.  And it doesn't matter how big or small the situation is - anger can really mess us up mentally, emotionally, and even physically.  As the mother of five, I'm well acquainted with the small things that cause anger.  I have to forgive on a daily basis, and I'm usually asking for forgiveness on a regular basis as well. 

I assume that most of you who are reading this blog are connected in some way with artificial insemination.  (I'm dealing specifically with the negative side of AI - but I'm not unaware that many of us have non-biological fathers who adore their children as much as any biological father could.)  For many adult children who were conceived this way, there is a lot of anger regarding this route to pregnancy, and in my mind, there are clear reasons why there is so much anger.  A biological parent has sold away the gametes that make up half of a new life.  There are the parents who didn't tell the child how they were conceived and so kept vital information from them.  And then there is the medical community, who has banded together to keep said vital information forever locked away, or worse, destroyed.  The brick walls are erected before the child is even conceived.

I felt like I was thrown into a nightmare that I couldn't wake up from.  It was like one of those huge garden mazes where you can't see over the walls and every turn you take is a dead end.  And there is no handy map to show you how to get out.  Anger is a pretty natural response in a situation like that.  Not everyone will respond in anger, but I think it's legitimate.

Even with a legitimate anger, is there a place for forgiveness?  Is there a need for it?  I believe that the answer to both questions is yes. 

In the next post, I will try to articulate some of the things that I've been thinking about regarding forgiveness.