Forgiveness, Hardships and Trials

Forgive and Forget? by Jennifer Henn

Jenn Henn Quote 1

Forgive and Forget?

By: Jennifer Henn

Maybe you’ve always heard, “Forgive and forget.” But what do you do when it’s impossible to forget? A certain song, smell, or a curse blurted in anger, and, at lightning speed, our mind remembers. Even when the memory laid dormant for several years.

I woke up to sheer panic, my bed shaking. When I opened my eyes, the mirror on the wall wildly swung back and forth. As soon as I caught my breath, I let out a terrified scream. My parents couldn’t come to me—they were rushing to secure the cupboards so all the dishes wouldn’t fall out. The early-morning San Fernando earthquake became a permanent memory in my six-year-old brain.

We moved from California the next year, and it wasn’t until decades later, in Georgia, when I felt the earth tremor once again. My husband was in the bathroom shaving and didn’t even feel it. Newscasters joked about how most people didn’t even know we’d had an earthquake. I knew. Some things you never forget.

Everyone hasn’t gone through a natural disaster, but everyone will experience fear and trauma. Often, people in their life cause their pain. Our emotions are an intricate part of who we are. Some memories, especially traumatic ones, refuse to leave. We may not be able to forget a painful memory, but we can control whether or not we will dwell on it.

Jenn Henn Quote 2

God has never asked me to deny, or “forget,” hard situations of my past. Instead, He calls me to walk in truth and then asks, “Now how are you going to handle it?” and “Am I enough?”

When Christ died a cruel death for our sin, He never denied our offenses against Him. He forgave us because we couldn’t save ourselves. I can’t be like Christ and save anyone, but I can forgive them.When Christ died a cruel death for our sin, He never denied our offenses against Him. He forgave us because we couldn’t save ourselves. I can’t be like Christ and save anyone, but I can forgive them. Click To Tweet

In the Bible, a disciple asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22 NIV).

When I think about someone who wronged me, I’m reminded of a parable Jesus told of a man who owed a king a huge debt he could never repay (Matthew 18:23-35). The man begged the king for mercy, and the king forgave the debt. However, the forgiven man went to another who owed him a small amount of money and insisted on immediate payment.

This second debtor begged for more time to pay, but the forgiven man’s heart was hard, and he refused to give more time to pay the debt.

Word got back to the king. “Hey King, remember that guy’s big debt you forgave? Well, now he wants a man thrown in jail for a much smaller amount of money owed.” (Paraphrased.)

Outraged at the man’s lack of mercy, the king had him brought back to court and thrown into jail.

Chills go down my spine as I recall this story, for I remember my reluctance sometimes to forgive others. While I don’t need to forget what happened, God gives me mercy in abundance, and I should offer the same to others—even those who wronged me horribly.

Therefore, I have to make a conscience choice to forgive. Sometimes, over and over. When situations trigger a memory, the quicker I forgive and move on, the better. Moving on doesn’t mean I forget every wrong endured. If I did, I might stay in an unhealthy relationship or miss out on a lot of good lessons. But I do forgive.

Think about it. If we really were made to forget every wrong done to us, we’d keep going back for more abuses or continue in poor judgement. We wouldn’t be able to walk in truth.

We need to consider other’s deeds with wisdom and truth. If your friend is not responsible with their finances, you don’t lend them money. If your teen is known to take drugs, you don’t lend him or her your car. The circumstances can range from mild to tragic. With truth, understanding, and love, we can honor people and still set appropriate boundaries based on their character.

When I have bitter feelings toward someone, I know I’m resistant to forgiveness. That’s when focusing on the cross helps.When I have bitter feelings toward someone, I know I’m resistant to forgiveness. That’s when focusing on the cross helps. Click To Tweet

Christ forgives me not because I’ve changed or paid Him back for my wrong, but because of His love for me. I need to love others in the same way.

God understands how hard it is to forgive some offenses over and over. That’s okay—just keep your eyes on Jesus, the One who forgives all the sins of the world, and know you are cared for. He sees you and loves you deeply.God understands how hard it is to forgive some offenses over and over. That’s okay—just keep your eyes on Jesus, the One who forgives all the sins of the world, and know you are cared for. He sees you and loves you deeply. Click To Tweet

Meet Jennifer Henn

Jennifer Henn's headshotYears ago, Jennifer asked God, “As the gray hairs come in, make me wise.” Today, her gray hair may be camouflaged, but she has compassion and wisdom to share. She’s mentored women through a variety of leadership roles, small group meetings, and now through Wholly Loved online groups.

Jennifer also serves the homeschool community through conferences and writing. She shares how you can teach your children at home, while enjoying the freedom to explore their individual interests. Her first book, Take the Mystery Out of Homeschooling: A How-To Guide, takes parents incrementally through the basics of homeschooling and offers practical advice so they can make informed decisions.

Jennifer and her husband live in Metro Atlanta where their nest is down to one chick. Besides writing and speaking, she is the secretary for Christian Authors Guild, a member of Word Weavers Intl, and serves on the mission’s assessment team at her local church. Visit Jennifer online at JenniferHenn.com, connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Instagram, and find her book on Amazon HERE.

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

Paypal donation button

Make sure to connect with us on Instagram and Facebook!

Highlighted resource:

Anchored and Secure: 60 Days of Resting in Grace:

About the book:

Anchored and Secure Cover ImageThanks to Christ’s death and resurrection, we don’t have to stress, strive, or perform. We simply need to rest in what Christ has already done. That is when we begin to come alive and find the power and courage to live as He intended. That’s when we experience true and lasting freedom. This sixty-day devotional helps women reflect on God’s grace and the freedom of living deeply anchored in Him.

Buy your copy HERE

Shop smart! Did you know, when you shop on Amazon, you can automatically donate to us, without added expense, simply by purchasing through their Smile program?

Grace

Moving From Guilt to Freedom

I was a mess during my teen and young adult years. I blamed everyone else for my self-destructing life: If my circumstances hadn’t been so chaotic, I never would’ve dropped out of high school. If certain interactions hadn’t been so painful and unstable, I never would’ve turned to alcohol. And if so-n-so hadn’t said such-n-such, I never would’ve reacted as I had.

This type of victim-mentality robbed me of the strength to change and distanced me from God’s mercy and grace. To experience the freedom of forgiveness, of being absolved completely, that Christ offered, I first needed to grasp my need for it. Click To Tweet

I had to honestly evaluate not just my life, not just my outward behavior, but my sinful heart as well.

Honest self-evaluation is hard. Admitting our sin truthfully, not only to ourselves, but to God, can feel even harder. It takes great humility to acknowledge what God already knows—that we’re worse than we’d imagined and are helpless, in our own power, to change. Often there’s an additional challenge that often holds us in fear when we could be living in the freedom of grace: we’re afraid of rejection. Scared of being cut off entirely. Because that’s often what we’ve experienced from others.

An acquaintance grew up in a controlling household where love was conditional and tied to behavior. When she acted a certain way and others were pleased with her, they welcomed her close. When she disappointed them, she was disregarded and pushed away.

Maybe that resonates with you. Many of us have experienced similar interactions, whether with family, friends, or with our significant others. As a result, we can unknowingly carry a similar expectation into our relationship with God, and we likely aren’t even aware we’ve done so.

Here’s where God’s different. Whereas others might say, “You messed up. You blew it,” and cuts us off, Christ said, in essence, “You messed up, and I’m going to draw you near.” Click To Tweet But He did even more than that. When He stretched out His arms wide and died on the cross for our sins, He said, in essence, “Sweet daughter, you really made a mess of things. Of your life, your relationship with others. Your relationship with Me. And so I’m drawing near.”

Whereas others might say, “You messed up. You blew it,” and cuts us off, Christ said, in essence, “You messed up, and I’m going to draw you near.”Our Savior’s love is different than any we’ve ever known. Click To Tweet

When our sin separated us from Him, Christ took the first step to bridge that gap. Click To Tweet He took the first step, then the next, and then the next after that, pursuing us with His last breath, quite literally, to welcome us in. This demonstrates, where sin abounds, as serious and destructive as it may be, God’s grace abounds all the more, for God’s steadfast, unshakable love never ceases, and His mercies truly are new each morning (Rom. 5:20, Lamentations 3:22-23).

Scholars believe Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, wrote that last phrase, shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem. He’d spent a good chunk of his adult life warning the Israelites to turn from their idolatrous ways and back to God, but His children persisted in their sin. And after generations of rebellion and idolatry, they were finally experiencing the consequences.

Jeremiah, a prophet who loved God and had remained faithful, witnessed the destruction of his beloved homeland. The city and their beloved temple had been reduced to rubble, and the people became destitute.

Mourning all that had been lost, Jeremiah didn’t say, “Why me? This isn’t fair, God.” No, instead, he said, “See, O Lord, how distressed I am! I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious.”

This from the man who could’ve prayed, “I, only I, have remained faithful.”

Scholars debate whether he was speaking of his own sins or of those made by the nation as a whole, but regardless, we know he sinned. According to Scripture, we all have. We’ve failed to live and love as we should, whether we’re harboring selfish thoughts or displaying selfish actions. I do both a thousand times each day, and when confronted with my wretchedness, it’s tempting to divert blame. To justify and make excuses, but though doing so might feel “safe” in the moment, it only leads to increased bondage.

To find freedom, I need to take an honest look at the sin-wrought rubble of my life, focus on the love and goodness of God, and like Jeremiah did in the next chapter over, cast myself upon the One whose mercies never fail.

Because “the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the One who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly on the salvation of the Lord” (Lam. 3:25-26).

Let’s talk about this! Have you received the forgiveness Christ offers and the freedom that follows? If not, and you would like to learn more about finding ultimate and eternal absolution, please contact us HERE. If you’ve already experienced God’s cleansing grace, are you walking in that? Or are you interpreting spiritual distance that isn’t there, that Christ died to remove? How might remembering His reaction to our sin help you rest more deeply in His embrace, not just when you’re acting in a way that pleases Him, but when you mess up as well?

Join our online book club to learn to rest, daily, in God's grace! Click To Tweet

Book club inviteWe want to help you live in the freedom of God’s grace! Join us for a five week online book discussion club to discuss the Ragamuffin Gospel, a book that was truly transformative in Jennifer’s life. You can find the book HERE.

From the back cover:

A Furious Love Is Hot on Your Trail! 

Many believers feel stunted in their Christian growth. We beat ourselves up over our failures and, in the process, pull away from God because we subconsciously believe He tallies our defects and hangs His head in disappointment. In this newly repackaged edition—now with full appendix, study questions, and the author’s own epilogue, “Ragamuffin Fifteen Years Later,” Brennan Manning reminds us that nothing could be further from the truth. The Father beckons us to Himself with a “furious love” that burns brightly and constantly. Only when we truly embrace God’s grace can we bask in the joy of a gospel that enfolds the most needy of His flock—the “ragamuffins.”

This club will be hosted on our Facebook Group and through Zoom video. Contact us HERE for information on how to participate.

Plus, we have fun news! Our 90-day devotional is now available!

Cover image for Bible study devotionalDrawing Near: 90-Day Devotional:

Each day, God beckons us to Himself, calling us to rest in His love and grace. As we do, He heals our hurts, overpowers our fears with love, and restores us to the women He created us to be. This 90-day devotional, written by women who are learning themselves to live anchored in God’s grace, will help you deepen your faith and grow your relationship with Christ.

Buy it HERE.

 

Resting in Christ

When Grace Erases a Record of Wrongs

Feet & Hands with Eph. 2:10 listed to the left

Sometimes I stand in the shower and recount hard conversations, rearranging them until they tilt in my favor. Oh, to heal the hurt I feel! But I’ve learned the danger of this practice and how refocusing on grace helps me heal.

Many times, a thread of offense or unforgiveness can be detected in those rehashed exchanges. I deem it a form of self-protection, a way of secretly wagging a finger at the offending party and holding their actions against them. Seems innocent enough, but is it?

This record-keeping of wrongs fails to solve the problem. It leads me down a dangerous road toward sin through gossiping, bitterness, or withholding forgiveness. But the grace of Jesus adds salve to those wounds. It helps me heal the hurts I feel.

The Lord came to earth, offering grace to all. He keeps no record of wrongs. He refuses to rehash tilted conversations, too. The Savior of the world simply offers a generous dose of unmerited favor to all who will accept it–including perfectionists, those with dark or troubled pasts, people whose words pierce the hearts of others, and yes, even women who hold one-sided chats in the shower.

None of us stand innocent, yet Jesus forgives and showers grace on all. ~ @Kristi_Woods Click To Tweet

John 1:14 describes Jesus as the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, one full of grace and truth. Although I’m tempted to think I’m innocent concerning my rehashed conversations, none of us are free from sin. But Jesus forgave us and showers grace anyway.

These days, when hurt or offense singes and I’m tempted to rehash them, I focus on Jesus instead. I hold close the gift of grace my Savior offers, remembering how much I need it and that His grace is sufficient. The Lord loves and forgives undeserving people—even those like me.

Refocusing on Jesus’ free gift of grace, I’m lured from the temptation to gossip or grow bitter and am drawn to prayer, forgiveness, and love instead.Refocusing on Jesus’ free gift of grace, I’m lured from the temptation to gossip or grow bitter and am drawn to prayer, forgiveness, and love instead. Click To Tweet I’d much rather have a conversation with Him than myself!

The next time you’re hurt or offended, why not consider Jesus and the love and grace He offered you? Focusing there helps heal our wounds.

living in grace, Video Devotion

Living in Grace and Forgiving Yourself–Video Devotion


There was no way I was going to forgive her. She didn’t deserve forgiveness-she deserved to pay for what she’d done.

The thing is, “she” is me, and that’s exactly how I felt for years. I had no problem forgiving others, just myself. Psalms 103:12 says “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” But, I chose to believe that didn’t apply to me-that I needed to serve a sentence of shame before I could be exonerated from my guilt. Further, I was certain that my sins not only rendered me unworthy to receive God’s forgiveness but also His love.

Have you found that often the most difficult person to forgive is yourself? That was definitely the case for me, until God literally spoke into my situation.

I attended a worship service where I heard the story of a man’s miraculous physical healing. What struck me, though, wasn’t his physical healing, but the freedom he experienced from feelings of unworthiness. Following the man’s testimony, a pastor invited anyone who felt burdened by unworthiness to stand and receive prayer. Despite the pride that begged me to remain seated, I rose to my feet. And in the silent moments that followed the prayer, God spoke to me for the first time.

He said: Christa, I love you. I forgave you a long time ago, and you need to forgive yourself.

I was literally undone. Instantly freed from the tremendous weight of shame that would have eventually crushed me. I was overcome-with love.

Until that moment, I didn’t realize how much I’d allowed unforgiveness to affect my life and my relationships. I’d invited Christ into my heart but held God’s grace at arm’s length, refusing to accept it—unintentionally saying that Christ’s death was enough to vindicate others, but not me. Released from that burden, I was able to move forward, truly love myself, others, and God, and finally experience the freedom for which Christ died.

It’s not as though forgiveness erased the memory of my shameful sins, but it eradicated the oppressive power those memories had over me. Before, they were scars I desperately tried to cover. Now they’re scars I proudly point to and say, “Look what God has done in my life.”

Don’t allow unforgiveness to control you any longer. As you learn to live wholly loved, remember that God wants to do the same transformative work in you, turning your scars into a beautiful story of His love.

Before you go, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly newsletter to receive great inspirational content sent directly to you inbox. You can sign up HERE. And make sure to subscribe to our blog to receive an email alert whenever there’s new content.