Forgiveness

LEADERS ON A JOURNEY

I messed up big time, and it wasn’t the first. And it probably won’t be the last. Sigh! The older I get, the more I see people, especially leaders, hurting people not because of their wounds but because they fail to have the revelation of who they are. It isn’t their wounds that hurt others. Their lack of walking in their identity, their power, and the fullness of who God created them to be has hurt others. I call this orphan leadership. Years ago, I was starting to lead people on my team, which was a new experience for me. As much as I wish God would perfect us before letting us put our toes in the water, He often puts us in situations, knowing full well they will stretch us, allowing us to GROW in our capacity. I roared when I should have remained silent. I disconnected when I should have fought for them. I assumed when I should have listened. I jumped when I should have waited. I blew it, and I hurt them. On one hand, I was justified as a leader for dealing with the issue that needed to be addressed, but it would take me nearly two years before I could see my contribution and where I needed to become more like Jesus in my leadership. OUCH! The process was painful. I wanted to reach out to this person but had a million reasons why it was too late and would just be weird. I kept hearing God say, “There is no expiration on forgiveness.” I sent them a message of ownership for my part and asked for their forgiveness. I could barely get through their response with the tears in my eyes. They wondered if I had missed them as much as they had missed me. The presence of God is strong when there is unity amongst His children. 

Friends, is there someone you have hurt and need to make it right with? You WILL be reconciled with your spiritual family one way or another, as there is no strife, pain, and disunity in heaven. But here’s the deal – you give God glory and honor by reconciling with someone ON EARTH that you can’t give to Him in heaven. Ask Jesus, “Jesus, will You please show me if there is anyone I need to make something right with and ask forgiveness?”

SETTING CAPTIVES FREE

Picture a jail. Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18 both talk about captives and prisoners, but what is the difference between the two? Both of them are in jail. One is a captive, meaning he was brought there against his will but is free to walk back out. The other one is a prisoner who has committed a crime and must have keys to walk out. The keys are in Matthew 18:23-35. When I first read these verses, I couldn’t believe my eyes. We cannot overlook this Scripture. I want to highlight verse 35. WHO? So shall WHO? It says, “So shall my Father in heaven do to you.” Guys, we have to grasp this. When hurts, lies, and offenses come our way, we have to get out of the jail they create around our lives as soon as possible, or else the unforgiveness we hold onto will hinder God’s best for us. If you are sincerely trying to get out of bondage but can’t seem to find freedom, chances are that you are a prisoner, and the name of the key to open the door is FORGIVENESS! 

Here is a rough model to follow but let the Spirit lead you: “Jesus, who do I need to forgive?” Choose to forgive and pray to release them. “Jesus, what lie have I believed because of this hurt/offense done to me?” Choose to break agreement with the lie. “Jesus, what is Your truth?” Choose to receive what He has to say. I want to add that sometimes people have sincerely forgiven yet still are not experiencing full freedom. Sometimes we have to forgive not only the offense but the FRUIT of the offense. Say someone was abused as a child, and they have walked through forgiving their abuser. But there is fruit to the abuse, such as being unable to trust people, being self-protected, feeling isolated, not feeling safe at night, etc. Sometimes we have to walk through forgiving them for how their hurt/offense affected your life. 

HeartWork: I encourage you not to be introspective about this but to ASK JESUS to show you. “Jesus, would You please show me if there is anyone I need to forgive?”

KEEPING OUR HEARTS OFFENSE FREE

FORGIVE – fərˈɡiv/, verb. To stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake. It is okay to have to forgive your children in your heart. In fact, keeping our hearts offense free is key to healthy lifelong connections. 

I AM SORRY…

Is your heart caught in a cycle of saying “I am sorry” over and over from a mess you made with your children? I ministered to a mom who said with tears streaming down her face, “I will beg my son for forgiveness for the rest of my life.” I told her that needed to stop and that I wanted to help her resolve that once and for all. While the world would tell her she messed up and made poor choices, I see it differently. She is a product of choices that her parents and grandparents made. She did not have the language or tools to discern what was going on in her world. She needed drugs and alcohol to escape the torment and pain. I don’t think that is a bad mom. I think that is a mom who needs help becoming a Daughter. When we make messes with our children (we all do) and partner with the accuser, we wallow in guilt and condemnation. We then come to our children in a bent over, broken, pathetic, insecure way that only makes THEM feel unsafe. We are teaching them that mistakes are fatal. We need to be modeling for them grace, forgiveness, and connection even when we are at our worst. I coached this mom on how to forgive herself, and then I taught her how to minister to her son’s pain. Yes, he suffered heartbreak because of her choices (he was taken away when she was in jail), but IN THAT PLACE is where we get to show them who Jesus is. I coached her on how to begin to have conversations with her son that mistakes do not equal rejection or abandonment. Just like he gets time outs for his choice, mom had hers, but Jesus never left him. This mom who is becoming a Daughter just got reunited with her son full-time! If you think about them, pray for them as they continue to walk this out – together!

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN THROUGH A BRUTAL SEASON?

I do not mean a bad day, but a season where you weren’t sure you would make it? A season where pain, words, betrayal, disappointment, and discouragement knocked you down so low, you weren’t sure you would ever rise again? Yeah, that season. We must must must forgive the people who are on their journey and say and do things out of an orphan place, but after true forgiveness comes a season of rebuilding what was lost or stolen in the previous season. Sometimes we get thrown into the pit and bound up. Not because of something we have done but what was done to us. It may not be our fault, but it is our responsibility to get back up. So many of you have walked through brutal chapters in your story, and your hearts have found peace again, but in the midst of the battle, you have lost your voice, confidence, and empowerment. There is nothing wrong with you being in this season, as long as you are owning your journey and not allowing it as an excuse to stay down or quiet. The world needs YOU at your fullest, and you owe it to yourself to keep fighting, climbing, believing, and clinging to Him. You will find your voice, confidence, and empowerment again, but with a renewed sense of resolve because you have overcome great odds!

DO NOT LET THE SUN GO DOWN

Ephesians 4:6 clearly tells us to get rid of all anger before a certain time of day, but why? I do not think something magical happens at midnight to all those with anger in their hearts; however, I DO believe that when we sleep, we are without natural defense and unable to put on our armor, as Ephesians 6 talks about. Our spirit and mind are very much alive when we sleep, but our active thinking is not. When a child goes to bed with hurts, lies, anger, or offense in their heart, it can open the door to the enemy to produce nightmares, imbed lies, and increases fear and anxiety. If these issues are present, it is better to lose sleep and address it than end the day with it being unresolved. A fantastic way to help a child be at peace before bedtime is by filling up their love tanks, even just for a few minutes, praying together, or playing worship music which calms their heart. Another great way is to play the High/Low game.

High/Low game – When our family endured trauma, it was so important to me to know what was going on inside my children’s minds and hearts. Each evening when I would tuck them in, we would play the High/Low game. I would ask what the high of their day was and then what the low was. Sometimes they would say the most amazing things; the simplest of events was what touched them the most, yet things I totally missed caused the lowest. It helped me get a pulse on their hearts to see what was important to them, but also if they believed any lies or had unforgiveness that needed to be resolved. I would often get another child out of bed to resolve something between their siblings. As the kids enter school, this is an incredible game to play to see what they are carrying around in their hearts.

DESTROYING THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL

Parents, you can’t afford NOT to do this. Watch this 7-minute video to understand how children hold onto hurts, lies, and offenses on the playground. We, as parents, want to help our children RESOLVE these heart splinters in their hearts NOW so that it doesn’t affect them going into the next school year. Help them enter summer with a clean mind and heart so that they can look forward to next year and not carry unresolved pain and shame with them. After watching this short video, I suggest calling a family meeting and talking about how we can get heart splinters in our hearts. As a family, ask, “Jesus, is there anyone at school that I need to forgive?” Don’t rush. Take your time and allow them to hear what Jesus wants to show them. Go around the family and share what you heard/saw. I then lead them into a corporate response by repeating after me, “Jesus, I choose to forgive _______ for _________.” This is NO small thing because how your child ENDS a year is how they will ENTER the following year.

Destroying the Works of the Devil – YouTube

CLEANING UP OUR MESS

When the kids were really little, I would have them say, “I am sorry.” Once they understood that correction/discipline meant they did something to cause harm, I would have them ASK for forgiveness, such as, “I am sorry. Will you please forgive me?” And they had to wait for the reply of the other person. When they were around 4-8, I would have them say what they were sorry for, such as, “I am sorry for hitting your arm.” When they got older, I had them ask for forgiveness and state WHY what they did was not okay, such as, “I am sorry I hit your arm. It is not okay because I used my strength instead of my words.” Now that they are in their teen years, it is common for them to clean up their messes by asking forgiveness and releasing compassion and validation for how their choices have affected others. I am confident my grandchildren will reap the fruit of this because a successful marriage is not built upon perfection but on the ability to clean up one’s mess well.

THE CROSS

The Cross is the solution for E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G! Spend a few minutes and ask Jesus if there is any unforgiveness between you and your child. I encourage you not to be introspective and mentally feast on every mistake, but rather ASK JESUS to show you if there is a hook of unforgiveness in their heart. If God shows you something, make it right TODAY! Perhaps you will want to spend some 1:1 time with them after school, take them out for a treat, or write a note and put it on their bed.

Parents do not lose respect by admitting their mistakes, they gain it. When you go low with your children, it makes them feel seen and heard. It validates their pain and this is the ministry of Jesus! When parents go to their children and say, “Jesus, showed me I was wrong when I _____. Will you please forgive me?” it is teaching your child that Jesus has their back, cares about their pain and sees their heart. Actually seeing the Cross applied is one of the most powerful experiences for a child in a Christian home. Moms, it could be YOU are the one who needs to forgive your child. Perhaps you are holding onto offense for being stretched too thin, getting your heart hurt or that life doesn’t look the way you thought it would. It is okay to need to forgive our children – we are all human beings in a fallen world. I would release the offense privately and not share this with your child. “Jesus, I confess my heart feels _____ because _____. I chose to let go of this offense towards (child’s name). I hand over my offense/pain/disappointment to you (In your mind picture handing it over to Jesus). What do You have in exchange for me?” (Wait until you see/hear what He has in exchange for you). Clean the spiritual pipes between you by applying the Cross today!