Let me try to recap... I got this devotional book (1 year book of Hope) while pregnant, started it, didn't get far, pick it up here and there, the last time I picked it up, it was exactly what I needed to hear (I believe on God being close to the broken hearted)
The title of the week I'm on is "Jesus, Man of Sorrow" I told Harlee; this would have been better for me to be reading in the first couple of weeks after Rachel was born. Week 10 (where I "should" be) is on the Sovereignty of God..."doesn't that fit better for me right now?" I reasoned...
I reluctantly followed the chapters in order... and did the work through it, still convinced it didn't apply...until I got to the last line:
"Petition God to fill you with His Spirit so that you can forgive those who abandoned you in your time of sorrow and suffering"I wouldn't have been ready to do that in week 2. It talked about how even Jesus was abandoned in His suffering. His closest friends let Him down and denied Him. He was alone. I related so much to this aspect of His suffering - loneliness in grief. Nobody else could do it for Him; God chose Him. I spent some time over the night praying about that... there aren't many people who abandoned me, but there are some. Some physically, some emotionally, some actually adding more stress and pain... People who "should have" been here; weren't. People who "should have" supported and loved us; didn't. People who "should have" respected our needs and allowed us space to grieve; refused. I had to admit that these things broke my heart. I had to admit that I felt lonely and abandoned... I have to admit that I still do.
Would I have done things differently? Yes.
Am I hurt? Yes.
Do I need to forgive? Yes.
What does that look like? Not a clue.
Okay, so now I'm seeing that maybe I'm exactly where I need to be in the book... but wait, it gets better.
Next Page: The Father Heart of God. (this is where I found myself this morning)
This gets a little hard... it's talking about how our images of fatherhood are shaped by our "imperfect earthly fathers" Sigh. It asks the question "In the pain you face today, do you wonder if your heavenly Father will be tender towards you? Does He care? Will you find love or just a lecture? Acceptance or rejection?"
The part that stuck out to me was "love or a lecture" - I know that God receives me with love... I can see how some of the pain in my sorrow was caused by expecting that from others...but when I read this, I actually heard it the other way around. "Do I receive people with love or a lecture?" I know what I want to do...I know my flesh fails.
Now I'm not only sure I'm where I "should" be in this book, but I'm feeling pretty convicted. Funny thing is that I didn't want to skip ahead anymore. I wanted to hear what God was telling me... and so I kept going.
And then it says: "The angels joyfully and quickly obey. If we pray as Jesus taught us, we are offering ourselves as obedient servants in a Kingdom where the will of God is done with great joy and without hesitation, just as it is in heaven."
My mind drifted to what life is like for Rachel right now... it sounds amazing. joyfully and quickly obeying her Father without hesitation....the blessing that must come to her heart with that.
Why do I stall? Why do I fight it? What do I think it's going to benefit me to be out of the will of God? And so, I start to talk to God about this... "What do I do with this conviction, Lord?"
This would be like America's "how are you?" question... I asked it, but didn't really want to know the answer...
He said: Joyfully and quickly obey, love like I do, forgive.
You've got to be kidding me...I got on the phone... "Emily, what does it mean to forgive?" I know, I should know this right? I should, because I'm a Christian and that's what Christians do... we forgive. I am very grateful for my amazing friends who help me outwardly process things and don't judge me or lecture me. My big question: "Does forgiving mean you enter back into a relationship with them?" I admitted that while most of the time I felt peace about letting go of unhealthy relationships, I wondered if that is really okay with God or I'm just telling myself that cause it's the answer I want...
The answer? Not sure.
The conclusion? I am going to pray for each specific relationship and hurt and be willing to do what God wants me to... joyfully, quickly, without hesitation. That may involve mending a relationship, it might not. I don't believe that's required to forgive. But I do know for sure that God will show me eventually and when He does, He will heal my heart from the hurts and give me peace.
The best part? God is happy with that.
The next page is titled "A Father's Joy" and it says:
And while he was still a long way off, His Father saw him and filled with love and compassion, He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him (Luke 15:20)
I don't have to be "there" in order to please God; just running in His direction with a repentant heart.
So here I am, Lord... all of me.