Monday, March 14, 2016

3 Steps Toward Forgiveness | Sorry or Not

Forgiveness can be a pretty tough thing.

A lot of times we put forgiveness hand in hand with reconciliation. Ya know, when one person says they're sorry and we say "I forgive you" and then you move on.
Reconciliation with someone IS a beautiful thing.. But sometimes forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. Sometimes it's just between you and your heart.

"Forgive them even if they are not sorry."

Often when people don't apologize or show any sign of remorse for their words or actions, we think that validates us not to forgive them. We think we reserve the right to be mad and hold a grudge against them. We think we can treat them a certain way because of the way they treat us.

Today I read (Matthew 5 ) about how Jesus tells us to love our enemies. I was thinking about what that means to me because thankfully, I can't say I have a whole lot of 'enemies.' But I can say I definitely have had many conflicts big and small with various people.
So loving my enemies to me, means choosing to love and be kind to the people that don't always offer that behavior towards me. That's hard to do. I'm human, we mainly act based off of our emotions verses our true heart on the subject. I'm sure we'd all say we want to love our enemies and be kind to those who are unkind to us. It's in our hearts. But is it truly displayed in our lives?  As forgiveness has been on my mind here lately, I decided to write about 3 steps I find super important in forgiveness.

1. Making the Choice

I think the very first step towards forgiveness is making the choice to forgive.
People won't always seek you to gain forgiveness. I'd say that's pretty rare, actually. So when people don't seek me for forgiveness, that's when I need to turn to God to seek help with forgiveness. For he himself is a God full of grace and forgiveness. I have to make the choice to choose grace, love, and forgiveness over any action another extends to me no matter how hurtful.
I have to make the choice that I will not let their actions or words towards me determine how I am going to treat them. I have to choose to act on what I know is right, instead of simply reacting based off of how I feel.
Colossians says "forgive as I have forgiven you" not "forgive if your offender says they're sorry"
Jus' sayin'

2. Pray for the Situation

I think we really underestimate the power of prayer. Or maybe we think God is too big for all these silly little happenings in our life. But His word mentions multiple times how he cares for us. 

1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 
Psalm 55:22 "Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you." 
Psalm 68:19 "Praise be to the LORD, our God and Savior, who daily bears our burdens."

We serve a God who is alive and active in our lives. He cares about the little things that break our smiles and make our hearts hurt. He cares and He's ready to take a stand against them. 

3. Continue to Choose Forgiveness

Forgiveness isn't a one time choice. We have to choose to live a life of forgiveness. We are daily living in God's grace, as we should be daily living out His grace. When we make that choice to forgive, we have to continually choose forgiveness. 

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Lastly, I think the most important part is to be constantly pursuing God. If we want forgiveness and grace in our lives then we have to be pursuing the creator of forgiveness and grace.  

Like I said, forgiveness can be a pretty tough thing. But it is powerful just like our God, the creator of forgiveness. He can take any situation and any heart and completely change it.

So now I believe you have a choice to make! :-))

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Continuously Choosing JOY ||

I wrote about joy and what it means to me in my very first blog post (Keep Choosing Joy) from October of 2014! But since it's been a while, I've decided to do a JOY UPDATE. YAY!

My blog is based after my most favorite quote in the whole entire world by Henry Nouwen:

"Joy does not simply happen to us. 
We have to choose joy, and keep choosing it everyday."

When I first stumbled upon that quote I decided to make it my life theme. But since then, I have failed many, many, MANY times at "choosing joy." It's hard. 

But even though I have failed, the choice to strive to choose joy has not. Yes, there are always going to be times I don't choose joy. I'm human, it happens. But having the mindset of striving to choose joy despite anything else has impacted my life tremendously. 

In case you missed my very first post and are too lazy to click the link above, let me share that mindset I'm talking about with you:

Joy is so much more than a word or an emotion to me. I'm not sure the exact moment God placed this word so strongly on my heart, but it was during a phase of my life that I was not joyful. I was not content. I was not seeking Christ and His joy, but seeking what 'I' wanted and what made 'me' feel good. 
I thought that the various things I wanted would fill me up and THEN I'd be content. I'd have joy. I'd have all I needed. But the things I wanted only left me filling empty and wanting more. It left me hoping that THIS next thing would maybe fill that void. 
But no, there wasn't anything I could do myself or get myself that would bring me joy and contentment. Only in Christ could I truly find fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:11) 

I didn't have joy because I was seeking myself rather than seeking Him. I was seeking what 'I' wanted, rather than seeking HIS will. 

He taught me that no matter what my circumstance is here on earth, I ALWAYS have reasons to be joyful in Him. A verse that really helped me when I was struggling with not choosing joy was Romans 15:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." 
That verse has become so very important to me. I pray that he will fill me with His joy and His peace through whatever circumstance. I pray that He'll fill me up so much that I'm always overflowing with hope. I want to use the lesson He's taught me to reach out to others so they can experience the same joy, peace, and hope that I've experienced in Christ.

He has shown me perfect love when I was most undeserving. He suffered for me knowing all the times I'd shrink back instead of suffering for Him. He showed me love and grace, when all I deserved was death. How could I sit around and whine about my own personal troubles I face? He has given me so many more reasons to be joyful than I could ever come up with to not be.

My lack of joy was caused by my perspective. He taught me to make the choice to CHOOSE JOY. To choose to live in His love and His grace. Oh boy, has that decision made a big difference in my life. 
Of course there are still times when I struggle with choosing joy. I get grumpy and mad at the world for my own stupid reasons. But He constantly reminds me that HE is enough. 
In Him ALONE, I am finding what it means to be truly joyful despite anything else.

 I am learning to keep choosing joy day after day even when it's so very difficult.
I've made my decision, have you made yours?