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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

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“You’re worthless! You’re stupid! You’ll never amount to anything!”

The clanking of heavy chains punctuated the harsh taunts as Gloria dragged Pastor Steve around the room of our East Asia Fresh Start seminar. Her sagging shoulders and pained expression revealed that this was more than just a role-play. Squirming in my seat, I cringed as the scenario was played out before me.

It had started with a question. “Who has hurt you the most in your life?” Pastor Steve had asked Gloria.

“My father,” she had responded without hesitation. “He is always criticizing me, always telling me I’m not good enough.” Though Gloria said she had forgiven him, it was clear that she was still affected by his negative opinion of her.

“I’m going to represent your father,” Pastor Steve had then explained. “I want you to wrap this chain around me and drag me around the room.” With a slightly skeptical look, Gloria agreed. But quickly the painful reality of what this represented became apparent. Gloria’s normally cheerful face clouded as Pastor Steve voiced the negative comments and criticism of her father. Soon she was in tears, as were most of the others in the room.

After what seemed an eternity, Pastor Steve told her she could stop. “Do you want to keep dragging your father around with you?” he asked her gently. “Do you want to keep defining yourself by his opinion of you?” Gloria shook her head emphatically.

“Are you ready to forgive your father and let him go?” She threw down the chains she’d been holding as if they were poisonous snakes. “Yes! I want to forgive him.”

At Pastor Steve’s encouragement, Gloria prayed aloud, voice quavering with emotion. “God, I forgive my father for rejecting me, for criticizing me, for judging me. I don’t want to carry this bitterness anymore! I let it go right now!”

“Now do you want to hear what your Heavenly Father thinks about you?” asked Pastor Steve softly. “He says that you are beautiful. He says that you are precious. He says you are valuable. He says He has good plans for you. He says you are His beloved daughter, in whom He is well pleased! You have the best Papa! He loves you so much!” Tears rolled down Gloria’s cheeks as the truth of the words began to take effect.

“I have the best Papa! I have the best Papa!” A smile broke out as she repeated the words over and over. “I have the best Papa!”

What about you? Are you dragging around someone that you haven’t forgiven? Is that person’s opinion of you drowning out what God says about you? You can’t fully receive the truth of who your Heavenly Father says you are until you FORGIVE the one who has hurt you, RELEASE the person and the effects to God, and allow Him to heal those deep wounds in your heart. Let go of bitterness and unforgiveness today and receive the love and acceptance that your Papa has for you! You have the best Papa anyone could ever have!

“I have loved you with an everlasting love…”
“…and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
Jeremiah 31:3a (NRSV), Deuteronomy 33:27a (NKJV)

Going Vertical!
MJ

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Abuela! She’s alone – what if something happens to her? It was my responsibility to care for my 101-year-old grandmother, who I call “Abuela” (grandma in Spanish). But in a moment of distraction, I’d left her unattended. And now an inexplicable sudden fear makes me rush back to the room, just in time to see her trying to get up from the wheelchair on frail, weak legs. As she wavers and starts to fall, I realize I won’t reach her in time. I try to call to her, but the words get stuck in my throat. “Abue-”

I wake myself up with the strangled cry. Sitting up in bed, I stare into the darkness, still shaking. It was just a dream, I whisper into the empty room. Just a dream.

My family recently made the very difficult and emotional decision to move my 101-yr-old grandmother into a Christian nursing home in another state, closer to more of the family. Debilitating strokes had left Abuela unable to dress herself or use the restroom unaided. A simple transfer from the bed to the wheelchair could take two or three people on an especially weak day. And the memory loss and confusion of developing dementia meant she had to be monitored constantly. We loved having her with us. But after four and a half years of caring for her daily needs, it got to be too much. It was time for a change.

Though all the extended family agree this is the best decision, I still struggle with feeling guilty. It feels like we are abandoning Abuela. Every concerned look from friends, every sympathizing smile, every “how are you doing – really?” seems to confirm my underlying fear of being judged and misunderstood.

Jesus knows what it’s like to be judged and misunderstoo. Even His closest friends couldn’t see what His true purpose was. They were waiting for Him to overthrow the Roman government and establish His reign on earth. Many times Jesus asked them, “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?” (Mark 16:17-18, NIV).

Yet Jesus never lost sight of His purpose. John tells us that He “knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” Even faced with the judgement, betrayal and abandonment of His friends, Christ drew strength from knowing He had the approval and acceptance of His heavenly Father.

Am I willing to be misunderstood? With vivid images of the traumatic dream still before me, I struggle with my condemning thoughts in the wee hours of the morning. Even if others don’t agree with the decision my family made to move Abuela to a nursing home, can I let it go? Once again, there alone in the dark, I decide to release my feelings of guilt, self-condemnation, judgement, and fear of others’ opinions. I give it all to the One who sees all, knows all, and does not judge me. He is the only One who truly understands me.

Going vertical!
MJ

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“That will never work,” Hanna declared decisively. Before her husband Jeremy could even finish the explanation of his newest dream for their business, practical Hanna proceeded to expound upon why it was a foolish plan.

“Could you just listen to my idea?” Jeremy pleaded, looking crushed. “But I know it won’t work,” she said simply. “You always have crazy plans, and you don’t think about the potential problems. That’s what I’m here for.”

Sharp-tongued and critical, Hanna was constantly berating her husband, squelching his excitement with her “realism.” Where Jeremy was all enthusiasm and passion, Hanna seemed to be all prickles and spines.

But below the surface of Hanna’s “porcupine personality” were deep hurts. Rejected by her mother for not being as pretty as her sister, she’d always felt unwanted, unloved, and not valued. It was hard for her to believe that anyone could really care about her. The pain of childhood wounds that had never healed caused her to bristle when anyone got too close, unknowingly sabotaging her relationships.

Hanna came to mind this weekend as I chatted with a woman who calls herself a “Cat Whisperer.” She’s a volunteer “foster parent” for abandoned and traumatized animals from the SPCA. Many of the cats who come to her are aggressive, hissing and clawing when she brings them food or tries to pet them.

“I have to ask myself, ‘Why did this cat scratch me? Is it scared? Does it feel threatened?” the “Cat Whisperer” explained. “Then I have to get down on his level and show him that I’m not going to hurt him.” Eventually she builds trust with the skittish felines, overcoming their fear through gentle persistence.

In the case of my friend Hanna, the persistent love and affirmation of friends began to break down the walls of defense around her heart. She was finally able to identify those deep childhood wounds, and to forgive those who had hurt her. The prickles and spines began to fade away, and a softer side was revealed – more of the true Hanna, gentle and loving and compassionate.

Are you a “porcupine person”? Have past wounds made you prickly and spiny? Like those traumatized and abandoned cats, do you claw and scratch people who get too close? Stop and think about why you are responding this way, and ask the Lord to help you identify those wounds that need to be healed. He’s a true “Heart Whisperer” and He’s whispering His love to you right now!

Going Vertical!
MJ

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”
Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)

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