An unwelcome guest; a message of grace…

Sheila at Old Stone House

An unwelcome visitor knocked at the door last weekend and I let him in.

Instead of barring entry and telling him to go immediately, I entertained him, falling prey to his smooth lies and crafty ways.

He arrived during the wee hours, bringing a flashback in the darkness to an unholy time in my life.

And he stayed a full 17 hours.

Perhaps he has visited you, too.

His name is Unforgiveness.

Vulnerable due to sleeplessness and my own sin nature, I tarried with Unforgiveness, though he is no friend of yours or mine.

He is an enemy operative on a mission of destruction.

But in my dusty weakness, I chose to aid and abet him in his diabolical activities.

There have been other times when the memory of domestic and clergy abuse {and to anyone caught in the trap of either: GET OUT!} visits, but it never stays, held at arm’s length by the powerful right hand of God.

This time, though, Unforgiveness moved in.

And his bags were bulging with emotions so raw and so real that I easily succumbed to his ugly charms.  And only later was shocked to discover what had been lurking in my own heart.

Taking it to the next level, I heard myself utter the ungodly phrase, “I hate them.”

And I confess that in those hours, on and off, I did hate.

Hated how they had hurt me and my children, when they had both been charged with protecting us.

Hated the fear.

Hated feeling like a victim again.

Hated having inflicted my sons with a slice of my own childhood.

As a super-responsible first born daughter of an alcoholic, I chose to dance with Unforgiveness in a dark and deadly soiree and threw myself into the roiling mix, too.

For it was me that had chosen to marry the man with whom I had an abusive marriage.

So there I sat and there I stewed.

I gave away my power in Christ.

I tossed away precious hours of peace in the Holy Spirit.

I know full well what Jesus says about hatred in our hearts and what it really is, but my desire for a pound of flesh seared over an open flame was strong as iron.

And even the voice of one calling in the wilderness — as Dearest Husband counseled me with appropriate scriptures — did not abate my feeling justified in my unforgiveness.

“You don’t understand how they treated me and how much it hurt.”

Although Dearest Husband is no stranger to abuse in a former marriage. He too has suffered great pain. Yet no one really ever knows exactly how another person feels.

No one except The One.

Christ, who suffered every injustice, unfaithfulness, betrayal and pain, He understands completely.

CROSS and CROSS Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

And from the Cross where the nails pierced and the blood dripped, He cried to Our Father in heaven, Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Forgive them? Forgive myself?

Am I above the Lord? Are you?

We have all sinned greatly.

We have all hurt each other.

We are all wounded little children crying out for love.

For love and forgiveness.

We need God’s forgiveness in order to be free. In order to really live. In order to really love.

And we all need to choose to forgive.

But I, like the ungrateful servant forgiven greatly, refused to cancel out another’s debt.

And that choice had me behind bars for hours.

But I was wrong.

I needed to ask God to forgive me. Forgive me much. Like He has before. Like He will, undoubtedly, again.

And in so doing, Unforgiveness released his hold on me.

Freeing for the choosing.

Choosing to forgive those who had hurt me badly.

Choosing to let God’s love fill my heart for them so I could have peace.

So that I could think of them and keep breathing.

And then rest.

Rest in His love. For God has a plan. A plan for the pain. Not one thing that has hurt us will ever not be used for good. If we surrender it all to Him, trusting in His love.

And does He ever love us. Like crazy.

Even when we run crazy we are still secure in that love.

In the light of a cold February morning, after confessing/discussing the matter at church with trusted friends and my pastor and then later talking some more with Dearest Husband, I can see even more clearly.

And I choose to forgive myself for the poor choices I made in the past. Choose to forgive myself because my choices hurt my babies.

Forgiving ourselves can be the hardest part, don’t you think?

But until we forgive everyone everything we will stay stuck.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.
James 5:16

And I realize that those very things that hurt my sons can be used by God as powerful tools in their own spiritual development towards fulfilling the call on their lives.

I read the ancient tale of a young man treated cruelly and unfairly.  Joseph was left for dead by his brothers and was sold into slavery in Egypt.

JOSEPH Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

Yet He loved God. And chose to honor and obey Him regardless of hard knocks.

No matter how much it broke his heart.

No matter how much it hurt.

He forgave the brothers that left him for dead and sentenced him to a life that I think at times he may have questioned God about. In lovelessness, fear, jealousy and their own sinfulness, that band of brothers did the unspeakable.

But what was intended for evil, God used for great good which ultimately helped the very ones that had harmed Joseph.

And I am sure that Joseph learned obedience by what he suffered. Just like Jesus. Just like me and you.

If Joseph had not forgiven and had sat in prison holding a grudge, cursing God and bitterly complaining about his lot, I have no doubt the outcome would have been very different. Instead of the story ending with blessings upon blessings, there would have been more loss and darkness. More grieving the Holy Spirit.

So with my own prison doors flung open, I give Unforgiveness the boot, and lock the door behind him…

~sheila

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4 thoughts on “An unwelcome guest; a message of grace…

  1. A wonderful piece laden with powerful Truth and hope in the midst of our weakness. I was greatly blessed by this offering. Thank you. BTW – the pictures you post with these writings are outstanding and always pull me in to want to hear what you have to say.

    • Thank you so much, Blaine, for your kind words and encouragement. I am so thankful that God can use our pain to help others. And I am glad you like the photos and that they enhance the stories. Love to you, Tracey and the boys…