Forgive and Let Go

Healing is often blocked by unforgiveness.
Just a few  months ago I met with a wise older woman who talked me through some hurt that was lingering from a bad transition I went through a few years ago. It was the right thing to move on but as transition often is, it got messy. I had already worked through the issue with the people involved at the time, really truly forgiving and letting go but sometime since that original forgiveness, I heard someone say that once trust is lost it takes time to earn it back. 

This thought gave the enemy a window of opportunity and I let the self righteous prideful voice speak. You know the one. It said, “Yeah! They have to EARN my trust back now. Even though they asked for forgiveness and I had forgiven that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.” I let the nuance of that accusation against them reopen the wound growing back into bitter unforgiveness. All I knew was that it still hurt and I was stuck.

My wise mentor reminded me of the story from John 8 about the Pharisees who went to stone the adulterous woman. But Jesus after mysteriously drawing in the sand he stopped them by saying,

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

She went on to tell me that some Pharisees dropped their stones, but some threw them in anger wishing as they hit the ground, their stones had been directed at her still. The scariest and most disturbing, were those who hung onto their stones as they walked away. Not letting it go. Saving them to be thrown later.

She explained that the hurt I was feeling was because I was hanging onto a stone of accusation against the people involved. She shocked and challenged me by flatly saying,

“You can’t trust people. We put our trust in God alone. Only He is perfect.” 

I realized that I had been putting more of my sense of worth or security in my standing with others than with what God says or how he gives me worth. “Imagine that Jesus is on one side of a scale.” She said. “What in all of creation could equal him? All the angels? All riches?”

It felt like a trick question. No obviously nothing is worth what Jesus is worth. She continued, “And yet, Jesus said that you are worth his putting on skin, living a pure life and for the joy set before him pain and sacrifice. Even death.

Jesus says the same about everyone’s worth. So if we begin to see others through Christ’s ascribed worth and love it makes it easier to forgive.

She asked me if I ever get angry at Josephine for messing her diaper. No of course not! “That’s what they did when they hurt you.” she explained, “They just messed their diapers.” She led me through a few prayers and I was able to let go of the stones I had been carrying. I’m so grateful for a safe coach to love me enough to help me walk through this. And most of all I’m humbled and grateful all the more for the continued working out of my salvation and the renewing of my mind through the love of Jesus. Profound freedom and joy are found in this Love.

Repentance and Forgiveness are very similar, in that we often need to say these prayers out loud with someone and making the choice to do so is not often in line with how we feel in that moment. But God honors when we choose to forgive and repent. In my experience He rushes in quicker than I think He should and gives freedom and all of it’s feelings after we choose to let go of those stones.

And I’m convinced that sometimes forgiving others and repentance are the same thing.

There’s always more to say more to learn. What are your thoughts on these things? That’s all for now- thanks for reading commenting and following!

J

“Don’t Worry You’re Safe!”

I just woke from a dream where I knew that the devil was stealing gifts from people.  
There were two buildings and an alley or street between them. The buildings were lined with doors and my parents lived on the one side and all the new homes , were on the other side of the alley. There was a character in the dream who I knew was the devils dirty work man. And I watched as two others were each devastated and changed and defeated because the gifts that were just given to them in their new homes were put on the street and then stolen.
 I was given my black guitar and when I noticed that my guitar was fixed and re-strung I got nervous that they were fixing it just to take it away. I saw that there was a pattern and got upset and called my parents out into the street and to the man who was helping the devil. He was an older thin man with grey short hair on his round head and he wasn’t tall reminded me of Danko from Heroes that detective. I started saying: “He’s going to steal from me!”  And then I looked at him and felt pity and wondered how he ended up as the devil’s advocate..I asked Danko,“What did he steal from you?” And he looked scared. Fear and hopelessness rolled off of him. I felt like I was comforting a child and as he started to cry I told him, “You’re safe! You’re safe!” And I held him and laid my head on his shoulder. My mom and others were standing around him like we were praying for him.
I knew that he was afraid that it was too late for his “salvation” and when I said “you are safe” I meant you will be in heaven. When I laid my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes I saw light streaming through clouds like heaven. I felt assurance and peace for him. “You are safe from the hopelessness of this age’s idea of the gospel.” is what I meant.
When Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life and no one enters the kingdom but through me.” I think he was just stating a fact not giving us ways that we can exclude people from that gift and be plagued by the worry, “Will I make it in? What if I’m doing something wrong and the rapture comes?!”  If this is how we think, Jesus no longer becomes radical and the gospel just plain isn’t good news.  We no longer have to live in fear. We are safe in Christ because we already are all in him whether we know it and are transformed by it or not. The two men on the cross next to Jesus are used in the church as a lesson of “this guy just squeaked into heaven and you can too!” If the man who didn’t respond wasn’t there also. It’s just not good news.

I heard this recently:
God isn’t the god OF Love like a greek god is the god of many things..
God IS Love
If God IS Love what Jesus came to “do” must be representative of the truest love we can Imagine. (because he created us for… that’s right. Love. )
Not a “I love you but.., if you don’t do x y z you are out!” Project Runway style values.. that is so exclusive.
We know better! The holy spirit says it to us. And we want to believe it! We just stop listening because the preacher told me so.
We have to have faith that Jesus really Lived and died for All not Some. And that is where the Beauty and transformation happens in our lives. When we begin to understand God’s Love for us. Plain and Simple. I refuse to believe that he asked us to forgive each other 70×7,  but God is a sin record keeper. NO! That is the thing about this dream. I think it speaks to the grand lie we in today’s church have become the devils workers for: that if you do xyz you get into heaven. But you will never really know, so don’t think about it too much. And go get those lost sinners out there with our prepackaged “sinners prayer” because that is the only way into eternal life. Because God put the fate of the world in our hands and he is just way up in heaven and can’t do anything about it.  Sound like good news?  It is not our job to save anyone. How arrogant to think so! 
Also I am convinced that The #1 thing the Devil wants to convince us of is our lack of worth. Our individual spark or gifts are the thumbprint of God on us. And we release healing and freedom when we are simply truly who we are. Personalities and Gifts and all of that Identity stuff is so celebrated by God. But if we are convinced that we really don’t have anything of worth inside of us to contribute and that God made us as a joke and we are alone,  we have lost something so precious! I believed for a long time that if I was truly free in being who I am I would just hurt people all around me because I was told that I am too loud or too much for others to handle in the past. That fear kept me changing faster than a chameleon in every situation. And I had myself convinced that this was the most loving thing to do for other people. I was just accommodating what I thought they wanted me to be.  And it was anxiety ridden and exhausting trying to remember who I thought the person I was with- needed me to be.
 When we start to live out of the acceptance and peace that this Love is giving we can just truly be authentic and take a deep breath and not worry so much! I am so loved! And so are you- so just live and breathe and be.
And love will make you new. 
Joelle-

Our Mother

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We just moved to Kansas City a few months ago and the community of Christians here talk a lot about “Spiritual Family” or “Kingdom Family” in reference to the relationships with each other and with God. For example, the idea of having a “spiritual dad” is common. Understanding God as a good Father who loves his children; and receiving that you are a Son or a Daughter, are ideas on repeat here. I love this understanding of God. It’s not a new concept to me but witnessing the way an entire group of people who actively engage with God as their Father IS new. And I think it is integral to being free and healing the wounds that we have carried into our present. People don’t say “God” in conversation or prayer as often as they say “the Father” or simply “Father”. They also talk about being secure in or understanding “sonship”. This is such a beautiful thing to discover and learn more about for me. Here is a revolutionary and foundational book called “Orphan, Slave, Son” by Ben Pasley that encapsulates the whole of these ideas. 

So if there are three personalities we can relate to within who God is, God our Father, and Jesus is his Son, who is the Holy Spirit?

I heard on the radio the other day that Jesus referenced the Holy Spirit as his mother. And in a flash it made so much sense. There is so much talk of God our Father, and Jesus his son, but Holy Spirit our Mother? This is such a new idea to me and I want it to be true for so many reasons on such a deep level that I feel like I’m tip-toeing out onto a frozen lake one baby step at a time.
Wouldn’t it be so amazing to have my womanhood be a true image of who God is?!
The idea that who I am is an image bearer of God is completely new to me as a woman. I’ve heard all my life that “God made man in his image.” But woman in her image? Not once. Not in this deep confirming way.

The Holy Spirit is called “the Helper” over and over again in the Bible.
“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. (John 15:26, 27 NASB)

And in Genesis, the first thing said about Eve was that she would be a helper to Adam.
“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 NASB)

One of the only times Jesus’ attitude was translated as harsh or unforgiving has been this verse below. It has always bothered me. He was talking about using the Holy Spirits name in vain or with slander.

“Listen to this carefully. I’m warning you. There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.” He gave this warning because they were accusing him of being in league with Evil. (Mark 3:28, 29 MSG)
The message gives some liberal context but here’s the version I grew up hearing:
“Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:28, 29 NIV)
That’s pretty heavy stuff to sift through at face value. But with this new view of the Holy Spirit as Jesus’ mother, I see a son defending his mom from bad-mouthing. Of course it got heated.
“No yo-mama jokes allowed y’all! You can’t talk about my mother that way!!”

Jesus also talks about being born a second time.
“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (John 3:3-6 NIV)

Here is an article that talks about the linguistic viability of using the pronoun “she” in reference to the Holy Spirit.
The Female aspect of the Holy Spirit

The fact that I’ve never connected this being born again concept to a female aspect of God is astonishing to me! I think there is a need for celebrating the female perspective and what it brings to the church community. And yes we need to deconstruct our views of God as our Father in light of our biological dads, and allow Him to reveal himself to us new and bring healing to our brokenness. But is that it? What about God our Mother being an example for mothers and children? We have missed a piece of Kingdom Family without God our Mother.

Women, you are not forgotten by God! And you are not a mystery to God.
There is so much more to explore and think about in this topic, so more soon. But it’s good to get some of this down.
I’ll end with a prayer I need to keep praying and invite you to join me.

Our Mother, Holy Spirit, Holy is your name. Comforter make your home in me. Teach me to love my femininity and see myself as you do. Speak to the places that say I’m less because I’m a woman. Forgive me for believing those lies. Mother Spirit mother me and teach me your ways. Reshape my ideas of other women and bring unity. In me as it is in you.

Added Jan 2016:

Here is a teaching called Journeying with the Holy Spirit shared by Trent Sheppard. Around minute 15 he talks about the feminine aspect of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

jesus potion

We’re in Kansas City and it is our first trip down to this city. Seeing my family is so nice. Tom and I were happy to find that the neighborhood where mom and dad live is great. There are funky spots to the city as there are any big city, but the areas we biked, walked, and wandered have been so quaint and pretty. There is a bike trail that people are regularly using and they say hello back if you greet them. Which of course I did- that was cool.

Friday night Dad and Tom and I went out for coffee and talked about heaven and Jesus and the blessing of being in him – “All of humanity is in him-presently” he said. And it was so confirming and less isolating and weird than the classic finger pointing “you’re in and sorry, you are going to hell” approach to the gospel. That is just not good news. Mom said that the worst customers at her paper store are the evengelical christians who really think they are being bold for God by badgering the workers about their lack of religious christian christmas cards. They are so grumpy and rude and bothered that a coworker of hers said that she hoped no more born again christians came into the store. She said it made her embarrassed that this was what Christians were known for. If you don’t have love…(1 Cor. 13)
There is something about how the modern churchgoing majority feel they are being persecuted, when in fact they are just focusing on the wrong things. And they dont know the first thing about being persecuted for their faith- let alone what Jesus would hold important. Jesus didnt come to condemn but to give a new view to the God we thought we had down. A small shriveled God must be judging all that I think do say or almost say all the time so be careful little ears what you hear! or else! this is so small indeed. today at the boiler room church Adam Cox talked about how God makes his home inside of us. And how he understands why we do and say things. That he knows who we are from the inside, every intention and thought. That he is a loving understanding Father who gets us. And then I had the thought as he was talking, what if Jesus really was God’s son. (I know that sounds obvious but I’m still bringing back real meaning to the words that were used at church all growing up. They get this plastic food feel and sometimes I have to remember what it was supposed to mean.) And that in a family sense when he came to the earth he was the father’s representative and that when jesus said he was going to send something better than himself- the holy spirit, maybe that holy spirit is the father’s inner spirit, his inner thoughts and presence. His heart. I can’t wait to see the Father. If he can be seen. Maybe he will be known and not seen. But just be. But man, I’d like to see him. To see what the Trinity really means. To see what Jesus meant with all that he said, to hear the parts that were lost or just misunderstood, clarified. To know how to trust my inner truth barometer more. I have always tried to convince myself that the things preached from so many pulpits about what the real reason for Jesus coming was, were it. That justification by grace transactioned the salvation of a soul. And that it took this time space moment to make Jesus’s forgiving potion to work. there definitely is a moment when you become aware of the love of God, and have to reorder things, and you begin to heal- but that wasn’t salvation. Salvation was already done for me. In Christ. Dad says that we have a hard time understanding in our categorical western minds what that really means. I guess it will take a while for our culture to unlearn centuries of dogma. But I want to learn more. My dad recommended looking up N.T. Wright on these things and I found he has a new book called “Simply Jesus”. I’ll let you know what I learn.

Whoo! Thanks for staying with me- what do you think?
How do you understand Jesus?
Joelle-