In Healing for Damaged Emotions, David Seamands powerfully discusses guilt, grace and debt-collecting (Chapter 2). He notes that, “Only after you have accepted God’s unconditional forgiveness are you set free to forgive others.” Though we intellectually know that if we repent God forgivs us, too many of us have not been able to forgive ourselves. Even if we have produced fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8), many of us automatically and subconsciously base our relationship with God on the ‘do and don’t do’ messages of church or families. Our relationship with God has to be based on God’s truth and grace.
Most of us have heard that, regarding our families, what happens in the house stays in the house. In our discussion groups, women have shared about the pain they felt when people who abused them (physically, emotionally, and/or sexually) outright denied it. They have also shared the real difficulty with forgiveness and resulting trust issues. I am saddened by some of the reactions of families when a child tells them that they have been abused. Denials and “sweeping things under the rug” have severely damaged so many women, men, and families. Many times, families don’t know how to deal with abuse and thus just try to ignore it.
I personally wish that my Dad could have been there for me more as I attempted to deal with my parents’ divorce and my step-father. He assumed that “everything was ok”, and didn’t really know how to help. Since my parents were immersed in their own challenges, as a child, I did all I knew how to do at the time. I worked to perform, achieve, and strive. This actually was an endless treadmill of looking for acceptance, attention, validation, forgiveness, and love. Amen that we can ask God to: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
It’s so great to know that Jesus is our “Wounded Healer”. Hebrews 4: 14-16 says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
I personally am so grateful that Jesus is sensitive and fully compassionate regarding my pain! I don’t feel all alone when I know that others have experienced similar situations, understand me, and care for me. My unresolved infirmities/damaged emotions (crippling weaknesses) definitely sabotaged my relationships and happiness. Seamands encourages us by saying that, “Because of what Jesus suffered emotionally in His humanity, you can be certain that God knows, cares, and fully understands your feelings of woundedness.” As there is not one perfect person here on earth, let’s embrace our entire selves – the good, the bad, and the infirmities! Through God’s strength, let’s get the help we need to be strong at our broken places!
REFLECTION: Have you forgiven yourself as God has forgiven you? Have you let yourself ‘off the hook’? What situation has been most difficult with regards to forgiving yourself?
- Healing for Damaged Emotions Workbook (includes book) by David Seamands
- Heart and Soul Love: God’s Life to the Full by Cresenda Jones (to be published by http://ipibooks.com/)