Remorse

Remorse = deep regret or guilt for a wrong committed.

 

I turned on the TV yesterday afternoon and was very disappointed to find the OJ parole hearing.  I honestly didn’t know the full story of why he went to prison.  I honestly didn’t care either.  I never followed the first trial even though the media saturated us with every detail of it all of those years ago.  I, like most others, assumed he was guilty of murder.  It was very sad.  I was so very sad for his kids, for the families of Nicole and Ron, and even for OJ if he was, indeed, guilty.  How do you get so possessed that you commit murder of someone you supposedly love so much?  Anyway, I digress.

I found myself getting sucked into the parole hearing…which was so strange for me.  It was stressed that OJ needed to show remorse…that would be the most important deciding factor.  Did I see remorse in him – not really…then again it was made clear that he and the victim of that crime in Las Vegas had made peace with each other and forgiven each other years ago.  Truly some time ago OJ must have shown him that he was remorseful.  The love this man showed for OJ at the hearing was deep and genuine.  How can you show so much love for someone that hurt you so deeply if they aren’t truly sorry?

I found myself hoping that OJ would be paroled.  I found myself praying for this man – praying for God’s will to be done.  I felt kind of guilty hoping for parole knowing how much pain this man allegedly caused so many.  While I didn’t see remorse, I did see humility and vulnerability.  That is what pulled at my heart strings.  Here is this 70 year old man that was larger than life while in his prime…a man that was loved by so many.  I love someone that can be vulnerable in front of others…someone that is humbled by knowing his fate lies in the hands of others and he has no control over what they decide and must live with their decision – right or wrong.  I loved the happiness – the deep happiness I saw in his eyes when the decision was made for parole.  OJ mentioned that he was doing bible study while in prison and wanted to be a better Christian.  I truly pray that he will give his entire life to God…that Jesus will truly be his Lord and Savior.  I know that very often my heart is bigger than my head – as it was in this case.  I often want to believe that people will choose to be who God calls them to be…that they will be good and noble.

Over the last 24 hours I have been reflecting on this case…still feeling strange about how this parole hearing made me feel – how it opened my heart to someone that in my head had done so much that was wrong, yet I so wanted him to have a chance at life – a chance to be with his family and friends – a chance to show that he is reformed – a chance to be a huge witness for Jesus.  I still pray for all of those chances for him…I hope in my heart of hearts that yesterday wasn’t an act…I hope in my heart of hearts that I wasn’t fooled by him.

On to what the real heart of this matter is – as it truly isn’t OJ or his parole.  The real heart of the matter is remorse.  I’ve been struggling for years with particular relationships…relationships that caused very deep wounds.  I chose to do the Godly thing and forgive…I didn’t always forgive right away.  Sometimes it took a good couple of years and a lot of prayer.  Sometimes I opened my heart back up to these people that hurt me – other times I knew it was time to walk away.   What I found the times I chose not to walk away is that nothing really changed – people continued to hurt me over and over again.  I’ve prayed through the years for Jesus to teach me how to have a relationship with these people.  I finally realized this morning that it’s not possible.  What this case has taught me is that without remorse, the attacker will never be a safe place.  Convicts aren’t safe for society and will commit the same crimes again and again.  People that attack will continue to attack and hurt others over and over again – they will never be a safe place.  They are their own idols – they are more important to themselves than anyone else.  As sad as it is, you will either have to walk away or continuously guard your heart.  It feels like death when there is no remorse – like a funeral.  It hurts.  It’s important to forgive, but without remorse we can’t move forward in the same way.  You have to remove people from the places in your heart that you have let them reside.

Unashamed

I’ve been reading Unashamed by Christine Caine.  I’m only on Chapter 5…usually I fly through books, but this is one to take slowly, to absorb all that God is showing you.  Funny, I bought the book because I knew it would be good, but foolishly I thought there wasn’t possibly any other major thing that God could heal in me.  I was so wrong, and I’m so thankful that I was.

I’ve had intimacy issues throughout my marriage…the one place I should never feel  shame.  My husband has always been so patient, understanding and so loving.  There have been times in my past where the thought of being intimate with him crippled me with fear – it wasn’t all the time – it was very sporadic.  Every time I feel this fear, God is about to heal something in me.  God showed me early in our marriage that I had been molested when I was a little girl – I had repressed it.  That was definitely part of the problem, but it wasn’t all of it.  He long ago healed me from that.  There have been some other things I have walked through that left me very broken hearted.  God has been healing these things one at a time.  As I was reading Unashamed, my Spirit felt heavy, and I felt that same familiar feeling – God was tugging at me showing me that I had a wound that was still buried.  He showed me on the spot exactly where it came from – it came from an unhealthy relationship in my past.  I thought I had been healed from that…I had shared all of these things long ago with my husband intentionally because I know that truth brings light to darkness.  I didn’t realize that I still carried the shame from it.  What I discovered yesterday is that it was not even my shame to carry – it was shame that I attached to myself and wore as my own.  I had been exposed to some sexual perversion as a child from someone very influential in my life…I wasn’t part of these acts – I just saw them by mistake (mainly because things were left out where they shouldn’t have been).  These things made me feel dirty, and they gave me a completely different feeling about this person.  I thought this person was dirty.  I realized that this particular relationship that God was showing me from my past, though not perverse at all, made me identify with this person, and I put the filth on myself.  I was dirty from then until yesterday.  Yesterday God showed me a picture of myself from high school…I was such a pure, good girl.  God showed me that is who I am – I have always been that sweet, innocent girl.  That’s my heart – regardless of any relationship I have been in – my heart has always been pure.

I’m so excited about what God is doing in all of His daughters’ lives!  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom!  I pray that God would use this book to heal something in every single person that reads it!

 

Buried, but never forgotten…

I sit here scared to write this post…truly no idea what words will end up on this page when I’m finished…this one little piece of my heart is so hurt and so damaged.  I’d rather not dig out all of the gravel that I’ve used to fill up this hole because I know it is going to hurt like hell.  This hole has been in my heart for 26 years.  God has already started the process of digging out the gravel and bringing this nasty, ugly, hateful piece of my heart to the surface.  He has been exposing it.  This is not something I’ve wanted to revisit.  I haven’t wanted to feel this pain again…truthfully, I’ve been feeling the pain for 26 years and it has wreaked so much havoc on my life.  I’m beyond tired of being a victim to it.

I’ve often thought about my testimony and how in the world I would speak about it if asked because there is just so much to it…so many nuances.  I’ve had so many twists and turns in my life, and God has so beautifully taken me on a drive down that winding road called my life letting me visit those things that crushed my soul in the safety of His arms while He took charge of my heart – making it new – replacing wounds with flesh.  It’s strange how I sit here today realizing that this one particular ‘relationship’ has been at the root of so much pain in my life.  I always thought my father’s death when I was 8 shaped my life – I thought most of my scars were born at that time.  I’m sure a lot of scars were born on that sad day in April – in fact I know that they were, and honestly, maybe those scars set the stage for this one – the dreaded one of which I keep referring.

This person stripped me of my innocence.  He stripped me of hope.  He stripped me of worth.  He made me dirty.  He made me feel so ashamed.  I’ve been carrying all of this around for 26 years never even realizing the depths of this and the branches that grew from it.  I loved him – I honestly don’t know how that was ever possible – but I did.  It was an unhealthy love, and it was clearly never returned.  My heart sought after him for a good year, maybe it was even two years – so hard to remember now – he would pop in and out of my life as it served his needs…and I always welcomed him with open arms…and I was always deeply saddened when he went away again never knowing when or if he would be back.  Every time I saw his car or saw him, my heart would skip a beat.  I don’t understand how I got so sucked in…so charmed by him and his lies.

There was one night in particular that he had told me that he really needed to talk to me.  He came over and told me how much he missed me and that he wanted to be in a relationship again.  He was drunk, but he hadn’t been drunk earlier in the evening when he so desperately needed to talk to me.  I wanted to believe him.  I needed to believe him.  He kept trying to have sex with me, but I just couldn’t do it.  I was too exhausted by him.  My heart was weak and weary.  He was on top of me drunk and heavy – he kept persisting – kept telling me how much he wanted to make love to me.  I told him no over and over and over, but he never gave up.  He wore me down until I gave in – powerless – no fight left.  I didn’t open up to him longingly.  In my soul I knew I couldn’t trust him.  I wish I would have had the power to fight him off that night and rid him from my life, but I didn’t.  Honestly, I don’t remember when he left.  What I do remember is waking up and going to the bathroom the next morning and feeling sick.  Something was different.  I felt different.  I still loved him but it wasn’t with a hopeful heart.  It was with a heavy heart, a violated heart, a heart that had been torn in half, a heart that was so damaged that it is still in desperate need of repair this very second as I write this.

The string of events that happened over the next 2 months compounded the nastiness of that night.  The same day I found out he was engaged to someone else (and had been all along) is the day I found out I was carrying his child.  There I was – in the situation I swore would never happen to me…after all, I was better than that.  I was a good girl.  I felt crippled…I felt afflicted.  I just wanted the nightmare to be over.  I had no one to confide in – no one to talk to.  For the first and really, the only time in my life, I seriously contemplated suicide…not just contemplated it, but was in the moment when I was about a millimeter from moving forward with it.  The only thing that stopped me was the thought of breaking my mother’s heart – she had already been through too much in her life.  I also new this pregnancy would disappoint her – I was so ashamed of myself – so depressed – so distraught.  I decided to do the only thing I thought would fix it.  I ended my pregnancy.  I gave a fake name. I knew I was a bad girl and needed to be punished, so I wouldn’t let the doctor give me anything for pain…I laid there and felt every last bit of the pain from that procedure – physically and emotionally.  The procedure took my baby away – the procedure allowed me to keep my secret – but that procedure never took away my pain.  That pain is still very much alive today.  I’ve lived all these years with the shame of what I did.  I’ve lived all of these years with guilt – not just because my baby was gone but because I couldn’t claim her.  I’ve publicly claimed my babies that I miscarried after I was married – saying that they are waiting for me in heaven…but I’ve never been able to claim this baby because she was kept secret – buried and hidden.  I’ve been angry for a long time – angry at him because it was his fault that I couldn’t claim my baby.  I realize that I get very angry at anyone that slights me and makes me feel helpless and defenseless and invisible.

What I’ve been realizing over the past couple of weeks is that I still feel so ashamed and so dirty.  I imagine myself alone with God, and I can’t even look at Him right now.  I’m not worthy to look at Him or be with Him.  That’s not normal.  God has always been my safe place…the place where I’m always delighted in and beautiful and adored.  This revelation is what led me to the point of dredging all of this up – I know God wants to heal my heart.  I’m so thankful for that.

I’ve been keeping this piece of my heart hidden without realizing it.  I’ve given everything to God, but He has had to dig through so many layers of my heart and slowly bring me to this point…this point where I could finally handle this deep pain that altered everything about me (or so it felt).  God has been with me all along even through the years that I deemed myself unworthy to feel His presence.  He loved me all along – all of me –  my hurts, my wounds, my imperfections…He saw my heart not my sins. He saw my brokenness, and He caught my many tears and wept. He has been in the dark recesses of my heart – clearing a path for the light.  I’m finally understanding that these were my circumstances, and yes, they were awful.  No, I didn’t make the best choices…but these circumstances never defined me.  My identity has never been tied to what I did or didn’t do.  That is very freeing.

Psalm 23:  The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.  Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.  You honor me by anointing my head with oil.  My cup overflows with blessings.  Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

He prepares a feast for me in the presence of my enemies…my enemies are shame, guilt, worthlessness, sadness, anxiety, death, fatigue, emptiness.  These enemies have haunted me since that dreadful time in my life, but it’s time to say goodbye to them…time to remove the shackles that I’ve been dragging around.  May I have the faith and love of Paul and Silas moving forward, and may I always grab ahold of my Love for my Savior in remembrance of all that He has brought me through…famine and feast…and know who I am.

Today I tell you that I am the daughter of a King.  I am the mom of three children:  Paxton Ann, Geneva Grace and Jack Charles.  My babies are the lucky ones – they are being raised with God and the angels and will never know anything except for Love.  One day I will be with them all, but for now and always, I will hold them in my heart and love them with all that I am.

The truth is what sets us free, and as scary as it is to hit publish on this post, I know it’s what I need to do.  It is my sincere prayer that other ladies with similar struggles will be led here and will find healing in these words…most importantly, I pray that they will find themselves in the arms of a Savior that loves and adores them, and that they will know no shame as they gaze into His loving eyes.

 

Forgiving…Is It a Choice?

I’ve always heard that we must forgive, and I know what the scripture says. After years of feeling guilty for not forgiving people in my heart though I desperately wanted to, I began to pray about this topic. What I realized is that we should have a forgiving heart, but we can’t help how we feel. When someone wounds us, it takes time to heal. God can handle the truth – He already knows our heart. This was one of the most freeing revelations to me. I’ve had situations in my life where I was so wounded that I didn’t think I would ever get past the pain. When you feel deep pain like that, you want the person that put you in that state to hurt too…not the most Godly thing to say out loud, but it is truth nonetheless. We are, after all, humans. At the end of the day, it’s what we do with that hurt and pain that matters. There have been several instances where I had to pray for years – I mean years – lots of them, for God to heal my pain and take away my bitter heart. I had to distance myself from the people that hurt me as they weren’t sorry for their actions and had no intention of trying to redeem the situation. Honestly, how do wounds heal when there is no redemption? That would be like expecting a cut to heal and close even though you never got the dirt and bacteria out of it…it just simply doesn’t happen. When people hurt you and don’t seem to care, only God can heal the wound. It will take however long it takes…it will happen in God’s timing. I can tell you that it truly was my heart not to be bitter, and I purposely put distance between myself and those that hurt me so that I wouldn’t act in an ungodly manner, and more so that I would have the time and space to heal in God’s timing. Honestly, it’s not a pleasant state to be in – bitterness only hurts you…not the person that did the hurting.

Forgiveness itself isn’t a choice. Your heart can’t just choose to forgive no matter what your head does. Your actions and your petitions to God are your choices. You intentionally choosing to persevere no matter how long it takes to heal is your choice.

Have freedom in knowing that God can handle your broken heart, and He will nurse it back to health in His timing with the love and compassion that only He can give. Guard against bitter actions by praying, praying again and praying some more.

Sometimes those relationships are redeemed though it just may be years later. Sometimes those relationships aren’t. The one thing that always stands true is that God WILL heal your heart with His loving touch in His perfect timing!