Posts tagged forgiveness

Dear girls,

 In this series we’ve entitled, He’s Not Your Prince Charming, we have been talking about two main themes:

  1. That only Jesus can and will satisfy your deep and ongoing need to be fully loved and satisfied.
  2. That He, in return, asks you to pour that love of His onto your husband relationally, sexually, emotionally, and spiritually.

All this talk, as of late, about loving our men sexually has brought up a whole lot of reasons why that is not always easy. The sheer vulnerability, which open, unfettered sexual expression presupposes, requires so much from a woman. Trust, acceptance, respect, affection, and an effort to give ourselves to a man who is not always what we wish he’d be.

But there is another element of this kind of husband-loving and what impedes us that keeps coming up in your emails and comments and messages to me.


Your need to forgive him for the hurts he has caused… and your need to forgive yourself for your past failures.

And so, for the next couple of weeks I plan to address these issues because I think its time we all moved past the resentment that makes us crabby and cranky and cold to our men.

And because this is a conversation and I’m sitting outside a coffee shop with a lovely, foamy cappuccino by my side while we “talk”, I need to prepare you for the messiness of these kinds of dialogues. We are women, after all, and hold a certain right to go off on rabbit trails to topics we deem relevant to whatever it is we’re trying to say. Just sayin’.

For today though, I’ll simply tell you a story…

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess. (Isn’t that just the best way to start any story?)

This princess had everything she needed. Castles and riches and luxury and freedom to become more and more beautiful every day. Her future stretched out before her in one long litany of hope.

Her life would be good, great. She would live forever in this place of continual delight and hope.

This princess was an exceedingly generous person. Every day she doled out gifts to her servants, sprinkling fairy dust doses of good will and help to everyone she encountered. 

One day she discovered that her most trusted manager had been swindling her. Millions of dollars were missing and the evidence pointed unequivocally to this man. She was shocked. Angry. Hurt. Feelings of betrayal and unbelief swept over her. She had trusted him, believed in him, been generous with him.

The man was promptly brought to justice, cast from her presence and imprisoned in the darkest dungeon. Perhaps if she never had to see him again, she would come free of the terrible pain he had caused her by his disloyalty.

Then one day, she received an urgent message. “Please, please, forgive me for my terrible folly,” the man wrote with shaky hand. “I cannot live in this place a moment longer, have mercy on me— I promise I will repay you every penny!”

After much soul searching, the princess agreed to set him free from that dark place of shame, knowing there was no possible way he could ever repay her for the harm he’d done. Out of the generosity of her heart, she chose to forgive the man and release him from the debt he owed.

That very day, the prisoner was set free.  Breathing deeply of the fresh air, soaking in the sunshine, he danced for the joy of his unexpected, undeserved freedom. He’d been given a second chance and he was determined to succeed. 

Coming down the walkway toward him, he spotted a lowly messenger boy he’d once lent a little bit of money. “Ah ha!” he murmured, “Here’s my ticket to a new start.”

Taking the surprised boy by the neck, he shook him hard. “You owe me money! Give it now, this instant! Or I will have you thrown in the debtor’s prison where you will rot until you pay me back.”

As happens in a small kingdom like the one she ruled, word of this encounter soon got back to the princess. Her heart fell, grief welling once again to the surface.

How could he, forgiven of so much, fail to forgive so small a debt?

Justice for the man’s terrible injustice required that the princess revoke the man’s pardon immediately. She sent him back to the darkness where he would wallow alone in his own bitterness.

(You can read the real story, told by Jesus to his crabby and competing and conflict riddled disciples in Matthew 18)

Every time I read that story I realize again how much forgiving real-life love requires.

All those bumps and bruises that happen as we figure out how to do life together.

All the disappointments when one of us isn’t there for the other in the way we need.

All those loose words that come rushing out of hidden places, cutting and saying and hurting deep.

Each hurt must be looked at honestly and forgiven thoroughly or else we end up stuffing our insides full of hostility.

The only possible way to forgive every one of those hurts is to fully embrace the forgiveness offered by Jesus and then to choose with a heroic act of our will to forgive for His sake.

Make believe doesn’t work here girls. You can’t pretend he didn’t mean it or it doesn’t hurt or you’re not mad. That’s just stuffing it and as we all know, that ugliness has a way of either seeping out of our pours or blowing up in our faces.

And making excuses isn’t effective in the long run. He’s tired, pressured, stressed… but that can only go on for so long and then what?

A bitter, hardened attitude can set in when there’s always a reason for his bad mood or his failure to love well once again.

Neither does it work to choke him until he “gets it” and turns into a charming prince full of golden words and deeds all for you. Correcting and reminding and calling him on every slip will turn you into a nagging crab in no time.

Only forgiveness heals the hurt. Daily, weekly, hourly, moment-by-moment forgiving the man for being so unfailingly human.  That’s what God gives you and me. And that’s what He asks us in turn to give our men.

If you want to have a really great friendship with this man for years and decades until “death do us part”, you’re going to have to learn the art of forgiving and giving grace.

Next week I’ll be giving you some treasures from my long time mentor, Muriel Cook. This is a woman who shines with love for her husband, Norm. For now, I’ll just leave you with a snatch of her wisdom to think about this week:

“I’ve learned that a lack of forgiveness is the root of most problems. In almost every problem situation, after peeling off the layers of grief and distress, I find a wounded spirit or an unresolved resentment. Usually, it is the result of a hurt that hasn’t been dealt with or a pain that hasn’t been relinquished to God.” From Kitchen Table Counseling by Muriel Cook

From a heart still learning,


P.S. Do you have any questions about forgiveness that you’d like me to address? Or wisdom that works in this messy process of becoming a forgiving woman? Not the theory, so much, as the practical reality? We’re all needing whatever words you can give. Thank you!





Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God…

Hebrews 13:15

Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

Colossians 3:16

Sing to Me.

I heard the words as if they were whispered in my dormant ear.

Me? Sing? But I can’t sing, can’t hear the tune to match my voice along the sounds that make a song. You know I’m not a singer, Lord. Deaf girls don’t sing.


I’d been asking the Father why my walk with Him seemed dry and just a little off lately. I’d sensed a distance, a disconnect. By now I’ve delighted In His nearness for so many years that the nagging sense that my heart was growing tepid worried me.

What was wrong?

After turning the searchlight of His Word onto my daily life and asking Him to show me anywhere I might be messing up, drifting from His ways, I came up with a handful of not-so-obvious sins to confess: a little selfishness here, a critical tendency there, a good bit of laziness, my usual sin of self-indulgence.

Still the silence rang loud.

Until this morning, when I asked again.

Lord, what is up? What is wrong? I need You, need that closeness, that joy, that hope that rallies me out of my warm bed on a cold morning to meet You in that place I crave.

And that’s when I heard Him say it once more.

Sing to Me.

But Lord, please. I can’t sing.

At church I mostly fake it, or hide under the loudness and face away from anyone near. Sometimes I just stop and watch and pray and sing deep where no one hears. I raise my hands while those around me raise their voices.

Sing to Me, Di.

But Phil might hear. What would he think? I’ve tried singing on my walks but that’s embarrassing too. What must the neighbors think? A woman and her dog walking down the street singing hymns that sound like two-tone, out of tune meanderings of a mad woman. Please!

Just sing to Me, Di, I love when you sing. I love that sound of tuneless worship. Like Mary’s broken box of sweet perfume spilled on My feet, wiped with her mass of tangled hair.

Sing in the beauty of your brokenness, Di, and delight Me. Forget about anyone and everyone else.

Sing to Me.

And so I pulled on thick, warm socks, grabbed the green hymnal off the bookshelf—  the one I’d  learned so long ago to worship with— and headed down two flights of stairs to the basement. Huddled by the heater, wrapped in my favorite blanket, I opened to an old favorite.

Are ye able, said the Master,

To be crucified with Me?

Yea, the conquering Christians answered,

To the death we follow Thee.

And then that second verse, asking if I am able to remember the thief who lifted his face to Jesus to find his soul pardoned and invited into His presence.

And all I can remember is that one I cannot seem to thoroughly forgive. The one who doesn’t seem sorry enough for all the wounded  left in the wake of a selfish pursuit of  happiness.

Oh Father, forgive me for the stinginess of my grace. Who am I to hold a sin against someone when You do not?

I found myself singing it again and again, louder each time, more free and full than I’d felt in a long, long time.

Lord, we are able, our spirits are Thine,

Remold them, make us like Thee, divine…

Another hymn, louder.

Again and again, with increasing confidence.

Yes! This is what I want because this is what He wants.

My gift to Him. My off-kilter, broken, not-very-lovely gift is the one He cherishes most.

And suddenly it dawned on me, how Mary must have been embarrassed when she huddled at His feet, wiping them with her tears. How the misunderstanding of unmerciful men must have weighed heavy on her unwrapped head. Were her tears like mine?

The humiliation of obedience?

The spilling of what she’d held too tight?

The relief of letting go?

And what about David when he danced before God? Had God whispered to him like He did to me?

Strip off your royal robes, David, down to the plain tunic that hides nothing. Fling off your dignity and dance for Me.

I don’t know, but I do know that this hour I’ve spent singing has released something somewhere in my insides.

And I know I’ll be back.

Back to the basement, the old green hymnal open on my lap, singing my heart out.

What about you, my dear ones?

Is He asking something of you?

Something  surprising?

Something hard?

Something so laughably easy that you’re certain it couldn’t be all He wants?

Will you listen?

Will you sing?

From my heart, filled to overflowing,


repost: march 2013

HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: when your past haunts your present

Dear girls, Last week we talked about 5 truths about sex. Solid, unshakeable realities that are firmly rooted in God’s Word, interwoven through stories and verses, imbedded in Biblical poetry and prophesy and chronicled in epistles from beginning to end.

And this week as I read your comments and emails and messages I hear the lies that follow you right into the bedroom.

That you are not beautiful enough…

That you are not pure enough…

And, perhaps the most haunting of all, that your past prevents you from fully and freely relishing that romance and passion you long for. 

Early this morning I sensed the Spirit of God urging me awake, inviting me into His presence, waiting for me to ask Him for wisdom for you, my daughters with aching hearts and haunting questions.

“I want so desperately to be fully engaged when we are intimate but so many of my past experiences haunt me in ways I can’t begin to describe…

I frequently find myself struggling to simply feel something emotionally…

 Sometimes I feel like my heart has been permanently paralyzed and I wish with everything I could fully engage with my husband and lay aside the memories of my past…

I can’t help but feel like we are both continuing to be robbed for the sins I have already been forgiven for...

I would love to hear your thoughts on overcoming this and allowing God to heal us and make us new so that we can be fully free and fully engaged with our bodies and husbands which is the way God intended sex to be.

Could you possibly talk about how to re-learn sexual vulnerability for those of us who have been hurt in the past? 

And as I sit here alone while all the world sleeps, I listen.

Asking the One who knows, who sees, who saves your tears in a bottle, for wisdom… for grace… for the kind of truth that sets wounded women free.

Two words echo over and over again in my mind— one, surprisingly easy and refreshingly freeing, the other defeatingly difficult and even more freeing.

Repentance (the easy one that sets us free from shame).

Forgivenesss (the really hard one that sets us free from pain).

But first, a story.

One day at church, a young woman I know and love wanted to talk to me. Alone. Her husband stood just a little bit behind her with his hands in his pockets. He looked worried.

We found a private place where we wouldn’t be interrupted or overheard, made ourselves comfortable, and sat in silence. I could tell she was trying to compose herself, getting her emotions safely tucked away where they wouldn’t interfere with her story.

“I need to tell somebody some really horrible stuff. I just can’t get rid of the memories and I feel like I’m drowning in images from my past. My husband has no idea how to help and would be horrified if he heard the details of my life before I met him him. Yet those pictures won’t go away! Every time my husband touches me I see things… dark things I’ve done… and…”

Here she looked at me with such deep remorse it caught my breath,

“I cannot feel pleasure, not like I know it should. I hold back, afraid of freedom, afraid to feel.”

For the next hour my young friend laid it all out. Every single memory. Every sexual partner. What she saw. What she felt. Every layer of blackness that hung over her every time she made love to her husband.

And after each recalled and confessed memory she repented. She prayed. She paused. Then she confessed some more.

I just listened, feeling the horror with her, cursing the enemy under my breath for wrecking the life of such a lovely woman.

We held hands the whole time, and though her hands trembled, she didn’t shed a tear. Stoically, with immense determination, she just walked through her list of misery.

When she was done we sat in silence.

And then we started to worship. Spontaneously, filling up with such joy, such relief, we took turns praising and thanking and admiring the One who calls Himself Redeemer. The beauty of His blood washed over us as we reveled in His choice to love us “while we were yet sinners”. We laughed as we remembered that He adopted us, fully knowing who we are, what we’d done, what we’d do.

We didn’t sing, didn’t weep, didn’t disturb the holiness of the moment with much thought of our feelings. We just got caught up in wonder.

How can it be? The old hymn writer wondered, That Thou, My God should rescue me?

We both left that meeting stunned— not by the wretched ugliness of her confessions, but by the shocking grace of our God who sees it all and never wavers in His forgiveness.

And my friend left that meeting free. All those memories fell off her soul, crashing at the foot of the Cross… and stayed there.

And slowly, but surely, she began to feel again. Her husband’s arms became a refuge instead of a reminder. His love mirrored the love of her Redeemer. She responded with increasing joy, finding intense pleasure where tense pain had held her captive.

And me? I cannot remember anything she told me. The burden I had thought I would have to bear with her is lost somewhere in that flood of grace. I can recall the beauty of our worship but not even a bit of the blackness.

So strange… so strangely wonderful.

And I tell you all of that so that maybe some of you who are caught by soul binding chords of guilt and shame might consider a similar way to freedom.

James 5:16-18 in the Message paraphrase lays out the truth of what happened in that room like this:

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.

The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. 

The showers came and everything started growing again.

Everything started to grow again. Just like my friend’s soul and marriage and sexuality began to grow again after she followed her courage to confession and repentance and acceptance of that overwhelming grace that only God can give.

This post is too long and I haven’t even addressed the second word: forgiveness. Maybe another time. For now, suffice it to say what I already have, that forgiveness is the key that sets us free from pain.

I love you, girls!

From my heart,