Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mountains and Landscapes and God's Jagged Lines

It's presence juts out of the hillside along Italy's sole, near the toe, coming out of the earth, jagged and obtrusive, like a cancer that has forced itself into the light.  As we sailed along the shore and I studied  and took pictures of this mammoth, out-of-place growth, it reminded me of how raw and out of place sin and wounds and regrets leave us feeling.  Jagged, like the rough formation coming out of the rolling hills surrounding it.  Did it rip up the earth as it made it's way to the top?  Or was the jaggedness there first and the rolling hills were formed later, surrounding the rough base?

I couldn't zoom in close enough with the camera lens to see the base of that protruding rock and I don't know the geological history of the southern coast of Italy to know which came first, the rock or the hills or maybe both were formed at the same time.  It doesn't really matter, what struck me the most was how the two topographical sites contrasted.


Looking at this gigantic, surely misplaced evidence of a wounded land (and I'm not a geologist but I'm sure there is a word for this formation and a history behind it) I couldn't stop thinking about how this rock, surely out of place, was an allegory for the wounds of our lives.

When we carry the weights and regrets of our past sins and woundings and find no place to put them and keep taking them from Jesus' hands and back into our hands, the wounds can't heal.  The jagged edges that have cut through the flesh of our souls and torn our hearts prevent the new tissues of hope, struggling to generate and form new healthy tissue, as we continue to see our wounds and our sins as the obnoxious and visible remains of our past.  Something that is constantly in view, second guessing our forgiveness, wondering if we'll ever be free, doubting God's goodness.

But......

As we continued to slowly sail past the monstrous jagged landscape and the frontal view became a side view and then a distant view and then.....no longer in view the farther away we got from it, the Lord began to speak to my heart about this.

I'm not one to have audible conversations with Him, but my heart and soul "heard" Him tell me this as we sailed on the beautiful waters of Italy's southern shore.  He said something like this, and I hope it blesses you in the way it blessed me:



Your sins and your wounds looked like that jagged rock, penetrating and jutting through, protruding and overwhelming the beauty of the landscape surrounding it.  But when the view changes and you move past and move on, the jagged roughness begins to lose its rough edges as it begins to blend into the landscape, becoming more beautiful as it melds and gets further from view.

You sins and your past and your wounds look like that rock when you face them, jagged and raw, seemingly so out of place.  But as time passes and they meld into the whole of who you are, who I have created you to be, it becomes a part of a beautiful landscape of my love.  Yes, the heart hurts when the wound is fresh and raw, when the regrets try to haunt you, but sweet children, see it how I see it.  A beautiful part of the landscape of your life.  The further you go from the place where it hurt the most, the more you will see it the way I see it.  A beautiful part of my beautiful plan for you.














Peace,

Ronda




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

When our plans don't look like God's you may find yourself talking to sheep

In 2013 when our family returned from our trip of a lifetime, I began thinking and planning for my next trip to explore the things I wanted to see again and see things I couldn't see the first time.  I find that cruising is a good way to see a lot of places without the stress of having to drive from place to place and find hotels and places to eat.  But that's just me.  There is a downside to cruising and that is you can't drive from place to place and see more of the inland parts of a land and find hotels and places to eat, but if you're a rookie at foreign travel, cruising is a good way to start.

So back in May I was surfing on our preferred cruise line's website, dreaming and looking for the next cruise I would start saving for, probably in 2016.  One of the places that my husband and I both wished to see was Rome and as I perused the cruise line's website, I saw an advertised "hot deal" for a 10 day cruise starting in Rome that was almost too good to be true.  The catch was that it was in December of this year I told my husband, to which he replied, "I'm not doing anything in December."  Oh the retired life!

So I checked with my boss and when she told me we could make it work, put a deposit on the cruise and started saving fast.  

Our plan was to go a day early so that we could spend it in Rome before leaving on the ship.

That was our plan.  I bought tickets to see the Vatican and bus tickets to ride around the city so we could see as much as we could as fast as we could in one twenty four hour period.

That was our plan.

The night before we were supposed to leave, my husband tried checking us both in on the airline website.  He was able to check himself in ok but when it came time for me, it wouldn't let him.  My passport was going to expire soon after our return, and we thought that might be the problem so we called the airline to find out.  The agent assured me that the passport was not the problem, that I would be pulled aside to be screened and that's why it wouldn't let us check in.  I asked her one more time before we hung up, "but my passport is ok?"  She assured me again, my passport was ok.

It wasn't. 

When we got to the airport the next morning and the agent there who was checking us in scanned my passport she said, "oh oh, I don't think you'll be able to go."  In our shock, in our disbelief, as we stood there trying to process what she was telling us, I couldn't get on an airplane, she said that the airline required AT LEAST ninety days left on your passport AFTER you have returned to the US.
AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Still standing in shock and disbelief and tears welling up, the agents nonchalantly told us that we would have to drive to Chicago and get a same day passport.

Wait, what?!  Drive to Chicago?  Today?

Yes.

But we're supposed to be in Rome tomorrow!

You're not going anywhere until you get a new passport.

A ticket agent, smiling assuredly and saying, "this happens all the time," assisted my husband in trying to get an appointment for me, that day, in Chicago, 3 1/2 hours away, while another agent was working to rebook us on another flight that would get us in Rome with enough time to get to the ship before it left.

Me?  I just stood there.  Jaw on the floor, tears in my eyes, wondering what in the world was going on.

We couldn't get an appointment for that day in the time it would take to drive to Chicago, but they did get us an 8:30 appointment the next morning.  

Then there was the issue of the rebooking fee.

Three, yes three THOUSAND dollars.  

Each.

When we told them about the prior night's phone call to an airline agent and that she had assured me that my passport expiration wasn't an issue, not once, but twice, they were kind enough to waive the rebooking fee.  

But spending the day in Rome was out.  Prepaid Bus tickets lost.  Prepaid Vatican tickets lost.   Prepaid hotel and transfer fees to the ship.  Lost.

Now we were on the clock and looking at a number of miracles, one at a time, that had to occur before we were ever going to make it to the ship.  And there wasn't a darn thing we could do to make any of them happen faster or in a different order.  One couldn't happen until the one before it happened.

The only thing we knew to do in that moment was roll our luggage over to a waiting area and sit in disbelief and try to figure out our game plan.  (I think I heard a chuckle when I wrote that).

It was too far to go home to have to get up early enough to drive to Chicago, taking into consideration the wonderful traffic that is always a problem there.  

We started looking for hotels on the internet, close enough to downtown where the federal building is and where I needed to be at 8:30 in the morning.  They were either booked or at least $300 a night.  So I texted a friend of mine who lives outside Chicago and does a lot of travel arrangements in her job.  She started texting me hotels I didn't know about and still I came up with them either being booked or way out of our price range.  She was kind enough to offer a bedroom at her house and so we made arrangements to head there. 

But the first stop was a Walgreen's to get a new passport picture taken.  As I write that I am SOOOOOO thankful for technology.  I had my picture taken, processed and paid for within 10 minutes.  

The rest of the story I will tell using the pictures I took along the way.

I posted this picture on Instagram while waiting for my husband to park the car at the first airport.  The airport we had planned to leave from.   The boastful caption read, "On our way to Rome."  Little did we know a few minutes later we might not even be going.


The welcoming committee at my friend's house.  We enjoyed some good pizza and chatted about the Packers, the playoffs, Delia the world famous dairy cow and then headed to bed early for a 5am wakeup call to head for Chicago.  Normal traffic time 90 minutes without traffic.  We didn't want to take any chances of missing the appointment.  Miracle one was about to happen.


On our way to Chicago, not what I thought we would be seeing at the time of day on that day.


It looks like we could be in Italy, but unfortunately we weren't.


Not the Sistine Chapel.  Traffic stopped.  7:30 am.  Three miles to destination.


Miracle One:  We made it downtown by 8am, found a place to park about 4 blocks from the Federal building.  We stopped in a Panera, got a coffee and bagels to go and then entered the Federal building.  A line had already formed behind security and we got in it.  A few minutes before 8:30 they started screening and we got on the elevator and went to the 18th floor, to stand in another line before the doors to the Passport office opened.

When we were allowed in I went to a window, showed them my documents, paid the $170 to get the passport and was promised a 1pm pickup time.  There was nothing to do but wait until we could pick up my passport, IF it would be ready at 1:00, so we decided to walk to the Public Library we passed on our way from the parking lot and use the wifi there, while we thought of what we should do.   I still didn't get it, there was NOTHING we could do.  We played a game of checkers while waiting and surfing.



When that took all of thirty minutes we decided to take a walk outside.  I mentioned to hubs that I had never seen the famous river that runs through downtown Chicago, so he found that we were within easy walking distance and we bundled up and headed outside.




That took all of about forty five minutes and it was 11:00 by then, even after going up every floor of Macy's, we were anxious and decided to go back to the Federal building and see if my passport may be ready.  The security on the 18th floor wouldn't let us check, but told us there was a snack bar on the second floor we could go to and wait there.  So we did.  This was our view as we waited there.


At 12:30 we decided to try again and this time we told the Security guards on the 18th floor that we had a 5pm flight we were trying to get to.  They let us through and at 12:41 I sent a picture of me with my new passport to the text thread of daughters and my Mom who were praying us.  Miracle number Two. 

 Now the need for a really big miracle.  Getting to the airport.  It was not technically high traffic time, but as anyone who has traveled in Chicago knows, that doesn't matter.  We still had to get to the airport, park our car, get on the shuttle bus that would take us to the train that would take us to the actual international terminal, and then... check in.  Getting on the plane seemed nearly impossible and we had agreed that if we didn't make it we would just get in the car and head south to visit the kids.

(In the back of my mind I was thinking, "that's what we should have done.  We shouldn't have spent the money to go on this spur of the moment trip.  We should have never done this," scolding myself, thinking that maybe I might be outside of what God wanted, even though I had prayed before booking the cruising and buying the airline tickets that if it wasn't His will for us to go, just shut the door.  The door hadn't closed.  But it sure seemed like it was now.   AFTER all the money was paid.  Even though we had insurance I highly doubted there was a clause on there for stupid people who don't check passport regulations).

But Miracles 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 happened.  No traffic, we made it to the airport, we found a parking spot, we got on the shuttle and we were checked in to our new flight via Paris and sitting at the gate by 3pm.  As we settled in our seats at the gate and texted our prayer warriors, we each took a turn to find something to eat because we hadn't had anything since our bagels that morning.  

I bought a sprite, a bottle of water and some fruit snacks and as I was walking back, this mannequin in an airport store window caught my eye.  I knew God wasn't telling me to have faith for the Chicago Bulls.  He was telling me, reminding me to have faith, we were going to get there.


It's kind of blurry but this picture at the gate for our flight to Paris says
"Paris/De Gaulle
On Time".
Miracle 9


I have no idea what time this is, but it is in Paris at the airport.  I was excited to see the Paris skyline but it wasn't meant to be.  It was a cloudy, hazy day.  But that was ok.  We were one step closer.


When we were still in the airport in Wisconsin, after it was really happening that we weren't going to Rome that day, I called our cruise line consultant to ask for her help and to tell her we wouldn't be needing our hotel in Rome after all and the bus transfer that had already been paid for was cancelled along with the hotel because it was a package deal.  She assured me that there would be a cruise agent at the airport in Rome who would get us on the bus to the ship.  She told me the manifest for the bus transfer had already been closed so there was no way anyone at the airport would know there were two more people who were hoping to hitch a ride.  We just had to find the agent and tell him or her ourself.

Welcome Miracle 10.

When something happens that is totally outside your control and there is only the step in front of you to take, you can only take the step in front of you.  By this time, after being up for I don't know how many hours, and the silly anxiety of wondering if you'll make it and what if you don't, then what? and you're tired and hungry and just feeling like surely you made a big fat huge mistake by ever wanting to travel outside of the country, my husband and I stood at the baggage claim in Rome, willing our luggage to come down the belt.

We couldn't leave the baggage claim to go look for the cruise agent until we had our luggage.  All we could do, tired as we were, was get testy with each other, he annoyed with me, me annoyed with him wondering if we would ever be able to find the cruise agent, if our luggage would ever come off the (^&%^&$$ conveyor belt!

Finally it did.  And we started to take the next step.  Finally.

Miracle 11 was just waiting outside the baggage claim.  We each were dragging two bags, well, I had four.  My big suitcase, my carryon, my tote bag and my cross shoulder purse (of which my husband, the family follower of rules and order pointed out I was exceeding - I told you testy and annoyed this pair.) And a winter coat that couldn't fit in my suitcase that kept falling off my luggage.

So there we are, hubs racing ahead of me trying to find a cruise line agent, asking taxi drivers where he might find one as they were asking us if we needed a taxi.  They directed him to the next terminal and as I was struggling to keep up with him and keep my coat from falling I saw him turn to a woman leading a group of travelers.  As he was asking her where he could find our cruise line agent, I saw her lift up her placard with the cruise line logo high above her head.

Just like that.  We were going to make it.

Standing in line to get on the cruise line bus to the ship.


On the bus.


Miracle 12


It's not the way we planned to get there.  We did miss Rome, but oh well.  We got to see and experience a lot of other cool stuff which I will share.  There was absolutely nothing we could have done to make any of the events leading up to getting on the ship change.  It was totally out of our hands but carefully held in His hands.

Along the way God got to bring people into this story who may have just been having an ordinary day but then they got to pray for us and this journey when all I could do was stand in disbelief and shock.  We got to see the kindness of one ticket agent in particular at the start of this who fought for our rebooking fee to be waived.  She didn't have to do that.  She could have said, "you should have known."  But she didn't.

We got to receive the kindness of a friend since 7th grade and her husband and receive their hospitality and fun conversation that we never otherwise would have had. 

Our texting/prayer warriors kept me going, kept me smiling.  One of my daughter's texted this "Praying that there are 0 issues getting your passport tomorrow and that your flight is on time AND THAT YOU ARE BUMPED UP TO 1st class."  And then a few seconds later:  "And that George Clooney is on your plane. " We didn't get first class or George but we did get a passport and an on time flight.

Isn't God good?

The moral of this story:

If you are traveling out of the US, make sure your passport is not going to expire within 6 months of your return.  That's the safest way to make sure what happened to me doesn't happen to you.

And, trust God.  If you only have light for the step you're in, use that light.  He's got ya!  You'll get to where you're going not a minute early nor a minute late, but right on time.  His time!


Peace,
Ronda



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

For the Love of Ferguson

When I was a girl growing up in a very small blink-and-you'll-miss-it town in Wisconsin the only black people I ever saw in Wisconsin were on TV playing for the Green Bay Packers or when I watched The Price is Right with my grandparents.  There were a few trips to Milwaukee as a child where I saw people of color out the car window, but that was the extent of ever knowing someone a different color than my pale flesh.

My grandparents and the other older generations still carried with them the vernacular of their formative years.  I remember several times watching The Price is Right with my grandparents.  I remember when an overly excited (at least from a white person's view of excitement) woman of color would win on that show and my grandfather saying something like, "look at that colored woman carrying on."  His tone was never judgment or disgust, but he thought it was funny.  Looking back, what was probably funniest was the white people looking uncomfortable around the overly excited one.

When I married my husband and moved away from my small Wisconsin town and began to see parts of the country where there were lots of people of many shades of color, my viewpoint began to expand and I was no longer looking outside a car window onto a street but I was hearing their voices, hearing their laughter, watching them buy groceries in the same grocery store I was in.

I remember going back to Wisconsin to visit family on occasion and sitting in my grandparent's living room, watching TPIR again and on those occasions when a woman of color showing her excitement and joy was on stage and my grandpa saying again, "that colored woman sure is excited," and me saying to my grandpa, "they poop and pee just like we do, grandpa."  And my grandpa laughing and saying, "well, I guess they do."

As we moved around the country, and my world stayed 99% white, my children started going to school where their world was not the white world I grew up in.  It was a world of many different shades.  I remember when my oldest daughter was in first grade and everyday she came home from school telling me about her friend Deandra.   "Deandra this" and "Deandra that" were the dominant themes of our conversations after school.

One day when I was in her classroom volunteering she proudly introduced me to her friend Deandra, who was a child of color, and NOT the white girl I assumed she was.  That afternoon when my daughter came home from school I said to my daughter, because I was a culturally raised white girl and my daughter was leading a new trail through my culture, "You didn't tell me your friend Deandra was black."

To which my blond haired, blue eyed girl who was coloring at the time and never looked up at me said,  "she's not black, Mom, she's brown."

A generations wide paradigm shifted that day, led by a girl who saw not black and white, but pinks and brown and tan and yellows as she colored a picture of children in her classroom.

After that conversation, or should I say the lesson learned from my girl, I began to pray for a friend like Deandra.  A friend that maybe was brown, maybe was black, or maybe purple.  I didn't care, I just began praying for a friend that I enjoyed being with like my girl enjoyed being with her friend Deandra.

It took several years before God gave me that blessing and before He could do that He had to show me another side of the color spectrum that was important to know before I was given the privilege of having a friend of another color for my purely selfish reasons.

He began to bring me women of color who sat in circles with me around the Word of God.  We studied His word together, we listened to each other's prayer requests, we prayed for each other.  And as God wove our hearts together around His Word, He wove shades of color into my heart that began to see His human creation not as black or white or Hispanic or Asian but as beautiful children, all with flesh and bones and hearts and muscles and pain and heartache and griefs and joy.

We were different colors on the outside, but our hearts had the same need on the inside.  Him.

Then, when I thought I was done learning my lessons on racial divides and saw from a much broader view than TPIR or my car window, and I was waiting for my friend to arrive, He put me in nursing school, smack dab in the middle of black, white, tan, male and female.

Let me tell you how trying to survive something like nursing school will quickly kill any remaining cultural prejudices you may have as you don't care who knows what, you just need someone to help you understand blood pressure and infection processes and will someone please help me figure out how to operate this (*)^%*% glucometer!

I needed help and God sent it and it came in color!

When I was pinned as a Registered Nurse I stood next to people of color who had felt the same stressors, had the same fears of failure, but we had made it.  I didn't see my fellow students as that black girl, but I saw her as my colleague, my classmate.  I was proud that we had made it together.  I wasn't proud that I had overcome my cultural prejudices, I was proud that we had made it together and we were nurses!





I had forgotten my prayer for a friend who was a different color then me, but God hadn't.

And I didn't get just one, I got a bunch.

My very first nursing job, God brought me my first friend who was not white like me.  And along with her came a couple more.

They make fun of me for the way I talk and for the way I tell them to slow down so I can understand the way they talk.  We laugh together as we laugh at each other and tell stories of our parents and our school stories and our childhood shenanigans.  I've learned so much from them, as women, as healthcare providers, as nurses, but mostly, I've learned from them as friends.

God has richly blessed me, He answered my prayers much broader and wider than I ever thought I needed or wanted by bringing them into my life. (They'll love to read that part).

My life is better because we're different.  I'm not better because I'm white and they're not less because they're not.  I'm better because I know them and I am loved by them.  They have my back and I have theirs.

Jesus taught me not to see skin color anymore, but to see character.

These are my friends.




Yes, this one made a mess at my house!





I will never know the struggles they have had as a person of color and they will never know the struggles I have as a person of pale color.  But we do share and know the struggles of being women, of being nurses, of being mothers, being daughters, being wives...of being people.  We all poop and pee the same way, our blood is the same color inside our bodies.

Oh that you and the rest of our country would know the joy I have in the blessings God has given me to call a brown person my friend.

Peace to you, peace for Ferguson, Missouri and the communities on all sides.

But mostly just

Peace,
Ronda

Saturday, November 22, 2014

When Opportunity Knocks......

sometimes we keep the door bolted shut.

It would be so much easier, wouldn't it, if God did what we wanted Him to do in the way we think He should do it?  If He would just listen to our suggestions, I mean prayers, and make things work out the way we would if we were him, life, at least our lives, would be so much better, wouldn't they?

But no, what does this God do?  He allows us heartache and disease and loneliness and broken relationships at the worst time.  Smack dab in the middle of life.

But maybe we should flip these things upside down and look at them from a different perspective.

Instead of cursing the pain and the darkness and the disease as something surely not allowed by God, but more as an annoyance or a punishment, maybe we need to look at these things as opportunities to see God more clearly and love him more dearly.

Opportunity:

an amount of time or situation in which something can be done
a favorable juncture of circumstances
a good chance for advancement or progress

Maybe the loneliness or the disease or whatever circumstance you're in right now is the favorable juncture of circumstances to advance or progress in your relationship with the One who could stop it but doesn't.

We spend, at least I do anyway, a lot of time banging on doors that  clearly are not going to open but we keep knocking, getting bloody knuckles and sore fists.  But the same may be said of a door I may have bolted shut.  God is on the other side, knocking in our hard stuff, wanting to come through the door and walk with us, but we are keeping Him locked out.  We don't like the timing or the situation so we're just going to show God how much we disagree with His methods by shutting Him out!

Yeah, that will show Him!

Maybe we need to redefine the hard things in life.  Instead of calling them pain or disease or brokenness or loneliness or simply crap, maybe we need to define them as
                                     

challenges 
or 
    opportunities

to see God and His ways, and ourselves, in an entirely different light.

Maybe?

If God is Opportunity knocking on the door, then wouldn't He be the first One we'd see when we opened the door?

Or maybe, just keep doing what we're doing.  Whining and complaining about all He isn't doing or isn't fixing.  Yeah, that's easier.  Stick with that.  It's what's comfortable and we know how to do that well.

God will keep knocking.  Sooner is better to open that door than later.  If you wait till later, it may be too late.  The opportunities for growth may have passed and the growth you could have had when you opened the door sooner may come later, but you'll have a lot more missed opportunities in your way to sort through.

So, what opportunities are you facing right now?  What challenges are you in now that have you  wondering how in the world you will ever get through?

Open the door.

See, He's there on the other side!  Let Him in.



Peace,
Ronda








Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Two Hardest to Forgive

The core of the Gospel is the forgiveness won for us by Jesus on the cross.  You might be able to guess by now that I love to call the Gospel story a wild story, because it is wild!  Absolutely wild!  No one could make this stuff up if they tried because it's so wild that a God would sacrifice Himself for some good for nothing knuckleheads.

Not only is that part wild, but the part that is really crazy for me is that the story is one that started thousands and thousands of years before you or I were even on the planet.

It all started with another group of ragamuffins starting with an old man named Abraham.  We are part of THAT story.  Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Noah and Moses and David and the rest of the bunch.  We, you and me, we arrogant and over zealous bunch are part of a continuing line that started a long long time ago.

Ok, so that's wild to me.  And the part that seems so odd in 2014 is that we believe that a sacrifice, a human sacrifice, over 2000 years ago is relevant for us today.

So, anyway, I'm getting off on a tangent when the point I want to make is this:

Something had to be forgiven.  Sin, all mankind's sin had to be accounted for and charged to someone or something.  That's where Jesus came in.  There was nothing Abraham or any of us could do to make things right in our relationship with God.  We would be forever tainted by the sinful state we are all born in.

You know the story form here.  So God did what needed to be done to make things right.  He made Jesus be sin for us so that we no longer have to sacrifice anything or anyone to make things right, to pay our debts.

Because of this great act our sins are forgiven.  Not held against us, as far as the east is from the west God has removed them from ever getting in His way of seeing us pure and holy.

Ok, you know that part, right?.

What you might not know or have never thought of in the forgiveness realm is something that I didn't know either until God showed me, ever so gently, that forgiveness is a requirement now of us to others.  Forgiving others is not something that is done when "I feel like it."  Or when the person who has wronged us has really shown they're sorry.  No, forgiveness is mandatory in spite of actions or feelings of any party.

But forgiving doesn't mean forgetting.  Forgiving doesn't mean all is right between the two parties.  Forgiving simply means that you have taken whoever has wronged you off your hook and placed them on God's hook to deal with as He sees fit.  The feelings of the wrong may still hurt and trick you into thinking you haven't forgiven, but that doesn't mean you haven't forgiven.  It only means your heart needs healing.  And it may take awhile to heal.   Deep physical wounds don't heal overnight, they take lots of time depending how deep and wide they are.  The same with emotional wounds; just because the wound still hurts and needs tending to, does not mean forgiveness is lost.  It just means you're still healing.

All that being said, now here is the kicker and I think this is the most important part of why we find it hard to forgive someone for a wrong done to us or, on the other side of the coin, feel like we can never be forgiven, by others and most certainly by God himself.

There are two people we never talk about forgiving.

Do you want to guess who they are?

One of them is ourselves.

The other is God.

First, forgiving yourself:

You gotta let yourself off the hook.  If you've received God's forgiveness, if you've done what you can do to make things right with the person(s) you've wronged or who has wronged you, than you need to let it go.  You need to forgive yourself as you would anyone else.  It's very, very, VERY important that you start this today.  (If not today, then when?)

Stop making yourself pay for something that it is over and done with and cannot be changed.  STOP! NOW!

You are part of that little phrase in the LORD's prayer that says "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."  You trespassed against yourself, now forgive yourself.  If you want to live in the freedom of the forgiveness won for you than you need to forgive the person hardest to forgive.  YOU.

The second "person" you need to forgive is God.

And this is the harder one, because God does not really need our forgiveness.  No.  He doesn't.

But you need to know you forgive Him.

Forgive Him for letting you fall.  (You believed He was big enough to rescue you from the pit you were swimming in, but He didn't).

Forgive Him for letting you be hurt by others when you were vulnerable and unable to defend yourself.  (He was not unaware of anything that happened to you no matter how distant he seemed, he was there).

Forgive Him for not fixing what you thought needed fixing in the way you thought it needed fixing.

Forgive Him.

He's God.  You're not.

If I know anything about Him it is that absolutely nothing that we do - sin or good work - is kept hidden from His sight and wasted.  God uses everything for His good purpose and His glory.

Everything.

The crap, the sins, the wasted time, the heartaches.  Everything.

He just doesn't use them or stop them or fix them the way we think He should and we need to forgive Him for that.

When we were raising our children it was very difficult at times for my husband and I to make them suffer the consequences of their bad behavior.  Behavior they insisted on doing over and over and over even when they were told over and over and over again not to do it.  I hated letting my children suffer the consequences of their actions.  I hated it!  But I had to let them suffer because suffering is sometime the best tool for learning.

I don't think God feels any less strongly when He has to let us suffer when He knows it's going to be used for some greater purpose.  He knows suffering will bring learning.

You need to forgive Him.

It's part of the trust thing.  When we forgive much we love much.  When we forgive God for not doing things the way we would like it's an act of faith.  Faith given by Him for us.  We have to forgive Him so that we can trust Him with the rest.  If you don't forgive Him, you'll keep spinning in circles wondering where in the world He is today, but refusing to trust Him with your life even when He makes Himself known to you.

He is by far the safest one to forgive.

When we forgive God then we can begin to see how the pain He let us suffer was part of a greater plan.  When we forgive God we can begin to see how the pain was used to make me stronger or braver or more compassionate or more faith filled.

When we forgive ourselves a door opens that has been locked shut tight.  Not just the little lock on the door handle but it's triple bolted and has a bar across it and nothing, nothing is going to get in.
But when we forgive ourselves and God, those bolts unlock, the bar is lifted, the door is flung open and the joys and the mercies and the peace that had been hidden come barging through like horses let out of their stalls.

You are the person who hurts when you don't forgive yourself and when you don't forgive God.

Those around you get burned and feel the flames of your unforgiving heart, but only you have the power to let go.

So.... Let go.

Let go of your past.  You can't change one second of it.  You don't have to be who you were.  Now you can be who you were meant to be all along.

Peace,
Ronda

Matthew 6:12   1 Peter 1:3-9