That Dusty Corner

The following words push together to form a story that can be true of all of us today. God wipes clean what we’ve made black, and we must share this hope and healing with other believers.

ThatDustyCorner

 

So right now, God sweeps me clean. I hurt, but I am thankful. While, I help wipe the grime, I reflect on days prior. Weeks, really. It took so long for anyone to enter this corner. But, I let Him see it. Little did I know, He could always see that dusty space. I just never willingly led Him there.

I went about my busy life, tending to business, doing my things, and going my own way, occasionally looking to Him for guidance. He already lived in my heart. I’d opened the doors years ago. Though, I often locked Him in, never telling others about my Peace Keeper and my Savior.

Forgiving Yourself

Valerie Hayden Dropping Jewelsself

A few years ago, our local City Mission ran a program to help women get a fresh start in their lives. I was blessed to teach a class in the program where we dealt with the issue of abuse. Some of the women had just gotten out of prison and had nowhere else to go. Some were dealing with and trying to overcome drug and alcohol addiction. Some were escaping abusive relationships. Some were dealing with all of the above. I have to tell you, I thought my childhood was hard until I heard some of their heart-wrenching stories of loss. Though each story was different, they all had to deal with one issue – forgiving self.

It didn’t take them long to forgive everyone else. It wasn’t impossible to think about forgiving God for something. Their problem was “I just can’t forgive myself!!!”

Self-hatred, or un-forgiveness of self, is common in our society today, especially in those of us who have been abused. I’ve ministered to many women from all walks of life. The issue is the same no matter where they came from or what they’ve done. Some women believe that hating self somehow pays for the damage they did to their families and loved ones, or to themselves. They beat on themselves over and over with this kind of negative self-talk: “If only I hadn’t done (fill in the blank) “If I didn’t ________ I wouldn’t have lost my kids forever!”  Or “I was such a horrible mother, I beat my child!” The list goes on and on and on. I’ve been ministering to my friend for the last twenty + years. She’s finally willing to talk about forgiving herself for the hurt she caused her children. She is not willing to forgive herself yet. The pain is real. The hurt is so deep we can’t see a way to ever let it out, even if we want to. However, our reality today is that we can NEVER go back and undo the bad choices we made in the past. Self-hate harms our self. It can never pay for the damage we did to others.

Something I deal with today is forgiving myself for the abuse my daughters suffered from their Dad. And for my grandson and granddaughter who were abused by their Daddy. I didn’t stop the cycle of abuse in my family. It continues through four generations. But the love of God heals my children and grandchildren, just like it heals me. They are all believers. I know God has a plan, hope and a future for each one of them.

Many years ago I learned to “walk in forgiveness”. Forgiving everyone of everything every day was a long, long process for me. It started with the baby step of being willing to want to forgive Dad who hurt me so deeply. What makes forgiving so worth the pain is the freedom I experience. Each forgiving step I take brings that much more relief. I walk in forgiveness every day, especially forgiveness of myself when I make bad choices. I love myself in the appropriate way God wants me to. I get my self-worth and value from my relationship with Jesus, and it is an amazing thing!

I end with one question for you today, dear reader:

What is the worst thing that can happen if you forgive yourself?

Forgive? No Way!

forgivenowayWho gets hurt when we hold a grudge against someone? Who gets the pain when we absolutely refuse to even think about forgiving the one/ones who hurt us? We do.

A grudge, also known as un-forgiveness, harms the one holding on to it. Un-forgiveness works like a ‘cancer’ that can literally kill us if we don’t deal with it.

When the Lord first began dealing with me about forgiving my Dad, I wouldn’t listen. I shook my fist at Him and told Him it WAS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN!!!  I refused to think about it. I did not want to hear one more word from Him about it. He was a gentleman and backed-off. I chose to stay in un-forgiveness for four long, miserable months. I got so sick and tired of being miserable that I finally gave in to the will of my Father. I surrendered. I forced myself to say, “OK, OK, I forgive Dad!” I wish I could tell you that I experienced instant total recovery it didn’t happen that way. It took time to process my feelings about Dad. However, saying “I forgive” opened the door for God to start my healing journey.

Quoting from a Mayo Clinic article:

“What are the effects of holding a grudge?

  • Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
  • Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
  • Become depressed or anxious
  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual belief
  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others”

A few of their listed benefits of forgiving are:

  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system

These are all valid points showing the physical benefit of forgiveness. However, God is the ONLY ONE who can get deep enough to heal the shattered heart of our wounded past. I pray you will try this “forgiveness” thing.  When I surrender to God, He heals my heart, my soul and my spirit. God is waiting for you just like He was waiting for me. If something doesn’t change in your life, nothing will ever change. Forgive? YES I CAN! With the help of Jesus, I can forgive all day in every way.

Valerie

Greatest Love

greatestloveMy Dad went to prison for molesting my daughters and day care girls. I am the one who turned him in to the law. I did not do it for revenge. I turned him in because I had to protect the children. While he was locked up the Lord started working on me about forgiving Dad. Four months later I was able to start the forgiving process. Feeling very shaky, I wrote to my Dad. He even wrote back now and then.

Dad moved in with his sister in Kansas when he got out. We started talking on the phone. I learned right away that he had walked out of prison a new man in Christ. Dad was happy and he greatly enjoyed his freedom, both physically and spiritually. I actually enjoyed talking to him for the first time in my life because our conversations were mostly about Jesus.

Three years later I received a call from my brother. Dad had been hit by a car while walking across the street. I lived closer to him than my siblings, so I was first to arrive at the hospital. A severely broken leg, three brain-bleeds, and unconsciousness were the pressing problems for my eighty year old Father. He survived the surgery on his leg. If that wasn’t amazing enough, God healed the brain damage and Dad remembered everything but the accident when he woke up!

I took on the responsibility for Dad’s health, so we transferred him to a rehabilitation hospital in my town. I received an early morning call from a nurse one week later. Dad was back in the hospital with a very high fever. The doctor told us that Dad had pneumonia. I had to tell Dad that he could never go home alone again. Dad decided he was done living here on earth. I heard his prayer as he asked the Lord to stop his beating heart. He spent the rest of the day in prayer. That evening Dad said he wanted to tell me something that he had never told another living soul. He finally shared pain he had carried alone for so long. Dad’s older brother molested him when he was a child. Dad told me, the daughter he’d tried to choke to death. He told me, the one who testified against him, who made sure he went to jail for his crimes. He told me, the one who hated him for so long. He told me his death-bed confession! Four short days later, Dad moved home to Heaven. I still miss him.

I knew my forgiveness was complete when God moved it all the way through me to compassion. Dad and I were just two pilgrims walking on the path to Jesus. It took a very special kind of love to teach us to walk it together near the end of Dad’s life. A love so big, so perfect and tender, so true, so far outside of our humanity that we will never understand it. God, Creator of the universe, God my Father is this Love! He is the Greatest Love.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13

Valerie

Hope for Teen Moms

This subject is one that has always been close to my heart. About sixteen years ago, I remember sitting in a crisis pregnancy center, staring down at the positive pregnancy test I’d taken moments earlier. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I actually remember thinking that if I stared at it long enough I could somehow change the results of the test or simply wish it away. Scared out of my mind, I continued to sit and stare.

Does this sound like you or someone you know? Oh sweetie, I understand your pain. Although it may seem like it, all is not lost. No, things will not be easy, however, it is possible for you to pursue the life that you dreamed. There is hope for you as a teen mom. The mistake of sex before marriage is forgivable and recoverable in the sight of God. It may take some time but your loved ones will forgive you as well, especially if they are Christians themselves. We’ve all fallen short in one form or another, the difference is that when we (children of God) fall, we don’t stay down, we get up. As hard as it may be, we must force ourselves to get up and continue with our life.

God loves turning our hurting into healing, but first we have to allow Him. Will you allow Him today?