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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

by Joshua Radin

some are reachin’
few are there
want to reign from a hero’s chair
some are scared to fly so high
well this is how we have to try
have no envy and no fear

have no envy no fear

brother brother we all see
your hiding out so painfully
see yourself come out to play
a lover’s rain will wash away
your envy and your fear

so have no envy no fear

when your sister turns to leave
only when she’s most in need
take away the cause of pain
by showing her we’re all the same
have no envy and no fear

have no envy no fear

every day we try to find
search our hearts and our minds
the place we used to call our home
can’t be found when we’re alone
so have no envy and no fear

have no envy no fear

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I read a few “replies” online to some letters some other young people have written to a John Thomas (like Dear Abby–see below).  I’ve mentioned this before, about not really feeling bad about my whole 2006 spring fling.  People have tried to comfort me in ways I know is not fully in line with what God desires such as, oh your boyfriend might now be more open to God since you dated him or, what you did physically with him wasn’t wrong.  I keep reading 2 Corinthians 7:10 (Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death) and Psalm 51:4a (Against you [God], you only, have I sinned).  God has made my heart different in the way it feels and understands.  I used to think I had such a cold heart because other more emotional people would be bawling and I would be dry-eyed.  Also, while other girls seem to have their hearts ripped open by guys, I guess I haven’t opened my heart much to anybody (including myself and thus God) for it to be hurt terribly (story of my life: guys I like going after other girls).  Anyway, it’s very humbling to go the distance to “breaking the heart of my First Love” (Revelation 2:4)–I’m still not there yet.  Food for thought:

My girlfriend and I are both virgins, but in past relationships both of us have been physically intimate in ways which were seriously sinful. We have talked about it and have agreed to hold ourselves to a higher standard of physical purity than we had in the past. So far we have succeeded.  It would seem that things are on the right track. But, sometimes I still feel angry towards her for what she has done with other guys in the past. At the same time, I am unable to let go of the guilt of my own sins in past relationships.  I know that we have both repented and that God has forgiven us, and that we should be able to move past it, but sometimes I really feel unable to forgive her and forgive myself. I know it is wrong of me to feel that way — I should be able to take joy in God’s grace and forgiveness — but I can’t seem to help it.  Perhaps you could write an article about moving beyond sexual (or otherwise physically intimate) sins, for those of us who have repented but find it difficult to move on without thinking about the past. As Paul wrote, love “keeps no record of wrongs,” and I want very much to apply that toward my situation.

Since you say that you know that God has forgiven you both, what you’re really asking is, “When will, or how can, I emotionally feel like I’ve forgiven her and that God has forgiven me?” That’s a very honest and appropriate question about forgiveness. Let me give you a few thoughts to help you navigate these waters.

My hunch is that you’re still viewing the whole picture of your past behavior and your girlfriend’s past behavior from your side of the ledger, rather than from God’s. If I’m right, then your views of your past behavior could be better described as “sadness” or “disappointment,” but not “sinful” or “heartbreaking to God.” As a result, rather than truly repent, you’ve really just “felt bad” or “felt guilty” about it, as in, “I really wish I hadn’t done that,” rather than, “Oh, God, my choices must have broken Your heart! Please forgive me!”

Am I getting warm?

Here’s why I think you might have stopped short of true repentance. True repentance bears fruit, and looks like this: it offers nothing to God but spiritual poverty and a desperate heart desiring to change. It results in humility, gratitude, and a deep compassion for others who have or who are experiencing the same sin and blindness. Given that you conducted yourself in exactly the same way as your girlfriend did previous to meeting one another, your anger toward her isn’t anger, it’s really judgment of her, and is pride at its worst. “You, therefore, have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges,” Paul said in Romans 2:1, “For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”

Your anger would more appropriately be directed at Satan, who deceived both of you into believing that your behavior would have no negative repercussions. Rather than anger towards your girlfriend, your heart should be broken for her because — just like you — she was blind to the hurt she was exposing herself to. Be thankful that God has graciously opened her eyes (and yours) to the truth that you now are walking in.

Forgiveness is two things (probably more, but we’ll focus on two): It is a decision to act, and it is a miracle. It involves your will; and it asks God for a miracle in your heart. We need a miracle to be able to forgive, because we are not naturally inclined to do it. Our “flesh,” or our old nature (that which is self-led rather than Christ-led), is incapable of forgiving. To forgive requires surrendering yourself entirely to God and His economy. And since forgiveness is something God wants us to experience and walk in, we can confidently ask for His help in truly forgiving.

The prayer, “Lord, help me truly forgive X,” is the kind of prayer God longs to answer. So start praying that (or some variation). Part of His answer might be that God gives you a revelation of your own spiritual poverty, reminding you how miraculous it is that He has forgiven you, resulting in deep gratitude and humility in your heart, rather than judgment of someone else’s behavior.

I suggest you take some of these thoughts back to your prayer closet, and see what happens.

One more thing. The consequences of past sin can sometimes continue even after true repentance and forgiveness, but that doesn’t nullify the forgiveness. You can simultaneously regret your past sins, be thankful for what you learned by them, pray that the lesson would be used to make you more like Christ, and rejoice that God has forgiven you and that He works all things for good for those who love him.

I have an odd situation on my hands and would like some advice on how to proceed from here. My boyfriend and I have taken our physical relationship further than I would have preferred and not having set definite boundaries prior to our time together makes it difficult to draw the line once in the moment. We are both still virgins in a literal sense but have ventured into other areas of physical intimacy that I still believe crosses the line of what is appropriate outside of marriage.  I want to back up and create a new line now that we have gone too far but I don’t know where to start the conversation. I love this man with all of my heart and will be marrying him within the next two years but am afraid that this kind of conversation will create a chasm in our relationship that will be painful and difficult to cross. I want to do what I know will honor God but am still afraid that I will get some resistance from my boyfriend.  How do I start a conversation about limiting our physical actions together? And how do I stand firm on what I believe to be the right choices without making him feel like I am steering our relationship in a direction he might not agree with? I know that in order to make this work he has to be willing to abide by the new boundaries as well. I am just scared of what he will say and would appreciate some guidance on the best course of action from this point forward.

Thanks for writing and being so candid about your situation. Let me share a couple of thoughts that I think will help you.

First, let’s use the proper vocabulary for what’s going on. What I mean by that is, your statements like “further than I would have preferred” and “what is appropriate” soften the seriousness of your behavior. If God has convicted you about what you’re doing, then it’s much more than a personal preference or question of appropriateness. It’s sin. Call it what it is and then you’ll know better how to deal with it and move on. Preferences are merely personal choices that tend to have little moral or ethical weight to them. I prefer a cheeseburger more than I do Brussels sprouts, but I’ll live with whichever one is available when I’m hungry.

Do you see how vocabulary makes a difference? You place yourself, by your own choice, in a sexually revved-up situation, and at some point you prefer not to be there, but you’re there, so you live with it. Now, call it sin and you have a whole different paradigm to consider. If it is sin for me to eat Brussels sprouts (my wife would say I act like it is) then it’s no longer a matter of preference. The sprouts are now absolutely off limits. If someone offers me either a cheeseburger or some Brussels sprouts, the action is clear; the choice was made before the two were ever set before me. One is sin and the other is not.

So here is what I need to ask you: Is it merely your preference to change or have you been convicted by God’s Spirit, knowing that Scripture lays out clear guidelines about sexual intimacy outside marriage? Your answer to that question will make all the difference in your ability to “go back” and draw a new line of behavior. If it is merely personal preference, it will be very difficult to draw new boundaries, because they’re arbitrary. But if what you’re sensing is godly conviction, then there is hope for change, and your reaction should be repentance, not a change of preference.

So let’s call it sin. If that’s the case, then your reaction is clear cut: repentance. Repentance means confessing your sin to God, asking for and receiving His forgiveness, and, empowered by His Spirit, changing your mind and behavior to that which honors God and brings Him glory. Viewing your situation this way gives you the most hope for change that sticks. Calling it what it is also impacts how you address it with your boyfriend. He might try to talk you out of a “preference,” but if he’s a serious Christian he’ll be more likely to understand the weight of your decision if it is borne out of godly conviction.

As for how to address this with your boyfriend, you need to approach him with the same grace God approached you with it, but with a strong resolve about your conviction. More than likely, he’s had some of the same convictions, but just hasn’t acted on them. But remember, you are responsible for your sin, your actions, not his. And that’s just what you need to say — that God has convicted you about your behavior and that it has changed (not in the process of changing, but changed — that’s repentance). He needs to understand that this is not a judgment of how you feel about him, and that, in fact, the intimacy you’ve shared has been enjoyable — you’re human and God made it for enjoyment — but that you are going to wait for the biblical context — marriage.

Here’s the crucial part for you. Your concern and desire to respond to God’s heart on this issue must be your highest goal — higher than your concern about your boyfriend’s reaction and higher than your concern about the future of this relationship. If you’re waiting to see what his reaction is in order to decide whether you stick with this, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Yes, it might be painful and yes, it might be difficult, but that’s OK. It’s right, and that is what matters.

On a practical level, now that you know what your new standards are, don’t do anything that moves you in the direction of lowering those standards. If you don’t want to burn down the house, don’t build a campfire in the living room. If you don’t want to cross the line of physical intimacy, then don’t be alone with each other without any accountability from anyone. That’s just common sense. You can have a private conversation or pray together in view of others, so why do you need to be alone? You need to “go public” with your relationship, literally, so that you have accountability for your time together — no more hanging out in the shadows, OK?

No matter how your boyfriend responds, this is the best thing you can do for your relationship. If he doesn’t honor or respect your heartfelt conviction, that’s a red flag about how he would respond to you similarly in marriage. If he steps up and does the right thing, your relationship will be strengthened, you’ll love him all the more and God will get the glory.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  [Romans 12:1-3]

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Today marks the one-year anniversary of me being officially diagnosed by a psychiatrist with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia).  I still haven’t really made much rhyme or reason into all this.  Of course, in one sense, it was such a relief to find some sort of label, some sort of “control” over the situation.  Yet one does not simply up and “embrace” such labels, either, especially when one feels it is so “mild,” so it makes it that much more frustrating.  But good thing I just reread that entry, that sometimes finding the “why” is not that important as finding the “Who” (Psalm 42:11, 43:5).  I doubt I would be diagnosed with those disorders now, so I thank my family, friends, and Church for helping me take off those “grave clothes” (John 11:44).  Now I just need to do my part, take ownership of my own recovery….  Anyway, I started this list two weeks ago, hopefully I compiled all the entries/steps that led up to now:

from my b_luvd xanga:

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

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