Already Included #49 – Judgement

This content is also available on my YouTube channel:
https://youtu.be/uNMAeLDMRcU

Interesting that God says to not even judge ourselves. If we judge others then it might not be God, but our own judgement that will come back and haunt us so to speak. What if I stopped judging myself? What would that even look like? Maybe it would involve giving Jesus every bit of shame, disappointment, and even anger towards myself. Asking Him what He thinks of it all.

Sometimes when I ask God for forgiveness, I feel like He says, “Stop”; that it never was, never is, and never will be about appeasing Him. He is the kind of parent who knew what He was getting into before we even showed up. He is not disappointed. He does not operate out of ego. He has nothing to prove. He knows who we are. His love for us is never in question. He never has a doubt. It has only ever been our perception of Him and ourselves that Trinity is ever healing. Collectively and individually.

Our hearts know when we see true love. We feel it in the part of us that sings apart from knowledge and arguments. The part of us that rejoices when a baby is born, a dog is rescued, or a long-awaited loved one returns home.

Will we forgive ourselves? I wager we don’t even know how. Again, Jesus says we are welcome to bring Him everything. He will sort it out. He will open our eyes and hearts. He will wash us clean of all the mess we and others have put upon us. He will show us how to receive His love. As we allow ourselves to rest, others will feel the difference without our having to force them to submit to any postured authority.

Already Included #15: A Spiritual Evolution – Justice

(This content is also available at https://youtu.be/PQoqtzQIDO4)

By: Sarah Nyhan

Whew! I’ve been meaning to write on John MacMurray’s new book “A Spiritual Evolution” as I am reading it. However, life has been so busy that I haven’t been able to do more than read it. However, I had to take time out tonight to comment on Chapter 7. The theme of the chapter is justice. Without spoiling how John masterfully articulates the old view with the new-to-us view, I’ll share a few thoughts.

There is so much to take away from Chapter 7, however the biggest practical application for me was considering whether I truly want restoration or vengeance towards those who have harmed me? I think back and I realize more often than not I want others to hurt as badly as they’ve hurt me.

Understandable some might say. But I have dressed up my desire for them to hurt by cloaking it in the illusion of religious piety. I’ve made God out to be their punisher instead of me.

That’s helped me move on in the face of such great pain and suffering. That has helped me put one foot in front of the other. And should we tell the victim fresh out of tragedy that they should desire the offender’s restoration? I wouldn’t dare! Even God says be angry. And do not sin.

This is the messy, messy business of real life and relationship versus religion.

Maybe this is the reason the theme of forgiveness keeps coming up in my life. I’ve run the gamut from repeatedly exposing myself to people who have hurt me because I incorrectly thought God wanted me to do that. All the way through to allowing myself to be angry, then learning how to protect myself, and now this. Now this. Like a ton of bricks.

Maybe forgiveness doesn’t just mean we only choose not to punish them. Maybe forgiveness also means at some point, organically through the Love of the Trinity being poured into us and the power of Holy Spirit, eventually we can actually want the offender to be restored in the sense of regaining their health. Not in the sense of necessarily letting them back into our lives.

I hope John continues to explore this in his book. This is not a book to rush through if you can relate to John’s journey. The implications of what he is saying are many and warrant time spent in contemplation. And action.

How many relationships has this desire for vengeance impacted in my life?! Moving on requires substantial efforts in letting go of ego. But then also dealing with past hurts. These modern day frustrations do not often warrant the responses I give them. There is still that sting of being wronged years ago that is so easily hit upon as I am still waiting for my version of justice to be served all this time later. I am still waiting for the news that they feel some level of pain that makes them understand what they have done and feel sorry enough to humble themselves and make amends.

And probably the latter part of that is necessary to restore relationship. But do I actually want to see them recover from their fall and be happy and successful? How “fair” do I feel it is for me to be imprisoned by this pain for so many years and then see them successful and doing well without going through at least the same amount of pain? I do not want this on my own. And yet I do not want to face my own version of justice for my own failures. Aye, the quandary!

Thank God that He is faithful to complete the work He starts in us. Easier said on paper than put into practice. But He doesn’t leave us for one second. We are not abandoned. We are not punching bags. We are not doormats. Somehow all this works out on a supernatural level.

For now we ask Holy Spirit for comfort, direction, understanding, and strength. One step at a time. Trinity has always been and always will be for us more than we are for ourselves. And to that we can rest and say “amen”.

Tolerance

Dr. Roger Newell from George Fox University wrote the following that I really like and wanted to share:

“…I have been re-reading a classic by my old Ethics prof from seminary, Lewis Smedes, who wrote Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts we Don’t Deserve. It’s full of practical wisdom, moving personal stories and clarification about what forgiveness is and isn’t.

“For example he writes about ‘some nice things that forgiveness is not’ and mentions tolerance. He tells about a pastor who had affairs with numerous women in his congregation. Was he forgiven? Yes. Was he removed from the ministry and did he have his ordination revoked? Yes.

“Smedes writes: ‘We don’t have to tolerate what people do just because we forgive them for doing it. Forgiving heals us personally. To tolerate everything only hurts us all in the long run… You do not excuse people by forgiving them; you forgive them at all only because you hold them to account and refuse to excuse them… You do not forgive people merely by accepting them; you forgive people who have done something to you that is unacceptable. You do not have to tolerate what people do when you forgive them for doing it; you may forgive people, but still refuse to tolerate what they have done.'”