Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Amazing grace

Over the last couple of days I've been trying to decide on what I most wanted to write about next: shortbread (I've got the best recipe) or grace. But since there seemed to be so much interest in my last post, I felt I really needed to carry on a bit on the theme of forgiveness and grace. The topic is not ready to put down just yet.

In my previous post I talked about Jesus being an extreme forgiver. The point that didn't come through, I think, was that when Jesus was on the cross and said to God, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing," the "they" he talked about was everyone, you and I included. It is out of unconditional love for us.

God loves us, no matter what we do or what we say. I remember a time when I was really down when a friend helped me grasp how deep this love for me is. I don't think I've been the same since.

Chalexa mentioned a good book on the topic, What's so Amazing about Grace? by Philip Yancey. I looked through my copy and want to share what he quotes Henri Nouwen as saying:

"I have often said, 'I forgive you,' but even as I said these words my heart remained angry or resentful. I still wanted to hear the story that tells me that I was right after all; I still wanted to hear apologies and excuses; I still wanted the satisfaction of receiving some praise in return - if only the praise for being so forgiving!

But God's forgiveness is unconditional; it comes from a heart that does not demand anything for itself, a heart that is completely empty of self-seeking. It is this divine forgiveness that I have to practice in my daily life. It calls me to keep stepping over all my arguments that say forgiveness is unwise, unhealthy, and impractical. It challenges me to step over all my needs for gratitude and compliments. Finally, it demands of me that I step over that wounded part of my heart that feels hurt and wronged and that wants to stay in control and put a few conditions between me and the one whom I am asked to forgive."

Something neat that Yancey says: "Forgiveness is an act of faith. By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker that I am."


Bleeding Heart said...

I don't know what to say about this post.

I am a bit confused maybe at what it is you are trying to say.

I forgive my husband for the sick and twisted abuse but to give "unconditional love" to him...Please! The man doesn't deserve it. He doesn't deserve the air he breathes!

Bleeding Heart said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
marja said...

Dream writer: What I'm trying to say - mostly - is that God gives us unconditional love. But I know, He is God and we are human. All we, as imperfect human beings, can do is what we can do. But Jesus' example gives us something to strive for, nevertheless.

And there's something else. A person needs to want to be forgiven and honestly try to change.

Sorry if I upset you, dream writer.

Next post I'll talk about shortbread cookies: a happy topic.

Bleeding Heart said...

You didn't upset me, Marja. You are a very sweet person and your heart is in the right place.

I just believe that when *We* are abused or hurt, it is up to *Us* to forgive because *We* were the ones that were invaded and hurt.

Yes, it is up to the abuser and the invader to change, but we can still forgive the person because Most abusers want to be forgiven even though they don't have the strength to change.

*We* always have to be the better person, the stronger person - the ones to show a good example:-)

Bleeding Heart said...

Please email me Marja.

Anonymous said...

So here's the thing. I must be either manic- or the new medication regimen is affecting my comprehension. Don't feel bad...but I tried to read your post...I tried to understand it...but I realized that my eyes were just flowing over it without taking it in.

Maybe I should take note of my inability to concentrate and tell the pdoc...because I know I'm intelligent- I'm almost done double majoring in nursing and psych...so I know I should be able to understand...

But for whatever reason I can't.

Boy I hope I snap out of this before exams next week. I'll try to re-read your post tomorrow and make an intelligent comment.

marja said...

TayMachelle: Don't feel bad. My husband doesn't understand this stuff either, and he's a pretty smart guy too. The language IS rather "spiritualese", and might very well be hard to understand for people who aren't into this kind of thing.

My comment to Dream writer pretty well sums it up.

Anonymous said...

unfortunealy the wounded part of our heart is what prevents us from forgiving because too many hearts are broken, great blog

Anonymous said...


I think I wrote a comment on a different post that you wrote, Marja.

Please forgive me for re-writing what I do.

When I have been hurt deeply, I ask God for the ability to forgive, AS SOON AS I AM ABLE, I tell God that I forgive xxx for xxx in Jesus name, as an act of faith and that I trust that the Feelings of forgiveness will follow.

I continue, to claim the feelings of forgiveness, in His name, because I have Chosen to forgive, every day...every minute that the sting comes back.

Rather than ruminate on it.

It is the better option than to become bitter.

Somehow, by some miracle, God ALWAYS comes through with those Feelings of forgiveness...and heals my heart.

In the one situation where I was living with someone who was battering my heart, daily, so deeply that there was no respect for my soul, no ability to grieve and forgive before the pattern began again, I realized that I had to get out---that was very difficult.

But, now, I am away, and I have forgiven that person, and realize it was more complex than anything anyone could have fixed at that time.

my 2 cents.

marja, i thought of you yesterday---i am about to write a post dedicated to you (i hope you don't mind)

shebee said...

what a beautiful reminder that we all need to come to terms with the hurt that has been done to us. Thanks Marja

Anonymous said...

Marja, I so look up to you as a Christian. When I look at my life and see all that has been done to me, even as a child, what kind of twisted sick person would molest a child, goes beyond any of my understanding.

But I never think I'm capable of forgiving anyone, no. I think I may place the cross of Jesus, his healing blood between me and the person and God will grant me the power of forgiveness.

Forgiving is probably the hardest thing to do and one of the most necessary too. Think about it, by hosting anger in our hearts, who exactly are we hurting?

I think our flesh is absolutely corrupted. To me, grace is what enables us to forgive, to love, to have faith, to not be jealous, to not be angry and to be filled with the fruits of the Spirit.


hey i heard from a birdie, (That is another blog) that you're moving? are you moving?

Anonymous said...

OH BTW there's a song that's not really related to grace but about one of the things you said in your post called

How deep the Father's love for us. i almost cry every time i hear it.

marja said...

Thank you all for your comments. And Sarah: No, I'm not moving. You must be thinking of Amateur Dancer.

chalexa said...

I can see how easy it is to misunderstand this post if you're just mulling it over for the first time. Actually that book, What's so amazing about Grace, is a good read for those who have more questions because the author addresses all these things in his book.

One of the main things i've learned about forgiveness is that by not forgiving, i'm the one living in anger... forgiveness is the ability to pass on the fault of the other person so you're not carrying around the scar of hurt and anger which will also ruin your life both mentally and emotionally. 'Letting go' (forgiving) is not just for the other person, its for YOU in terms of benefit!

I think that what marja meant when she mentioned unconditional love is that since God loves and forgives us, we should then respect the fact that God also loves and forgives your perpetrators. That respect then, is a form of grace and love toward them.

We often can't forgive right away, and especially on our own. We really need God's help as he is the King of forgiveness- he made forgiveness what it is, and made it possible. Some wounds are only healed with time but you can choose to pass it along to God. There is someone who still makes me wonder if i am capable to forgive. But, all things are possible with God, and learning about forgiveness was my first step toward recovery.

marja said...

One of the things people here have brought up is the issue of abuse. That's a hard one for me to understand fully, since I've been fortunate and cannot remember any abuse in my past. But it's such a common thing, I can see that this issue of forgiveness would not be easy here.

A pastor friend of mine said that, just because we forgive, does not mean we should accept. I hope I didn't come through as suggesting that.

Anonymous said...

No Marja, coming from a person who has experienced abuse, you didn't come across preachy or pious or whatever you were worried about coming across like. Forgiveness is very difficult, but it is something that we all need to do to be completely free of bitterness. Besides, just because we let someone off of our 'hook' doesn't mean that that person will not be dealt with justly. Easier typed than done...I know I'm stilol in the process of forgiveness nmyself and I have a ways to go...but I really know this to be true.