Updated: Dec 14, 2019
****this post is a little longer and more personal than some others
If I were to think of one of the biggest blockages to taking steps forward in my life, it would have to be unforgiveness. And often that can be of others, of myself and of God.
And when it comes to legacy and inheritance I see unforgiveness shut us off to heaven in ways that nothing else does.
I have hurt, I am sure, hundreds of people in my life, or the same people, hundreds of times. Breathing, loving, speaking and leading are everyday moments to hurt or offend someone.
I think leadership, parenting, marriage and friendships are just vulnerable environments to get it relationally wrong hundreds of times over. But also, endeavour to make it right hundreds of times over as well.
But let's also be honest ... we live in a time in history where taking offence happens every minute of every day. I think where there is a lack of resilience, there is an inability to bounce back from hurt.
May I suggest it is because we have not taught people how to forgive?
Forgiveness is a daily choice and an invitation to bless those who have betrayed you and hurt you. On a side note as someone who works with people and sees brokenness in relationships everywhere, I think betrayal often reveals more about our unhealthy attachments inside us that must be healed and less about the betrayer themselves.
Forgiveness becomes a choice and a discipline to do time and time again, so that we do not get taken out of our journey towards all that is ours as promise and purpose.
I have a process to forgiving others because I think it is the only key to my freedom and breakthrough that I have full control over....
1. Bless them
We wrote yesterday about the power of verbal blessing out of our mouths. There is something so powerful and shaping about the words we speak.
Forgiveness does not begin in our heart, it begins in our mouths, then invades our soul, and breaks open our spirit.
If I look at the political discussions going on, they are full of accusation and name-calling. And it's not just politics. Name-calling absolutely defiles one's spirit.
"Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so" (James 3:10).
"Do not repay evil for evil, or curse for curse, but on the contrary, bless, knowing that to this you are called, so that you may receive a blessing" (1 Pet. 3:9).
As Stephen was being stoned, he released a blessing, rather than a curse: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" (Acts 7:58-60). The result was that Paul was later moved upon by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the work God had ordained for him and he became the apostle to the Gentiles.
A blessing instead of a curse can release a person into their God-ordained destiny.
God works all things together for good to those called by Him (Rom. 8:28). So I can speak faith, hope, love and life because I have an inner confidence God is in control and looking out for me and redeeming every situation that I place in His hands for our good.
Every time I praise and thank Him for being God over a person or situation, I am placing that person or situation into God's hands, thus opening the door for God's blessings to flow.
I have done this time and time again out of my mouth. The first ten, even one hundred times it may even feel false. But then something shifts and you begin believing what you are praying.
If I could tell you about one of the fastest growing churches in Australia right now, and how I take full credit for its growth (well I am happy to believe that when you hear the story!!!)
It began with the relationship breakdown personally between Andrew and I, and a pastor and his wife who were on our staff, leaving our church right in the midst of Andrew's father dying of cancer.
There may have been a distinct calling to go, but I am a huge believer in how to go and when to go. Let me state AGAIN, that we were certainly in no way, shape or form, perfect leaders and all the less in our thirties as we hustled especially through these challenges.
But at that particular time, we were in the deepest pain of our whole entire lives, coming off the back of losing our baby, trying to recover from that grief, then the passing of Andrew’s father and an insane inheritance battle going on. The leaving of our staff members was devastating, messy, hurtful and felt like one of the biggest betrayals of our leadership life so far. I will never forget being with the funeral director trying to pick a coffin for Andrew’s fathers body, whilst managing texts and emails about how people were leaving the church.
I will say again, this season is also where we made some of our own big and soul-led not spirit-led leadership mistakes. So this is not a 'who did what first' blog. But hurting people hurt people and don’t think about whether another person may be hurting as well.
Families who were just immature and themselves hurt, would leave letters in my daughters lunch box at the local christian school that we were all at, to tell me that they were leaving our church. It had such a deep and impacting effect on my daughter as she read them and didn’t tell us what she had read until months later.
I would put the pain we experienced through that season to nearly as deep as losing our baby. It certainly triggered so much.
I was spiralling in my heart. I couldn't breathe some days as so many people listened to rumours and believed lies. One of the most painful situations was when they decided to take a church building to start their church just minutes away from where our church building was, and every day I would have to drive past that building to drop my kids to and from school (the very environment that they had lost half their friends in the playground because of this situation).
I honestly did not know how to get breakthrough. I could not change the situation. Restoration was complex. So before I could even think about complete restoration, I still needed breakthrough in myself.
So we made decisions of our will to begin to bless them. First of all Andrew decided to bless them financially. Then we decided to bless them with public silence when all we wanted to do was defend ourselves. Then we moved into where I believe the real power was. I would drive by that church so many times in one day because it was on my journey to and from everywhere. So not even realizing some days that I had little ears in the backseat of my car .. four kids by now ... watching all this happen in front of their own eyes, they would hear me pray out loud, the wildest, craziest, prayers of supernatural growth, unprecedented salvations, financial blessing, sustainable structures, expansion across our nation type of prayers for this church and these leaders! I did it everyday for over a year. I prayed for them personally, their children, their friends, their team.
Honestly it was one of the deepest spiritual formation practices I have ever done. It changed me from the inside out. Some days I meant it. Some days I didn't. Some days I would be howling in pain (after the kids were out of the car), and other days I would feel joy like I had never experienced.
The inheritance battle was awful, the leadership crisis our church experienced was brutal. But somehow in the midst of this journey, THIS posture and practice changed me.
Oh and I think heaven heard my prayers. It is a great church. One of Australia‘s finest. We also did get restoration where it was needed. On many levels, with many different people. The story kept weaving into our future too, until we truly decided to release it all. That final key was what unlocked a door to where we are now (but that's another super long story!)
Tomorrow's blog I want to discuss boundaries with those who hurt or betray you ...Because I am big believer in establishing boundaries even when you BLESS!!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together says:
“A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of it’s members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange an intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner. This is the happy discovery for the Christian who begins to pray for others. There is no dislike, no personal tension, no estrangement that cannot be overcome by intercession as far as our side is concerned (86).”
He suggests that in intercession we bring the person to the cross of Jesus; the same cross at which we were forgiven. We see their sins before the cross next to ours and, in some way, begin to feel them as our own – and we begin to pray. As a co-sinner who is in desperate need of forgiveness, we ourselves are reminded that we have been forgiven much.
Ryan Cook who moved to Vancouver to live amongst the marginalized, said recently on his blog the following (it sounds alot kinder and spiritual than my story as I read back on it deciding whether to keep it in or not .. so some of you may appreciate his more :):
"The notion of being changed, moving from unforgiveness to forgiveness when one prays for the other, makes a lot of sense to me. It makes sense because prayer is an act of placing one’s self in the presence of God in a posture of reception. It is done by faith that God is present; this is the first truth of prayer. The presence of God, and the words that God speaks, often effect transformation; dead things live, chaos moves closer to order. Not always in this life, but sometimes.
It could be said that the posture of prayer is a transformative posture. It is a posture of hope in the midst of hopelessness, this includes hopeless relationships. Part of this hope, it seems to me, has to do with the act of ‘turning’: turning away from facing each other in conflict and toward Jesus in humility.
A prayerful, receptive, posture stops asking for the ‘other’ to be made more like me, and instead asks that somehow we might both become more like Jesus whom we are now together seeking, and from whom we are together receiving.
The posture of prayer can halt the process of ‘winning’ an argument or domination over the other whereby both parties acknowledge their submission to Christ – the one whom ultimately forgives.
In the life of a community, or any relationship, if it is to be healthy, its members must be committed to a life of prayer: a consistent turning toward the cross of Jesus, whereby we remember our own need for forgiveness and we request help in becoming more like Him.
He goes on to say this:
"Do you have a relational situation that is broken? Although it can feel like a risk, might you consider praying? A prayer might look something like this:
· Begin with a few moments of silence.
· Acknowledge that God is present with you and that he deeply loves you.
· Remember those things for which God has forgiven you.
· Ask for help in forgiving the ‘other’.
· Ask God to bless the ‘other’ with God’s presence and love.
· Sit for another few moments in God’s presence.
It is good isn't it??!!
So do it as kindly as he writes, or do it as messily and loudly, and uncomfortably as I did it (and keep doing it)..
However you choose... keep choosing forgiveness
Imagine if the Daughters of Z had just stayed offended for not getting their land (see early blogs on this forty days) .. what would they have now to show for it. Same for you