Quite often when I’m preparing to write, I browse back through older posts. It’s helpful for me to find things that I’ve written about certain topics and then find ways to dive deeper or write about it from another perspective or experience.
For the theme of forgiveness this week, I took some time to reread and pray through what I found.
How can these posts speak to me today about forgiveness? What are things I’ve learned since typing those words?
As I read, I sensed God highlighting things in my heart, showing me areas in my life that needed to hear again the messages of the words I’d written. In the words, I saw a journey through forgiveness.
I felt the Holy Spirit whispering to my heart new words of healing and hope.
The first post I noticed was in 2016. I asked the question, “Where is the happy ending to betrayal?” The post goes further by asking, “What happens when the happy ending to betrayal doesn’t arrive? What do we do when we don’t have healthy closure?”
In 2017, I wrote about an adventure in forgiveness, giving quotes from different people to bring a fresh way of thinking about forgiveness and its part in our life stories. The topic of forgiveness can be so heavy that I wanted to lighten our hearts with remembering that forgiveness is a normal, good, healing gift from God!
I wrote a post in 2018 that shared 5 tips for walking through discord and how Psalms helps me navigate those seasons.
Then, in 2019, I touched on the many different kinds of guilt, the unexpected kinds of guilt we experience as women working in overseas contexts.
The year 2020 was unsettled in every sense of the word. I wrote about remaining surefooted in unsettled times.
Later that same year, I shared simple ways to build a daily foundation of renewal in your life.
As I sat, rereading past words, I remembered specific circumstances around what I wrote. Experiences that were real and aching, each requiring an attitude of forgiveness.
Yet, in the years since writing those posts, more things have happened. More struggles. More conflict. More disappointments. More stress. More frustration. More unmet expectations. More grief.
More of these moments than I ever imagined we’d face.
It certainly hasn’t felt like any adventure I wanted to be on.
Our years have become a journey through seasons that are full of heavy situations, requiring great empathy, great prayer, and great forgiveness.
I feel the uncertainty of unsettled situations and sense a desperate need for renewal every day.
Overseas friends, the reality of this theme is so sharp, so pointed, so painful.
The times and people in our lives that cause grief, hurt, brokenness and weakness are very, very real. Whether in your host country or passport country, in your family or organization, in your team or with local friends, the opportunity is ripe for new, tough things daily.
Then, in all the new things, we still have the impact of old things. There is a physical reaction to triggering words or high-stress risks that can be overwhelming and alarming.
Even a simple conversation about an event or person can be extremely difficult and reopen what was once settled and forgiven.
The stakes are high, especially when things that we felt had been dealt with are reopened or things we wanted to be done with are still in our lives. Then, we’re dealing with it all in the midst of regular, normal overseas challenges.
The journey through forgiveness is a bumpy road.
When your journey in forgiveness is ignored or is left unprocessed, it can lead to more hurt, bitterness, anger and grief.
As we look back across the years or scan the months ahead, we know that there are new levels of forgiveness that will be needed. We know that we’ll need new grace, new hope, and new life each day. We’ll need strong handholds to get us through.
We know this journey of forgiveness will continue and we can’t yet grasp the depths to which forgiveness has been or will be woven into our stories.
The phrases “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” or “Please forgive me” or “I choose to forgive” or “I know I need to forgive”… those words are just the beginning of a life-long journey through forgiveness.
We cry, we pray, we guard, we grow and we know that we’ll circle around another layer, another level, another reality of forgiveness along the way.
Life is a journey through intended and unintended, big and small, public and private moments that need forgiveness.
Life is processing, sharing, forgiving, and asking for forgiveness. It’s letting go and recovering and healing and praying and walking bravely through what comes next.
It’s choosing to forgive one more time. To let go one more time. To set boundaries, speak up, and choose health even when it comes at a price.
There is, of course, joy in the years. We’ve had highs and wins and blessings. We’ve had fun, laughed, explored and happily followed Jesus in it all.
But for this week, I didn’t want to lift the heaviness. I needed to reread, relook and reopen the journey of forgiveness in my life.
I needed to process, share and acknowledge how hard this can be when so many situations in our lives are unsettled, unknown and honestly, unbelievable.
I hope, in my raw words, you can sense the Holy Spirit speaking to you on your journey.
Are you walking a journey through forgiveness?
Can you look back at things you’ve learned and see areas of growth and healing?
Have you taken the time to look back and sit in some of the heaviness of what you’ve faced and prayed about keeping an attitude of forgiveness?
Is there another level of forgiveness that God is asking of you as you heal, grieve, process and move forward?
Do you need help working through some of the heavy situations?
A note – did you know you can search Velvet Ashes? You can and you’ll find a treasure trove of posts written by amazing women across the years about whatever topic you’re facing today. Look for the little search icon at the top of the blog to search and browse. For example, click here to see all the posts that have been written about forgiveness.
Feel free to leave a comment here or on an older post. Let’s journey through forgiveness together.