This morning a sweet friend of mine talked about forgiveness at bible study, and what forgiveness looked like in her life. I started thinking about forgiveness in my life. So, I want to tell you a story.
When I was 15 and I got pregnant, it was one of the hardest times of my life. I was so young, unprepared, and frankly, I was down right scared. Now, that story in itself could be an entire book, but I want to talk to you about a letter. A letter that was written to me by a church, and sent to my home when I was only 15 years old. A letter that said I was an embarrassment, and that I should be ashamed of myself for getting pregnant. A letter that said that my son would be an abomination because he was born out-of-wedlock. A letter that said I was disgusting to God. A letter that not only shamed me, but shamed my mom for not being a “good enough” mother. My mom hid the letter from me because she knew I would be hurt. To this day, I don’t think she knows I read it. (Sorry Mom) I could not bring myself to tell her how hurt I was, because I know it would break her heart.
As I read that letter, the words pierced my vulnerable, 15-year-old heart. Each word wounded me in a way so profound, I felt like I was worth nothing. They were words that I couldn’t get out of my head. I was ashamed. I believed every single word it said. I was 15, and pregnant, and so very scared. I didn’t want to turn to God because I thought He saw me the same way those people in the letter saw me. So what did I do? I started running… hard. Farther and farther away from God in the opposite direction. I stopped believing in the Church. I stopped believing in “Christians”. I thought they were all the same. I tried going to church after that, but the shame and guilt was just too much to bear. I felt like this for many years.The people or person who wrote that letter will never know to what extent their words hurt me. I lived believing those lies for a long time.
One day an amazing woman, who I am so honored to call a friend, sent me a book in the mail. It was “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. The words in that book touched my heart, and started a healing process for me. I felt exactly like the character in the book. Scared, ashamed, unworthy, and thought God was so disappointed in me. God spoke life and love into me through that book and hasn’t stopped working in my life since then.
Last year in this exact month, I was driving somewhere in town, and I happened to drive into a Parking Lot in order to reverse. As I was about to pull out of that parking lot, I looked up, and there it was. The church that had sent me that letter. I sat there in disbelief for what felt like hours. I stared at the church and fought so many emotions and thoughts within myself. So I sat there, in my car, and I wept, and wept. This event, as silly as it sounds, changed my life.
I experienced forgiveness.
Forgiving myself, for making bad decisions when I was younger. Also, forgiving myself for having missed all those years with God because I believed something so foolish. Forgiveness from God for running away from Him in shame, when I should have been running directly towards Him as hard as I could. AND… Forgiveness to whoever wrote that letter.
I don’t know if they will ever read this, but if they do I want to tell you… I forgive you. I want to tell you… I love you. I want to tell you… Jesus loves you. And I also want to thank you. Thank you for writing that letter. What you meant to hurt me, Jesus used it for good. Thank you because that letter eventually led me to run into the arms of my Savior. Thank you because your words pierced me so much that I am fighting every day to be the best mom I can be. Thank you for calling my child an abomination, because I am able to see just how far away my children are from that. They are truly the most special and most precious thing I have. Thank you for writing that letter because I have realized that all Christians don’t think like you. Thank you for the letter that made me give up on church, and eventually led me to Center Church, a church filled with amazing people who don’t think like you at all.
I don’t mean to write this in any way to bring conviction. That is not my job, that is the Holy Spirit’s job. I hope and pray that you have Him.
But I do want to say thank you.
Thank you for writing that letter, because of you I have experienced forgiveness.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”– Romans 8:28 ❤
“…Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”- Luke 7:47-48 ❤