Forgiveness

A Question of Grace

I’m going to preface this post with this: It worries me that in today’s society we are so quick to pass judgment and that we collectively group our problems and cast them off on other people. I’ve been very guilty of this in and it’s extremely unhealthy and unfair not only to yourself, but to other people. I was once married and was not a good husband in that marriage, but God changed who I was and I am no longer that person. This isn’t to say that people should go running back to unhealthy relationships, that’s not at all what I mean. In fact, I think it’s a good thing that God gets us out of some relationships especially before marriage. I simply mean to say God can change anyone if they allow Him. My only hope is for everyone to recognize that through Christ we can all have victory over who we once were and over any situation.

 

I recently came across an inspirational quote online that stirred something within me. The quote comes from Heather Lindsey. I’ll admit that I am unfamiliar with who she is or her ministry, but that didn’t mean that I was passing any manner of judgment on her. I simply disagreed with the ambiguity the message behind the quote could derive in some people. The quote is as follows:

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At first glance you’re probably wondering what I could find wrong with what she is saying. When I first read it, it made me feel very unsettled on the inside, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was I taking it too personally having gone through a marriage and a handful of relationships that didn’t work out, or was there something deeper poking at my heart? I took some time this evening to look at it further and tried to biblically find the answers to the questions it posed. I decided to write Mrs. Lindsey to express these concerns and ultimately ask her what her opinion of my questions were. Here is the email I sent to her:

Dear Mrs. Lindsey,

I recently came across an inspirational graphic online attributed to you as a quote about relationships that has left me a bit shaken. The quote I am referring to is this: “If your ex was so amazing, you would still be together. Isn’t crazy how the illusion of a person is amplified when you leave a unhealthy relationship? Then you run back to them out of loneliness & find out.. they are EXACTLY the same. Fill those voids with Jesus, not exes.”

There is so much about this quote that I both agree and disagree with. My first agreement, of course, is that Jesus is the only one fully capable of filling any void left no matter the circumstance. I also agree that far too often people do run back to unhealthy relationships out of desperation over feelings of loneliness or abandonment. I cannot disagree with any of that. Where my concern comes from is the connotation which this quote may be given due to certain ambiguities it has about the definition of an unhealthy relationship. Upon my first reading of the quote, I found it to be very unilaterally biased. Given that not every relationship that comes to an end shares the same cause-and-effect, I feel the quote could provoke a misguided sense of unity for one half and could project feelings of judgment on the other half. The root of what I am getting at is that I do not see any grace within the message you are sending.

In my experience I have known many couples, even myself, that have been in relationships that were considered to be unhealthy for many reasons. In today’s society, when someone hears the phrase ‘unhealthy relationship’, more often than not it will elicit feelings of abuse or neglect. That’s not to say this is the case every time, but we live in a very sinful world and these a very prominent problems that Satan uses to attack relationships, among many others. I realize I may be in the minority by disagreeing with your message, but coming from my own personal experience of having been in relationships that ultimately God did not want for either of us, I felt a sense of judgment wash over me when I read your quote. I asked myself why. Why would I feel judgment? This is the answer I came up with that I wanted to share with you.

As I mentioned before, I strongly feel that the quote lacks a message of grace. When you say: ‘If your ex was so amazing, you would still be together.’ To me, this is pronouncing a sense of false ego that says ‘I’m better than they are’. Romans 3:23 teaches us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. None of us are ‘amazing’ people. Asking ‘If your ex was so amazing’ immediately indicates that we are attributing the ‘amazing’ category for ourselves and should therefore be looked at as such. Two God-fearing, healthy people can both be in an unhealthy relationship, both equally contributing to a problem that is not within the will of God. The only amazing person that has ever walked the earth was Jesus. This isn’t to say that we’re worthless, on the contrary, Romans 3:22 says “We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.

This is also in tune with the part of the quote that reads: ‘they are EXACTLY the same’ when you run back to them. Saying this prevents us from doing two things: 1. forgiving them, and 2. acknowledging that Christ has victory over the situation. When a breakup occurs, if it’s done properly, both sides should take that time alone with God and with themselves to reflect upon who they are as individuals and allow God to show them what it was that wasn’t right and why it was not in God’s will for them to be together. We should be thankful that God has gotten us out of an unhealthy relationship, regardless of the circumstance, but we should also spend that time in prayer and ask for forgiveness and forgiving the other person and not assuming they are the same, in effect, creating judgement in our own hearts. It’s true, that some situations call for an immediate release from relationships because of potential dangers or exhaustive efforts to keep it going which hinders the other person, but that is why I feel it is so vital to reevaluate your quote so that it broadens the message that not every relationship is equal. Surely if I am one person that felt judgement from what I read, there has to be many more that might feel the same way and could potentially have wounds that were once healed be reopened, making them believe they are less than what they truly are in God’s sight.

Please know that I am not passing judgement upon you or your ministry. I am simply a fellow believer in Jesus that wanted to share with you my feelings on something I read that caused a stir within my spirit. I would love to hear back from you and to know what your thoughts are.

Have a very blessed day.

Travis Lickey

Like I said in my email to her, perhaps I am very much in a minority with my reasoning behind my concerns, but that’s why I felt it was important to reach out and voice them. We’re all students in God’s world and we’re each taught lessons very differently. We need to be bold enough to ask questions and humble enough to accept the answers. I’m ready to accept that my concerns might not be valid, or that perhaps I should look at them from a different view. Either way, I’m hoping for an email back and I will update this as soon as I receive one back.

Travis

Failure Is Not An Option

The apocryphal expression “Failure is not an option” that is accredited to NASA’s mission control director Gene Kranz in the 1995 Ron Howard film Apollo 13 is a powerful testament of the determination everyone involved had during the week-long crisis that astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert endured on their failed mission to the Moon. The odds were grim and the world waited patiently in hopes that they would safely return to Earth.

Our lives are much like that of Apollo 13. We all have goals in mind that we want to reach. For some they are small, while others shoot for the Moon. No matter the goal in sight, we strive to work toward seeing them fulfilled. There are things, though, that can happen along the way that can alter our ‘flight plan’. When they happen we feel defeated and often times we just want to give up and believe that we have failed. When the Service Module of Apollo 13 was damaged, the crew felt the sudden defeat of having lost the Moon, but that didn’t stop them from addressing the problem at hand – getting back home. How do we respond when we feel that we’ve lost something? A deeper question might be, what was it that caused us to get off course?

As a Christian, our main goal is to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus so that we may know Him and live our lives accordingly through his Word. When you’re in a relationship with someone who you love, the last thing you want to do is do wrong by them. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that you will stop doing the wrong thing. We still have the ability to sin and will continue to no matter how hard we try not to. And sometimes we’re going to sin and it will be a very conscious choice. What happens after we sin? If we’re aligned with Christ in our hearts, the first thing we’re going to feel is guilt, so then we ask for forgiveness and repent.

Acts 3:19 says:

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”

This is where Satan likes to comes in and attack us with one of the biggest lies he’s ever told, and that is that we’re not worthy. Satan likes to try to keep us in a position of feeling like a failure in our relationship with Christ. He lays some pretty big guilt trips on us, and too often we listen to him, and it keeps us off course and prevents us from getting back home where we belong. That’s a dangerous place to be because it keeps us from having what God wants for our lives.

So, what do we do? Do we see ourselves has failures having lost our goal? Do we get down on ourselves for what we’ve done to sin against Christ and believe the lie that we’ve messed up too many times for God to even care about us anymore? Do we consider ourselves to be a failure? With Christ, failure is not an option. It never has been and it never will be.

Genesis 3:15 says:

“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Adam and Eve were on a path that followed God. That course was altered severely causing them to lose paradise. The Moon was lost for Apollo 13 after something damaged their course, but just like the people at mission control that created a plan to bring them home, God the Father had a plan to save His creation and bring us back home to Him.

When we sin, it’s true that the consequence of our actions may alter our course, even perhaps causing us to miss out on certain things completely, but we’re never going to miss out on Jesus. Our sins are washed clean and God chooses to forget them. He does this through our acceptance of salvation. Some people believe that sin is in the world because God is punishing us. First off, God doesn’t use sin as a form of punishment. Sin itself is not a punishment, it is a consequence of a willful action that rejected God. God created a perfect world in which he placed people. Mankind chose to reject God, and by doing so people are responsible for their fall. That’s the consequence. The punishment for that is death.

Romans 6:23 reads:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When Christ rose from the dead he took with him the keys to death and it no longer has a hold over us. Death has no power where there is Christ, and neither does sin.

If we feel guilty because of sin count that has a good thing. It means that we’re aware of our actions and not living with reckless abandon. If we find ourselves off course that doesn’t mean we’ve lost. Jesus is our new flight plan. We have to be determined to keep our hearts fixed on Christ. Remember, our relationship with him is our main goal in life, and once we’ve entered into that, nothing is too great to ever damage us to the point of not being able to return to Him.

-Travis