Saturday, August 30, 2014

Reality Check

      Recently I received an email from a friend.  Among other things, she revealed some struggles and difficulties from her life.  Her words were honest and heartfelt and very personal.  Her words were not accusatory or casting blame on me in any way.  In fact, I wasn't even mentioned.  And yet, the words reached through the screen and smacked me in the face anyway.  I was struck by her words.  I read them several times and was overcome with conviction.


       I can see now, looking back, how actions I took may have affected the trajectory of her life.  Actions that did not involve her directly.  Actions that were incredibly selfish and thoughtless and hurtful.  Actions that she may not even know happened.  I don't know for sure if what I did played any role in her life or not, but I'm guessing it doesn't help.

       In the Book of Matthew, Jesus tell us, "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift" (5:23-24).   This means I need to make amends the best way possible.  Sure, it would have been easier to ignore it or rationalize my position, but that is not the right thing to do.
     It was painful and difficult for me, but I wrote a lengthy letter to my friend.  I came clean and admitted everything I had done back then.  I explained the place where I was in my life at that time, apologized wholeheartedly, and asked for forgiveness.  I don't know if she will be able to forgive me, but I am praying that she does.  Only time will tell, but I feel like I have done what I could to make it right.


     These are not recent events.  These things took place a LONG time ago.  It was even before I became a Christian.    I had never given much thought to this situation before and how my actions could have affected anyone else.  I see it now though for what it was:  SIN.  Let's face it--even though I wasn't a Christian yet, I still knew better than to act like that.  But when I became a Christian, I was covered under the big umbrella of God's grace, right?
      Right.  I am absolutely, totally, and completely covered by the blood of Jesus.  Christ died on that cross for me.  "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  (Romans 5:8-9)  I am so thankful that He knew we would mess up over and over and over, and He loved His people enough to die for us anyway.  Even the sins we haven't acknowledged or even recognized are still covered with our acceptance of Jesus into our heart.
     Now that I am aware of the magnitude of my behaviors, I have repented.  I have cried out to God for forgiveness.  I have prayed over it.  My God is a loving and forgiving God; he will remember my sins no more.  (Isaiah 43:25).  He has cast my sins as far as the East is from the West.  (Psalm 103:12).

    One thing that keeps ringing in my head over and over is how my actions matter.  They affect other people in ways that I don't even begin to notice or comprehend.  Every little thing--even things I thought no one knew about--still matter. 

     I am a new creation in Christ; the old has been made new. (2 Corinthians 5:17). I have done my best to make things right; I have admitted my transgressions; and I have been forgiven by God.  I am at peace with this situation now.


    God has used circumstances from long ago to bring me to a new place in my relationship with Him.  
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).   Not only did I need to deal with my past in a private way, but I feel like God needed me to acknowledge this in a public forum as well.  It has been challenging for me to find the right words here.  I have intentionally left out the nitty-gritty details because I don't feel like anything positive would come from that.  I have tried to be honest and forthright, albeit vague.  I don't know if this post will have any impact on anyone else, but God has used these words to chisel away a piece of me that was old and broken to draw me closer to Him.


     Not every story has a happy ending.  I was prepared to publish this post knowing that my friend might never forgive me, that she would close the door and walk away.  I didn't like it, but I knew that was a very real possibility.

And yet...

I received an email just a bit ago.  The past is, well, the past.  The old friendship is dead and gone.  But we are starting a NEW friendship today.  To my sister in Christ.

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