I have a confession to make.
I have been quieter these past days, in part due to the recent passing of my mother in law last week. In part because I gave myself permission to feel, and process all that comes up when you lose a family member.
But my first confession is actually this: I was not as close as I would have liked to have been to my mother in law.
One of my favorite people on this planet was my father in law. He accepted me as his, and gave this newer Christian a deeper sense of the layers of adoption by choice to add to those of my step-father. He struggled wih depression, yet always had a smile and a kind word for me.
My mother-in-law struggled to accept the people who married in to her childrens’ lives. She didn’t view us as family, more often as after thoughts.
I never knew if she had a kind or harsh word for me. Which hurt me many times as a newlywed, but specially when my father in law passed away.
It became apparent to me over time that my mother in law struggled so much with her past, it left her emotionally hindered.
As I learned more about my faith, God revealed to me that the issue wasn’t actually with me. But Him within me.
Because when a fresh whiff of freedom reminds you what you are missing, you either embrace it or attack it.
A very wise woman was my mentor in those years, and helped me separate my mother in law the child of God from the person some times verbally lashing out at me.
My mentor is the one who taught me to choose to forgive. Every single time I was hurt. As soon as possible, and as honestly as possible. I began to practice forgiveness not only in this relationship, but all of them.
By doing so, I discovered that with Him, we can live in wide open spaces of vast freedom while being pressed between a rock and a hard place.
Because I know the side of forgiveness rarely discussed.
The kind of forgiveness you choose when you are left breathless from grief, with no more tears to cry, screaming inside from the pain.
The kind Christ modeled as He hung dying on the cross.
The kind that lifted the adulterous woman’s head. That singled out the worst tax collector with the honor of dining with him. That forgave Judas for his betrayal, Simon for his rejection, Paul for his murders of His people.
The kind that can supernaturally help us let go of what would otherwise weigh us too far down to be of any earthly good.
The kind which loves the sinner as He simultaneously forgives their sin.
As I sat in shock afterwards the most painful attack, still reeling from loss, in that moment my heart cried out what I couldn’t put into words. And then God answered me in the most unforgettable way.
In my distress I called to the Lord and He answered me. Jonah 2:2
My Danish grandmother had recently passed before this incident. Imagine my shock when her spitting image comes up to me as I am sobbing, and speaks, “It’s going to be all right.”
God used my longing for human comfort from someone I loved to comfort me.
As I began to calm down, He reminded me He had me tight in His grip, and I could hand over all the pain once I forgave her.
I can honestly say once I forgave her, God not only continued to comfort me, He gave me a heart of compassion for her which I never expected to have.
I truly will miss her, even though most of our recent connection has been over the phone due to health and location. Despite everything which is now just water beneath the bridge.
I know she is now snugly safe in His embrace, and all has been forgiven and restored to her in the way Heaven always intended for her.
I know she now knows how much she was always loved by her Father, family and friends.
I know that I have no regrets, because I fully forgave as He asked me to.
Towards the end, my mother in law had a hard time remembering both her kids names.
But not mine.
Some how, God allowed her to know how much I loved her, and she was able to receive it somewhere deep inside.
Because I was obedient to forgive her, He has given me a comfort I do not expect I would have had had I held on to the hurts of our history.
The side of forgiveness not as often talked about?
The crown of thorns jammed onto His head.
Those small wounds which would have painfully punctured, He took into stride.
The spear in His side.
The one wound which wasn’t necessary but pierced Him all the same.
These two wounds, both deliberately chosen: one to humiliate Him, one to hasten His demise.
Both weren’t required, but just like all the other wounds, He included them and the people who inflicted them when He cried out,”Father forgive them, for they don’t understand what they are doing.”
We too need to deliberately choose to forgive, no matter what.
Forgiveness removes the damage from our souls, and allows God to restore us as it opens the door to more of Him within us.
Forgiveness is a hard road to walk through in the painful times, but I have never regretted following His lead in doing so.
The answer, the wisdom, the peace, the more you too may be waiting for may be on be other side of forgiveness.
Ask Him to show you how, help you let go, and restore your soul as you forgive.
Because in His Kingdom? There is beauty for ashes ahead, Beloved.