Forgiveness and Healing

I've been told I'm a pretty forgiving person. I honestly harbor no desire to hurt anyone, just to love the way God loves me.  I knocked myself out for my entire life, working so dang hard.  I wasn't really sure of the details of my promised reward, except that it was eternal glory in the world to come, and some measure of peace here.  Joy really had very little to do with it. I followed the five-step repentance process carefully and fully. And even then, I operated with so many wounds, so much fear. After decades, God gently brought me to a place where I could realize those hurts were still there . . . treatment I'd received long ago, hounding and bullying, humiliation and ridicule. He had to expose the pain and make utterly unprotected places that were still weak and raw. It was a fairly gradual process for me, one spread over weeks.  At first, I owned that those experiences had injured me, and spent quite a bit of time feeling second-class, honestly asking my Father "Why me? Why? That really hurt, God, and it still does!" I indulged in old-fashioned self-pity, feeling like most of the rest of humanity didn't have to go through my own particular hellish junk, and it wasn't very fair.  (I know, I know. But that's how I felt, so I'm owning that, too.)

My own mortal patching of those wounds was to protect them with fear, layer upon hardened layer, calcified and chafing. It had become a pain I was used to, my spiritual and emotional operations distorted by this well-known background noise in the same way a limp distorts and hinders a free stride. Words can't quite capture the vulnerability, the utter nakedness that uncovering brings. Then, I had the opportunity to offer them to Him.  He showed me someone who was in the same place I was . . . a young woman, utterly vulnerable in the complete exposure of her pain and her past before God.  I knew her heart, knew her pain, and finally saw my own in its fullness.  And I was undone.

It was only then that He clothed me in His healing, His righteousness, through the intercessory prayer of a woman sent to me by God Himself; one who knew what to do, how to pray, for the place where I was.

And I was made whole.

Grace: the Ultimate Antidote

Today, I left a comment over at The Perfect Day, in answer to a reader question.  Below is the question, and my answer.  I wanted to keep a copy of my answer, because I was reminded of some deeply important things that I had forgotten over the last couple of days.

"One of my own personal difficulties, in relating to prayer, esp. evening prayers, is that it's so hard for me to get into the frame of mind to pray in a way that I really feel close to Heavenly Father in closing out my day. I think it has to do mostly with 'well...I set out this morning with all these great ambitions and look how I didn't achieve it, again.' Is there anything you do to 'prep' yourself for prayer? I've tried reading my scriptures and singing hymns before I pray but for some reason those nightly prayers -- reporting back when I always have something that I've messed up on (even though there's good stuff in there too) -- are always harder to feel the closeness for me.

Just wondering what you think. How can I let go and prepare myself better to pray when every night I just feel disappointed in all the things I've done wrong?

Thanks,

M"

M, it sounds like you're judging your performance each evening.  But you're in luck: these are things I've struggled with, as well! ;o)  Two thoughts:

1) Christ is the only judge.  And He has told us, over and over and over in scripture, that He isn't going to condemn us.  Our God isn't one to shake His finger in our faces, or alienate us from His presence.  Judgement, consignment to a certain distance from God, doesn't happen until Judgement Day.  So you can let go of that judgemental spirit. (Or cast it out, if you prefer.)  Self-condemnation (which includes disappointment in ourselves!) is one of the adversary's biggest, beefiest, most steel-studded bludgeons . . . and we take it from him and use it on ourselves with a will, thinking we're being good Saints as we do so.  But I have GREAT news!  Anything (and I mean ANYTHING) that keeps you from drawing closer to God is NOT of Him.  And if something isn't of God, then it's either of men or of the devil.  And we all know how effective those latter two are at bringing about salvation. ;o)

2) Performance.  This is a tough one, because it's so insidious, especially if you're a Latter-day Saint, or a member of another works-focused church.  The Law of Moses was a law of performances and ordinances.  And that law was fulfilled, down to the tiniest detail, by the sacrifice Jesus made: His perfect life, His atonement, His death, and His resurrection.  He has broken the bands of death and SIN . . . and freed us from them.  Period.  End.  It is done!!!  And whenever I think of that, I want to jump and shout and sing, because I don't have to EARN my salvation.  I don't have to perform to a certain standard in order to have the help of my Savior and Friend in this life.  I have to have a willing heart, and then He will walk me through whatever comes next.  It takes NO level of righteousness to "earn" access to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Who did He hang out with, and often, during His life?  Hated tax collectors for the oppressive government.  Women who were sold to whoever wanted them. Sinners.  He let all who wanted to come unto Him to come.  He BID them come.  "Come unto Me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!"  And He still calls us today.  Constantly.  Every one of us. All the time.

The grace of Jesus Christ means that He will be close to us AS we mess up, fall down, bloody our knees and noses, and blunder around through this life.  He will heal our hurts, the injuries of those who we've hurt through our own actions, and help us give it another go.

The next time you feel distant from God, for whatever reason, just stop.  Stop and quiet your mind.  Even if you're in the middle of a crowd, or there's a lot of distraction going on, you can quiet the inside of your own head, making stillness there.  And listen.  Listen with your spiritual ears for the sound of your name.  Because Jesus is calling you.  He's calling me.  Every one of us, every second of every day, He's calling us back to Him.  All we have to do is answer with a willing heart, and suddenly, He will be there.  You can talk to Him, and share with Him, and He'll feel closer and closer as you continue to praise and thank Him for all you have.  Then you can talk over what you need to work on, and He will take your hand, or gather you up into His amazing arms, and love you through whatever it is that you're going through.

Don't give up.  Just listen . . . He's there, waiting for you to turn your mind to Him!!!