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Forgiveness – New thoughts today

01/07/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

As I have pondered my questions from yesterday on forgiveness and have been wrestling with it today a few things have struck me. Now whether or not these things are true, grounded in some deep understanding of scripture or words…these are the things on my heart.

Can I forgive and still stand up and not accept a certain behavior or behaviors? I believe the simple answer is yes. BUT, it is hard to do. Growing up we were taught a distinct understanding of right and wrong. We knew that if we said a bad word, were mean to each other,disrespectful or didn’t do our chores there would be a consequence…usually in the form of a spanking or, in my case, often Tabasco sauce…Go figure. 🙂 I don’t think that was easy for my parents to do…to be the referee between so many of us. I can remember more than one instance where something happened and my parents forgave us kids for what we had done. I also remember a time, a very pivotal time in my life about age 14. We were attending a church and had been for some time at this point that was comprised primarily of other families similar to ours…homeschooling families that had the goal to raise sound, character filled and godly men and women. It was one of the first times I felt like I belonged somewhere other than home. It wasn’t because I was forced to go either…in our house it was expected we go to church and participate and while my parents taught the scripture and the way of Christ…we were all allowed to make our own decision on our beliefs. No…I felt like I belonged because there were other girls there that ‘got’ me. We were all sewing machine fanatics…yes, we made our own clothes, we all baked our own bread (multiple times a week in our case), we all were familiar with gardening and the tasks that come with it from the care to the canning, animals…especially gathering eggs and milking goats or cows was second nature, and there was an understanding of how to care for younger siblings. Here I wasn’t looked at as odd, unusual, or plain weird…no I was accepted for who I was. It was such an amazing thing. Little did I know or understand the underlining issues my parents were having. To this day I do not completely understand what happened or everything that led up to that fateful morning when I came downstairs and was told we were not going to church…something that NEVER happened. I remember getting a sick feeling a couple days later when one of the couples from the church showed up and us kids were told to go upstairs and not come down until called. The tears on my parents face only solidified the knots in my stomach when we descended a few hours later. We were told we were never going back and that we would probably never see or be able to talk to those people again. Now, understand that I am writing this from a child’s perspective. A perspective that is skewed in ideology, friendships and not having the big picture of what was happening. I do remember though being utterly devastated. Crying tears upon tears for my friendships that were lost and a serious crush I was never going to see again. I anguished in the next months…what had happened…what was going to happen…why was mom crying all the time and was my world ever going to right itself? A few months later we…my siblings and I…were at a competition, sort of like a speech/music/science/math all rolled together. We could enter into different categories and then were judged and placed depending on how good we were. I was in the speech and piano. Anyway, I remember feeling the excitement and dread all rolled together the day of the competition but not because of what I was reciting that day but because my very best friend, in the whole world whom I hadn’t spoken to for four months was going to be there. I felt like Anne of green gables getting to meet her bosom friend, Diana….it was unbelievable. I remember walking into that gym looking everywhere for her and then I saw her and she saw me….we screamed and were in each others arms in seconds. There were so many tears that day, hugs, and promises to figure out how to talk no matter what. I never had blamed her for what had happened but I did blame her parents and the hosts of other adults that had been involved. That day she asked forgiveness for what had been done…even though neither of us really new and it was easy to forgive her. When we parted ways later that day I had a heart full of joy that quickly turned to sorrow and bitterness. In a matter of minutes I went from walking on air to hating everything around me and blaming every single person in that church…well the adults anyway. That anger grew and grew…it lasted months…even after many of the couples involved came to my parents and apologized. No one ever said sorry to me and owned up to the pain I had felt, the betrayal and the loneliness. It wasn’t until almost 2 years later at a revival of sorts that the teacher was talking about forgiveness and it hit me. I had to be able to forgive…even though I was wronged, my parents and family were wronged. The bitterness and anger I had inside was eating me alive…my attitude had changed towards people, toward friendships and towards the meeting of believers. So…I forgave…without being asked or apologized to, but…to this day I do not accept or agree with the treatment of my family. Over the years more information has come out and for me to say what happened was what God would have wanted…well that is foolish. It wasn’t in accordance to His scripture or resembling love at all.

I believe we can and have the ability to forgive but that we also have to stand for what is right, what is true and what is pure. Whether or not that translates into how another person treats you, the words they say, the names they may call you and the constant tearing down of who you are. I believe we can forgive when we don’t agree, when we know what is going on is wrong and that it may separate a friendship or relationship forever, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. We have to forgive, we have to give grace…why? Because the bitterness, the edges of evil, the discontent and grumbling heart can take hold if we do not. I do believe though…that just because we forgive doesn’t mean that all is repaired or forgotten. If a person does not ask for forgiveness there can be no repair made. Reconciliation can not happen and fences can not be mended. If a person or persons have done something that I need to forgive and can not see it themselves, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I can forgive but that doesn’t mean that I have to forget or act like nothing is wrong…but I CAN NOT let the seeds of anger take root…because that, my friend…leads to more problems.

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Forgiveness – the constant struggle

01/05/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I think, in my life anyway, one of the things I have the hardest time with is forgiveness. Forgiving myself, forgiving others and for forgiving situations. The really sad part is that I seem to be able to forgive a stranger easier and faster than I can forgive those who love me.

This started many years ago when I was probably about 6 or 7. I remember standing outside of the bathroom in the house we lived in talking to my mom. I forget what it was that had happened that was a punishable offense…but what I do remember is that it was both my sister and I getting sternly talked to and asking to own up to whatever this offence was. At that stage of my life I had a tendency to tell stories…something otherwise known as a lie…a punishable offense that I perfected well into my early 20’s. Anyway, I am getting sidetracked.  It should be known that I lied at that age because I also did not like displeasing anyone, not because I was afraid of the punishment…that came later. So here we were, my sister Micah, 18 months my junior and myself answering mom about something one of us did that was going to be punished by a spanking. It is also important to note that, while my younger sister has always been a ‘better’ person, more faithful or more understanding than me…she is my best friend, my confidant, my warrior and she liked to bite me when we were younger. She would pick on me mercilessly…I honestly don’t remember it, but have heard stories…but she didn’t lie either, she was good…she was bouncy, a klutz and a mess but she was good. So here we were being asked who did this punishable offense and I emphatically denied it. I denied it because in this one instance…I truly did not do it. My mom then looked at my sister and asked her if she did to which Micah replied, “no I didn’t. Tasha did.” No matter my pleadings in that moment or explanations or cries to Micah to tell the truth my mom believed her and not me. I received the punishment…a swift pain brought on by the end of a wooden spoon. I think my tears and crushed spirit about did my sister in because she ended up owning up to whatever the error was that had been committed and then she too was disciplined. However, in that moment, when i felt so betrayed I didn’t know if I could forgive her and when she asked I didn’t right away. Thus began my struggle of forgiveness.

I couldn’t at that point understand that because of my tendency to story telling it was hard for my mother to believe me. Now being a mother, watching my own children with their personalities and differences, as a mother I take that into account. It is a hard thing to admit…that I struggle with forgiving others. I am often faced with the reality that I can say i forgive…but do I truly? I hardly every forget. Of course I have totally forgiven Micah for that unimaginable offense that happened so many years ago but that isn’t what I am talking about. I am mostly talking about in my marriage or adult friendships. When I feel so wrongly accused or slighted or mis-judged (because we aren’t supposed to judge right?!), or mis-treated. Sometimes I feel justified in not forgiving, in not moving on, in not growing. Other times I wonder if it is okay to forgive but not to forget, or, if its okay to forgive but not to accept the way I am being treated and to stand up for myself…for my kids…for my family. When is it okay and when isn’t it okay? Christ came as a baby, died on the cross so that we may all have the opportunity to live with Him in paradise…HE forgave the sins that had been committed and those that would be committed…even by me. He FORGAVE those that killed Him pleading with His Father to also forgive them “for they know not what they are doing”. How do I as a human forgive on that level? How do I love with that kind of love? And is it okay for me to stand up and say I love you, I forgive you but I do not accept this? What does that look like?

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The Beginning of a Journey

- Author: Natasha Phillips

A new year…new resolutions, new goals, new outlook and new adventures. With the new also comes regret of resolutions broken in the years gone by, goals not met, a negative thought or thoughts that may have encompassed you in the year past and a regret of adventures not seized.

A long time ago there was a little girl. She was innocent, full of spirit, adventurous, a tom boy and a helper. She loved life and life loved her. They were kind to each other and opportunities seemed endless. Dreams of India filled her head and heroes like Clara Barton, Amy Carmichael, Mother Teresa, Adoniram Judson and Jim Elliot inspired her soul. She was happy and lived a charmed life…a different and unusual life but charmed all the same. As she grew so did her restlessness. Her identity became more grounded in other people, in what she thought she should be allowed to do versus what the Lord had in store for her. Her desire to live of the earthly world with one foot in the world set aside for her by the death of Christ on the cross took hold. She was like a bird looking for shiny objects. She could be easily influenced and also appear righteous. Life became hard, it became burdensome and it became lonely. She was outside of the will and plan that had been cast on her life from the moment she was born. She was outside of the direction and counsel of those who loved her and wanted what was best for her. And then…in a snap of a finger she was back…with visions of helping others, encouraging, becoming what she should in the Lord and yet again she became distracted. This is the cycle she was stuck in, the ever evolving wheel of good versus evil, our heart versus our mind and Satan versus the King. This little girl…she grew up to become me…and this is my story of finding the will God has for my life. The plan He has set from the beginning. I do not know how this story is going to end. I know what I am going to say next and I know how I want to proceed…but I do not know where it is going. I wish I did…but you…along with myself…will have to wait and see. My prayer on this journey is that you will begin to pray with me, that you will be encouraged and that I grow…that I grow in the plans that have been laid for me since I was in my mothers womb. I look forward to this journey with excitement, trepidation, and with an open heart. Please join me…follow along and maybe we can encourage each other.

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No Comments - Categories: Family Stories and Reflection, The Journey