|Photo Credit: KellyP42 at morgueFile.com|
On March 2nd, the great state of
Texas (yes, I’m extremely partial) celebrated a birthday – Independence Day! It got me to thinking about all of the things
we love about our state. Somewhere among
its 268,820 square miles, 26 million-ish people, and two time zones, every
Texan has that “thing” that makes it home for them. Texas
For some, it’s the wide open spaces, cotton candy sunsets, and roadside bluebonnets that ripple like ocean waves in the wind. For many, it’s stockshows and rodeos, farms and cattle. For countless others, it’s cowboy hats and boots, armadillos, juicy steaks, and pick-up trucks. For lots more, it’s the smell of Friday night football, grand stadiums, and the Fightin’ Texas Aggies (Whoop! Yes, partial again!) For my son, it’s the endless
Gulf of Mexico that calls his name every chance he gets
to throw out his lucky line. Of course,
there’s a bunch of Texas-y stuff in between that I don’t have the space to
Then, there are the funny
jokes that are oddly all true. For instance,
we use air-conditioning year-round since our seasons are hot & humid, hot
& dry, hot & sticky and hot as hell-o.
We put up signs that say, “Don’t cross this pasture unless you can do it
in 9 seconds because the bull can do it in 10.”
Fire ants guard and protect our property with a vengeance. Texas
mosquitoes are larger than humans. We
don’t park closest to a store – we park in the shadiest spot we find. And, when we take a road trip, we allot one
whole day to get out of Texas
We also like the word “ya’ll.” “Ya’ll” means four people and five or more friends is “all ya’ll.” We’ll never refuse a tall glass of sweet tea. We say “fixin’ to” quite a bit and that means we’re about to do somethin’. We give our honeys heart-shaped steaks instead of chocolates for Valentine’s Day and we love big hugs. We “piddle around” and are sure to use our manners by saying “ma’am” and “sir.”
. We go BIG or
stay at home ‘round these parts. We
can’t help but make our pancakes, eggs, and waffles into the shape of the Lone
Star state we adore. This weekend our
family planted a garden. What was the
name of the tomato plant? Yep. “Big Boy.”
And my youngest daughter told me just this morning that she loves my
kisses. Why? “Because they are SO BIG, Momma!” Yes, that’s right…go big. Texas
But, probably one of the most important things we (all of us…not just Texans) should go BIG on is forgiveness (gulp!). A friend of mine recently gave me a wonderful little book called, “Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody,” written by Allen R. Hunt. I devoured the book. With only 92 pages, I read half of it in one evening and finished it up the next morning. I couldn’t put it down.
The book includes eleven real-life stories of people who discovered the undervalued power of forgiveness that is often ignored. Hunt says that forgiveness “is underrated mainly because it is underused. We fail to capture the power of forgiveness because we are afraid of it, because we have grown comfortable in our familiar wounds, or because we are sinfully stubborn.”
The journey of forgiveness is broken down into three parts in Hunt’s book: “(1) Receiving Forgiveness: Experiencing God and forgiving yourself, which may be the most difficult forgiveness of all. (2) Deciding to Forgive: No great journey ever started with anything less than a decision to begin. (3) Sharing Forgiveness: The law of the harvest is simple – If you want something in your life, share it generously with others.”
Mr. Hunt does a beautiful job at explaining the importance of capturing this untapped power that we all have inside. He says that “Every place you open the Gospels, Jesus is sounding the bugle of forgiveness. The truth is obvious: Jesus, very simply, is all about forgiveness. So much so that His first sermon is just one word, ‘Repent!’ as He makes it plain that we need forgiveness. And His last words are uttered to the Father from the cross on behalf of the soldiers below (‘Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.’). In other words, forgiveness provides the first and last word of Jesus’ entire ministry.”
Wow. Could forgiveness be the key to unlocking the jail cell of past hurts and wrongdoings? Is it possible for us to forgive the unforgivable? Can we start living in the present and look forward to the future with an amazing freedom we only longed for at one time or another?
Grudges. Resentments. Feeding off of old wounds because they are comfortable. Stubbornness. Blame. We can continue to keep score, but it’ll fracture us. It will cause us to completely crumble, one little piece at a time. The angry poison will eventually kill us from the inside out. The weightiness of being unforgiving will not only hold us back… it will break our back, as Hunt explains.
Could a father ever find it in his heart to forgive a man for detonating the bomb that killed his daughter? Could a young man wrongly convicted of rape spend almost 20 years in prison and practice forgiveness by focusing on “fixing forward” since he couldn’t “fix backward?” Could a woman release the toxic venom of anger by showing her son’s and husband’s killer what a mother’s love really is? Could someone forgive a man she saw torture and kill her family and friends at a concentration camp?
But, the unbelievable answer is yes and these are just some of the stories that Hunt shares in his book about the underestimated power of forgiving. Hunt also reminds us that forgiving is not forgetting. Those are two very different things. He says that forgiving is setting aside the past, rather than forgetting it. He encourages us to spend our efforts on making the present the most fruitful it can be. He doesn’t say we have to forget the hurt – he just pushes us to move past it. And, if we want others to forgive us, we need to forgive…ourselves…and others.
Hunt says, “We need forgiveness, and God wants to forgive. He yearns to forgive. His very heart is forgiveness. But notice also the words of Jesus as He shares the Lord’s Prayer, when He teaches His disciples, ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ Jesus is not merely saying that we need forgiveness. We know that we do. God binds Himself to the promise that just as you forgive others, He will forgive you. The more you forgive, the more you will be forgiven.” Wow.
We abundantly receive what we give away. Do we yearn for love? Give it away. Do we desperately want peace? Give it away. Could we use some blessings in our lives? Give blessings away. Do we long for the freedom of forgiveness? Then, we must freely give it away.
We might think that forgiveness just isn’t in our blood. Maybe we come from a long line of grumpy, grudge-holding, score-keeping ancestors and that is just the way we are. Maybe we are. But, we could always use today to pivot in a different direction. We could start today. We have the unique opportunity to touch the heart of God…because His very heart is forgiveness itself.
Can we acquire “freedom from our past and freedom for our future?” It’s possible for other people, we might say, but is it really possible for US? The answer is a resounding yes. For that kind of freedom….let’s choose forgiveness….and let’s go BIG when we do.