Tag Archive | Forgiveness

8/22/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – You are not that girl anymore.

You are not that girl anymore.

This covers so much territory and it really is about the hurt child in all of us.   “Old tracks” play on auto loop and tell the story of who we used to be.  We tell ourselves constantly that we are still the forgotten daughter, the “smart one” (aka NOT cool), the overweight, underweight, clumsy, acne-prone girl who boys didn’t like.  We are still the self-conscious girl who starves herself to feel in control, the girl who sleeps around to prove that boys like her. We are still the girl who failed at marriage and screwed it all up.

That is the story we tell.  That is the story I tell.  That is the story of “that girl”.

I have spent the better part of my adult life in an argument with that girl.  The grace that God has abundantly bestowed on me, as evidenced by the bountiful joy in my life, is often overshadowed by the lies that I allow that girl to tell.

If there is one thing that I want you to know about your future and who you are, it is this. You aren’t that girl anymore.

You aren’t the girl who got rejected by friends and therefore feels unlikeable.  You are not the girl who boys don’t like because you don’t look right or wear the right clothes, or act cool enough.  You just aren’t that girl.  No matter how many times that story plays in your head, no matter how many hurts you encounter, those hurts don’t make the girl.  You are so much more than that.  You are the delightful, beautiful girl who loves people and is loved in return.  You are the girl who works hard and does her best.  You are the girl who learns from her mistakes and works things out.  You are the girl who isn’t afraid to get back up after a fall.  You are the girl who is loved beyond measure and has so much to offer the world.

You are the girl who really believes she is a princess and expects the world to treat her with princess-like care.  You are the girl who is so convincing that you can talk a friend into picking up dog poop so you don’t have to.  You are the girl who runs races through pain and doesn’t quit.  You are the girl who does her own thing, makes her own style and doesn’t just follow along.  You are the girl who knows that being smart is a gift and works hard to honor her gift.  You are the girl who laughs so much and long that she gets a belly ache and always cares about making other people smile.

When I look at you, I see all the beauty and possibility in my life.  I forget about my “that girl” and can remember that my mistakes don’t define me and the stories that I tell myself can make or break me, but it is my choice.  I see in you the truth about God and His love and know that Truth is so much bigger than the lies I tell myself when I put my track on auto-loop.

When your confidence is shaken, and that girl tries to make an appearance, shake her off.  She is not your truth and you are not that girl.

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This post was inspired by two pastors in my life.  Last Sunday, Steve North shared part of his emotional journey as he learned the truth about the man he is and the man he used to be.  In his poem, “Becky’s Thunder” he described the moment when  another pastor, Becky Przybylski, helped him see  that “You are not that man anymore.”  Listening to his story, I realized how much I let my own past tell me lies about who I am today.  I let “that girl” beat me down with the mistakes that changed the course of my life.  I continue to accept the guilt that girl heaps on, perhaps as punishment, perhaps as atonement and in the process, I forget who I am today.  I forget that those mistakes have shaped me, but they don’t define me.  Steve’s message helped me to  remember that the girl I am today has learned and grown and been blessed by those very mistakes, and that my life provides evidence every single day that God forgave me long ago and continues to prove it by pouring His grace into me.

God truly does set the brightness of our today into the dark mortar of our past so that we can see the contrast that He brings to us.

Thank you to Becky for being Steve’s thunder.  And thank you to Steve for being mine.

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5/21/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Screw up gracefully.

Before you get all excited and think that I have just given you permission to screw up…hold your horses young lady.  All my other advice about doing goodleading by example still holds true.

But, when you screw up (and you WILL screw up), one of the most important things that you need to learn is how to recover grace-fully.  I’m not talking about the way you might jump up after fallling on your face when you tripped over some imaginary thing in the middle of the floor (after all, you ARE my daughters, so this is bound to happen).  Don’t get me wrong, that kind of recovery is also important.  Hint: jump up, look around and if nobody is looking, just go about your business and try not to limp.  If someone saw you, then you just have to laugh.  What else are you going to do?  I also highly recommend telling as many people as possible about your fall.  It makes for great conversation and makes you seem more human. (I’ve had lots of practice with this.)  But I digress…

As you grow up and move away from the safety of home, remember that it is always important for you to have an escape route.  Know your plan B and when you will execute it.  What I am really talking about is learning to recognize that you have made a mistake and learning to recover without digging a deeper hole.  You see, we are human and we have a really hard time admitting when we are wrong.  Sometimes we become so committed to our mistake that we can’t see our way out.  We throw good money after bad, both literally and figuratively.  So stop the madness.  Know that it is ok to be wrong.  It is ok to screw up.  Admit it, plan your escape, apologize and move on.  Give yourself grace.  Recover grace-fully.

Most important, never ever forget to apologize to those who your mistake has hurt.  A genuine apology can right a whole lot of wrongs. Giving grace, accepting grace…recovering grace-fully.

Remember that mistakes are just mistakes.  Don’t get them more power than that.  For more on mistakes, refer back to this blog post.

Today’s post was inspired by a comment on yesterday’s advice by a blogger I just met.

5/11/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Sometimes you have to walk away.

Walking away.  Now this is a tough one. 

This is follow up to yesterday’s advice. 

Sometimes when you have done all the right things, and you have worked hard to clean up your messes, they still look like the “other brand” in the Bounty papertowel commercials.  They are just a soggy, shredded mess.  When that happens, your heart probably feels pretty shredded and messy too.

Sometimes you will try to fix something that isn’t fixable, not because your heart isn’t right, but because the other person’s heart is closed.  And when that happens, you have to chalk up your losses and walk away.  Before you do that, you need to forgive, because if you don’t, when you walk away you will carry that darkness in your heart.  That darkness is a gift that keeps on giving, whether you like it or not.

So forgive, be grateful for the times when your relationship was good…and walk away.

There are some friends who enter your life for a reason.  Others for a season.  And the rarest and most precious of all, some who enter for a lifetime.  You need to learn to recognize the difference, and give yourself permission to accept it for what it is.  Each of these types of friendships is important and beautiful but will play a different role in your life.  It is ok.  The time you have with any friend is a gift.  But sometimes, as hard as it will be, you will have to walk away.  Walking away can be a lttle bit like friendship.  Sometimes you will have to walk away for a reason, sometimes just for a season…and the rarest and hardest of all, sometimes for a lifetime. 

Make no mistake…this advice will NEVER apply to your mother.  Because no matter where you go, what you do, or what relationships you clean up or walk away from, I will never stop loving you.  You will always be on the “worth it” list.  No matter how big of a mess we might find ourselves in, I will never stop digging to get to you. And I will never, ever walk away.

My Favorite Mistakes

Over the last 10 years, I have spent a lot of time and energy focused on my mistakes, the sins of my past. I have also spent a lot of time and energy trying to free myself from those mistakes. I have wrestled with God over control of forgiveness in my life….His, and mine. I have accepted forgiveness and then thown it back in a fit of self-loathing. I have given that burden to God and then yanked it back when the peace that I found in my unburdening became too much for my guilty heart to take.

I have thanked God for the grace that is so evident in my life, for the daily proof that He has forgiven me and doesn’t define our relationship by my past. I have felt the guilt that comes when unforgiveness of myself is sharing space with abundant grace and I don’t know what to do with that tension.

Over and over, I have struggled with what my heart knows and what my heart will allow.

I was inspired yesteday, by a video of an amazing young woman, Sarah Kay, who uses spoken word poetry to make sense of her world. When she is trying to help young people to find a start to their own stories, she asks them to make a list. The first list is always “10 things I know to be true”.

Inspired by that and this morning’s message about Lent, I decided that the list was a good way to get my jumbled thoughts started into something cohesive that I could hold on to, and maybe the words in my list will create a space that God can move into. This list represents that intersection between what my heart knows and what my heart will allow. It is what I know about my favorite mistakes.

10 things I know to be true about mistakes:

1. We all make them. From before our faltering first steps to our last ragged breaths, our lives will be filled with mistakes.

2. We give mistakes more power than they deserve. A mistake is just a mistake, no more, no less.

3. A mistake doesn’t define us, but it can define a moment in time. What we do from that moment on has nothing to do with the mistake, and everything to do with us.

4. God cares deeply about our mistakes, because He cares deeply about us. But when His heart aches for us, at the same time, His tears and His blood are washing our mistakes away. Any scorekeeping that happens is done by us, not by Him.

5. When we refuse to forgive our own mistakes, or the mistakes of others, we are living in the past. When we live in the past, we are missing the present and robbing ourselves of the promises of the future.

6. Sometimes our biggest mistakes, the things we did wrong, are exactly what causes us to be in the right place today. A small wrong can lead to big rights.

7. A mistake can cause us to lose our way, but if we keep our hearts tuned in, we can always find our way back. God’s GPS always has a “take me home” button, and when we get there, He will have the lights on and He will be waiting up.

8. A simple apology (to someone else, to ourselves, to God) is the best first step after any mistake. We should never ever underestimate the power, the beauty or the grace that can be found in “I’m sorry”.

9. When the weight of a mistake is weighing us down, there is sweet relief is giving that burden to God. Sometimes we will take the burden back, but it won’t be because God handed it back to us. It will be because we took it. Sometimes it takes lots of tries to give it up completely. We should keep trying.

10. When we are at the precipice of a mistake, just before we take the leap, we should pause, listen then act. If we make a mistake anyway, we should pause, listen, then move on. The next opportunity to do the right thing will come quickly. If we focus on the mistake, we might miss the opportunity.

11. We can’t protect someone from making their own mistakes. Even if we know better. Even if they are about to do something stupid. Our mistakes are ours and they are valuable. Mistakes are how we learn, and when we try to prevent others from making mistakes, we are also denying them the opportunity to learn from their choices, and yes, their mistakes. Just because someone else may find themselves in the same circumstances that we were once in, doesn’t mean that their outcome will be the same as ours and even if it is, their experience will affect them differently than ours did. Mistakes are important for everyone to make because when we are making mistakes, it means that we are living.

I do know how to count to 10, but number 11 seemed important. As a parent, I put a lot of energy into trying to steer my kids away from mistakes. I don’t want them to feel the pain of the mistakes that I have made. But when I am really honest, I realize that my job isn’t to prevent their mistakes. My job is to equip them for their mistakes. It is to give them a place to return to when their mistakes have left their hearts tattered and their confidence bruised. My job is to demonstrate grace to them, and to give them the same forgiveness that I have revceived from my heavenly Father. It is to provide them with a no strings attached kind of love that they can count on ESPECIALLY when they make mistakes. Because depsite my best efforts, they will make mistakes and they will learn from how I react, not just to my own mistakes, but by the way I react to theirs. I can model apology when I am wrong because I will  mess up my job as their mom sometimes. And if I am really successful and I work really hard, maybe I can even show them how to forgive themselves by giving myself the gift of grace.

If you would like to hear more from the amazing Sarah Kay, I have linked the video below.
http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kay_if_i_should_have_a_daughter.html