Choices and Consequences

Recently (within this last year) I had someone say to me “I can’t even imagine doing to my family, what you did”.  It might come as a surprise to that person that before I made the choice to do what I did, I too, could not imagine doing what I did.  The thought of having an affair was not something I felt I’d ever do. I always believed that I would choose the higher ground, and make only the “best” choices.  After all, I always believed I was a person of good character and integrity.  In the end, I was human and imperfect.

So, did I explain all of that to the person who was attacking me with their dagger of judgement? No.  In the heat of that moment, with all of the intensity of emotion that was in play, my thinking was not as quick or concise as I might have hoped it to be.  But this isn’t about me. 

This is about someone else. Someone else who made a choice to turn to someone outside of her marriage for affection because of the verbal abuse and emotional neglect she was experiencing at home.  With alcohol fueling the abuse from her husband, and a mother who beats her down with words of negativity, and no thought to her daughter’s safety, she feels lost and unsure of whom can she turn to.  She’s dulled her pain with alcohol, but that didn’t heal anything. She was lonely and hurting and in need of someone to tell her that she mattered; that she was important. 

“Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see? Or does anybody even know she’s going down today?” Casting Crowns – Does anybody hear Her?

So she made a choice.  Should she have made a better choice?  Definitely. Is she a ‘bad’ person? No. Is she a person of good character and integrity? Yes.  Slightly tarnished, perhaps, but my answer is still yes.  But when we’re drowning, we reach out and grab onto the first thing we see, or that one something we think will help us cope.  Booze.  Drugs.  Another person. 

“She is yearning for shelter and affection that she never found at home. She is searching for a hero to ride in, to ride in and save the day.   And then walks in her prince charming, and he knows just what to say.  A momentary lapse of reason, and she gives herself away.”  Casting Crowns – Does anybody hear Her?

We imperfect humans make choices, many times bad, based on emotions, and life situations. All choices have consequences; and many of those consequences span years.  For the person in this particular situation one of those consequences is that her husband caught her with the other person.  Not a good consequence, perhaps? On the other hand, she can start making better choices. 

God is working in her life.  HE is the only one that can bring about the healing that is badly needed in her marriage, in her, and in her husband.  To close her eyes to the fact that God is inviting her to let HIM work through her, she will remain in an unhappy, unfulfilled, miserable life.  Or she can accept the invitation from God and let God do what only HE can do.  Does inviting God in mean that the consequences of her choices will only be good?  No.  There will still be tears and raw emotions and a lack of trust, on both sides.  There will be much looking ‘within’ to find the hurt inside that needs to be dredged up, understood, accepted and then given over to God for healing. There might even be a parting of the ways for her and her husband.  In the end though, there will be peace and the unconditional love that only God can provide. 

The choices we make in this life, and the experiences we have through those choices, are what make us who we are.  Life is about learning how to make good choices, and being taught to be fair and honest, and kind; of good character and integrity.  It’s about wanting to, and trying to be those things.  It’s about realizing that sometimes, despite our best intentions, even people of good character and integrity make bad choices. It’s about understanding that choices aren’t always made when we’re in the best shape emotionally.  It’s about seeing a person through their actions and not just the bad choices. It’s about seeing the atonement made for their mistakes. It’s about learning to forgive.

And, to really know how to forgive, one must know God and comprehend the depth of forgiveness and love that HE encompasses through the giving of HIS Son on the cross.


Self Forgiveness

I was watching a show the other day and one of the lines resonated with me.  When I say that, I mean I felt a response within me – that “Oh Wow” moment.  I wasn’t sure where it would lead me but finally, here it is.  I hope that in some way my response to it resonates with someone out there.  So what was the line?

            “It always amazes me . . . God knows what we need and will give it to us, even when we fight it, every step of the way.”

There are several different ways, in my opinion, in which this line could have taken me.  In the end, because of a story I saw on social media, I felt moved to take it in the direction of forgiveness.  Not forgiveness of others, but forgiveness of ourselves.

Have you ever done something that ended up being the wrong thing to do?  Have you fallen for a con, when you were sure you were smarter than that?  Have you ever made a decision where you wish you could go back and make a better one than the one you made?  There are probably a hundred different ways I could ask the question, but in the end the main question that all of the above (and more) make up, is this:

            Have you ever needed to forgive yourself for something . . . anything?  I’m talking about forgiving yourself for something where people were hurt;  Lives were changed. 

It’s okay – you can answer honestly while reading this.  No one can hear you.  I have several things in my life that I need to forgive myself for.  One of those things happened way back when I was a junior in high school.  To this day I regret what I did.  I asked forgiveness from the other person, and was given it.  I believe God has forgiven me.  But I haven’t forgiven myself.  

That begs the question of whether I think I’m better than God.  God is the creator and is above everything, so how, if He can forgive me, can I not forgive myself?  I think I’d fall back on the answer of, “I’m not perfect (obviously) like God is.  He’s the parent that can see how His child could, and did, make the bad decision and all He wants is to let us know we are loved so much.  Loved so much that He forgives us, if we ask for his forgiveness.

How am I even worthy of his notice, especially after I’ve hurt someone or more than someone?  He says I am worthy, because He made me and He doesn’t make unworthy people.  We can choose to be unworthy by the decisions we make and the paths we choose to walk that aren’t His paths for us, but unless we choose to sell our souls to Satan, we are always worthy in His eyes.  Even IF we sell our souls to Satan, we are still worthy in God’s eyes, and He weeps for us as we fall.  HE weeps for us!

Yet we still have trouble forgiving ourselves.

I still have trouble forgiving myself. 

I’m working on that.  It doesn’t happen overnight, or even over forty five years in some cases (think junior in high school).  As I attempt forgiveness of myself, I remember another scene from a movie called “The Shack” where the father is attempting to forgive.  He keeps repeating, as he carries his murdered child, “I forgive . . . I forgive . . .” So too, do I repeat that mantra. 

So to bring this around to the line in the show – God knows what we need, and will give it to us, even when we fight it, every step of the way.  I guess therein lies the path to forgiving ourselves.  Stop fighting it every step of the way.  Let God’s grace be the path you take in forgiving YOU.