Yesterday my friend shared her story with me; it was one of darkness and shame, abandonment and addiction. Once abused, she came the abuser. Tears fell down her face as she confessed to the horrible moment that she discovered she had become the monster her parents had been. She sought help. To this day, she begs forgiveness from her adult children and has difficulty sleeping at night. Nightmares take her back to horrible times and waking is a relief.
Honestly, I was stunned by her confession. I had always considered child abusers to be subhuman, far different from me. Not true. In fact, I think that my friend’s honesty is admirable. It took great strength and humility to tell me what she did. She fights hard for healing; it is a work in progress. I pray that one day, the Holy Spirit will bring her to the place where she will receive the forgiveness and peace Jesus longs to cover her with.
This morning I was on the phone with my sister. Before I knew it, snarky, judgmental words about some people who had done me no harm came from my lips. After I hung up, conviction came knocking. Maybe I hadn’t flung someone across the room, but in reality I had done malice to someone who couldn’t defend themselves. My sin felt like a ball and chain. The truth is, my friend and I stand before a holy God, and sin is sin. There’s no gradation.
Isaiah understood this:
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away…
Yet, O Lord you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord: do not remember our sins forever.
Oh look upon us, we pray for we are all your people.
Try as we may, on our own, we can never be good enough. The good news for all of us is that we can know forgiveness, peace and healing when we confess our sins, repent and grab hold of the grace that Jesus offers us. Our past doesn’t have to own us. Jesus takes our shame and replaces it with gratitude and celebration.
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
Lord, forgive me when I fall short. It happens so easily. Thank you that through your Son, I grab hold of your grace and come home to you. Thank you for my friend and her honesty and trust in me. Please open her heart to your healing and grace so that she is fully restored to you and knows your peace. Amen.