Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Understanding dawns

Without all of the specifics of the UGLY TRUTH that my life had become, I wrote a lot in April (on my "regular" blog) about my experience before, during and after God rescued my soul.  This is another exceprt from that...really, a combination of two of those posts.

April 6, 2012 (in the morning on Good Friday) I wrote this:

"Because I won't allow myself to forgive myself for wrongs I have done to others, I can't truly understand and accept God's forgiveness. There is something standing in the way.

And it's me.

So, when I heard East to West yesterday and really listened to the lyrics, I could really FEEL those lyrics. It's all about KNOWING that God forgives us and casts our sins away, but still not understanding just how far away He has cast them.

The concept of this song comes from Psalm 103:12 (this is the New Living Translation):  'He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.' I love the way this translation doesn't just say He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west, but that He has removed our sins as far FROM US. I'm the one that keeps holding onto them and keeping them close to me. God keeps trying to pull them far from ME.

My favorite line in the song is this:

'Time and time again Your truth is drowned out by the storm I'm in. Today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way.'

There is another line that seemed to jump out at me, as I have come to admit that I am NOT active in this relationship between me and God, and it brought me some small amount of comfort. 'I'm not holding onto You, but You're holding on to me.'

Some day (soon I hope!) I will find healing and peace and really understand this concept of forgiving myself and accepting God's forgiveness..."


Kris and I had a counseling appointment scheduled that day, Good Friday, over lunch.  Little did I know that that very counseling session would hold the answer to all of my questions, the freedom from my guilt and shame, and the understanding of just how much God loves even me.  Looking back, I can see that it was God.  No questions about it.

This is what I wrote after the counseling appointment, and that day forever changed my life:

"Let's be real and talk about REAL LIFE.

Because you know what?

Sometimes it really sucks.

Sometimes it's hard.

MOST of the time it's hard. Marriage is hard.

Sometimes, staying married seems next to impossible. Kris and I are imperfect people, trying to live as a married couple, and really we have NO IDEA what we are doing. So I am in counseling. Kris is in counseling. WE ARE IN COUNSELING. And...dare I say it...MARRIAGE counseling. The horror! (Yes, I am being sarcastic, if you couldn't tell.)

Look, I don't really think there is anything wrong with it and I am not ashamed to admit that we needed/still need help. I think every married couple should be in counseling. Good marriage or can only benefit from marriage counseling.

If you know me, you know that I do NOT believe in coincidence. I believe that those "coincidences" are messages from God. Sometimes we close our eyes to seeing the truth in that. I know that I spent the last seven years ignoring those movements of God. I shoved God aside. I had my reasons. They weren't good ones. But they were my reasons, my excuses.

And when Kris and I reached our lowest point back in February, a breaking point really, I finally began to open my eyes. At first, it was just one eye, barely open. As days went by and I saw God's hand at work in my life and in Kris' life, and in our marriage, I decided it was safe to open both eyes.

And today, for the first time in a VERY long time, my eyes are WIDE OPEN.

Today's counseling session was HUGE for me. As I said previously, I've struggled with forgiving myself. I've carried the burden of shame and guilt alone; shame and guilt that has built up over the last 20+ years of my life.

And after 20 years, it gets to be unbearable.

I realized with ringing clarity today that I have NEVER in my life truly understood Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. I knew about it. I taught my kids about it. I believed it. But I just never fully comprehended the magnitude of it.

It wasn't until today, during counseling, that it finally made sense. I have carried the guilt of my life of sin, not letting it go, because if God wouldn't punish me like I thought He should, I believed that I had to punish myself. I knew that punishment was a consequence of sin. And I knew that God is a loving and forgiving God. But I never felt like confessing my sin came with any kind of tangible punishment.  And I had it in my head that it was supposed to.

Punishment for sin plus a loving and forgiving God did not equal anything that made sense to me, though I never realized it.  So taking that flawed logic, I held on to my sins.




And there are many. Though some were confessed, and some were not, I didn't accept God's forgiveness. I took the responsibility of punishment upon myself. It sounds foolish, but I do not believe that I am a fool. I just didn't understand that there was another way. I don't think I really understood what Jesus' death really meant.

Our counselor pointed out today that we all seem to get Easter and what it means. Up in our heads. But we don't always truly grasp the depth of what it really means, in our hearts. And for some reason, I am in a unique position to really, truly understand exactly what Jesus' death meant now.

I've been carrying around this heavy burden, punishing myself over and over again. I just couldn't forgive myself. For anything. I heard God today, in the words of our counselor.  He told me that I was right. I DO deserve to be punished for my sin.  And instead of lecturing me on giving it to God and all that churchy-talk (yes, that's a word; I just made it up), he guided me into an understanding of, not God, but Jesus.

I'm standing before God, buried under a mound of sin. I'm just a speck compared to the amount of sin that surrounds me. He is ready to punish me. And I know I deserve it. But then, after some discussion about punishment for sin, Tony said 'What if today, on Good Friday, you allow Jesus to take the punishment for you?' I believe my exact words in response were 'Well when you put it that way, it makes a lot of sense.'

I finally saw the connection.  My dot-to-dot puzzle that had letters and numbers in a different language was translated to English.  Jesus already stepped forward and offered to take my sin on his shoulders. He offered to carry them to the Cross. To be beaten, to suffer and to die. As a punishment for MY sin. Not just everyone else in the world. But for ME.  I've spent so many years believing in the Cross.  Believing that there is healing and forgiveness and mercy.  But today, I finally understood that it is there for ME too. I've spent so long punishing myself, because I didn't comprehend what Jesus was really offering to me.

'The Cross' always seemed like this big picture, abstract concept. That it applied to the world, to everyone, and that's just how it was.  Until today, I don't think I truly ever really believed that Jesus took the punishment for individuals, for every single person; and that it included me.

Because I didn't understand, and because I didn't believe it, I have resisted letting Jesus take my place. But today, everything will change. Today, for the first time, I get it.  I finally understand.  And I believe.  And I will let Jesus take the punishment for every evil deed that I have done. I will nail it to the Cross and I will finally be free."


There is more that happened that day, on Good Friday.  More that solidified my understanding and more ways in which my eyes were opened, but I'm going to leave it here for now.

I finally understood.

I finally "got it".

And that was enough.

For the first time, I could stop fighting myself and get on the right side of the battle!  I saw the Enemy for what he really was, and I eagerly switched sides!  And while I can't wait to share the rest of this part of my journey with you, wait I must.  Or this will become even longer than it already is and you might just stop reading!


  1. Thanks for sharing! And you're right, all married couples can benefit from counseling in my opinion:)

    1. Honestly...I wish Kris and I had been in marriage counseling our entire marriage. It could have saved us a lot of heartache. HOWEVER...then we wouldn't necessarily have this same story to show God's power and glory!

  2. There is nothing like the first moment when you truly see the power of God found in the Gospel message for setting me free from the bondage of guilt and sin. I rejoice with you! God has promised He will never leave us. So happy you are living in the good of this Truth. Marriage counseling is something we ALL need, for we're all sinners married to sinners who are both in need of a Savior.
    Love your honest transparency. You will reach more than you know by being so real and candid.
    God bless,

    1. Thank you for your encouraging words. Since Good Friday, I have felt more alive than I ever thought possible. Definitely more alive than the affair made me feel-and I thought THAT was truly living. How twisted my mind and heart were. We serve a mighty and loving God and I wake up each day grateful.

  3. I echo your words - and the comments before - "Every couple needs marriage counselling." We get all kinds of help/instruction in our professions,and those daily jobs pale in comparison to the importance and legacy of our marriages.

    Thank you for sharing your journey - your thoughts and feelings travelling this road are invaluable. They make an impact.

    1. Thank you! I really appreciate your words of encouragement, as I share my story.

  4. I think marriage counseling is a wonderful idea for all couples. I remember kind of wishing we could continue our premarital counseling after the wedding. Why what for problems to occur to see marital counseling? I think that's partly why I blog about redeeming marriages because I know how important it is to stay connected to a healthy marriage-supporting community. Good thoughts, Jamie!

  5. "Because I won't allow myself to forgive myself for wrongs I have done to others, I can't truly understand and accept God's forgiveness. There is something standing in the way.

    And it's me."

    This is brilliant - I pray many see themselves and have the courage to get past it.