• DANCE IN THE RAINLife is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.- Vivian Greene

forgiveness driving+

She asks me about forgiveness.

I look up into her tear-filled eyes and know she isn’t looking for canned advice. She wants real help, honesty, depth.

I shift uncomfortably in my chair. This is a hard topic to talk about without sounding preachy. I want to be sensitive and I’m not sure what to say.

Glancing over at me, she asks “So what was it like for you to forgive? Why did you do it? Was it hard? And was it worth it?”

My mind scans all of the offenses I’ve forgiven. They have ranged from small–not being invited to a friend’s party. To medium- dealing with an insensitive and critical relative during a painful struggle. To huge – burying my infant son due to a doctor’s careless mistake. Or losing the marriage that I thought would last a lifetime.

I know she is referring to a specific offense that I’ve had to forgive, that I’m still in the process of forgiving, but there is a commonality to all the offenses against me. They have all hurt. Some superficially, some deeply, some permanently.

I take the questions one by one, trying to be as transparent as I can.

Why did I forgive?

I begin slowly, choosing my words carefully.

“To be honest I didn’t want to forgive. I never do. But the Bible tells us to forgive if we want to be forgiven. And forgiving those who wrong us brings glory to God. It shows the world Jesus.

“But forgiving has also helped me. When I carry around anger and bitterness over what someone has done, it eats at me, and almost controls my life. It’s almost like the bitterness follows me everywhere.

“I hate to admit it, but I take a twisted pleasure in replaying the offense, getting mad, being the victim. I’m entitled to those feelings- small consolations in the face of the injustices I’ve endured. But I know this pleasure is really poison. Poison that I am pouring into a gaping, already painful wound. That poison makes the wound fester, so I’m worse off than I was at the start. I’m in more pain, while the person who hurt me doesn’t even know, or care.

“I have found forgiveness is like a balm. It lets me heal. Keeps the wound clean. Enables me to move on.”

She looks at me. “I guess that makes sense. But it seems impossible when I look at my situation. Forgiving is too hard.” View full post »

  • March 6, 2014 - 8:11 pm

    Cindy Barkhau - Thank you Vaneetha!!ReplyCancel

  • March 6, 2014 - 8:48 pm

    Maggie - Beautiful. It is so true and so hard to explain. You did a wonderful job at expressing how hard it is but so very rewarding.

    Love you!ReplyCancel

  • March 6, 2014 - 8:51 pm

    Jennifer - Great post! What freedom there is in Christ! Set free from the bondage of bitterness. Thanks for the reminder.ReplyCancel

  • March 6, 2014 - 10:33 pm

    Cherie - Vaneetha, God has gifted you with words of wisdom which I know come from knowing His Word. Thank you for expressing this so well and for helping me with an ongoing relationship in my life that requires that choice, vigilance, and work.ReplyCancel

  • March 6, 2014 - 10:36 pm

    Ann Dotson - You are so right…there is a twisted pleasure in hanging on to the wrongs done to us….but it doesn’t compare to the joy, peace and sweet surrender that comes with forgiveness. Thank you for articulating this subject so so well.ReplyCancel

  • July 29, 2014 - 10:59 am

    JD - “We are never as much like Christ when we are willing to suffer for the sins of others.” – Wow, I needed this encouragement today.
    As I deal with a marriage crisis, I feel bitterness springing forth. Where I thought I had forgiven, I am learning it can sometimes be a moment by moment choice I have to make. It truly is dying to self.
    Thank you for your words, they speak to me.ReplyCancel

    • July 29, 2014 - 4:21 pm

      Vaneetha - So glad this encouraged you. Forgiveness for me is an ongoing process…which always beings with dying to self. So hard, but so worth it.ReplyCancel

  • November 17, 2015 - 5:47 pm

    Kay G - Thank you for such an honest and transparent answer. I saw myself in so much of what you said. I have often wondered why those feelings of betrayal and hurt keep rearing their ugly head when I have tried to forgive. I feel like even though I have tried, I am back at square one with deep anger surging up from my toes when his name is mentioned or something just reminds me of so many memories that are now only hurtful. I just read your sustaining grace piece as well and between these two articles, I am going to make daily, moment by moment choices to forgive reminding myself to try to be like Christ and forgive those who don’t deserve it – me included!ReplyCancel

    • November 18, 2015 - 8:12 am

      Vaneetha - Forgiveness is definitely a moment by moment choice and not a once-and-done event. I’m always thankful for God’s grace in the middle of it!ReplyCancel

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joni+

Her earrings catch my attention.

They are hammered gold, with crinkled edges that flash brilliant. I am captivated. I’ve heard about these earrings.

They were once smooth and square, polished and perfect. She treasured them, an unexpected gift from a friend. But she inadvertently dropped one on her office floor, impaling it on her wheelchair tire, the crunching sound betraying the damage.

A jeweler told her that he couldn’t fix it. But he could make the smooth one match the other. It was a risk, but she decided to trust him.

In the back room she heard the sounds of hammering and grinding. Did he know what he was doing? But he returned with a matching second earring. Marred and mangled. But strangely magnificent.

I stare at these earrings. They are exquisite. From my vantage, they are not marred at all. Quite the opposite, they look like the work of a skilled craftsman. The hammering has produced something breathtaking.

The lesson is vivid. I don’t want to struggle, to take the hard road, to be bruised. I’d prefer an easy, smooth life. But it is the pounding that produces character, character that reflects light. As I see the twisted gold shimmering, I am amazed at the beauty from what has been battered. 

As we talk, my gaze shifts from her earrings to her hands. We’re having dinner and I’m watching her eat. This is not idle curiosity; I know with post-polio that my arms are failing and I too may struggle to feed myself. She frequently needs help and must be content with the way others help her. How they cut her food, what they put on her plate, when they can attend to her needs. View full post »

  • February 28, 2014 - 8:19 am

    vasanth - Inspiring blog Vaneetha. Thanks.
    It seems like “life happens” and unfortunately sometimes it is not what we would choose. But our response (with God’s help) can bring him glory, and make us a beautiful encouragement to another facing a similar situation. The deepening of our capacity for empathy and love and forgiveness is indeed the main benefit of our pain – and that does make for a richer life in the final analysis.ReplyCancel

  • February 28, 2014 - 8:32 am

    Kathy Van Til - “Strangely magnificent.” Yes.ReplyCancel

  • February 28, 2014 - 10:31 am

    Kristin Hill Taylor - Oh yes. This: Giving up my right to have something exactly as I want can be an act of worship. –> Yes, this is a reminder I hold close. I’m vising you from Emily’s link up; glad I linked up beside you. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • March 1, 2014 - 10:11 am

      Vaneetha - I keep reminding myself of that too, Kristin. Thanks for reading!ReplyCancel

  • March 3, 2014 - 10:51 am

    Val - What a touching story. Thank you for sharing you heart and for being so transparent!
    ValReplyCancel

  • August 5, 2014 - 1:55 pm

    These legs are made for walking | Even Rocks Cry Out - […]  I love this blogpost, “There are more important things in life than […]ReplyCancel

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terrapin+

photo courtesy of Jonathan Davidar

I enter the crowded room and cringe. I’ve made a mistake.

But it’s too late to run away.

So I take my seat at the front.  I’m a panelist in a Q & A session run by my former MBA program. As the oldest member of the panel by a decade, I feel senile. The crowd is young and trendy, eager to impress us with their insightful questions.

All I can think about is my out-of-style clothes. I wish had listened to my daughter’s parting comment and worn something more fashionable. Or at least not screaming middle age.

The moderator gives a beautiful presentation on the school and the program. Ignorant of the latest buzz words, I understand only half of what she is saying. But it sounds impressive. Besides, she’s immaculately dressed.

Afterwards, the participants have the opportunity to ask questions. Half the hands in the room shoot straight up. It’s going to be a long afternoon.

The first and most basic one: “What are all of you doing now?”

I am completely unprepared for this query. It’s unclear exactly what questions I am prepared to answer if this has stumped me. Apparently none. Obviously I hadn’t thought this whole panel thing through very well. They expected us to say something. Something intelligent. Or maybe insightful. At the very least, intelligible.

I’m in serious trouble. My clothes are the least of my worries now. I’m assuming “pass” is not an acceptable response to the first question. I’m wondering if I can fake an emergency phone call. I’m hoping I’ll never see these people again. View full post »

  • February 21, 2014 - 6:46 am

    Derek Riley - Most of us will not change the world, we are were not made too. I am to change and be a blessing to those around me. Thank you for your honesty.ReplyCancel

    • February 21, 2014 - 8:37 am

      Vaneetha - I agree, Derek. Only the Lord can change the world. Besides, I’m still working on myself! Thanks for writing.ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2014 - 8:59 am

    Renuka - I do not know about changing the “world”…but you have certainly had a tremedous impact on my life… in more ways that you will EVER know!ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2014 - 9:41 am

    RuthAnn - Was waiting for this post! LOL!
    Reminds me of one of my favorite Pooh quotes….”“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”ReplyCancel

  • February 22, 2014 - 5:25 am

    Yavette - Thank you so much for God’s truth in this post and the wonderful comic relief that had me laughing too early in this morning. A great way to start a day: With the LORD and laughter!ReplyCancel

  • February 22, 2014 - 6:50 pm

    Anne Mercer - Vaneetha, you are precious. I have sent your blog to several of my close friends and also to my niece. I gave them a brief history of you and told them how much we Mercers love you. You are showing the Lord to many people who don’t know him well. Keep writing !

    Blessings !!!!
    AnnieReplyCancel

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suffering in a storm+

photo courtesy of Jonathan Davidar

I can’t carry my plate to the table.

Last month the plate posed no problems. But with post-polio, things can deteriorate rapidly. And they do.

The doctors told me this would happen. But at the time, I was a young mother and there were other things to worry about. I assumed the real struggle would be decades away.

I was wrong. The struggle is here now and it’s a daily fight. For a decade, I could talk about post-polio, write about it, and even philosophize about it. But now, as it’s happening, I’m angry.

I sit at the counter, tears streaming down my face. I scream into my empty house, “God, how could you do this to me? Don’t you love me? I’ve been faithful. Doesn’t that count for something? Why don’t you fix this?!”

I finish my tantrum with God, and sink into self-pity. I decide that God has never done anything for me. That God answers other people’s prayers but not mine. That everything in my life is awful. That God doesn’t care about my pain. And that my suffering is meaningless.

Of course, these are the lies of Satan.

I wish I didn’t listen to them, know them by heart, repeat them almost instinctively.

I wish in the heat of battle, when life is falling apart, my first response would be grace-filled. Patient. Christ- like.

I wish that I would savor the sweetness of God’s sustaining grace, and never question Him again.

But unfortunately I still struggle.

I close my eyes and breathe deeply. I need to repent. To heed Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones advice: to stop listening to myself, and start talking to myself. To remind myself of the truth.

On the back of an envelope, I jot down what I need to say to myself. Seven things I need to do. View full post »

  • February 14, 2014 - 9:29 am

    Kathy Van Til - Van, I appreciate your sharing right in the midst of raw suffering. It’s good for us to show each other the struggle to believe what we believe.ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2014 - 9:32 am

    Sue Koehler - Thank you Vaneetha.ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2014 - 9:53 am

    Joy H. Reinicke - I googled “number of perfection.” Was delighted to find my memory has not completely left this half a century+ brain of mine. One of the link options stated that 7 is the number of spiritual perfection. So I reckon these 7 truths to speak to yourself…and me…and so many others would be that which could perfectly and spiritually speak into our souls those truths which the Father would have us set our minds to dwell upon. Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • February 14, 2014 - 10:52 am

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Joy. I have to constantly remind myself to set my mind on these truths. But when I do, it changes everything.ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2014 - 11:45 am

    Jennifer Morgan - Love you friend:)ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2014 - 9:54 pm

    Elise Demboski - You are a light that continues to shine brighter and brighter! Thank you for sharing your story, your struggles and your faith. Although God has not healed the pain of your post-polio, he is definitely working miracles through it. Love you so much!ReplyCancel

  • February 18, 2014 - 10:52 pm

    jenny Jensen - Love this Van! Thank you for sharing!!!ReplyCancel

  • June 20, 2016 - 12:59 pm

    Erin - I know this post is a few years old, but I have been reading through your blog posts and wanted to tell you how much I needed to read this today. I have been in the midst of a battle with physical pain that seems never-ending, and I have been struggling to fight against self-pity and feeling so very weak, especially because what I’m going through pales in comparison to what others have suffered. This was just the reminder I needed today to seek the Lord. Your list of things to do to talk to yourself are things that I too need. I praise the Lord for you and your ministry. Thank you so much.ReplyCancel

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