Monday, January 30, 2017

The Root of Our Issues--Us

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

The root of our issue: We're unclean.
My first marriage fell apart. I'd married a man with issues--totally unaware that he'd married a woman with issues.

Our fights became furious. I'd become the bread-winner and would return from work to find my baby's lunch still on the table, the house a mess and my husband ready to go out and party--often with my girlfriends.

Of course, it's easy to pass blame, nail the dissolution of our vows at his feet. Shamefully, throughout the many years since that marriage dissolved, I never saw my role in it. However, when a marriage fails, each partner plays a part in its demise.

I no longer remember the words I'd say when one of my ex's transgressions drove me to Hades to arm myself with the tools of hell. I remember he allowed me to punch him. Cuss words laced our screaming matches. Dreams of other men filled my lonely nights.

Then, after we divorced, I met Christians who told about Christ and His redeeming love. Blind to my own sins, I struggled to think of things I did wrong. I was a good person--raised my daughter well, worked as a teacher and did a good job, took care of family and friends. Still, I needed to fill the void in my soul, and the message of salvation drew me in like an addiction (a good one--like to coffee or chocolate).

Then, knowing how lost I was, I accepted Christ.

From that moment, I changed. I recognized my sin and no longer had to search for it. I quit the behaviors that disproved my assumptions of being the perfect mother, teacher, daughter.

The Root of Our Issues

  1. We are unclean.
  2. We are blind to the fact that all have sinned (which means us) and fallen short of God's glory.
  3. No one else is to blame for our transgressions.
  4. Trying to fix it through religion, others, self or the world is only stage make-up. It hides the blemishes, but cannot make them vanish.
In my life, that Christ died for me even when I didn't realize I was a sinner, is the greatest blessing of my life.

Quick Tweets

Monday, January 16, 2017

To Forgive=To Forget--Part 2 The How To

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Without forgiveness, the hurts of our lives cling to us like the smoke wildfires.

We burn each time we finger the seared surface.

God knows our pain. After all, He forgave the unpardonable. Upon the cross, after brutal torture despite His innocence, Jesus said, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do." If He forgave, so can we.


Four Ways to Achieve Forgiveness

1.               Make the decision to forgive. Alcoholics and drug addicts must admit their shortcomings in order to find sobriety. Likewise, in overcoming unforgiveness, we must decide this is something we will do. The anguish won't necessarily go away instantaneously, but over time, it will fade.

2.               Every time you replay the offense say, "I forgive." At first you'll sound like a broken record. Eventually, you'll find you're "forgiving" less and the memories will distance themselves from your life.

3.               Don't expect the perpetrator to change. You are the one who needs to be healed. Other people are responsible for their own lives.

4.               Talk to a trusted friend. This person must be a proven confident, not simply anyone who is within earshot.

5.               Talk to a counselor. Broken friendships, insults, misunderstandings and other petty things can heal by themselves. However, for the monstrous issues, you need a trained professional be it a church pastor or a psychiatrist. Do not be ashamed to reach out for help.

6.               Use your experience to heal others. We've heard of people who have started self-help groups, inspired legislation or simply have become mentors to those suffering the same heartache. By giving to others, your own sorrow can be calmed.

I've used each of the above and can attest to their efficacy. With forgiveness, the welt of a scar might remain, but the pain doesn't.

Quick Tweets

Monday, January 9, 2017

To Forgive=To Forget--Part 1

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Author's note: If you've experienced severe trauma like incest, rape, murder, or other egregious harms, please see a counselor. Still, the path to YOUR healing is forgiveness.

Jesus Showed the Ultimate Example

Jesus was the quintessential perfect man. Still, having done no wrong, the Jewish elite betrayed him. The Romans brutalized him. Once hung to die, they mocked him and gambled for His clothes.

How did Jesus respond? "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

If He gave such a response, how much more should we?

I'll forgive, but I'll never forget

How many times have either we said, "I'll forgive, but I'll never forget"? or heard another person speak the line? In truth,  forgiveness brings forgetfulness. I can attest to the truth of this through many crises in my life.

For example, a particular church I attended years ago had hurt me severely. For the most part, now, I can only remember the fact of the hurt. Specific details of all my wounds have been buried with Christ.

But a composite tale goes something like this: We believed in prophecy, and I'd been told repeatedly that I'd sing the song of the Lord. I'd been taking voice lessons, so I asked to join the music team. Anyone who knows my nuclear family knows the music gene hid from us from the moment of conception. However, in this case, my heart was pure. I needed to figure out how to sing in public if I'd see the word of God come to pass.

Things went well until the sound man turned off my mic.


I got mad. Talked to him, one on one. And to my mind, that was it.

One day I was called into the pastor's office. Once there, I discovered, this wasn't a friendly visit, a pat on the back, a "I'm proud of you for being such a big girl doing everything in your power to fulfill the word of the Lord."


The sound man also had been summoned, and both the pastor and he chastised me for being insulted. A few days later, the music minister kicked me off worship.

I only remember this because I use the illustration to either poke fun at myself or to explain a typical reason why this church and I weren't a good fit.

However, at that time, anger and grief and shame and indignation and all those wonderful works of the flesh rose up in me.

When you forgive--you forget

I told the Lord, "I forgive."

And clearly He spoke to me,  "If you truly forgave, then why do you keep rehashing it?"

From that point on, I began to work hard at forgiveness. 

Through time, the pain and insult dissipated.

How? You know I'm glad you asked. Next week I'll give you some ways to do just that.

In this instant, I found the wrongs done to me vanished from my memory. It's held true in my relationship with this body of believers, in forgiveness of my father, in the pardon toward dear friends who have remained friends and not become enemies. My husband, in my memory, has never done me wrong because any hurts he's caused have been forgiven.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Best New Year's Resolution

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain
If Jesus forgave his murder, how can we not forgive others?

I have a guarantee on how to make the world better. MUCH better.

It's New Year's and nearly half of us make resolutions. Of that half, only 8% stick.

Oh yuck. I can hear you groan. Why bother if such a minuscule number of resolutions stick?

 But if 8% of the United States gave forgiveness as their resolution, can you imagine how many lives would be redeemed?

You tell me it's easy to forgive Uncle Fred for putting nuts in the turkey dressing this last Christmas even though you're deathly allergic to them and had to eat a cream cheese sandwich for dinner. Uncle Fred's a good guy.

But what about...
  • the friend who stole your boyfriend?
  • the drug dealer who tricked you into years of addiction?
  • the sister who embezzled the family inheritance?
  • the brother who raped you, the stranger who murdered your best friend, the__?
Yes. Forgive them.

Forgiveness doesn't say the deed was justified, that things are peachy. It NEVER insists you have an association with that person if the fault was egregious. Nor does forgiveness demand the person not pay for his or her crime.

What forgiveness does is set you free. 

  1. You have lower stress.
  2. The person no longer stalks you in your mind, in your thoughts, in your psyche.
  3. It lessens not only psychological pain, but your physical pain, as well.
  4. It lowers your blood pressure.
  5. It extends your life

Forgiveness isn't always easy--put it is possible.

My latest novel, The Poison We Drink, explores the power of forgiveness. Unforgiveness, and its attendant bitterness, is a poison we drink hoping our enemy will die.

Buddha likens it to holding a coal hoping to burn the perpetrator.

Forgiveness is not about the other person. It's about setting you free. Imagine how much more beautiful the world would be if 8% of us forgave.

In the weeks to come, we'll explore how to forgive.

Quick tweets