Yes. That’s me at three years old. Do you see the look of complete devastation on my face? There’s a reason for that; let me explain…
My aunt and uncle who were marrying (and I’m happy to report they are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary this year) had asked my two older sisters to be flower girls for the wedding. I saw what was happening to my sisters and got completely swept away in the lace, flowers, ruffles, tulle, dress fittings, excitement and pageantry of this day. I knew at any moment MY new dress for the wedding would arrive. I got so swept away I believed I was actually asked to be in the wedding as well. I readied myself, I dreamed of walking the aisle, I pictured dropping every rose petal at just the precise and perfect location and everyone in attendance would swoon at my expert flower girl skills.
But then the day arrived. I had my plans in order as I ran from one room to the next at my grandmothers house watching as my mother and my aunts put on make-up, took down curlers from hair, and lifted dresses overhead, and when I asked when it would be my turn the harsh cold hand of reality reached out and punched me right in the gut. “What do you mean I’m not in the wedding???” My plans ruined. My three years of life as I knew it was over. I walked through the entire day crying and in a complete state of despondency.
It has been a running joke in our family for these entire 45 years now as I like to tell everyone my aunt asked me to be in the wedding and then that day rescinded the invitation. We all know the truth, but I like to make everyone laugh and my aunt and uncle feign guilt over what they did to me that day. Well, a relative posted the picture above just days ago on facebook and my aunt wrote me and said, “SEE you WERE in the wedding!” I laughed and looked at this picture many times that day but later on it hit me…isn’t this exactly what we do with sin? Go with me on this…
We have a plan, we know how everything is supposed to play out. In our minds there is no other way something should happen. We get focused, unbending, and inflexible because why should we, everything is pointing directly toward one outcome and one outcome only. Then the rug gets yanked out from under us. Someone wrongs us or betrays us, or our own bad choices cause detrimental circumstances in our lives. So we carry around that betrayal, we carry around the guilt of our sin, sometimes for 45 years or more. We make everyone feel guilty, we tell the story repeatedly, we are constantly the victim, and in the meantime we miss out on a large portion of life because we are so focused on the wrong perpetrated against us, or that we chose. And we live our lives looking like the little girl in the picture above. How is that abundant life?
John 10:10 says Jesus came to give us abundant life. Yes people are people and often times there is a giant set of snarling teeth behind that christian smile. People perform legitimate wrongful acts that hurt us. And yes we are human too. We make bad mistakes, we make choices we look back on and are ashamed of. But if God is love (1 John 4), and Jesus came to give us abundant life then how are we being loving and living abundantly by dragging that old, dead carcass of offense everywhere we go?
Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for yourself and those around you is forgive. Don’t think I’m just talking about others either, often times we need desperately to forgive ourselves. Forgiving ourselves is simply letting God’s forgiveness be enough. There is no amount of work, no amount of good deeds, no limit on how many times you can tell the story, or number of ways you can keep it secret, to ever make you feel okay about it. Jesus is the lover of your soul and wishes you would let it go so you can get on with life.
So think about what you’ve read here today. Don’t miss out on the incredible wedding because it didn’t unfold the way you thought it should. Ask God today for forgiveness for carrying whatever this is around and get on with the abundant life that awaits you!