Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cleaning Out My Closet

I’ve mentioned before in previous posts that certain things- songs, places, whatever, can trigger negative memories for my wife. The post that gets into the most detail about this subject is called, "Forgiveness Can't Forget."  I can’t imagine the inner turmoil she must have suffered, walking through our house and sleeping in our bed through our process of restoration. It must have been agonizing. I soiled our home. I violated the serenity of our bedroom. I desecrated our bed. I created memories with another female, using items that belonged to “us.” I used “our” things to facilitate and to destroy the sanctity of our marriage.

Although we’ve redone a few things (new carpet, new bathroom tile…), there were still a couple of items left in our home (aside from the house itself) that caused negative feelings to emerge within my wife. One of those items was a set of sheets from “around that time.” The other thing was our bed frame. I threw the sheets into a pile of ‘donation stuff’ a couple of months ago and sent it away. But the bedframe was something my wife suggested that we move into the playroom (which had recently been converted into a guestroom).

I didn’t want anything in our house that could possibly trigger any more negative memories as we move forward, so I disassembled the bedframe. I then dragged it out to the curb and called the city sanitation truck for a bulky item pickup. I suppose it’s rather fitting for a garbage truck to come and dispose of that bedframe.

I consider my wife to be THE MOST AMAZING Godly woman I’ve ever met. Am I saying she’s perfect? Absolutely not. What I am saying though, is that she has taken God’s command to truly forgive, and lived it out.

The Bible tells us, if we forgive others, our Heavenly Father will forgive us – BUT if we do NOT forgive others, then God will NOT forgive us (Mark 11:25-26, Matthew 6:14-15). Maybe that’s one of the reasons it’s so incredibly difficult to be a genuine follower of Christ. Forgiveness is not easy, but by the grace of God, my wife chose to forgive.

I remember calling her names when she first told me that she forgave me. I called her “desperate” and “weak.” I told her that she didn’t have the courage to live without me. I loathed myself and I wanted her to give me the kind of hatred I deserved (according to the world’s standard).

I was using the language of the enemy – the father of lies. My wife was not weak in the slightest. She could have handled and managed life if we had ended up divorced. But instead, she chose the most difficult path. She chose to submit her fears, worries, pain, and any potential for weakness to Christ Jesus. That was the most powerful, strength-filled decision she could have possibly made.

Because of the way she chose to respond, I was given an incredible gift. I had been set free. I had been given much grace, love, and forgiveness. Once I received it, I then had the potential to love and forgive others in great ways. Jesus said, “whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47b). I now walk through life with the potential to love and forgive in unending ways because of the way I experienced His forgiveness through the actions of my wife.

In reality, we all have that same potential. Remember, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). That means before we were even aware of our sin – before we were aware of the fact that we were offending and sinning against God – He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin with His death on the cross. None of us has been forgiven little. We all have been offered the opportunity to be forgiven much.

The major difference between the forgiveness we experience between each other vs. the forgiveness we experience from God is the memory of the event. As human beings, we may offer forgiveness, but we can’t truly forget. We can forgive and move forward, but the memories remain. This presents a challenge in relationships as intimate as a husband and wife. That’s why I’ve tried to remove old reminders as best as I can, but it will never be enough. If we move to another house, we’ll still have the city, the state, and the specific places that trigger certain memories. If we move to another state, we’ll still have names, songs, or some other unforeseen ‘thing’ that could trigger a painful memory at any given time.

God has the ability to completely remove the stains and memories of our sins permanently. The Bible says, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). Isaiah 43:25 tells us, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”  There is also the vivid description of God casting our sins “into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

What a beautiful concept to carry around in life! We don’t have to get rid of old reminders of our sinful past. Once we “confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We don’t have to clean out our closet, or our bedroom, or anything. Why? Because “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We don’t have to clean anything out, because we are made completely new! This isn’t a donation of old stuff. This isn’t a new coat of paint to hide the grime underneath. This is complete transformation.

Go out and walk in that for a while.

Blessings to you!