Luke 7:50 “And He said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” NLT
As I have studied the first four books of the New Testament (The Gospels), it has been a journey into a painful part of my past. I had never heard praise and worship style music until that fateful Sunday two years ago when sweetheart, youngest daughter and I went to Fellowship of the Woodlands www.fotw.org for the first time. I grew up on hymns, southern gospel, and basically what would be considered children’s bible songs. The first time I heard this song by Casting Crowns I cried buckets of tears. It was my life, in song. Every painful heart wrenching moment of my early religious experiences came rising up to haunt me.
From as far back as I can remember, I have struggled with self confidence. My fear of being left out was solidified by my early days in school when I was last to be picked for sports teams, never invited to birthday parties, and always made fun of for my weight, my braces, and my glasses. In the elementary school years, people were forced to invite me because my family was “important” in our small town. The parents may have thought they were doing a good thing but let me assure you that their kids made sure I knew that they did not want me at their parties and events. We started moving around when I was in my early teens, never staying in one place long enough for me to develop friends or confidence in who I was.
I carried those feelings into my marriages where I tried to place my importance in the hands of my husbands. (Yes, more than once) Of course, because no husband can fill the God shaped hole in a woman’s heart, I failed miserably at marriage. The mistakes and baggage piled up into a mountain I couldn’t seem to climb over. More than once, I sat in a church and felt the weight of judgement boring holes in my back. Not too many years ago, in a woman’s meeting in the religion I grew up in, when I stood up to answer a question, I heard someone say behind me that since I was a single mom, I had no business trying to offer my opinion on marriage. In that moment, for the briefest blink of time, I knew what hell would feel like.
As I have moved through the years, ebbing and flowing with confidence or self pity, depending on the time frame, I have struggled to find peace. This new, deeper study of the life of Christ is bringing me that elusive emotion. Christ told the woman, whom everyone knew was an example of what not to be, that her sins were forgiven her. Then, more importantly, He told her to “go in peace”. He didn’t tell her to go and show everyone that she had been forgiven. He didn’t tell her that she should move away and start a new life somewhere else. He didn’t tell her that she should carry a sign that said she was a previous sinner. He told her that her sins were forgiven. Period. End of her past. Then He told her to go in peace. Start from this day forward. Walk with your head held high. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, what anyone remembers, what anyone does to try to point out your mistakes.
The hardest part about becoming a new Christian is usually not the new people you meet. It’s the “old” people you know. The ones who want to remind you how bad you were. The ones who want to judge you on your past. The ones who take your self esteem and give it a good whack when all you really need is love and acceptance. The ones who won’t let you “go in peace”. I have learned that I can’t look back at those who want to judge me for who I was. I can only look forward to those who walk with me in Christ’s love and look up at the One who forgave me ALL of my sins.
Dearest Father, You gave your life so that I might one day reside in Heaven with You. You are the only source of acceptance that I should look to. You are the only one who can fill my needs. Let me always be part of the body of Christ. Let me never dare to try to act in your place by judging someone. You have called me to forgive everyone, every time, no matter what. Let the words that flow from my mouth always be words that build up, never that tear down. There is no one on this earth who is better than me. Let me remember that as I go in peace from this day forward. In the name of Your Holy Son, Christ Jesus, Amen