I attended my second Women’s Encounter this past weekend. This time as a Server, rather than an Attendee.
If you remember, Women’s Encounter played a very big role in the saving of my marriage. Although it was so incredibly amazing, I never wanted to go back.
I just thought it’d be so hard to go back and face those memories.
I was wrong.
It was healing. Freeing.
Not only did I attend, but I did the 20 minute teaching on Forgiveness. Talk about out of my comfort zone! I think God likes to keep us there on purpose, so it’s ALL HIM! :)
I was privileged to serve an AMAAAZING group of extraordinary women, alongside my best friend. The praise music was rockin’, the voices of 130+ women, lifted in unison, gave me chills…all praising a Father in Heaven that loved them too much to keep them the way they were.
There were many, many burdens let go this weekend. Many captives set free. Marriages Saved. Lives changed. Many tears shed. Many intercessory prayers, raised.
It was breathtakingly beautiful!
This is NO “retreat”. This is a tear down the walls, lay it all at the feet of Jesus, come back new and changed kind of weekend. A weekend SO bathed in prayer, before, during and after, that you can feel the power of the Holy Spirit reverberating through the room. Incredible.
I am too emotionally drained to write anymore, so instead, I’d like to share a bit of my teaching with you, I had photos that went along with each section, because, photos are worth a thousand words on their own! I’ll include a few of those too, for fun………..
I am here today to talk to you about forgiveness, to tell you how to live forgiveness, to paint a picture of what it looks like in action. The reason I know how to do this, is be cause I am currently learning to live it every single day of my life here on this earth.
See, I sent my husband of 9 years, to July 2011’s Men’s Encounter because I was ready for him to kick it up a notch, as the Spiritual leader of our home. He came home ready to be that man, but he also came home with an ugly secret. A secret of betrayal of the very covenant our marriage was built on. The horrible gut wrenching pain I experienced that night, was caused by MY LOVER.
MY SOUL MATE.
MY VERY BEST FRIEND.
The man I loved most.
The man I SAVED myself for.
The man I gave EVERYTHING to.
Everything I held dear to me was stripped away and there I was, just reeling in the shock and pain of it all, sobs wracking my body, as on hand clung to my husband’s neck like a life line, the other hand, formed in a fist, pounding his chest, SCREAMING at him: How DARE you! How could you!?
The man I was one with, had become one with another.
The man I gave my heart to, had discarded it for a few moments of lust. The man I gave my everything to, had weighed the cost and found me the loser.
I felt my heart fall out of my chest and down to the floor, where it shattered in a million pieces.
Life would never be the same, would it?
I was divorcing my best friend, taking our 4 kids and walking.
He had made his choice…….
I had made MINE!
I went on to talk about God the Father, the Great Healer, the restorer of my soul. The God who makes beauty from the ashes of our lives, if only we LET HIM. I told them about my first Encounter and my moment on stage at church after I got home:
I take a DEEP BREATH my throat thick with tears, my eyes seeking Dale out in the crowd: “And to my husband…….I want you to know that I love you, and I FORGIVE YOU. You are my soul mate, and what God has put together, Satan will NEVER separate because……..I. choose. us.“
He came running up to the stage bawling and swooped me in his arms. As we kissed and cried I looked him in the eyes and told him over and over, I forgive you, I DO! I feel so great! So light and free! It was one of the most beautiful moments in my life!
I talked more about forgiveness and what God says about it. Why its required of us, then closed with these final 6 thoughts:
1) Forgiveness is not some fluffy feeling. It’s a decision to release the guilty person from future punishment and to stop focusing on them. Even when we don’t “feel” like forgiving, we need to forgive in order to live. “Feeling hurt” is a fire alarm for our souls.
Picture this: An apartment’s fire alarm blares. Instead of escaping, tenants decide to wait to take action until they “feel” the heat of the fire. Would that be reasonable? No way!
If we don’t forgive, we’ll burn up with the fire of anger, we‘ll be goners before we even take our chance to escape.
2) Forgiveness isn’t about the past, it’s about the future. You can’t change the past. It’s done. By choosing not to forgive, you’re allowing the negative past to affect your present and future. You were bought with a price, don’t let that other persons actions own any more.
3) Forgiveness is an ACTION. When you choose to forgive, you’re choosing to let go of the resentment and bitterness that can build up in your own heart.
4) Forgiveness is more for YOU, than THE OTHER PERSON. It’s FOR YOU. Just go for it and choose to forgive, YOU are the benefactor! They’re out of the picture at this point. Forgiving isn’t the same as forgetting. It isn’t a divine form of amnesia. God doesn’t ask us to live as people without a history or pretend that sins never happened. In fact, being able to recall how God has delivered us through these storms, empowering us to confess, forgive, and overcome, can give us hope and an anchor in future storms. Stories of forgiveness and reconciliation can also become part of the way you seek to strengthen and encourage others in their lives.
5) Forgiveness is a decision to sacrifice. God’s forgiveness required the sacrifice of His Son to pay the penalty for sin. Our forgiveness requires sacrifices, too, though of a different sort. On some days, forgiveness will seem natural and easy. On other days you’ll feel ready to give up before the day is done, but work at it. Fight for it! Growing in forgiveness will require you to stay focused on Jesus, interacting with Him and learning from him just as you must do in every other area of life.
6) Freedom is a choice, CHOOSE IT. FORGIVE, and you will be set FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For when you genuinely forgive, you set a prisoner free and then discover the prisoner set free was……YOU!
Tomorrow, I want to share the 12 Steps of Forgiveness with you. And next month, I want to teach you how to make the flip-flops I made for Kasey and I to wear to our Encounter weekend. :)