Monday, January 17, 2011

Even the Valleys Have a Bottom

Think about it....you're looking at a lush green valley...and there's a river flowing through it. The river winds down the slope and as it flows the lush green gives way to a dark winding current with fallen trees and things lurking in the water. Just like the river flowing in the valley, this more dense area has deep water but there is a riverbottom. The river is not some bottomless pit. I can think of things that I have gone through where I feel like I'm in a valley and I've wondered and thought "God, why me? What did I do to deserve this valley in my life?" While I'm sitting there watching the situation get worse and worse,I feel like the situation is just going to continue to worsen every day. But then I realize, this is a valley I'm in, not a bottomless pit. Things will stop getting worse at some point...So many times we find ourselves dealing with an issue that just drains us mentally, physically, spiritually and we wonder if God is with us in that valley, but we have to remember that if the rivers IN the valleys have a riverbottom, then our situations do have a limit on how much worse they can get.

As we continue on our course, we are shaped by our situation, the good that happens and the bad that happens shapes us to be a different person. We have to pray and seek God's guidance not to just give up, we have to keep doing the right thing and see the value in our valley. Like the saying goes, "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger" The saying never implies that your situation will come out the same at the end but just that if you make it through you will be stronger because of it. Sometimes God takes us through things to show us ourselves, we get down into the tough, turbulent areas of our valley and God shows us what we are made of and what we need to better ourselves in. That is the riverbottom....the lowest point that God takes us to where we realize what we need to do.

In my own time of going through a valley, I'm finding out so many things about myself, areas where I feel stronger in, areas that I don't care for as much as I thought I did....lots of self realization going on... many things about myself that I may not have seen had I not been in this valley. I know that God has something in the works right now, I just need to pray that I am silent enough and obedient to get what I need out of this experience.We all need to remember to take our time in doing what God would have us do and not to act based on emotions but on what God would have us do.

The valley does come to an end....either where the ground slopes back up to where you rise again to a mountain top or to where your river gives way to an ocean, a new frontier in your life...with it's own set of highs and lows....but remember there's no bottomless pits cause even the valleys have a bottom.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Forgiveness and Redemption

Okay, for those of you who may have never read any of my other blogs, this one will actually be a part 2 in sorts to one I originally wrote back in November '09 (posted 4/22/10).  See the link to read it...for those of you who have read it, it's the blog about Forgiveness

So the short recap on forgiveness is that we need to give it, even when we don't want to. It's not for them, it's for ourselves. But after forgiveness it's sketchy. I have faced some of the toughest situations where forgiveness has had to be given and although that was not the hard part (because we're all human and screw up sometimes), redemption is a whole 'nother story.

So "redeem" according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary means: to get or win back, restore or repair.  If we look at this as a starting point, then we will see something important....when you lose something and get it back or have something repaired or restored, it may NOT be the same as it was before whatever happened for you to lose it in the first place. So many times we will be in situations where we do something stupid, careless, or malicious and we will in turn affect the people around us whether it be a great deal or minimally and it's in those times where we may need to be redeemed of what we've done or said.  While we may hope that a complete redemption can be given, we have to face the facts that a full redemption may not be possible. 

I remember an incident between some friends and I where I was a little less than tactful and I ended up hurting a good friend. In the time following that, I had a fall out with other mutual friends who came to the first one's defense.  Well in the long run, it's been about 9 years or so and I have made up with the friend who I offended and we talk often now (which is wonderful) but my relationship has never been the same with the other mutual friends.  Now in that situation there was a full redemption (with the offended) and a partial redemption (with the others).  It may not be what I want it to be, but I have to (and have) accepted that what's done is done. We have to come to that conclusion when we need or ask for redemption, what's done is done and we are at the mercy of the "redemption giver".  We can't EXPECT them to grant us full redemption because it's the "nice thing to do" or because we're their friend, but we have to face the music so to speak and deal with the outcome. We can do or say things to gain back as much as possible, but we must  know that we may not gain back 100%. 

So, what do we do if we are the one to redeem someone else?  After granting forgivness, we have to assess the situation.  We look at all the things that brought about the breach in the relationship (coworker, friendship or otherwise) and we have to look at EVERYTHING.....the qualities of the person, surroundings, how we are tied to the one who offended us, etc.  When there is a partial redemption we can be cordial with folks and get along with them, but we still keep them at a distance because we remember what happened to cause the distance. Now I don't need to hear from the "redemption seekers" that we're still not being fair...just because they apologized and we forgave them.....just because forgiveness is granted it doesn't mean that we always put them back in the proximity to us they were in before.  I have been in situations where I have had to forgive some folks for something and in the same breath let them know that things were not going to be the same anymore. It is not that we keep the offender at a distance because we have a grudge, but because we see or realize that they may not be good for us or are not headed the same direction we are in life.  I've dropped a number of friends for reasons like this...and if you're reading this then obviously you are not one of them...lol

We can reach the point where we forgive but we redeem over time, true redemption is almost never immediate. There may be times where we forgive and we can redeem in a short time....and there are times we can forgive and it takes a long time to restore anything at all. It depends on what the situation is for the main part.  I have found that prayer has been the best policy for me when faced with a serious decision...of how much redemption is adequate...or desired.  At the same time while redemption is being administered, there can be hiccups along the way that sharpen our view of the future....in everything that we do, I believe that when we trust God to take full control that He will give us peace about the level of redemption that we grant to the offender (and also about the direction of our lives going past the offense)...

Well that is all I have for you all tonight...I'll keep the blogs coming......

Be Blessed!!