But I Don’t Feel Forgiven

It’s one of those weaknesses that has plagued me for all of my adult life, and even as a teenager. None of us can escape its hold in one form or another. None of us can get away with ignoring it. (Trust me, I’ve tried.) None of us can throw our hands up and walk away. (Tried that too.)

It’s money.

Money is complicated and intimidating.

I’m terrible with it! Numbers are not my friend, dollar sign in advance or not. But especially money. I swear it has it out for me.

And actually, I can whip up a mean budget. I can be realistic and logical and rational and take everyone and all expenses into account.

But we only get along on paper.

Once those numbers enter the real world and the reality of wish lists, unexpected expenses, and daily goings-on – I crumble.

Because I’m so intimidated, I tend to avoid managing it. I know part of my problem is my mindset. It’s clear I’ve got a few brain-glitches in there that get in the way.

So I’ve had these money woes for years and years. And I’m pretty sure even if we had more money, I would still mis-manage it here and there.

Ok, so you get it.

But actually, I’m not here to talk about money.

This post is about forgiveness.

Because the other day, I was feeling especially sad about my money issues.My failure to be a good steward. My latest screw up. My overall crappy feeling about the bank account.

At the time I was doing some one-on-one-with-God and the Scripture led me to see that I really need to face this issue. So during my prayer time I knew I needed to confess my sin.

And I did.

I confessed my sin of doing things my way instead of His. Of ignoring what I know I should be doing, instead of doing it. And that I probably deserved to be stoned like Achan from the story of Jericho where he takes the devoted things from the city even though God specifically said not to. (Just to be clear, despite me relating to Achan, my money problems are not about me looting a city.)

I looked at all my words on the page. All my truth and honesty and my raw sin, right there in front of me. And I knew I was forgiven.

But I didn’t feel forgiven.

I said, no, that doesn’t make sense. I’m confessing these things and I AM sorry, but I know me. I know my history and I know I’m going to fall back into bad habits. I know I’m going to screw up again. That I will be back here in a month or 6 months or whatever, feeling crummy again. Feeling anxious and angry and jealous of people who don’t seem to have these issues.

I’m not sure if this is true repentance.

So I stared at the page a little longer.

Then I messaged a good friend and Sister in Christ. I explained what was happening and I said, “I know I don’t deserve forgiveness for this constant problem, but I am also pretty sure that believing/knowing I am forgiven is an important part of my relationship with my God. Not to mention if I’m going to make any headway on this issue.”

She called me up. (I love my friends. They are so good to me.) And she reminded me of some things that have been rolling around in my head since then.

  • It doesn’t jive with the way the world does things, but feeling does not come first.

Feeling forgiven is not the same as being forgiven. Feeling like forgiving someone else is not necessary before forgiving them either. (I know, it’s weird! But it’s true.) When we are obedient to God, and ACT on His Word with or without feeling 100% on onboard, He responds.

I don’t need to FEEL lovingly toward my neighbor to act in love. Goodness knows there are plenty of times I’m not feeling very loving. Like when I take a deep breath, suppress the scream, and gently ask my child “What do you need?” after they have said my name 42 times from the living room 12 feet away from me working in the office. (Not that I haven’t also responded minus the gentleness.)

There are times when I don’t feel loving to my husband or my friend or my community member, but I still behave as God and the civilized world expects.

Forgiveness applies here. Understanding I am forgiven for my confessed sins, is not the same as feeling forgiven.

God is the one doing the forgiving here, not me. So why do I expect the clouds to part and a nice warm fuzzy feeling? That’s silly.

  • Build an arsenal of verses that apply to this problem.

My loving friend suggested I put together an arsenal of Truth about forgiveness, based in Scripture. Meditate on Scripture that tells the Truth about God’s love and forgiveness, she said. Then when you are met face to face with the devil’s lies, the Truth will be accessible and clear.

Verses like…

Psalm 103:10-14

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.

Micah 7:18-20

18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
    and passing over transgression
    for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
    because he delights in steadfast love.
19 He will again have compassion on us;
    he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our[e] sins
    into the depths of the sea.
20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob
    and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
    from the days of old.

Plus one with the Truth about how I’m not punished for my sins eternally, because Jesus already bore that punishment.

Isaiah 53:5

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.

  • Finally my friend said, do something with this.

You can encourage other women with your story. Maybe this is the thorn in your side, like Paul struggled with. Share your battle with other women who might be carrying around this baggage just as you are. Who else is struggling with a recurring sin that doesn’t seem to get any better?

Probably it’s not just me.

This recurring sin isn’t one big boulder I can set down and be done with. It isn’t one big problem I will solve all at once and never have to face again. It’s all these little rocks I’m carrying in this heavy pack that I just can’t seem to shake.

Well, here’s one of those stones. Goodness knows I’ve been dropping them here and there along the way. I want to build an altar with these rocks. Every time I shake one loose, recognize the load I’m carrying, I’m going to add it to the pile I’ve put at God’s feet.

rocks and foundation for building an altar

It’s not going to solve all my problems here in this lifetime, but when I’m done I’ll have an altar I’ve built to my Savior, thanking Him for forgiving me even when I didn’t feel I could be forgiven; praising Him for being faithful to me and never leaving me alone with my bag; adoring Him for showing me all these Truths along the way even when I wanted to do it my way instead.

So thankful I won’t be stoned to death for my sin.

Lord, change my behavior and continue to teach me with these moments.

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