Leave one place to find another. . .
I used Karen’s first name in Chapter Two. Some of those who shared their stories in this book needed anonymity to protect loved ones still working on their own forgiveness journey. But Karen was excited that I could share her full identity here today.
She is Karen Ehman, my funny and beautiful friend, a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, author of five books including her newest, Let.It.Go, and mom to three, wife of Todd and. . . once a daughter of an alcoholic.
Today she shares her story of leaving one place to find another.
S: Karen, thank you for letting me share your story.
If someone met you, they may be surprised at your past. Can you share the one thing that you struggled with most when you were young, and your dad was sick with alcoholism?
K: I struggled with feeling loved and wanted. I reasoned that if my daddy loved me and wanted me for a daughter, he never would have left the family. It never occurred to me that he didn’t want to be a husband any more, but still wanted to be a dad.
S: Our theme this week, and the theme of Chapter Three is “leaving one place to find another.” Where do you think God was trying to lead you when He first asked you to forgive?
K: To a land of freedom!!! Unforgiveness was a prison I put myself in. Forgiving him in my heart and acting upon it with my words and actions gave me the keys to be set free.
S: Your dad was still an alcoholic when you made the decision to forgive. Shouldn’t you have waited for him to say he was sorry?
K: I could have. But that day might never have come. That day was ushered in, in part, by his feeling forgiven by me BEFORE he asked.
S: God led you out of resentment. . .
K: To a place where I stopped the blame game. I blamed my dad for much of what was wrong in my life. But then, I would meet others who had much worse things done to them and yet didn’t cast blame.
They didn’t let what was done to them define them or make them give excuses. They accepted it. They learned from it. Let God use it to make them a better person. And then? They moved on. I wanted what they had.
S: Your dad became a believer. In fact, he changed so much that he’s an influence on your beautiful children. Can you describe that influence?
K: Not without crying! He is an encouraging Grandpa who shows up at their ball games and cheers like crazy. (He never came to my games growing up. And no. It does not make me resentful it makes me grateful he has a second chance to parent/grandparent well. Only God!) Also, he often gives my three kids “life lectures”. They roll their eyes and laugh about how he gives the same ones over and over when he takes them out individually for lunch or to golf or watch a game.
However, I hear about the lecture topics from them. He doesn’t want them to make the mistakes he did so to me they are precious! Also, when our oldest was baptized as a teen, she gave her story of why she became a believer and a big part was due to my dad. Again—only Jesus!
S: Someone reading this might have a loved one that has also made that decision, yet they struggle to forgive all the damage from the past.
What would you say to the person who’s trying to forgive, but is still angry because of very real issues that took place as they grew up?
K: Someone once told me that the bad things that happen to us in life are designed to make us better, not bitter. It is up to us to choose.
Is it easy? NO WAY!!! But it forces us to lean hard into Jesus and let Him infuse us with a love that only He can give. My prayer becomes “Lord, let me see them through Your eyes and not my own. Let me love them with Your love.” Only then can I do it and, when I do, I feel such a burden of anger and resentment shifted from my shoulders to His. It isn’t easy but it is so worth it!
1. It would be easy to point out that Karen’s story had a happy ending. But Karen made her choice to forgive before she had her happy ending. Are you willing to consider the possibility of forgiving or will you wait until another person is fixed or changes or says they are sorry?
2. On page 43 in The Unburdened Heart, the story of Luke 7:36-50 is shared. A very broken woman comes into the home of Simon, and kneels at Jesus’ feet. Simon is horrified at her intrusion. As you read these passages, what was your reaction to Jesus’ response to Simon’s anger?
3. “To aphiemi forgive we acknowledge that this person, with a debt so deep that a lifetime of apologies wouldn’t suffice, is valuable to God (page 45).” How did Karen respond to her dad with aphiemi forgiveness?
Please check out Karen’s brand new book, Let.It.Go: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
Hmm, that sounds like an area where God is leading her out of to find a new place!
Also, visit Karen at her blog where she helps women to live their priorities, and love their life.
I didn’t want to be the first to comment again… but oh well 🙂
I love it that Karen’s forgave when things still weren’t good and “That day (of him asking forgiveness) was ushered in, in part, by his feeling forgiven by me BEFORE he asked.”
I truly believe that is how it should be! I think in my case, I have been so busy saying what’s wrong with me that this person treats me this way… what am I doing wrong? Just like Karen did with her father… Well I think I am learning that there should be honest communication which often doesn’t happen… and I shouldn’t be made to feel bad about my feelings. So I have to stop beating myself up and realize that things are not good and if this person is mistreating me, that is not of Christ and there is something wrong there. So I have to care enough about myself to forgive and trust the Lord.
I prayed the other day for Jesus to take the ruins and the ashes.. the now vacant lot and build something beautiful there. Whatever it is I know it will be far better than I could imagine. Summertime is coming and I am choosing to enjoy it without all the emotional pain and baggage.
I love this story! I believe everyone has a testimony to share of some kind of pain in their life’s, we are more than overcomer’s by the testimony of our lips! My story starts when I was left at the hospital when I was born! My mother never saw me and her chose was to leave the hospital as soon as she could, and she did. When I was five someone kidnapped me and was hidden for five years! And was being molested during this time! Soooooo much to this story ~ but fast forward, as I was going down the hallway to my bedroom to kill myself, the phone rang and someone told me that Jesus loved me! All the years of pain and so lost in the pain of abandonment, sexual abuse, guilt, fear and shame…….I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior!!!! I had a book come out in December “Abandoned But Not Forsaken”!! Just know Jesus loves you and has the very best for you as you get to know His Heart ~ LOVE! Blessings
wo plus??uld you recommend this book to help a man with a lifetime of resentment towards his parents particularly his father. The father is deceased, the man in question is a very devoted loving Christian man who is so dedicated to helping spread the Good News. The periodic episodes of bitterness about the ugliness, resentments and what could have been and the ANGER seriously robs him of his joy during those bouts.Or is this the book to be read by someone who has been prayerfully trying to help for a couple of decades
Suzanne, thank you for this study. This quote from your book really jumped out tome, as I know it did for others:
“What does loving someone from a distance look like in real life? You pray for that person but don’t try to fix him when he isn’t ready. You ask God to reveal his love through you, but you don’t cushion the person from the consequences of his or her actions.
You pray for compassion to love the person in his brokenness, and strength to not live in brokenness with him.”
“Loving someone from a distance” is the hardest to do!!! I believe we all suffer from some brokenness. I often refer to them as “wrinkles.” All of our marriage (20+ years) my husband has claimed he is “broken and too old to change.” My empathy for his childhood is strong. It is a miracle he has any faith. He claims to be a believer; however, his actions speak otherwise. He studied the Bible as a child and very little as an adult. His only thoughts are for himself and “what’s in it for me?”
I accepted Jesus about two years ago, just after I began reading and studying the Bible for the first time in my adult life. This study is revealing in me the attitudes and actions I can change in myself. Right now, I believe it is the Holy Spirit working through me to write this. I have been working through this study but unable to clearly express what is being revealed in my heart. I am learning how to pray for my husband in a way that takes me out of the “control/fix it” seat. It is not easy.
Recently, I have found comfort and strength in the verse, Isaiah 40:31, KJV, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” I am so grateful for the Grace and Mercy being revealed in my life and that of my family. This journey to “find freedom in forgiveness” may be the greatest challenge in my life. Today, I have a thirst for God’s Living Word. Freedom to forgive is slowly unfolding. Our Lord’s presence and Grace in my life are a huge blessing. Thank you all for sharing your lives in this study.
Yes, I am willing and WANT to forgive, regardless of what others do, say or think. I envision me in a house with the people that have hurt me, a house full of misery and bondage. I want to leave. I hope that they would want to leave with me, but if not, I’m going anyway. God is standing outside of the house looking in, saying, “come with Me.”
I see the broken woman in Luke 7:36-50 as a person who is unaffected by the others in that room. As far as she is concerned, there are only two people in that room- her and Jesus. I want that focus!
I need to remember that God loves us all the same, unconditionally. I am beginning to see how incredibly long-suffering and patient God is. I think back to the many times in my life that I was “way off track” with my behaviors and attitudes. I too, have a great debt. I too, am undeserving of His geat mercy. But He gives it to me anyway. God is so great!
Forgiving others is a hard thing to do, so far thru this study I am realizing that it is the only way to freedom. We can only be free and have peace when we are in obedience to God, in our surrendering all to Him and in our repentance and willingness to change. I love the word aphiemi. Yes it is hard to let go of what our hearts have held so tightly onto; the pain and the negative thoughts, anger, I am praying to be released from all the baggage asking Him to show me how to make amends, to allow him to peel away those layers. I know for me I have to release those negative thoughts that Satan continues to bring to mind the guilt I have for my behavior, for the pain I have caused others. This is the area where I need much prayer…..going to loved ones and asking for forgiveness from them for the way I treated them in my time of being held in bondage by the enemy, with nothing my negative thoughts. Please pray for me to take all the necessary steps to peace and joy with God’s grace to be released from the baggage I carry around and may my God work in my loved ones hearts too. Thank you again for your wisdom.