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.