TITLE: Forgiving Herself
By Dawn Garcia
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Beth looked down at her feet as she trudged down the hallway to the nearest exit, careful to avoid watchful eyes. She pushed her way through the door and immediately felt the warmth of the sun upon her face. She paused for just a moment, took a deep breath and released it. She tried to hold back, but the tears flowed anyway, staining her cheeks and blurring her vision. Fortunately, most of her fellow employees were gone, but she thought she could still feel people watching her, pinpoints of glaring eyes burning holes in her back.
They didn’t know what she’d been through. Why should they judge her so harshly? None of them were perfect. Yes, she was a Christian. Yes, she made mistakes. Yes, she screwed up. Yes, she should have handled things differently. She should have never said or done so many of the things that she did, but it was too late. The deeds were done and she couldn’t take them back. Her heart grew heavier as she approached her car. She didn’t want to go home. She didn’t want to go to her mother’s. She didn’t want to stay at work.
She didn’t know what she wanted to do.
“Beth!” she heard someone call her name and looked up, startled. A smiling face greeted her. Beth quickly swiped the tears from her eyes and blinked rapidly as she tried to smile in return. It’d been a long time since anyone had smiled at her and it had been even longer since she a smile had lit her face.
“Let’s go get ice cream!” Kathy announced as she took Beth by the arm and led her a few parking spaces down to where her vehicle was parked. “Sound good?”
Beth nodded since she couldn’t form any words and climbed into the passenger’s side of Kathy’s car. Kathy started the engine and Beth burst into tears. Beth barely knew Kathy except to know that she was a Christian and seemed to be nice. Kathy had a reputation in the agency for being a faithful and dependable worker. Yet Kathy wanted to take her out for ice cream. Was it a trick? Did Kathy want to judge her, too?
Kathy turned the car off and turned to face Beth. “Beth, I’m not here to judge you.”
Beth wiped at her nose and looked down in her lap.
“I’m here to remind you of your righteousness.” Kathy stated and waited for Beth’s reaction.
Beth looked at Kathy with tear-filled eyes. “My righteousness?” she choked and then looked away. “Perhaps you didn’t get the memo. Haven’t you heard about the things that I’ve done? Haven’t you heard what they are saying about me?”
“I don’t care about what you’ve done or what they say about you. I only care about what God says about you.” Kathy pulled her Bible out from the console and flipped until she found a passage. “Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ God doesn’t take back His promises just because we do something wrong.”
“But I did some really wrong things! I mean--I really, really screwed up!” Beth declared emotionally as she burst into tears again.
“Are you sorry for what you did, Beth?”
“Did you ask God for forgiveness?”
“Yes,” she replied, her breath staggered. But how could he forgive her? She was a horrible sinner. Months ago, she defiled herself. She broke a commandment. She was disgusting, pitiful, and untrustworthy. Why would God want anything to do with her?
Kathy paused and Beth felt searching, yet loving eyes upon her. “Do you believe that He’s forgiven you?”
Tears trickled down her face and she took a few moments before she answered. “No,” she finally whispered shamefully. “How could He?”
“Because He says that if we ask, he will forgive us. And not just forgive us, but remove our sins so far that they are impossible to reach. Psalms 103:12 tells us that ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us’. Our God is merciful. He knows that we’re going to mess up. That’s why he had a plan from the very beginning to send His son Jesus to save us.” Kathy paused and Beth lifted her eyes to stare out the windshield of the car. “You know these things, Beth, yet you’re letting the devil beat you up,” Kathy emphasized firmly.
The tears stopped flowing and Beth lifted her chin a little higher.
“Remember too, that God is not angry at you. He’s waiting for you to come to Him and to trust Him completely. Stop picking at the scab and let it heal. You asked for forgiveness and he gave it, freely. Your forgiveness is a done deal.”
Beth’s eyes met Kathy’s.
Kathy continued as she held Beth’s gaze, “The devil is trying to extinguish your light. Why are you letting him win? For ‘greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world’. Satan only has authority over you when you let him.”
Kathy reached across the seat and grabbed Beth’s hands. She smiled and looked deeply into Beth’s eyes. “Grow and prosper in all that He has for you, because you are beautiful, you are kind, and you are gentle.”
For the first time in months, a true smile stretched across Beth’s face. “I am, aren’t I?” Joy bubbled up inside her as she finally received the forgiveness that was given to her months ago. God forgave her. Her God forgave her. It was time for her to forgive herself.
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