The Freedom of Forgiveness

Although it was six years ago, it’s still fresh in my mind- the day that the man who murdered my father received his official guilty sentence- life in prison. He was sentenced to 60 years of his life, not free, but behind bars, given a great opportunity to think on his actions for the rest of his life on this earth.

The murder occurred in November 2008, so it took many years for the sentence to be finalized. While many of my dad’s side of the family still doesn’t fully understand, I chose not to become involved in the pursuit of making sure that this man “paid for what he had done.”

There was much commotion and to be quite frank, drama, via social media between family members over the course of a few days that resulted in hateful and bitter comments regarding events in my dad’s life that occurred almost 20 years ago- my parent’s divorce being one of them. My heart was heavy to think that in the midst of such tragedy, people would choose to argue over issues that they have no control over any longer, and truthfully, no business being involved in whatsoever. The tragedy of losing my father actually paled in comparison to the unforgiveness and bitterness that surfaced between my family members.

Unforgiveness is bondage.

It is a yoke that slowly tightens around our neck and chokes the life out of us.

Bitterness is like a cancer that spreads throughout your whole body and affects you completely and everything and everyone around you.

We are given many opportunities every single day to take the bait to become offended and hold grudges, but it is so important that we hold onto Jesus and His powerful Word- God’s perfect truth.

The Apostle Paul explains to us the freedom we find in Christ and urges us to not become entangled in sin in Galatians 5:1:

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (ESV).

Although Paul is not speaking of unforgiveness specifically in this verse, we do know that unforgiveness is sin that will separate us from God.

Jesus explains to us at the end of the Lord’s Prayer:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6: 14-15, NIV

Allowing unforgiveness to hold you captive keeps you from fellowshipping with your Heavenly Father and keeps you from walking in total freedom that Jesus died for us to have.

When He was crucified and His blood poured out to accomplish God’s ultimate salvation plan for the world (John 3:16), our sins were thrown as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and we no longer had to be slaves to sin- we were made free! 

When we stand before God in prayer (and eventually at the end of this life here on earth), He sees what Jesus has done. He sees His Son’s precious blood, and the price that Jesus paid with His very life just so that you and I could have a relationship with Our Heavenly Father through Christ.

So why would we deliberately choose bondage by allowing unforgiveness and bitterness to plague our hearts and hinder fellowship with God and the love of others?

I don’t know who you may need to forgive. I don’t know how deep the pain goes, how big or small the offense may be. I don’t know how long you have carried that burden with you, but I do know that you need to forgive, and you don’t have to do it in your own strength. God has given you the Holy Spirit to help you, to heal you, to change your heart. You are given the choice to be the one to make the move. You must choose to forgive. Don’t wait. Do it today. Do it right now. You will experience such great freedom that Jesus so passionately laid down His life for you to have.

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I Was That Girl

I was only 12 years old when I began giving myself away, piece by piece.  First it was pornography and cybersex; then it slowly moved toward physical sexual encounters. I continued this behavior for a whole decade of my life, until I was about 22.

For most of my youth, I never felt my dad loved me. He was an on-again-off-again alcoholic, and I know it was that missing piece in my life that made me long for genuine love and acceptance.  And as I grew up, I constantly pursued approval and attention from boys.

I dealt with rejection, depression, anxiety and a giant void in my heart I didn’t know how to fill.  I quickly became ensnared by alcohol abuse and did many dangerous things that only served to create glue-strong attachments to other people — things like an adulterous relationship with a married man and countless one-night stands with random men I followed home from the bar.

Filling the Void

In college, my love for theater and acting became my means of escaping my desire to be truly accepted. I tried to find fulfillment in the fantasy relationships I had with others on stage and attempted to make real off stage. But my pride caused me to fall in love with myself, trying to satisfy the emptiness that refused to be filled.

I knew John 3:16 by heart, but I didn’t fully understand it. I knew Jesus died so that I may be forgiven and restored back to the Father, but I just couldn’t shake the religious upbringing that taught me only about a vengeful, angry God who would smite me down if I were not perfect.

I still felt like I had to work for forgiveness and acceptance. And love. That performance-driven mentality affected all areas of my life. No matter how hard I tried to be perfect, I never felt good enough.

I reached a point where I stopped trying and just lived. I made plans to run away to Los Angeles. I would be an actress and prove to the world my worth, talent, beauty and charm. But, one Sunday morning, only a couple months after I graduated from college, my eyes were truly opened to my selfish and sinful existence.

I hadn’t been to church in years, but one morning I went with my mom and sister. During the worship service, I began to experience this deep conviction that I was living a reckless and selfish life and that I had been running away from God. It was my prodigal son moment…I came to my senses and the end of myself (Luke 15). Immediately, I knew I needed to repent and start running toward Him, back into the Father’s arms. In that moment, I realized where I truly belonged. Right there, with hands lifted in worship, and tears streaming down my face, I repented of my pride and rebellion; I told God that I didn’t want to live this life on my own anymore, and that I wanted to surrender to His plan.

Faith at a Crossroad

As I began to loosen my grip on my plans for my life one finger at a time, God began showing me that His plans were so much better than my own. I finally laid down my prideful desires to become an actress in Los Angeles and committed to truly follow Jesus, wherever that led, for the first time in my life.

But only a few short months after this change began in my heart, I received some traumatic news- someone murdered my father outside of a strip club. His lifestyle landed him in the wrong crowd, and it tragically cost him his life.

That’s when my faith reached a crossroad.

I could either believe Jesus was my solid rock, my firm foundation, or allow my father’s murder to completely shake me and destroy me. God gave me the strength to believe. At my father’s funeral, I read one of his favorite poems, “Footprints in the Sand,” and I told my family to trust in Jesus; He would be the One to carry us through this tragedy.

Total Healing

Since my father’s passing, I have not stopped running toward God. I find refuge in His presence, and I ask daily for help to walk in His will. I try my best to make it a priority to study His Word, and spend time in worship and prayer, but only by His grace am I able to do that.

God has completely healed me, delivered me, transformed me and overwhelmed me with His great love. He is the Father I always wanted — the One who will never leave me or reject me.

I don’t work for forgiveness anymore; now I fully receive His grace and forgiveness. I know I have been forgiven of so much, and I long to be so filled with God’s love that it pours out of me to everyone I meet. I want others to know they can never outrun His love. I know I sure tried that, and I learned that no one can ever be too far gone for God to fulfill His purpose in me.

I speak from experience when I say nothing in this world will ever be able to satisfy like God’s love does. Now I get it: Nothing can ever separate us from Him. Nothing. We don’t have to work for His love or prove ourselves worthy of it. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

I once struggled to find my identity in Christ, and I know I’m not the only one. But let me tell you, the greatest position you will ever stand in is being a child of God.

I once struggled to find my identity in Christ, and I know I’m not the only one. But let me tell you, the greatest position you will ever stand in is being a child of God.


“I Was That Girl” was first featured in Shattered Magazine (Fall 2015 issue, print edition).

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To the Christian Party Girl: An Open Letter

Dear precious daughter of the King,

You were made for more than the party and bar scene.

When I was younger, no one bothered to tell me that.

I thought what I was doing was harmless. I figured drinking alcohol was just a part of growing up. It wasn’t like I intended on getting drunk…

…I knew that was frowned upon in Christian circles.

But one day, I found myself isolated from my youth group/church friends and around a completely different group of people. Many of my new friends did not profess Jesus at their Lord and Savior, and if they had, they didn’t speak of Him much, unless they were swearing with His name. It bothered me a little bit, but they were really great people and I enjoyed being around them.

Then all of a sudden, I found myself dating someone who frequently drank alcohol and smoked pot.

As long as he doesn’t do it around me, I’m fine, I thought to myself.

But there came a night where he and a close friend of mine wanted me to experience the college party scene. I agreed to tag along, but I WOULD NOT allow myself to drink.

I walked down that path once before when I was fifteen, and I ended up in the backseats with high school seniors and a not-so-flattering nickname.

I surrendered that lifestyle to the Lord, I was going to try to live pure.

But that was my problem: I thought that I could abstain from sin in my own strength. That, my friend, is a dangerous mindset.

I gave in.

That night, I had a drink, and another, and another, and another. I had to be carried out of the house. It wasn’t long until I was no longer a virgin.

Alcohol and the opposite sex (and sometimes even the same sex) is a recipe for debauchery.

I eventually realized that I could not live purely in my own efforts, so I gave up and made my home in the pit of sin. I lived there for the next three years in utter bondage to my sin.

Alcohol became a way for me to escape reality for a few hours and have fun. I didn’t have any stress or worries. I wasn’t introverted or shy like usual. I felt attractive and funny. Men gave me attention and even took me home with them sometimes. The regret always hit me like a ton of bricks the next morning, but like a dog returning to its vomit (Proverb 26:11), I foolishly entangled myself in the party scene time and time again. If I didn’t wake up in another man’s bed, I would often wonder how I got home…did I drive myself home last night?

Foolish. Absolutely foolish!

A part from God’s grace, the help of the Holy Spirit, and God’s Word, you cannot walk in purity.

It breaks my heart, beloved, to see you walk down this slippery path that only leads to destruction.

I speak from experience.

That lifestyle isn’t harmless; it costs you fellowship with your Heavenly Father.

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short
That it cannot save;
Nor is His ear so dull
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His [a]face from you so that He does not hear.”

Isaiah 59:1-2, NASB

It can also cost you your life if you are not careful.

If you find yourself embracing the party scene and flirting with drunkenness, repent, dear one, repent!

Repentance is not simply saying that you are sorry for your transgressions, it is completely turning away from that way of life and seeing the Lord to change your ways to look more like Christ, by the renewing of your mind through His Word. When you go back to the same sins time and time again, you hinder the deep work God wants to do in your heart. You are holding onto a lifestyle that you think brings you joy and true pleasure.

You cannot live with one foot in the world, which is sinking sand, and the other on the solid foundation of the Rock, Jesus Christ.

Are you ignoring the conviction that the Holy Spirit is bringing? If you can’t sense conviction of your sin, you need to do some serious soul searching and find out why.

Devote some time in prayer and reading His Word and find out why you long for illegitimate pleasures of this world instead of His presence and fellowship.

Any time I see a young girl, such as yourself, caught up in the party scene, I am utterly sick to my stomach. If there was a way to jump through that Instagram pic that you just uploaded and take you home with me, I would do it in a heartbeat!

Instead, I lay awake in bed, while you are sipping on that dangerous cocktail, and pray that you would wake up from the slumber of lies that enemy has whispered in your ear that you can eat, drink, and be merry with no consequences.  “Live it up…live the life,” he says!

I pray for your soul, that you would find pleasure and joy in God’s presence above all else.

“You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

(Psalm 16:11 NKJV)

You are so beautiful to God, my darling. You are His daughter and He longs for you to find that path of true life and walk on it.

Sincerely,

Your sister in Christ

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