Repeat Offender…Me

sunset

Isn’t it just the way…when you start talking a lot about something, it becomes something big in your life?  Even if it already was a big thing.

I’ve been really blessed to share a lot about my story lately.  And a big part of my story is forgiveness.  I can’t overemphasis its importance in my life.

Apparently, God doesn’t want me to forget it…forgiveness for me and forgiveness for others.

Today I woke up feeling such a burden to pray…to ask for forgiveness.  I have struggled with many things over the past several years.  I seem to continually struggle with the same dumb things over and over and over again.  I do the same thing repeatedly and feel like God must be getting tired of my requests for forgiveness.  I don’t understand how He couldn’t weary of me.  And yet, I know that He never tires of my repentance even if it is for the same repeated offense.

I wonder…

Do I offer that kind of forgiveness…ever? 

There are 5 other people in my family.  Five people to forgive and be forgiven by.  What do I teach my children about forgiveness?

I know they know that it’s important.  But what about when it’s a repeated offense?  I don’t think I’ve taught that one well.

I have a child that tends toward lying.  Absolutely heartbreaking.  This child, who I’ll call Repeat Offender, is quick to ask forgiveness when there’s no way around it.  A few days ago Repeat Offender said, “I’m sorry Mom. Please forgive me.”  And I said, “Yeah, I forgive you, but seriously how many times are you gonna do this?  It’s kinda hard to believe your repentance is real when I know you are just gonna do it again.”

Did I seriously say that to my child?

I mean I know it’s a valid question to some degree…but not a valid SPOKEN question to a child!  I said out loud to Repeat Offender what I pray God never says to me, an absolute repeat offender.  At 40-something (ahem) I find myself still struggling with so much I thought I’d be past by now.  I’m so disappointed with myself. 

How could I deny forgiveness to anyone?  I need so much of it myself.

The Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  As many as seven times?’  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”  Matthew 18:21-22

I’m so Peter. 

“So Jesus, let’s be serious here.  How many times do I really need to forgive someone?  You know when they keep doing the same thing over and over, it’s like 7 times right?  That’s pretty generous.”

And Jesus, He just basically says, “As many times as it takes.”

Drat.  Really?  Because sometimes that is sooooo difficult.  I mentioned Repeat Offender, but seriously, my ex-husband challenges me the most.  The residual of his original offense makes forgiveness a constant battle.  I keep having to practice forgiveness.  I keep having to say, “I forgive” even when I KNOW that tomorrow there is likely going to be another thing to forgive. 

 And yet, that’s me too.  Like Peter, Repeat Offender, and my ex-husband, I need to receive a healthy dose of forgiveness daily.  I think I’m realizing I also need to offer it. 

I’m so thankful that God isn’t like me.  I’m so glad He keeps no record of wrong.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.  Psalm 103:11-13

That measurement…as far as the east is from the west…that’s not even a measurement.  How do you measure that? 

God is so good.  I wish I was worthy of His love the way I want to be.  I know that I don’t have to be worthy of it or earn it.  I know that it is free.  I know that He died for me before I could even request saving…before I even knew I needed saving. 

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”  Romans 5:6

He loves us with more compassion and grace than I can comprehend.

Relentlessly.

God forgives me so much every day.  May I be able to offer that blessed gift to all who ask for it and even those who don’t.

“… for I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more.”  Jeremiah 31:34

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14 Comments

  1. I listened to your story on Focus on the Family this morning. I am a single mom to five and connected to so many things you shared. I wanted to share that the Lord used the Exodus story in my journey too. And your sharing that God opened the Red Sea from the opposite side and that He goes before us in answer to our prayers was a fresh reminder to me. I am asking my Big God for some big things and I am excited for what He will do! I just wanted to let you know that my faith was blessed by you. Praying for you! He is always up to something good in the lives of those who love Him! Hold fast!

  2. Susie,
    Just want to thank you for your honesty on the issue of forgiveness. I heard you on Focus on the Family today and I know God led me there to hear you. I am a mother of 7, the 2 oldest are adults and on their own, and I am in the midst of a separation/divorce in a 15 year marriage. Forgiveness is an ever present issue for me. Thank you for reminding me that it’s a process and that God’s mercy is wonderfully eternal. Have a forgivable weekend, ;).

  3. Thank you for being so honest as a parent. Heard you on Focus on the Family on Thursday and then looked at you blog. I am glad I am not the only parent who’s mouth gets them in trouble. I too am thankful that God does not speak to us as we sometimes speak to our children and others. Yet He chooses to use our children and friends to sanctify us in gentle and kind ways. Even after Peter’s denial He still loved Peter.

    I am encouraged by His response to Peter in John 21:17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

    Not only does He forgive us as far as the east is from the west but He also desires to continue to use us in the lives of our children and others even when we continue to struggle with the same sinful attitudes over and over. We serve the only true God who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness and truth. Ex 34:6. Being molded a little at a time for His glory…….

  4. Susan,

    I heard you on Focus on the Family yesterday and wanted to thank you for your wonderful spirit. You were a great encouragement to me. About two years ago my wife left me and two young adult children. She has recently filed for divorce. I am a youth group leader at our church and my wife works for a Christian university and does a lot of public speaking to Christian woman. She however lives two very opposite lives. I have really struggled with this whole process of divorce. I have order your book and am looking forward to reading it.

    Thank you.

    Dan

  5. My husband and I listened to you on Focus this past week. I cried through so much of your story. I just hate that these things happen to so many people. My story is so close to yours, seemingly happy marriage then this bomb from out of nowhere blows everything apart. A big difference, my husband stayed. I told him to leave, but he wouldn’t, he was devastated by what he’d done. But, even though the outcome was different, I wouldn’t say it has been easier. So many people say to me, “at least he stayed…”. I’m thankful he stayed with our family, but the consequences and the ripple effect from his actions still cause daily pain, and it’s been four years. I have to forgive every day, every single day. It doesn’t go away, things don’t go back to normal, things are forever changed. I know God is amazing and can do great things through restored relationships, but the process is painful. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are in our prayers.

  6. Sue,

    I wish to iterate what many have said already as I too “stumbled” onto the Focus on the Family broadcast. I am an offender who offered repentance and got the door slammed in my face. I don’t intend to cause any grief by posting here since what I find is the offended. However, I want to affirm and offer my commendation for your attitude in general and specifically about choosing to accept repentance initially until it was clear otherwise. Your efforts are a help to me in a very dark and tumultuous time in my life which I have created.

    The Lord’s richest blessing to you and your family, always.

    Matt 11: 28-30 – Isaiah 26:3

  7. Sue,

    I wish to iterate what many have said already, I too stumbled onto the Focus on the Family broadcast. I am an offender, who offered repentance and got the door slammed in my face. I don’t intend to cause any grief by posting here since what I find is the offended. However, I want to affirm and offer my commendation for your attitude in general and specifically about choosing to accept repentance initially until it was clear otherwise. Your efforts are a help to me in a very dark and tumultuous time in my life which I have created.

    The Lord’s richest blessing to you and your family, always.

    Matt 11: 28-30 – Isaiah 26:3

  8. Sue, I understand why you mentioned your burden to learn forgiveness for others — but Repeat Offender is a child who needs a lesson. Lying is a big deal — it’s a habit, and the more someone gets away with it by simply saying they’re sorry the easier it is for them to continue in it. Why shouldn’t they — it seems to work!? God doesn’t tell us we can say “I’m sorry. I repent” then pat us on the head and let us go on in our sin. He says “Go and sin no more.” And if we continue sinning, He says that’s an indicator that we don’t really belong to Him — we’re merely giving Him lip service. Scripture clearly shows us that continued sin has consequences — there’s not a Bible character in the Book that didn’t have sad, severe consequences (maybe it wasn’t immediate, many times it was down the road) for his sin. There has to be a consequence — a memorable, point-making consequence for lying — a consequence that makes the liar realize how damaging lying is to others and to himself. Our job as parents, and as ex-wives, isn’t to protect sinners from their consequences — it is to keep our own heart before God as we deal with daily realities. I’ve been in situations where I repeated the same sin over and over, even as I struggled to stop, and God put the hammer down on me so I could see how it affected others. Sin has it’s consequences: sometimes it’s embarrassment, sometimes you lose a good friend or a job or cause physical injury to another person — God does take us by the collar and get our attention. Lying is a characteristic of the self-centered old sin nature — in fact it is the very thing Satan used to cause the fall of mankind — it’s the big tool in his toolbox. What I’m saying here is — don’t be afraid to address this head on. Forgiveness is not the issue in this case — child training is the issue. Ask the Lord to show you what this child needs in order to break this damaging habit and truly have his heart broken over it. God’s wisdom is ours for the asking — reach out and take it!

    • Lori J., I believe you are reading to much into Sue’s post, I’m rather confident based upon her testimony about her divorce, she in turn apply’s the appropriate discipline to her child, read her post again, she uses the illustration of what she is dealing with to get the point across about the Lord’s command to forgive, when applying discipline never forget your own offense.

      In His Care, Always, Matt. 11-28:30

    • Lori J.,
      Thank you so much for your comment. I absolutely agree that it is vital to deal with lying, and believe me, I do. My little repeat offender would concur :).
      What I really wanted to share was how God is using my parenting of a repeat offender to show me how graciously, mercifully, and justly He deals with me. And how it is not my place to judge my child, but rather to guide Him to repentance and restoration with both grace and justice. I’ve talked with my children about God being equally just and merciful, and I’ve tried to show both. Too often my response is total justice with very little mercy and I believe that, for me, my consequence-focused response is based on fear. I have to be honest and share that when God, in His infinite wisdom and love, has shown me grace and mercy during my rebellion, I have had the most poignant repentance and strongest desire to love Him better. He has wooed me back often through His grace played out in His blessings. The consequences still come, but the heart of God is so clearly displayed in His faithfulness to love me despite my sinfulness…whether it is the first time or the 100th time.
      I trust that God will guide me in parenting through His word and the advice of others. I do appreciate your heart for my repeat offender. My children each have their struggles and I pray constantly for wisdom, discernment and the ability to parent well. God is faithful. And I’m so thankful that He is indeed the perfect parent…because I am so NOT perfect! Thank you again! God bless! Sue

  9. I am crying out for help! I was married for 12yrs and it wasnt the best, however I was the one who commited adultary, I dont justify anything I have done. I turned from it and asked Gods forgiveness but my husband filed for a divorce. I’ts been two years now and I still cant get over it. One minute I give it to God and the next I wish I were dead. My family is broken my ex shows nothin but discuss for me and my children are being influenced by what he can give them. I FEEL SO ALONE AND WNT TO CLOSE MY EYES BECAUSE I CANT SHAKE THIS HURT………PLEASE PRAY FOR ME UM READY TO THROUGH IN THE TOWELL!

  10. Alicia, I too am an offender of a very similar situation as yours, and understand. But don’t lose hope! – The Father is working in your life! – I don’t know if this is proper, or if you care to, but feel free to email me at phil.vento@gmail.com if you want encouraging repentance based conversation. I know what it can be like to feel alone during this very dark time in ones life.

    In the Fathers Care ALWAYS – Matthew 11: 28-30 – “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness simply has to flee, and death now has no place, and the liberty of love sets us free!”

    Phil Vento – C/P 2013 – From the poem/song – All My Love

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