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Perseverance

Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. –James 1: 2-4

Have you, or someone you love, been experiencing sadness, disappointment, anger, frustration, fear, loss, or heartache, recently? For me, I can clearly point out to you the areas of my life that these have been evident for me lately, and unfortunately, some of those I love, have been going through every single one of these trials listed, as well. Broken relationships, loss of a loved one, fear of what steps to take next, or the heartbreaking news that just feels too much to bear. These are real trials. They come with real emotion. And they require real effort to keep inching forward.

Perseverance, according to Merriam Webster, is the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.

Gosh. This whole perseverance idea just seems too tough sometimes. And the truth of it is, it’s not easy all the time. God knows this, too. He knows this idea of continued effort despite difficulties, failure, or opposition is really going to challenge us sometimes. But guess what? He’s not going to ever stop calling us to it. This is because He knows perseverance is the fruit produced by having your faith tested. And by having perseverance, you will lack in nothing because you will be putting your trust and dependence on the One who deserves every ounce of the glory that comes from the fruit on the other side of your trials.

Let’s take the passage from James 1 listed above, and substitute the word perseverance, for the definition itself according to Merriam Webster.

Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. And let continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition, be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

That’s pretty powerful stuff right there. I’m not sure what each of your lives look like right now. I’m not sure what trials you are facing. I’m not sure how these trials are impacting each of you in deep ways. But I do know there is a God who doesn’t want you to give up, because He is there every step of the way. I pray each of you, despite the difficulties, failure, or opposition, will trust in the breakthrough God has up ahead for you. A breakthrough which will lack in nothing. A breakthrough that surpasses our human understanding. A breakthrough that will produce fruit beyond what we can comprehend.

Heavenly Father, I can’t wait to see what you have up ahead for each of these men and women reading this right now. Show us the way, Lord.

Haley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Haley Brimmer

Director of Client Advocacy

Suffering into Hope


A little over a month ago, I was one of the five facilitation team members on our Rachel’s Vineyard retreat who was blessed to be able to witness how God can transform our deep suffering and pain into hope. Throughout three short days, we had four men and women who entered into the retreat opportunity full of heartache, shame, pain, and suffering they had been carrying around for many years from their past abortion experiences. During the weekend, they invested themselves fully in relying on Christ to guide them through each step of the intentional and purposeful healing process based on scripture. God has promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you…” (Heb. 3:15) — He will never allow us to go through our pain alone.

On the third day of the retreat, there is a very special time and moment that happens for the retreat participants through the honoring of the children they lost through abortion. It is a time and space in which the light comes back into their lives, the darkness is banished away, and the hope they never thought possible to get back, is instilled into their hearts again.

As we have been through another Lenten journey and are in the midst of Holy Week, it has allowed the opportunity for deeper reflection and prayer time. I have been processing what this Rachel’s Vineyard retreat experience means for all who are involved, what it can do for those who trust in the process, and how it can literally transform hearts for those who believe Christ is who He says He is, and that He is strong enough to do that for us. It has also made me realize what a humbling example this retreat is of the suffering and resurrection that can happen, and did happen, throughout three short days.

On Good Friday, Christ endured unimaginable suffering because He loved us with the greatest example of unconditional love, to the point of death on the cross. He knew we are all sinners, we make mistakes on a daily basis, and we are all broken people. But He did it because He knew the hope that comes from this kind of unconditional love. No matter what you have done, how broken, unworthy, or unforgivable you feel, nothing; and I mean nothing, will ever take away the hope and love Christ has for you.

What are the examples in your life right now where you are experiencing suffering? Throughout your suffering, what is the hope you hold onto? Where do you draw your strength from? Who are you dependent upon? Do you believe in the hope of resurrection and redemption despite the suffering you may be experiencing right now?

When Easter Sunday comes, I pray it is a time and reminder of the light and hope that has been given to all of us through His Son’s resurrection.

Haley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Haley Brimmer

Director of Client Advocacy

Let the Healing Begin


“The environment was completely free of condemnation and judgment…I have never felt such acceptance, understanding and grace. It was incredibly powerful to just be accepted and, for once, be unashamed of who I am.”

“I was nervous and thought of many excuses not to face my fear. I followed God’s prompting to be open to this experience and he showed me unmeasurable faith and love.”

There is so much happening in the world around us right now. There are a lot of opinions, perspectives, and actions being taken. Regardless of what thoughts and opinions you have, I think we can all agree no one should have to suffer, or feel alone on their various healing journeys. However, there are still many, many, many people who do feel this way, especially when there are numerous triggers around them. They may not know what to think or feel, and may even become re-traumatized by hurtful things they see or hear. Both of the quotes you read above are from some very brave and courageous previous Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat participants. They both decided it was time for them to not suffer alone any longer and wanted to be in a space that allowed them to heal from their past abortion experiences.

Bridgehaven will again be offering Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats in 2017, one of which is coming up the weekend of March 3-5, 2017. This weekend retreat is focused on healing and transformation from the pain of a past abortion experience. This is meant for women, men, couples, or support people who have the desire and willingness to be open to experiencing God’s forgiveness, mercy and grace. It is a retreat that will come with its own sets of challenges, but have positive rewards beyond your comprehension. Through the retreat, your soul can find a voice and transform the pain of the past into love and hope.

If you are reading this and it is bringing up any sort of unresolved emotions, this could be something worth considering. If you have an abortion experience in your past and are struggling in any way, please trust me when I say you deserve, and are worth, this important healing. If you have had this secret inside of you for a week, a month, 10 years, or 30 years, please don’t let it be something that continues to negatively take over and affect every positive thing about who you are. Don’t let this be something you suffer through silently or alone.

If this is something you have never been able to forgive yourself for, please know you don’t have to walk around with the burden of shame and guilt forever. Know those negative emotions can be released from you through important healing work, such as this upcoming retreat. Take the risk, step outside of everything familiar, and reach out to someone. If this retreat or other opportunities for support are something you are interested in learning more about, please either contact me at 319-364-8967, or visit our website, which lists more about the support we offer. We can help find the right fit for you to process through and start to release this pain. I know it takes a lot of strength, courage, and honesty to be vulnerable, but you ARE valuable, you ARE loved, and you ARE worthy. I pray you recognize, know, trust, and understand these truths in your life.

Haley BrimmerHaley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Director of Client Advocacy

Wait

blog-picWait: A Journey to Discovering the Heart of God

“Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate…
and the Master so gently said, ‘Wait’.

‘Wait? You say wait?’ my indignant reply.
‘Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!’
‘Is Your hand shortened? Or have You not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming Your Word.

My future and all to which I relate hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?’
I’m needing a yes, a go-ahead sign. Or even a no, to which I’ll resign.
You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe, we need but to ask, and we shall receive.
Lord, I’ve been asking, and this is my cry: I’m weary of asking! I need a reply.

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate, as my Master replied again, ‘wait’.
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
and grumbled to God, ‘So, I’m waiting…for what?’
He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine…
and He tenderly said ‘I could give you a sign.

I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause the mountains to run.
I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You’d have what you want, but you wouldn’t know Me.

You’d not know the depth of My love for each saint.
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint.
You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair;
you’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there.

You’d not know the joy of resting in Me
when darkness and silence are all you can see.
You’d never experience the fullness of love
when the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
but you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

The glow of My comfort late into the night,
the faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask
from an infinite God who makes what you have last.

You’d never know should your pain quickly flee,
what it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
but, oh, the loss, if you missed what I’m doing in you.

So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
that the greatest of gifts is to truly know Me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still…wait.”

By Russell Kelfer


Wow. What a powerful message. What beauty and depth this poem so eloquently describes. But oh, what trust and faith this message also implies. Think of a moment, circumstance, or long period of time in which you have been in this place of desperately crying out to God, and continuing to sit in the stillness of waiting. Maybe you are amidst this place right now. What are the difficulties of being in this place? What are you believing while in this place? What are the emotions you are experiencing in this place? Have you opened your heart and allowed God to be with you in this place? Maybe through your reflection of these moments or circumstances, you realize you have been in a lonely place, trying to do all of this on your own. Or maybe through reflection, you discover you have been on a journey with God, seeking to see yourself as He sees you, and to know of His heart for you.

Right now, in this season of Advent, we await the joyous birth of our Lord. What a beautiful time of waiting on the most precious gift of all. In these days until we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, let us savor and cherish our moments of waiting in even bigger ways than we have before. Let us place every ounce of our hope and trust in knowing that He is worth the wait.

“Take courage, my heart…stay steadfast, my soul…He’s in the waiting, He’s in the waiting…” – Bethel

Haley BrimmerHaley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Director of Client Advocacy

Humbling Ourselves

hands

“Humility looks a whole lot like needing the mercy of God” Heather Renshaw

Humility is one of my more desired, sought after, yearned for traits. My mind constantly returns to the idea of this. I have a longing to live out this immensely important virtue, but knowing that I fall short; a lot, in fact. Recent Sunday readings at church, and conversations I have been having with people, has encouraged me to dive a little deeper into this idea of humility. And let me tell you, it was a lot bigger of an idea than I had anticipated.

I know, in my humanness, I am not alone in this yearning for humility, nor of the awareness of constantly falling short of it. Let’s face it, we are all sinners and we will always fall short of living out every good virtue perfectly. I mean, we like to be right. We like to feel we are important to others. We like praise and honor. We like the approval of others. Wow, as I’m writing this out, it hits me–I have been trying to live out about half of these in the last 2 hours. See, this idea of humility is hard, challenging, and, again, a lot bigger of an idea than I had anticipated.

In her article, Choking Down Some Humble Pie, Heather Renshaw talks about what humility looks like to her and what it means, and doesn’t mean, when you are praying for humility.

“It’s important to understand that humility and humiliation aren’t the same things. Humility is a desirable virtue that predisposes me to holiness. Praying for humility isn’t asking God to embarrass or dismiss me. Praying for humility is seeking to know the truth of who I am, the truth of Who God is, and the grace to accept these truths. Specifically: I am not God. I need God. I need to be saved. Everything I have, and everything I am comes from God. He alone is the Source.”

I love the way she simplifies this overwhelming idea of humility in which I was finding difficult to grasp. “Praying for humility is seeking to know the truth of who I am, the truth of Who God is, and the grace to accept these truths…” Wow. What a prayer, right? This is something I want to try and pray every day because I know how in need of this that I am. I hope you can join me in these prayers as well.

The Lord is a role model many, many, many times throughout the Bible, exemplifying humility itself. He wants us to seek, find, and live out humility every day. A couple examples include:

“My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God” Sirach 3:17-18 NAB

“…For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” Luke 14:11 NAB

So what are some ways you can start practicing humility in ways you never have before? What are some of those barriers or roadblocks that hold you back from living out humility to the fullest? What can your prayers look like today that will bring you into deeper desires for humbling yourself before the Lord and here on earth?

“When I grow in humility, I can recognize the truth: that I am a uniquely loved and unrepeatable child of the Most High God with gifts and talents meant to glorify Him. He alone provides everything I need.” Heather Renshaw

Haley BrimmerHaley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Director of Client Advocacy

Transformation and Hope

Never. Lose. Hope.
Transformation and hope. These two words encompass the immense and positive impact the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat had on all of those who took part in this healing opportunity Bridgehaven offered this past weekend. The participants came with different backgrounds, different ages, and different stories, but they all came with an open heart and mind which allowed the Holy Spirit to work in each of them in such an incredible way.

At the beginning of their journeys, they were filled with fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, denial, and the inability to forgive themselves in regards to their past pregnancy decisions. Each of them came to a point in their lives where they were able to courageously reach out and accept an opportunity which could bring about the start of their journey to healing.

This journey to healing is never a completely smooth and easy one, no matter what you may need healing for. The same goes for this retreat experience. There are parts of the retreat weekend that may feel too much to bear; that maybe it would just be easier to give up and run from everything that is painful. But then something miraculous occurs…
There is unmistakable breakthrough.
There are glimpses of understanding.
There is profound joy.
There is abundant relief.
There is hope, when it seemed as though all hope was lost, for immeasurable amounts of time.
There are overwhelming feelings, which cannot be fully expressed in words, but there is knowledge that whatever these feelings may be, they are good and true.

These things are just mere glimpses of the goodness I was blessed to witness in each of the participants this weekend. The brokenness, which they felt upon entering the weekend, was so evidently transformed. You could see the broken pieces of themselves being sculpted back together again to rebuild a strong foundation in who God has created them to be. They left the weekend starting to regain their genuine smiles, knowing they are forgiven by God, and with the hope that they could begin to forgive themselves. They experienced freedom from those emotions which keep them stuck in thinking they are unworthy, or undeserving, and regained the beautiful gift of hope.

I wanted to leave you with the lyrics to the song titled Mended by Matthew West because I feel it speaks so clearly about how God works through the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. Please continue lifting up in prayer those who experienced this past weekend in such a powerful way, and for those who may be struggling with a past abortion decision, that they can courageously reach out to find the help they need.

How many times can one heart break?
It was never supposed to be this way
Look in the mirror, but you find someone you never thought you’d be…
Oh, but I can still recognize
The one I love in your tear stained eyes
I know you might not see him now, so lift your eyes to me…

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home…
When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended…

You see your worst mistake
But I see the price I paid
There’s nothing you could ever do, to lose what grace has won…
So hold on, it’s not the end
No, this is where love’s work begins
I’m making all things new
And I will make a miracle of you…

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home…
When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended…

I see my child, my beloved
The new creation you’re becoming
You see the scars from when you fell
But I see the stories they will tell…
You see worthless, I see priceless
You see pain, but I see a purpose
You see unworthy, undeserving
But I see you through eyes of mercy…

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
You’re not too far gone
You’re one step away from home…
When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet, no
When you see wounded, I see mended…

Haley BrimmerHaley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Director of Client Advocacy

If We’re Honest…

honestyThe song, If We’re Honest, by Francesca Battistelli has recently popped up in various conversations I have been having with others. The lyrics have such a powerful message in them, yet it can be difficult to fully grasp and embrace. The message of vulnerability comes with honesty. Honesty can be such a beautiful and wonderful thing when coming from a pure heart, but fear of vulnerability can paralyze healing and growth in very significant ways.

What are some of the reasons we aren’t honest with ourselves? Does fear become so crippling that it keeps us from moving forward? Does life pass us by in a rush causing us not to discern what may be really going on? Does the possibility of change threaten the dynamics of a relationship, or does it have the potential to run the risk of offending others?

With Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, a post-abortion healing weekend hosted by Bridgehaven, occurring in less than a month, this song causes me to reflect on the strength and courage it takes for someone to be vulnerable and honest when there is an abortion in their past. Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat is designed to help men and women make the connection between present emotional stress to the past abortion; to rectify wounds and stress through a guided healing. Perhaps you have buried that decision and those feelings so deep that it’s been too painful to become aware of, or you have sought healing in some ways, but are still experiencing some symptoms.

While your experience after abortion is unique to you, there are common signs that abortion has caused emotional and mental stress. You may not experience all of these symptoms, and they may not appear all together. Sometimes people experience post-abortion stress immediately after abortion. However, other times symptoms do not surface for days, weeks, months, or even years following the procedure. Some symptoms1 of post abortion stress can include:

  • Guilt
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as eating disorders, alcohol and/or substance abuse, abusive relationships, promiscuity
  • Re-experiencing events related to the abortion such as memories or nightmares
  • Anxiety that leads to headaches, dizziness, pounding heart, abdominal cramps, muscle tightness, difficulty sleeping (It is important to pay attention to what your body and emotions may be trying to tell you)
  • Psychological numbing – your unconscious vows never to let anything hurt this badly again hampers your ability to enjoy an emotional, intimate relationship
  • Depression, which reveals itself through deep sadness, sudden and uncontrollable crying, poor self-concept, sleep and appetite disturbances, loss of normal sources of pleasure, even thoughts of suicide
  • Preoccupation with becoming pregnant again, an unconscious hope of replacing the child you lost
  • Anxiety over fertility and childbearing issues, fearing that God will punish you by not letting you bear children
  • Trouble in bonding with your other children, either by being overprotective or feeling detached from them
  • Anniversary reactions such as an increase in symptoms around the time of the anniversary of the abortion, the due date of the child, or both
  • If we’re honest, some of these symptoms, you may never experience. If we’re honest, some of these symptoms, you may experience on a weekly, or daily basis. If we’re honest, there may be symptoms listed that you are experiencing and this could be the first time making a connection with what has been going on that has never made much sense to you.

    As some of the lyrics state in the song, If We’re Honest, “…mercy’s waiting on the other side, If we’re honest,…It would change our lives, It would set us free, It’s what we need to be…”
    I understand how difficult this connection can be, but please know how worthy you are and deserving of receiving healing you may be in need of. You are so valuable, cherished, and loved. There is so much hope waiting for you, beyond your imagination. Trust and have faith in such a beautiful truth.

    1Healing the Hurt, Teri K. Reisser, M.S., M.F.T and Paul C. Reisser, M.D., Focus on the Family publication.

    Haley BrimmerHaley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

    Director of Client Advocacy

Time to Heal

A Time to Heal
You know those times in life when you can sense God calling you to something for which you don’t feel ready? You have an internal dialogue with God where you tell Him there’s just no way you can do this and He smiles back and says, “Oh yes you can My child, because I Am, and will continue to be, all of the strength you will ever need and I will guide your footsteps.”

This has been a conversation I’ve had with God many times throughout my life. I’m willing to bet it’s probably not too far off from some of the conversations you have had with God at some point as well. It is a scary place to be when you know you are being called outside of your comfort zone, or to experience something you never wanted to come face to face with.

These circumstances all have their own sets of challenges, but also their own sets of positive rewards. I know in my life, had I not listened to God’s call in some of those unexpected, or intimidating circumstances, I would not be who I am, or even writing this blog right now.

I want to share about an upcoming opportunity, in which, I know for some of you, it will at first be one of those moments where you start to have that internal dialogue in your head with God, saying you can’t even fathom doing this. As a part of the important work that Bridgehaven is doing as a ministry in the area of post-abortion support, we are hosting our first Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. This weekend retreat is focused on healing from the pain of a past abortion experience. This is meant for women, men, couples, or support people who have the desire and willingness to be open to experiencing God’s forgiveness, mercy, and grace. It is a retreat that will come with its own sets of challenges, but have positive rewards beyond your comprehension.

If you are reading this and it is bringing up any sort of unresolved emotions, then this could possibly be God’s way of continuing the dialogue with you. He could be saying, “listen to this call my child and seek out the healing I have set before you.” If you have an abortion experience in your past and are struggling in any way, please trust me when I say you deserve, and are worth, this important healing. If you have had this secret inside of you for a week, a month, 10 years, or 30 years, please don’t let it be something that continues to take over and affect every positive thing about who you are as a child of God. Don’t let this be something you suffer through silently or alone, because He doesn’t want that for you.

If this is something you have never been able to forgive yourself for, you can’t imagine God ever forgiving you for, or you can’t even fathom how your child could forgive you, please know you don’t have to walk around with the burden of that shame and guilt forever. Know that those emotions can be released from you through important healing work, such as this upcoming retreat. Take the risk, step outside of everything that is familiar, and reach out to someone. If this retreat, or support, is something you are interested in learning more about, please contact me and I can get you connected with the healing and support that would be the right fit for you to process through and start to release this painful time in your life. You ARE valuable. You ARE loved. You ARE worthy.

Haley BrimmerHaley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Director of Client Advocacy

God is on the Move

God is on the Move
“God is on the move, on the move, Halleujah, God is on the move in many might ways.
God is on the move, on the move, Halleujah, God is on the move, on the move today…”

7Eventh Time Down

One of my co-workers played this song, “God is on the Move”, recently for us during staff prayer at Bridgehaven. I have found this song to be super catchy to listen to in the car as I am driving, but I realized I had been getting caught up in the beat of the song, rather than paying closer attention to the lyrics. During a conversation I had with some co-workers yesterday, I recognized just how those song lyrics were really playing out in my life around me.

I am very honored, blessed, and privileged to see God’s mighty work being lived out through so many different circumstances, places, and people all the time. Some days it’s going to be very evident how God is moving, and then there will be other days when it’s going to take every last ounce of what you have left to search for how God is moving. But one of the many, many, many wonderful things about God is that He never, ever stops moving and working in your life. It may be hard for us as humans to always recognize Him, but He never gives up on us.

I want to share with you a few different ways I have seen God’s vast movement just from this past week. He has opened up hearts and minds to His Spirit and love by drawing people into a relationship with Him who had first entered Bridgehaven for various services having no spiritual beliefs at all. He has given strength and bravery to people who have lived in silence, shame, or guilt for most of their lives, and have finally taken the courageous step to reach out to others for help. He has provided opportunities and circumstances for people to feel safe, comfortable and open to share how they are really feeling even though they have masked their emotions for so long. He has placed the right friends, family and loved ones in my life at the perfect times this past week when I needed some uplifting encouragement, support, and unconditional love in the midst of a trial with self-doubt. He has proven over, and over, and over again this week that He has us right in the palm of His hands.

Those are just a few of the many ways, even just from this past week, I have witnessed God at work. So now it’s your turn to reflect. How is God moving in your life, right here, right now? What have you been clearly aware of and what are those things you may need to open your heart and mind to more, to be a witness to His great movement? What can you do to allow God to use you as His instrument to be a part of that movement in someone else’s life today? God really is on the move, and He is on the move today. Seek, desire, trust and allow His movement to happen in such mighty and marvelous ways.

P.S. If you haven’t heard this song before, you can listen here.

Haley BrimmerHaley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Director of Client Advocacy

We Must First Learn to Forgive

prayer_forgiveA few weeks ago, I had the privilege and honor of experiencing and immersing myself in an incredibly eye opening retreat. The most beautiful transformation and immense healing took place for every participant of this retreat in ways only God can provide. However, it took complete trust in God to go into deep parts of our souls to reach peace and comfort by the end of the weekend.

When I reflect back on the beginning of the retreat, it was as if Jesus was speaking these words into life for all of us:

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 RSV)

Listening to the stories and seeing the faces of all the participants who attended this experience, it was apparent there were extremely heavy burdens which had been carried around for far too long. Even though each of us had a different story, or varying ways in which we handled the emotional toll of the heavy burdens, it was evident there was still an intense weight on all of our shoulders. This weight was the forgiveness we still had yet to experience in some form in our lives. Mother Teresa stated:

“…we know that if we really want to love, we must first learn to forgive before anything else…”

Wow. What powerful words. If we want to love, we must first learn to forgive. It seems like such a simple concept, and I suppose it is if we get to the root of all of it. However, when I think about the things in my life I still need to forgive and let go of, it makes me wonder, how much am I holding love back when I keep declining to forgive?

Being a part of this retreat experience reminded me of how much we have yet to forgive. Forgiveness is something everyone seems to struggle with throughout their entire lives. We allow shame, guilt, anger, bitterness, distrust, hatred, envy, and other negative emotions to overpower our desire for forgiveness. However, going back to Mother Teresa’s statement, if we want to love in the way that Jesus is calling us to, forgiveness has to be one of our priorities.

What do you feel is holding you back from allowing forgiveness to become a priority? Are there things you need to discover, or rediscover, about yourself that will help you in getting closer to the freedom that forgiveness brings? How might your prayers look different, starting today, if you sought God’s assistance and guidance in this path towards greater forgiveness?

Haley BrimmerHaley Brimmer, Director of Client Advocacy

Director of Client Advocacy