On New Year's Day, 2019, I woke up overcome with sadness. This overwhelming emotion caught me off guard. 2018 brought tremendous personal growth, and I was looking forward to an outstanding 2019. I immediately blamed myself for not being strong enough to overcome this feeling. I thought it had to be a reflection of my lack of spiritual maturity and/or mental strength.
Looking back, I believe God chose this rigorous test for me because of the intentional growth I had been seeking for so long. However, at the time, I felt like a failure. Weeks passed before I realized God was using this unexplained sadness for His glorious purpose. Weeks turned into months of loneliness, confusion, frustration, and earnestly seeking the Lord. I had no idea I had entered into one of the most challenging and rewarding adventures of my life.
I knew God did not wish me to live in a state of depression or debilitating sadness. So many Scriptures speak of His love for me and the good plans He has for my life. I believed His Word, but I wasn’t sure what His “good plans” for me looked like. I started praying and seeking Him more intensely than ever before. During those long and exhausting months, God began to speak. I listened, and I grew. However, the sadness lingered. I was perplexed.
Many life changes were looming that year, including my oldest daughter’s upcoming graduation from high school and leaving home. For a while, I thought my anticipating her leaving was the sole reason for my sadness. (Note to all mama's feeling sad at the idea of their kiddos leaving the nest: I promise the thoughts of life without them are far worse than living through it.) I was sad thinking of a future without my girl at home; however, along with her graduation also came the reality that some of my dreams for her were gone too. At some point, disappointment turned to resentment, and it began to fester in my heart. I chose not to acknowledge it. Ignoring it seemed more manageable, but I was wrong.
The sadness lingered on into the Fall. In September, my journey was leading me to a challenging trail of discovery, and unbeknownst to me, it would lead me to one of the greatest awakenings of my life.
Driving to see my counselor one day, an emotion I can only describe as hatred began rising up in me. It was so strong and intense that I immediately shared these feelings with Dr. Murdaugh when I arrived. I thought it was one of the worst things a "good Christian woman" could admit. Hating someone, and not just one person, but several people. I compiled an incomplete list of painful events which were bubbling to the surface. I wasn't supposed to hate anyone. I was honest with my counselor and waited for a reprimand. Instead, I heard him say, “Good. I’ve been waiting for you to get to this point. Now we can work through forgiveness.”
Shocked would be an understatement. Good? Had he heard what I just admitted? This was the first mention of forgiveness. I thought I had learned to forgive years ago, but in my sessions, I discovered I had only learned coping techniques. I still harbored tremendous resentment and anger, which were leading to bitterness and hatred.
The six-week process of understanding and implementing forgiveness was challenging and uncomfortable. However, forgiveness was the key needed to set me free emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally to grow deeper in love with God and to walk in His purpose and plans for me. At the time, I couldn’t see how sadness would lead me to confront past hurts and an unforgiving spirit, but God knew. There was purpose in the pain! The next phase was confronting my resentment, bitterness, and hate with true, genuine forgiveness.
I had to come to terms with a few hard truths.
Forgiveness is a decision, not an emotion.
When someone hurts us, we should turn to God first, seek His strength, and quickly forgive. This takes practice as it is not a natural tendency. Holding onto anger and resentment will only poison our spirits and harden our hearts, but forgiveness leads to true freedom in Christ.
DEE DEE SIMMONS
Is a life and performance coach and co-founder of Live Your Design, as well as Chief Marketing Officer at FITTS. She is completely in love with Jesus, actively pursues Him, and is passionate about sharing her learnings with others. Dee Dee lives in Chapin with her husband, Ken, their 3 daughters, McKenna, Kelsey, and Sally, and their two pups. To learn more, please visit liveyourdesign.life