“For the Word of God is… able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart”
(An new entry in The 3 in 5 Plan Series)
Little did I know when the Bethany Adoption Social Worker, Pat Gibson asked me to write a brief description of my family years I would be entering into a time of profound pyschological and spiritual healing!
With each adoption the applicant couple must go through what is called a “home study”. This is an extensive series of meetings which include paperwork such as financial reports and personal history, background checks and criminal history inquiries. The Bethany social worker visits your home to check out the adoptees potential home environs.
We were confident that everything would pass the test of her inquiring eye. But nonetheless when you have never gone through an examination process for parental fitness and it’s for your very first child a little nervousness is natural. You have no personal history of success to fall back on! So it’s all new and all in the hands of the experienced pre-adoption process expert.
Thankfully all went extremely well. The puzzle pieces of our lives fell into place one by one Finances – check! Home – check! References – check! Christian committment – check! No criminal history – check! Interviews – check! Personal family history… it would be a check but a little processing had to take place for me before the paperwork could be handed in. Little did I know that God wanted to do a little invasive surgery on yours truly’s heart!
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
As I mentioned in the beginning we each had to write up a page or two of our family history. I didn’t think twice about. I wrote a two page synopsis of my childhood and family history. There was no big problems to report. Pretty straightforward stuff.
After writing it up I handed it to my wife, Nora, who is the family editor-in-chief being a bona fide (not just on paper) English major. I figured she’d zip through it and circle a couple of punctuation issues and maybe a grammatical oopsy daisy. But alas, that was not to be.
When she had finished she looked at me then down at the paper and then up at me again and said, “Gloomy, pretty gloomy.” Her face looked sad.
“Gloomy!”, I said, “What do you mean gloomy!” I could see nothing glaringly negative in my report. I had stated the facts and there was no complaining or finger pointing or even whining. It was a completely civilized accounting of my early life, for God’s sake! (I was getting a little defensive, did you notice?!?)
“Nonetheless, gloomy.” she calmly countered. “You’re life appears to have few if any real happy memories, few endearing moments, almost no joyful recollections. To me it sounds… gloomy.” (she paused for added emphasis)
This caught me off-guard. I began to re-read my family history and by golly I had to agree with Nora that there was indeed an easily perceived gloom permeating all I had penned. Pondering what I had written I realized I felt a certain existential numbness that had limited my recollection of my childhood. I was neither overtly bitter nor resentful in what I wrote but at the same time I did not communicate the many blessings of my family life as a child and teen. I pretty much left them out. Thus Nora’s comments concerning “gloom”.
After becoming a Christian in 1978 God led me through two significant times of forgiveness and healing with regard to my father. One was right after I got saved. I was attending a large meeting called “Take and Give” aka TAG in Washington, DC. At this Tuesday night gathering Larry Tomczak, one of the two main speakers taught on our relationship with God the Father and our relationship with our earthly father. At the end there was a powerful time of prayer where each person was encouraged to forgive their fathers for offenses the were holding against them.
At a John Wimber conference the same thing occurred but this time the Holy Spirit revealed my heart in a deeper way, brought healing and changed by view of my father and transformed the meaning of past offenses. Since my father had passed away years ago there was no way of direct reconciliation which I would have loved to do.
“Biblical forgiveness does not necessarily change the memory of the offense, but it ultimately changes the meaning of the offense”
The final step in the process of forgiveness for me was revealed when Nora pointed out the gloom that seemed to surround my memories. Since I had not been able to carry out any reconciling action toward the offending party I had unknowingly become stuck.
The revelation of this affected me like a man crawling out of the darkness of a tomb into a flood of brilliant light. Or someone waking from a dream. Things had changed. It’s hard to explain just how it happened. But the result was clear.
Just as the meaning of the cross seen through the resurrection is transformed from curse to blessing so an offense’s meaning can change when God opens our eyes. I saw the past through new eyes, you might say they were “resurrection eyes”. I had moved from a place of indifference and emotional distance to a place of blessing and renewal.
I began to re-write my family history with a different perspective, with a new lightness and joy I had not experienced the first time through. When finished the final piece of the home study puzzle was added without a hitch… Family History – Check!
(At this point there is much to say about what I mean by this experience. It might be good to add a section on the process of forgiveness or forgiving. You see, I believe the scriptures will back me up that forgiveness is a decision but it is also a process. If you see it as only a decision you will miss some rich treasures that God has. I had forgiven my father. That was a decision for sure but the process part of forgiveness involved moving me into a new perspective and a place of blessing.)