What does it mean to be forgiven? What does it take to be gifted true forgiveness? Am I worth forgiving?
These questions were commonplace in my mind during the early days of my sobriety. Often times, we do unthinkable things in our addiction; actions that have driven a wedge between ourselves and our loved ones and transgressions that we may view as unforgivable in the eyes of God. For a long time, I was consumed by shame for the awful things I did in my active addiction. Today, I am able to find comfort in knowing that we serve a forgiving God. A grace-giving God that delights in turning darkness to light. A God that deeply desires for us to reflect the image of His Son.
Colossians 1:13-14 reads, “For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” I feel that forgiveness is something that we are all seeking, addict or not. I view forgiveness as being two-fold; forgiveness from God for our sins and forgiveness from those that we may have wronged. Today, there is one particular story of restoration and forgiveness that I would like to share with you. This story brings joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. It is a testimony of God’s grace and unwavering desire to offer a second chance.
The day was June 12, 2016 and I had just recently began working for Hope is Alive. I had been tasked with handling my first ever intake of an HIA resident. I was nervous to say the least. I sat down with the resident, Zach A., along with his parents and began going over the rules and requirements of living in an HIA Mentoring Home.
As I sat there and talked with the family I could feel the pain from the parents and could sense the shame that was consuming Zach.
“I was hopeless, I had tons of shame. Most of my shame was over how I treated my family and the things I did to them. I had betrayed my family over and over again for years and I didn’t think that I could ever get their trust back.” (Zach A.)
I knew in that moment that he was wrestling with the same question I once asked myself, “Am I worth forgiving?” His mother, Dawn, was fighting back tears…
“We were hopeless, this was the lowest Zach had ever been and I just knew that he had to do it with Jesus this time or he wasn’t going to make it. We were not in a good place at all either. Our whole family was in turmoil. At this moment I would have do anything to get him in a good place. My faith was almost gone!”
As we talked I began to see how God’s fingerprints were all over the events leading up to this meeting. You see, Zach didn’t find us through the normal route of treatment. We had recently launched our partnership with Life.Church Moore and set up a booth in their lobby a month prior to offer resources to those looking for HOPE. A family member attending Life.Church that day gave Dawn one of our brochures and she passed it along to Zach. Zach reached out to us and the ball began rolling towards his move-in. You may think that it was sheer luck or coincidence that brought Zach to us, however, I firmly believe that it was the sovereignty of God that led to that emotional, tear-filled meeting. We finished the intake and moved Zach into one of our mentoring homes. I knew that this was when the real work started and that he would need to go through the same process I went through in order to truly feel forgiven.
Zach dove head first into our program and Dawn and Mike immersed themselves in the Finding Hope support groups for families. Zach began to strain towards forgiveness by working through the pain and turmoil he had caused.
James 4:8 reads, “Come close to God and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”
As Zach drew near to God, he began to realize he was worth forgiving.
“It wasn’t until I quit worrying about being forgiven and started utilizing the tools of the Hope is Alive program that I was able to be forgiven. Things didn’t start to change for me and my family until I completely gave things to God. I had to stop trying to fix things on my own and ask for help”. (Zach A.)
As Dawn and Mike continued in the Finding Hope classes they were able to realize that Zach’s addiction was not their fault.
“Finding Hope changed the way I look at Zach. I now look at the disease and not him. That wasn’t my boy that was the awful disease destroying him from the inside out. Just to be around people who were going through the same thing and were coming out of it gave me hope. Hope that if he didn’t get better his father and I would get better no matter what he did. All the tools this class has given us we will always have. Today our faith is stronger and I can feel we are all on the right track now!” (Dawn A.)
So are you worth forgiving?
God says yes! Zach A. says yes! Dawn and Mike say yes!
Through an intimate relationship with God, Zach was able to find a new way to live. Today, Zach is a model resident within our home. He was recently promoted to house manager at the home that he moved into back in June. He is a shining example of the miracles that WILL happen when you completely surrender your life to God!
Furthermore, Dawn, is now a staple in our Finding Hope Support Group. She now tells everyone who will listen that there is HOPE and is always willing to offer an ear to listen and share her story. Isn’t that spectacular?
This family, that came to us broken and lacking hope is now leading families to restoration, forgiveness and HOPE. They have collectively found a new life in Christ. Through this new life Zach was able to realize that yes, he is worth forgiving! Dawn, through an unwavering faith and unconditional love for her son was ready and willing to offer forgiveness!
Today, my prayer is that you find solace in the fact that you too can be FORGIVEN.