…in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Both my parents were prisoners of war during World War II. They each worked in separate labor prisons in southern Germany for a good portion of the entire war. How each responded afterward throughout their life from the negative impact of such an ordeal is a lesson I remind myself each day.
They both carried scars from their ordeal as slaves under the Nazi regime. Yet Dad’s was less noticeable than Mom’s. In fact, Dad seem to take those ugly events, put it behind him, and gracefully launch himself into a productive, fulfilling life even with health battles. Mom on the other hand, never seem to forget the past, continually blaming everyone whose hand she suffered under, and always considered herself a victim of circumstances. In hindsight, their 50+ year marriage is a good case study of the after effects between freedom and slavery.
Dad and Mom were both religious, but Dad quietly practice his faith while Mom only played the part.
As Dad would always remind us, God protected him so many times during the war and throughout life, he was grateful to live in America and build a comfortable home for his family. He only had an eighth-grade education, but a strong character developed through hard work, personal responsibility, and love of God which molded him and was expressed through his skills and temperament.
Mom though never let the past die. She was a very intelligent woman and hard worker likewise with only an eighth-grade education. She could speak five languages, and cook a banquet for an army. Yet her personal demons never died. She never forgave the people who hurt her, always blaming others for her suffering, and viewed the world from a victim mentality.
Both Dad and Mom suffered similar trials. Yet both responded in different fashions. Dad yielded himself to God, besides praying twice a day on his knees in the living room early mornings and before bedtime in the evening, he related with others through a mirror of humility and strong character. He didn’t understand theology but knew His God was real and with him.
Mom believed God, but wouldn’t allow Him full access to change her from the inside-out. She always had to maintain control and her pride blocked anyone entrance into her heart. Like many people today who unbeknownst struggle with victim mentality, she had everything physically around her that was the good life, but inwardly continually and repeatedly fought a war which technically ended in 1945 but remained active in her heart and mind till her death some 70 years later.
People who haven’t learned the importance and necessity of forgiving others live lives being suffocated from their own bitterness and anger. Instead of accepting the beauty currently around them in the present, they keep reliving the past. They find it difficult to let go of the emotional hurt and gladly join others who share in the same misery. In many ways, they don’t realize or accept the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
As Christ-followers, we know our heavenly Father has adopted us into His family and given us a Spirit of freedom. But we need to allow His Spirit full access into our heart and mind to change our values, perspective, and worldview. Freedom requires personal responsibility and strong humility. Anyone can abuse freedom, but to maintain and unify relationships requires the freedom to respect others even when we don’t agree with the other. And most importantly, when we are done wrong, the quicker we learn to forgive and move on, the more freedom grows and opportunities abound.
I am thankful for Dad and Mom giving me life and allowing me to learn from them. I am also most thankful for our Great God who continues to shower His grace upon us and teach us how to live through the struggles, trials and tests of life that shapes and prunes the eternal character being developed within this soul. For the same reason, I believe you and I have more in common than we openly want to admit. All because of the central work of Jesus Christ.
Rooting For You in Christ!
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