Message from Olive Chapel
I have always been the type of person who dances to the beat of my own drum. I don’t know why, but I have never done well fitting into other people’s boxes.
Over the years I have learned how to do this a little more gracefully, but in my childhood and teen years it definitely caused a lot of stress in my family.
Some of it was my awkwardness, and some of it was the rebellion I felt from pressure to be something I couldn’t be. I never meant to cause my parents any heartache, embarrassment, or disappointment, but I did.
I was the little ballerina who had the dirty knees, and torn Tutu, among all the prim and proper ballerinas.
Though my father was the elder at our church, I was the child sneaking under the table and tying the shoestrings of a boy I didn’t like during Sunday school so that he would trip when he got up. I was never chosen, I wasn’t the “darling little girl” that the other little girls were in my world. I was wiggly, talkative, inattentive, at times misbehaving (without even realizing it) and a clumsy child.
As a teenager, there were times I felt so misunderstood and alone that I ran away scaring my poor parents for a week at a time. I have minor learning disabilities, which made it hard for me to learn in a traditional way.
This created insecurities that made me feel worthless and dumb, so I just refused to go to high school. My parents had no idea if I was going to graduate until the week of graduation. They didn’t know what to do to help me. I could go on and on but my point isn’t to give you a full confession, just to give you an idea of what life was like for my family in my early years.
It was around my mid twenties that I began to have some insight into how my behavior had affected my parents. By this time I had made many messes, and I was full of shame for them.
In spite of me, my father was always loving, and accepting. With every mess I made he cleaned me up and supported me through it. There were times he spoke truth into my life, but it was never in a way that shamed me. It was somewhere around this time that I gave him my first heart felt apology, followed by another, and then another, and another.
To be honest I lost track of how many times I would tell him how sorry I was for my bad behavior, my awkwardness, and for not being the “prima ballerina” that would make him proud, rather than embarrass him. Every time he graciously accepted my apology.
When I started college in my thirties to become a therapist, I was doing my own therapy, so one more time I wrote out a very long letter to my dad, expressing my remorse for the type of child I was, and the disappointments I caused, and for being “bad”.
We talked after he read it, and he said to me, “I don’t remember you being that bad. I always thought you were a good girl. You and I remember things differently. And as far as your apology goes, you have asked me several times to forgive you, but I forgave you a long time ago. I don’t think it’s me that needs to forgive you. I think you need to forgive yourself.”
Immediately tears filled my eyes as I realized he was right, in my father’s eyes, I was his sweet little girl whom he loved. He didn’t see me as I saw myself or as I believed others saw me. He saw me as a child who had some difficult lessons to learn, and he loved me through them.
This is also how many of us relate with our Father in heaven too. We ask for forgiveness, and we don’t feel forgiven, so we live in shame and regret. Shame and regret hold us in a pattern of bondage.
When we realize that we were forgiven a long time ago, when we learn how to receive God’s forgiveness and when we learn how to forgive ourselves and embrace our ugly stories we can learn how to live our lives gracefully.
If you find yourself approaching God, or anyone for that matter, many times seeking forgiveness but cannot seem to find peace there, we would encourage you to come visit us at Olive Chapel.
We would love to help you find peace in your relationship with your heavenly Father. Our services start Sunday morning at 10:00 AM EST.