Photo cred: Anthony Intraversato
Everybody is tossing around the soccer ball, passing around quips and teasing jeers. I stand solitarily by the sidelines.
It’s okay. I’m fine.
They’re talking about the football competition last week. I have no idea what that’s about.
Everything’s okay. I feel fine.
There is an invisible wall between me and the crowd. They share smiles, jokes, and experiences, and I… do not. To them, it’s like I don’t… exist.
I’m okay. I’m totally fine.
… I wish I was.
In the car on the way home, I do not know if I am mad or… sad. I probably am both. I repeatedly instruct myself to stop feeling affected by the troubles of fitting in here. I tell myself: “I do NOT care.” But the fact that I tell myself that so much is because I do care… a LOT. I care so much about every single petty interaction I have with those around me, but the feeling is not mutual-- because for me, I have entered a totally different new world, but for them, I am just an insignificant, forgettable, unnoticeable speck in their familiar world.
These are the words I have been telling myself these past two months, and sometimes, I still do… because in a way, it is true.
“You’re going to America? You must be so excited!!”
Yes, I was and still am! Coming to America has opened up opportunities for me and helped me move on from past unpleasant events, and I am so thankful for coming here. God is so gracious to us to give my parents the opportunity to study in seminary here and for blessing us with a supportive church. But today, I would like to focus on an incredibly big part of transitioning into a completely new environment: The problem of fitting in.
I am NOT trying to be a downer, and I am NOT putting on a pity party, but I am just doing what I’ve always strived to do as a writer: Being honest. So, here’s my unfiltered experience as a Malaysian who just moved to Charlotte, NC.
Having attended an American online school, The Potter’s School, (where my fellow TPSers at, ayyy), for the past 7 years or so and because I had visited America multiple times, I already had a relatively good understanding of American culture coming here. Hence, I did not have a huge culture shock at all. However, what “shocked” me, or proved a bigger struggle of adjustment for me, was the community.
When I first arrived, people were extremely friendly, as they always are! I received countless “hi”s and “welcome”s! People’s smiles and encouragement put me at ease and made me feel welcome. However, after the first meeting, I was gradually forgotten, and the people around me returned to their old cliques. I felt like I just faded into the background. Of course, there would be the occasional “how are you” conversation and “where are you from” conversation and the all-too-familiar “how can you speak English so well” conversation, but after the surface-level formalities were taken care of, I was dropped. I told myself not to be so self-absorbed and not to always expect others to speak to me first. So, I initiated conversations. However, 8 out of 10 times, I would get a minimal reaction: a half-hearted smile, a one-word remark, and turning away. The words crept into my head daily: “Nobody is interested in me. Nobody wants to be my friend.” Then, I would think: “Stop being so selfish!! Always thinking about how others don’t talk to you and feeling bad about it! Who are you to blame others for your loneliness??” But no matter how “selfless” I tried to be, nothing seemed to work.
This shocked me because I thought Americans were generally friendlier. But, I failed to realize that many times, there is an expiry date and a lack of depth to that friendliness. In that way, I guess I had wrongly stereotyped Americans, as many of them have stereotyped me. Smiles and encouragement are handed out like candy, but genuine interest in others is in short supply. Most people do care but they simply are not aware of the need to take proactive steps to establish deeper connections. There are very kind, sincere Americans, just as there are very kind, sincere Asians or whoever. But this, in my observation, is the primary social interaction issue in Western culture--where friendliness is an obligation but deeper relationships are overlooked. The opposite is true in Asian cultures. People may not smile or encourage you as immediately and directly, but over time, mutual interest and relationships are established gradually. I learned that different cultures have their different social shortcomings. Regardless of culture, lack of interest in reaching out to new people is not an American or Asian problem, but a human problem.
Although it hurt that hardly anyone around me took the first step toward the new Malaysian girl, I thought to myself that maybe the only solution is to take the first step myself--a step of uncertainty, anxiety, and nervousness--but a step forward nonetheless. As mentioned earlier, 8 out of 10 of my self-initiated conversations would not go anywhere, but… that leaves 2 in 10 that did.
Intentionally taking more initiative, I pushed myself to talk to a girl in my speech and debate class, and unlike my other failed tries, we really clicked! She was extremely nice, and with an internal boost of courage, I asked for her email. We have been chatting since, and we’re currently organizing a board game meetup for fellow homeschoolers! That was my first step forward.
My second step forward happened in musical theater class a few weeks ago. I said “hi” to a quiet girl next to me, and she responded enthusiastically. We have been hanging out ever since, and I really enjoy her company.
As I reflect on my experiences over the past two months, through prayer and conversations with my parents, I am reminded to be thankful, patient, and secure. I am thankful for my family and God’s mercy in giving us the simple things and just the opportunity to come here! I am learning to be patient in waiting for the season when I’ll be able to build close friendships. And by God’s grace, I will become more secure in my identity which is not rooted in my geographical location or the community around me but in my adoption into God’s family as a child of God.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” - 1 John 3:1a ESV
If you are part of the community which is welcoming somebody else new, please be the one to take the first step toward them. NOT just by saying “hi” and asking the initial “how are you?” and “where are you from?” questions, but by sincerely desiring to get to know them better because you are genuinely interested to get to know and continue to get to know them on a deeper level. Because, as a person who dived headfirst into a totally new place, it is very, extremely unnerving and frightening to take the first step. Maybe not if you are a more outgoing person, but to tell the truth, I am not. And most new people aren’t. So, save them the agony.
Many times, we are simply just unaware of the need to reach out or we ourselves may be afraid and unsure of how to approach the new person. If that is the case, try to take more notice of them and make yourself available to them. Don't be intimidated because the new person is probably just as nervous as you are! On the other hand, sometimes we are too preoccupied with our own lives to take interest in newcomers. In other words, we all need to stop being so self-absorbed. I, for one, am highly guilty of leading the me-centric life.
Self-centeredness is the primary thing that stands in the way of exploring and understanding other cultures.
Stop looking inside of you and noticing only your own needs. Open your eyes to look outside of you and notice the needs of others. And don’t just notice those needs, take actions to meet them.
Putting your relationship with Christ first is the first, most important step to sincerely love others.
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” - Rom. 15:7 ESV
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” - Phil. 2:4 ESV
Two weeks ago, I walked into the Third Grade Sunday School classroom as the new Assistant Teacher. With playful smiles and gleeful giggles, I was welcomed warmly by energetic young boys and girls. They innocently but sincerely asked me: “What’s Malaysia?”, “How do you say ‘stupid’ in Chinese?”, “How do you say ‘hi’ in Malay?” and many more hilarious questions. When I told them “good morning” in Malay is “Selamat Pagi,” a girl incredulously replied, “... Salami Pizza Guy??” And since then, I was never able to correct them. “Salami Pizza Guy” has become our special greeting every Sunday! As rudimentary and silly as it seems, it mattered that at least some people were interested in a new person from a new culture they’ve never heard of before, even if they are gibbering, pizza-loving third graders.
“Hi… my name is Eunice. I am Malaysian, but I am not Malay. My great grandparents actually came from China, so I am a Malaysian Chinese. Oh, and… I do not go to a local school. I attend an online American school.” From person to person, I answered the same questions, reciting my perfectly configured, pre-programmed answers. Inwardly, I cringed when responding to questions about my origin and education, anticipating reactions of bewilderment and confusion. Almost every single time, I anticipated correctly. In 2016, at the age of thirteen, I accompanied my mother and sister to a Creation Science conference in Seoul, Korea. All in all, it was a fantastic cultural experience, interacting with Christians from dozens of nations congregating together under a singular great purpose. As I conversed with various people, I got to know them as “Nepali,” “Japanese,” or “American,” and their direct, complete identification with their native country’s culture strangely startled me. I began to question my own cultural identity.
For the first time in my life, it dawned on me that I do not identify as a purebred “Malaysian.” I live a life completely separate from other Malaysian students who attend local schools where they learn about and are immersed in Malaysian history, culture, and language. Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely thankful to my parents who decided instead to homeschool me and bring me up in a classical educational way. I’m really blessed that my parents do not subscribe to the “kiasu” mindset of academics being the first priority (of course it is still important), but they rather place emphasis on my godly character and relationship with God. Their gracious parenting and a biblical curriculum have shaped my mind critically and drawn me closer to God, things I would have never experienced if I had gone through the typical public school system. I would never change my background if given the chance. I am proud of my position on a bridge between cultures.
However, sometimes, I feel extremely confused and misplaced, especially in the Malaysian and Chinese culture. Countless times, I am caught off guard when someone dishes out a Malaysian joke or declares a Malay phrase because I simply cannot understand what they mean. Awkwardly laughing and pretending I understand their conversations have become a routine. Among Malaysian friends, I am known as the girl with the “American” accent and “Western” thinking. In local homeschool communities, I still feel left out because of the difference of curriculum and culture. Many of my friends from both public and home schools sarcastically commend me for my innovative “western” thinking skills, scoffing at me. But the truth is, many times, I wish I was not any different. I can no longer count the number of times I have wished so desperately to fit in. I live in their world, and yet, I am not a part of it. Unintentionally but regularly, they exclude me.
Additionally, I cannot identity as a full-blooded “Chinese.” Sure, I grew up in a Chinese family, but unlike my cousins, I do not attend Chinese school. My constant English interactions in The Potter’s School and all-around having English as my first language distinguish me from the youths in my church who have a strong Chinese educational and linguistic background. This cuts a deep chasm between me and all the other teenagers in my church because our linguistic and educational differences set us off on different social paths. They value conformance and collectivism, while I thrive in an environment that encourages critical thinking and voicing my personal ideas. When I make an effort to connect with them, I am often brushed off as weird and odd. In Chinese communities, I am labeled a “banana”—yellow on the outside but white on the inside. I thought that I just need to try and assimilate into Chinese culture better by making an effort to speak Chinese, but it always backfires when all the fluent Chinese speakers laugh at me for sounding like a foreigner.
My public school and homeschool peers have voiced their perceptions of me as “mature” and “articulate,” but it is evident that because of these labels, they see me as from a completely different social category. I do not believe I am better than any of them, because the fact is I simply have a different upbringing which emphasizes critical debate, vocal discussions, and public speaking more than theirs. Unfortunately, they do not believe so, and I do not blame them. My mannerisms in conversations and certain elements of my mindset undoubtedly originate from my American education, but at the same time, I definitely do not identify as a full-fledged “American.”
When I traveled to America, I thought that perhaps I would fit in better with the teenage crowd there. I was in for a disappointment. To my surprise, people were openly distributing hugs and overtly expressing emotions, sending me into intense culture shock. In front of Americans, I seemed shy and reserved, and I felt intimidated at times. In such situations, my mind and soul feel incredibly messed up, as if I have no anchor onto which I can secure my self-identity. What social group do I belong to? What does it even mean to be Malaysian? What about being Chinese? What “box” do I fit into? I sense the Malaysian, Chinese, and American parts of me all at the same time. Can they synchronize together in harmony? Does it even make sense that I relate to bits and pieces of all three at once but cannot identify with all the components of one fully? Who am I? I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I felt… homeless.
This aching need to have an attachment to a particular social group irked within me, stifling me more and more in social situations. I would feel pressurized to find common interests, and if they did not exist, I would lie to create them. I developed mild social anxiety when having one-to-one conversations, and I always entertained the fear that others thought I was strange and secretly disdained me. To this very day, I struggle with feeling accepted, mostly because I am, in definition, a loner without a close group of friends whom I can genuinely relate to. It was always a wish of mine to find the “perfect” social group, where peers would understand me and share common ground, but that has yet to happen.
However, I am reminded in Philippians 3:20 that “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” and Hebrews 13:14 says, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (ESV). After meditating on these verses, I questioned my assumptions: What requires me to conform to one of the world’s pre-conceived social identities? My identity is in Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and I need to start caring about what He thinks of me rather than what others think of me. Yes, I do not fit in one of society’s hard-set molds or stereotypical boxes. But, eventually, I asked myself, “What is wrong with that?” I have not found my dream “home,” and I still do not fit in anywhere. But I have determined that even though I may not have a friend who loves me for who I am, I can become a friend who loves others for who they really are. Perhaps, God is training me to root my identity and happiness in Him and not people because they will always let me down. My real home is in heaven, not in a country or social group! People are not perfect. I will never have the perfect friend. Instead, some day, God will bring me to a community where I can learn and grow alongside sincere friends and mentors.
Maybe you are going through a similar problem of not fitting in and feeling awkward in your current social situation. Believe me. I understand. I am still a loner. But remember that you are not homeless. There is nothing wrong with not fitting perfectly into a stereotype. Having a lack of friends is so hard, especially as a youth, but press on! We may not understand why we are lonely, but we can be sure of the fact that God is good, and while we only have a limited perspective of life from the valley, God can see everything from the mountaintop. Think about Joseph from the Old Testament! His life was the epitome of struggle: sold as a slave by his own brothers and then falsely accused of a crime he did not commit! But he stayed faithful, and God meant it all for good, as seen when he rose to become second-in-command of all of Egypt! In the end, all things work together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28). So, persevere! Good things are yet to come! Till then, I’m the odd one out. Maybe you are too. But we are not homeless.
Don’t steal the last slice of pizza!🍕🤓
Inspirational music blasted out of the all-surround Dolby Atmos speakers, all eyes transfixed on the ginormous, flashing screen. Holding my breath, I gasped (a lot louder than I had anticipated, considering that the kid next to me nearly jumped out of his seat) as the most epic motivational scene in Captain Marvel rolled.
Dun dun dun…
There she lay, powerlessly sprawled on the ground before the alien AI Skrull leader. At last, Carol Denvers got up. She got up just like she did as a young girl and just like she did as a training pilot. She arose and with a mighty blast of light, she decimated her enemy into an array of pixels.
We all have to admit that there is something so special and inspiring about scenes where a struggling character gets up and presses on to victory. What’s the significance of getting up? Believe it or not, the Bible has its very own scene where a character heroically “gets up” and perseveres to accomplish his mission:
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.” – Luke 15:17-20a (NIV)
The story of the prodigal son is one of the best stories demonstrating all four R’s in action. Just to remind ourselves, below are the 4 R’s to true repentance:
1. Realization of my sin
2. Remorse over my depravity in sin
3. Response to God regarding my sin
4. Restoration of my relationship with God
In the passage above, the prodigal son “came to his senses,” signifying the dawning realization of how horrible his sin really was. In his mind, he was probably thinking something like this: “What I did was really wrong and hurtful to my father and firstly to God. I am a terrible sinner.” He then felt the depth of his disconnection with his father, realizing that even his father’s servants were better off than him, showing that he had utter remorse over his sin. But he did not stop there. His sorrow did not direct him toward self-pity or self-justification but directed him toward God, and he longed for reconciliation with his father. He responded with a clear admission of his sins: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” And lastly, he actively sought restoration by doing something about this revelation: he got up and went back to his father.
The words “get up” are words that too many of us readily gloss over when reading the parable of the prodigal son. This simple action of getting up holds the most significance in his eventual reconciliation with his father because it is living proof of his changed heart and that he has turned away from his sin. Remember the definition of repentance? Repentance is a change of mind or a change in direction.
Yes, repentance is not a result of works that earn salvation, but it is the result of salvation which leads to works. It is impossible for someone to change their heart and not change their actions. Matthew 3:8 says, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (ESV). A mark of a person who has truly repented is his or her effort to do something intentional and practical to change a bad habit or hidden sin.
Matthew 7:17-18 states, “Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (ESV). True repentance will transform a bad tree into a good tree, transforming bad fruits into good fruits. It is not because we are “good” or “holy” on our own, but it is because of God graciously imputing His righteousness on us through Christ’s crucifixion on the cross that we are able to live as instruments for His glory.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
Think about the following questions: Have I taken any specific actions to flee from temptation in my particular sin area? Have I told godly mentors about my issues and asked for their advice? Am I accountable for my actions? Do I intentionally and regularly ask the Lord to change my heart?
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20b (NIV)I really encourage you to check out this wonderful song called “When God Ran” about this moment in the parable of the prodigal son. It brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Akv2V5fNdk
This is my constant prayer, and I hope you will make it yours: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” –Psalm 51:10 (ESV).
I want to “get up” and change my direction, turning away from sin and toward God. I will not be perfect, but I trust God will guide me. Will you “get up”?
If you have joined me throughout this whole series on the 4 R’s to true repentance, I sincerely appreciate you, and I thank you. It means the world to me that what God has taught me may be passed on to another. God bless, and have a thrilling summer!
Lots of ❤️,
(Hey there! This is the 2nd part to step 2, “Remorse,” in my 4 R’s to True Repentance Series, so I recommend you check out “Remorse, part 1” first: click me!)
“I miss him.”
Sob. Sneeze. Cry.
“I enjoyed playing with him, and he cared for us… so much.”
I am positively sure that 7-year-old me sobbing openly into a mic in front of a crowd of stunned adults at my grandfather’s funeral was not a pretty sight to see… And it must have felt horrible, that is, if I could even remember giving that emotionally-charged eulogy. A while back, my father told me the story of 7-year-old Eunice declaring she missed her grandfather and costing the audience a couple of tears as a result. I do not recollect standing there, speaking my mind and tearing up. But what I do recollect is the closeness that knit our family together that day. It was the first day in my life when I felt deep… deep sadness—a sadness that compelled me to cling onto my father, my mother, my sister, and my grandmother even more. The remorse I felt made me treasure the loved ones around me.
Grief draws us closer to the one we love.
Quick recap of the last article:
#1 is INTERNAL.
#2 mourns over the ROOT of sin, not punishments/consequences that come with getting caught
Today, we will examine the last two characteristics of godly remorse:
#3 Godly remorse will draw you CLOSER TO GOD.
Do you remember when the Israelites were bitten by venomous snakes? The only way for them to be saved from death was to turn their eyes to the bronze serpent and believe that would heal them. In the same way, when we feel the pain of guilt because of the sin we have committed, things will only change when we turn our eyes to Christ. If you think about it, sin is the breaking of the relationship between God and man, as seen in Genesis when Adam and Eve disobeyed Him. If our heart is truly grieved about this scarred relationship, we will naturally want to restore it. The remorse we feel over our sinful heart will turn us toward God, not deeper into depression. If there was just one indicator for godly remorse that completely distinguishes it from ungodly remorse, it would be that godly remorse pushes us to long for a closer relationship with God and seek Him through His Word and prayer—which brings me back to my point that grief draws us closer to the one we love. I have been asking myself this: do I truly love God? Does He take first place in my heart? Recently, I have realized that whenever I feel sorry for myself when I make a mistake, the one taking first place in my heart is me, not my need to get right with God. If I was focused on getting right with God, I would search the Bible, seek godly mentors, and have a prayerful attitude of seeking God in my daily life. It is all a matter of the heart.
Ask yourself: Do I pity myself or want to make things right with God? What does this say about my motives and priorities? Do I trust in God that He has the power to completely transform my sinful desires? Think about it. When you have doubts about whether you will be able to change for the better, is the one you are distrusting really yourself or is it actually God?
Hebrews 11:6- “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
Draw near to God, and trust that He can mold and transform your repentant, broken spirit into a spirit that is whole and covered by His imputed righteousness.
#4 Godly remorse will drive you toward ACTIVE CHANGE.
Psalm 51:8-12 says, “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (ESV). A cracked pot yearns for its potter to patch it up, remold it, cleanse it, and redesign it. That is the essence of godly remorse. Healthy remorse over sin makes a person desire to be in God’s presence more and more. Sure, it may break your heart temporarily but it ultimately strengthens your faith. 2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (ESV). After betraying Jesus, Judas Iscariot hanged himself out of grief. He was experiencing worldly sorrow. On the other hand, the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable quickly got up and ran back home to his father. He was not driven toward death but toward reconciliation and restoration! Which path will you choose?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! Look out for my next article coming out next month about the next R’s, “response” and “restoration.”
Lots of ❤️,
I just got off a really hard phone call. Bu-dump. Bu-dump. My heart hadn’t stopped racing. Trembling, my fingers slowly wiped off the trails of sweat on my face. The nerves did get to me, but I knew I did the right thing. I had just gotten off a call with a friend of mine who had wrongfully accused me of something I did not do. What this person did deeply hurt me, and after consulting with my parents, I confronted this person with love and the truth. Ding! I just got a message from this friend. It read, “I’m so sorry. I feel so so bad. I love you…” At that moment, something strange about that message struck me. I couldn’t place my finger on it, but after a few weeks of interacting with that friend, it was clear to me: that message and that person’s feelings were not genuine and did not change that person’s attitude or actions whatsoever.
“Feelings, nothing more than feelings . . .
Feelings, for all my life, I’ll feel it. . .
Feelings, wo oh oh feelings.” – “Feelings”, Andy Williams
Who would have known? Feelings play a really significant role in repentance. Most of the time, repentance is portrayed as a cut-and-dry sort of practice. You recognize your sin, you say sorry, and you never do it again… end of story, and everything’s great! If you believe that, like how I used to a few months ago… my friend, you haven’t experienced true repentance yet! It is a lot messier and harder, and you will feel hurt and pain because everything—every single aspect of, motive in, and step toward true repentance contradicts the very core of your sinful nature. Your spirit will clamber for repentance but your flesh will fight back and pull on your heartstrings. In my first article where I introduced this series, I defined repentance as “a change of heart.” That is as simple as it gets, right? Well, guess what? Anything that involves the heart involves feelings. It is pretty self-explanatory that realizing you did something wrong will make you feel sad, but here is where the potential problem lies: why do you feel sad? Is the motive behind your feelings pure or self-focused? Basically, what distinguishes godly remorse from ungodly remorse?
In this article, we will look at the 2nd step toward true repentance: Remorse. If you haven’t read my introductory article to this series and my last article which was on the 1st step to true repentance, Realization, you may read them in the catalog of earlier articles! There is a ton of eye-opening truth to talk about concerning godly vs. ungodly remorse, so I will be splitting this step into two articles. There are a total of 5 characteristics of godly remorse, and we will cover the first two in this article.
#1 Godly remorse is INTERNAL.
Godly remorse is not superficial or self-imposed, nor is it a theatrical act and outburst to prove a certain point to people around you, but it is agony rooted in the inner realization of your sin. The remorse of hypocrites exists solely on their faces, as it says in Matthew 6:16, where “they disfigure their faces to show others.” (ESV). Godly remorse goes beyond dramatic displays of emotion. A person undergoing the process of repentance must ask himself: Am I “disfiguring my face” and acting in a way to draw others’ attention to my sorrow? If so, why? Whether remorse is godly or ungodly ultimately comes down to the motive and conscience of the person. True remorse of sin flows out of a pure conscience with right motives and a heart with the desire to change. It comes from deep within, like how the people listening to Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 were “cut to the heart.” (ESV).
#2 Godly remorse mourns over the ROOT OF SIN, not punishments/consequences that come with getting caught.
When we experience godly remorse, we will mourn over the undeniable depravity of our soul. In his repentance before God after committing adultery with Bathsheba, King David cried out in Psalm 51:3, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” (ESV). He continues in verse 5, declaring, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (ESV). Wailing with great sorrow before God, King David does not simply mourn over his specific act of adultery but the root of his sin: his wicked heart. Upon recognizing his original sin and his need for God’s mercy, King David experiences a feeling of brokenness, which in essence is godly remorse. He describes this as a “broken and contrite heart” in verse 17 of Psalm 51. Ask yourself: Am I grieved by the sin in my heart that angers a righteous God? Or do I simply feel sorry for myself and the consequences I have to face as a result of this sin?
So much is still to be said about godly remorse, but for now, remember this: you can very well feel sorry and cry for hours on end and not be repentant. I know I have certainly bawled my eyes out without having a change of heart at all. I am still figuring this out, but I know this: Even if we are uncertain of how pure our motives are, we can ask God to cleanse our hearts and purify our consciences. When feeling mournful about our sin, many of us tend to fall into a cycle of self-loathing and dwelling on our mistakes rather than focusing on redeeming our relationship with God. To have a “broken and contrite heart” does not mean hating yourself or beating yourself up. Rather, it is having an attitude of humility and a heart focused on growing closer to God by committing our sins to Him. We don’t need to hate ourselves for the wrong things we’ve done because Jesus has already washed us clean. We should rejoice because of God’s lavish grace! And if you are afraid and don’t know where to start, just know that we do not need to be “there” or of a certain “spiritual level” to talk to Him. What matters is that you reach out to Him and want to change.
“Change my heart oh God.
Make it ever true.
Change my heart oh God.
May I be like you.” – “Change My Heart Oh God”, Various artists
Lots of ❤️,
Lights. Camera. Action! I stood in the back of audience, trying to hold in a smile as I watched our play envelope before my eyes. For months, I had worked alongside a friend to bring to life the dramatic story of the prodigal son for a Christmas play at my church. Our goal was to draw out God’s plan of redemption in the Christmas story from the father and son’s reconciliation in the prodigal son. Silently and excitedly, I watched on. Almost effortlessly, the characters glided across the stage, articulating their lines with perfect emotion and eloquence. Very soon, I began to look beyond the theatrical aspect of the story and listened to their words. It had come to the scene of the father and the prodigal son’s reunion, a scene which my friend and I had named the “Repentance Scene.” With tears of joy, the father embraced his trembling son. Distraught and broken, the prodigal son exclaimed, “I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” I blinked my eyes. I had helped compile these words and design this scene, and yet, only in that moment I felt that I truly understood what those words meant. These few months, I have devoured so many words and videos about repentance but it had never felt this… real.
Today, in part one of our 4 R’s to True Repentance Series, we will be looking at the first step to true repentance: Realization.
I remember when I was six years old, my family went on a holiday near a river. Ecstatic, I waded about in the water and lay down on the rocks with my sister. In a concerned tone, my mother called out to me to apply some mosquito repellent spray. Being a stubborn six year old who did not care much about anything but playing in that moment, I chose to ignore her and go on playing on nearby rocks. Until today, I cannot recall a time I got more mosquito bites than I did on that day. I counted a total of thirty mosquito bites… ouch. Why did that go so horribly wrong? I experienced the irritating pain of thirty mosquito bites because I did not accept my mom’s offer of mosquito repellent, which was because I did not realize that I needed it.
So, it all came down to realization. I did not realize I needed help, so I did not ask for it. Simple as that. In the same way, the first essential step to true repentance is realizing one’s sin. Realization is recognizing that you have an innately sinful nature and how bad your sin really is. King David felt this when he expressed in Psalm 51:3-4, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” What he means by “my sin is ever before me” is that he cannot get his sin out of his mind. It is that serious, that important, that significant, so that it is constantly scarring him and blocking his view. Most importantly, he realizes that his sin is not just against other people but against God Himself, just like the prodigal son exclaimed, “I have sinned against heaven.” Realizing that sin is first and foremost a direct act of disobedience against God is a mark of true repentance.
Is your sin that evident to you? Are you sensitive to the sin in your life? Does doing wrong things have an effect on you? Or is it something you brush away and ignore, like how I ignored the fact that I needed the mosquito repellent spray? Does it bother you when you displease God with sin?
In Acts 26:17-18, it tells believers, “I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’” When one realizes his sin, it is like turning from darkness to light. Light exposes things hidden in the darkness. What struck me in the parable of the prodigal son was how the son recognized the horribleness of his sin. In Luke 15:17, it states, “he came to himself,” meaning that he realized. He admitted in his heart that he was a sinner and was then humbled. That led to his true repentance and reconciliation with his father.
Sometimes, we are desensitized by the world’s definition of right and wrong, which can lead to moral blindness. This can prevent us from realizing our sin and can make us insensitive to the ungodly desires in our hearts. I am currently in the process of asking myself this question: Is my realization of sin blocked by self-love? Many times, I may excuse myself by convincing myself into thinking I did something “wrong” with “good” motives and that I actually meant well. I try to justify the “sinfulness” of a thought or action with the fact that I was trying to do the right thing. But that doesn’t make it right. And almost all the time, I do not have the purest of intentions. We are all sick. We are so sick and helpless that we are dying. We are dying in sin. But in order to be saved, we need to realize that we are dying. Because only when we realize that the very root of our hearts are evil, we will realize we need a Savior. I need to realize that I need mosquito repellent spray to prevent anymore annoying bites. That is the beauty of God’s saving grace. And that is what will lead us to true repentance.
Next, we will tackle the second R to Repentance: Remorse.
I would love to hear your reply to the following question below!
What are some other things that block people from realizing their sin?
Lots of ❤️,
Again. I did it again. I. Messed. Up. It happens literally all the time, every day, many times a day,--I mess up. One day I’ll hurt someone’s feelings, one day I’ll say something I shouldn’t have said, and the next day I’ll lie… And I’m sure you know how it feels like. And at some point, I just got so sick and tired of this endless cycle of messing up that I asked myself, “What is so wrong with me? I thought I confessed my sins, became a Christian, then gained a new identity in Christ… aren’t I supposed to have turned from my sins? Why do I keep messing up? Am I not a Christian anymore? Why am I not changing?” That word used so frequently by preachers from pulpits and appears in the Bible more than 100 times—“Repent”—and also the word that many of us don’t understand at all—I wanted to understand it. What does it mean to truly repent? In my personal search for the answer, I went to God, intensely searched my heart, asked myself questions, and viewed many sermons and articles about genuine repentance (more than I can count!). I have learned so many convicting lessons about the heart of true repentance, which I want to share with all of you. This is the introduction to a 3-part series I’ll be working on called “The 4 R’s to True Repentance.” It’s about four biblical steps we need to take to truly change our hearts and get out of the guilt cycle. Plus, they’re really easy to remember!
The 4 R’s to True Repentance:
I’ll be going through them in the next few articles, so stay tuned!
But for today...
What is repentance?
Repentance is simply a change of heart and mind that results in a changed life. This change begins in the core of your being, the root of all your behaviors: your heart. Repentance is a radical renewing of your heart and mind because in order for your behaviors to change, the root cause of all your behaviors must change. The Bible tells us this in the following passages:
Proverbs 4:23- “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (ESV).
Ezekiel 16:30- “’How sick is your heart,’ declares the Lord God, because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute,” (ESV).
Luke 6:45- “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (ESV).
Your desires in your heart influence all your thoughts, therefore, influencing your actions. A weak, unstable tree grows from weak roots, and a strong, firm tree grows from deep, strong roots. Psalm 51 is often taken as the prime example of true repentance for Christians, wherein King David repents of his sin of committing adultery with Bathsheba before the Lord. Try reading through Psalm 51 now and then continue reading this article.
Are you back? Well, did you notice there was not a word about adultery, murder, or lying in the entire confession? Not. A. Word. And those were the sins David committed! Why didn’t he talk about the issues themselves? Maybe because they were not the real issues to begin with. It doesn’t begin with adultery, murder, or lying, but it began with his heart of lust. And David recognized he needed to change his heart, saying, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 ESV) To repent, we need to renew our hearts. How? We’ll discover how in the next few months!
What repentance is not.
#1 Repentance is not about trying to turn away from a sin or trying to read your Bible every day or trying to do anything for that matter! It is not you making your own effort to accomplish something that you think will cleanse you. Repentance is realizing you are weak and helpless and throwing yourself on God and fully depending on His saving grace to support you, recognizing that you are not even capable of avoiding sin by your own effort. It is turning from self-worth and ability. It is letting go and saying, “I can’t do it!” Jesus came to save the broken-hearted, not those who can “perfectly” repent or have all the steps right toward being a “good” Christian.
“Jesus answered, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’” – Luke 5:31-32
I’ve gone through seasons of radical change where I was so determined to turn over a new leaf, but soon enough, because the root issue was never dealt with, the old habit just came back, like a weed. If you just snip a weed at its stem and leave its root under the soil, it’s just going to come back up, again and again, no matter how much effort and time you spend snipping that stem, that root is still there. All your snipping will make no difference unless you turn to God to rip that root out of the ground and replace it with a strong root firmly established in Christ’s truth and grace. Recognize you are helpless, and you need Him to help change you from the inside out.
#2 Repentance is not a one-time thing. You do not become perfect and skip all the disappointments and temptations just because you said that sinner’s prayer when you were six. Repentance is a process that continues on till the day you die. It is a constant attitude of confessing our sins and trusting that God will forgive us.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
I look forward to continuing this series, and I would love to hear from you all below! Have you ever struggled with understanding repentance? What do you think true repentance looks like?
Lots of ❤️,
Today, I’m posting something that I have never ever written before in my entire life. It’s different. It’s simple. It’s rare. And it is so meaningful. Not many people do this as far as I know of, but I have been personally surprised and significantly impacted by how effective and profound this type of writing has been in my personal soul-searching, reflections, and meditative prayers. Here’s what it is and the underrated importance of it:
Introducing “self-talk,” where you write a letter to yourself about your struggles, prevailing thoughts, things happening in life, or anything really.
And no, this isn’t any of that “I AM STRONG,” “I AM PERFECT,” “I AM SO BEAUTIFUL” sort of talk you do in front of the mirror in an effort to boost your “self-esteem.” This is an authentic, biblical way to pour your heart before God. I didn’t draw this idea from a random blog or social media movement out there, but this came about in the spur of the moment—a sudden, unexpected inspiration from the Holy Spirit. After writing it, I realized that this is the exact same type of writing David used in the Psalms, when he poured out his heart before God, crying out “why are you downcast, O my soul?” (Ps. 43:5) and in many other personal prayers in the Psalms. This is such a biblical form of praying and is so nourishing, especially when going through hard times. Believe me.
I wrote this self-talk prayer below, my first and only self-talk piece so far, during a worship service in my church last week, when I suddenly got a prompting to scribble down words that nonstop started running through my mind. It was hard to fight back the tears. This prayer is very personal and dear to me, as it describes a hard time I’ve recently went through and still am going through. I sincerely hope that this will possibly connect with you and touch you, even in the slightest possible way. For too long, I haven’t opened up my heart and thoughts to God. I’ve hidden them away, shoving God into a closed-off compartment in my heart. This has helped me so much in breaking down those walls I’ve built around God in my heart. If only one word is relevant to an issue you’ve been going through or some spiritual thoughts you’ve been pondering on, my goal would be more than achieved. Here we go:
I know you feel uneasy and worried because you don’t know what will come next around the bend of this long… long… road—the highway of life. How could you? But God could. God does. And God will guide you. God will be your traffic light. You just got to look up and follow His light. Green. Red. Yellow. It’s as straightforward as that. Follow His signal. And yet, it will be hard, and sometimes, it may seem like there’s a blanket of fog blocking your view as you trudge down that highway—a fog so thick you feel you can’t catch a glance of that traffic light or the path ahead. You can’t make out green, red, or yellow. Sometimes, there could be bumps, holes, cracks in the road, and you will trip… fall… bleed… hurt. And you struggle to even look up at the light, because you can’t think of a reason why it would be of any help to you now, as you descend deeper and deeper into your confusion.
Sometimes, you bump into other travelers, those who seem like kindred spirits—acquaintances turned friends… turned suspicious… turned traitors… turned strangers… and maybe, even turned enemies. You will feel like the friendly hand that once shook your hand, held your hand, caressed your hand has grabbed a dagger of jealousy and manipulation, stabbing you in the heart, right through you from the back—from the back, so you could never have seen it coming. And the shock, surprise, jolting sting of pain rips you apart even more. It unnerves you. And you fall again. And the world turns dark. The road turns dark, so dark you can’t see ahead.
You can’t see the days, months, years, decades ahead. You see nothing—nothing but a glowing light that can’t help but stand out in the piercing darkness: the traffic light. Over these years, well more like months (you aren’t that old), you’ve realized that sometimes, many a time, the whole world has to go dark, and all your petty, worldly joys have to be distinguished like itty-bitty flames on candles you’ve clung onto for far too long. So long, you had lost sight of the greatest light: the traffic light—as you’ve been absorbed, enraptured, taken in by this delusional, seductive flame on the little candle, so fleeting, so easily put out, but so… tempting… and addictive.
That is when a force of wind, so strong, blows it out, knocking the candle out of your trembling hands, and with it, all that seemed worth living for. But then, you blink your eyes, filled with tears—tears of pain and remorse, but also the tears that clear your vision—your vision so fogged up by the temptations and alluring pleasures of the world—now soaked and rinsed by tears of loss, you see clearly the beacon of hope before you that has been there all along… waiting for you, preparing you, loving you, breaking you, and molding… YOU: the traffic light. Oh, that dazzling, overpowering light. And now, under its bright rays, the world seems so clear. You feel stuck—so elated by the light that has shone on your life and given it a lasting meaning, unlike the fleeting fulfillment of the itty-bitty flames. But at the same time, you can’t help but still feel the pain because deep in your memory, buried deep, deep, deep somewhere is the flame—the flame you once loved, the fleeting joy, the “friend,” or “fulfilling pleasure” that had once given you meaning. But guess what? God HAD to blow that out. If He hadn’t, that flame would’ve become your whole world, capturing your soul along with it. You would be consumed in the flame of counterfeit bliss.
Green. Red. Yellow. Follow the light. At times, it may seem like you are following blindly. But you do NOT see what’s around the bend.
In the prayer, I used a great deal of analogies (it was basically, entirely a metaphor), so I thought I would further explain what each analogy meant in “practical terms” to make this more meaningful:
Fog = How we may be confused and caught up in the mundanity and responsibilities of life. Many times, being busy really clouds our spiritual life, making it harder to seek God’s direction because it seems like we never have the time to pick up our Bible, meditate on God’s Word, or talk to Him in prayer. This is one of the biggest challenges in the bustling 21st century! Our seeking of God’s will may also be clouded by doubt concerning the validity and importance of God’s truth.
Bumps on the road = the really hard times in life, like losing a loved one, getting fired on a job, or even receiving a really bad grade. In times when we are desperately grieved or stressed, we tend to just curl up in our own mental palace, looking for comfort in ourselves or things we achieve, rather than looking up to God. He is the number one person we should turn to in difficult situations.
"The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble."
Fellow travelers = Friends who betray you and people who hurt you. I personally have experienced having friends like these, and recovering from the pain of betrayal is real. One day, you’re friends, and the next day, you hear that they’ve been spreading lies about you behind your back. It’s easy to hate them and try to get back at them, but it’s hard to handle it wisely. I wrote this section, seeking for God’s direction on how to heal such wounds and do the right thing in this situation.
Flame = anything you base your identity or happiness on, basically your idol, the thing that fulfills you and keeps you going in life, and your motivation to wake up every day. The problem of misplaced identity in the pursuit of happiness is probably the MAJOREST (okay, that isn’t a word but you get my point) problem in the world today. Gosh, it’s the reason for the biggest issues like suicide, drugs, addiction, self-harm, eating disorders, peer pressure, you name it. ALL OF US WANT TO BE LOVED. All of us want acceptance. And if we don’t look for it in the right place, we will look for it in the wrong places. Just like the flame, things like friends, romance, popularity, or beauty are all as fleeting as a weak, dandelion waving in the strong wind, about to torn from its roots any moment. These “flames” will all disappear one day. They will leave us disappointed… empty… and hurt. Maybe, you already know what that feels like. At the end of the day, only GOD will stand. He lasts forever. His truth lasts forever. His arms are open to you FOREVER.
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:23-25
I challenge YOU today. Write your own self-talk. God cares about everything going on in your life. He yearns to hear from YOU. Speak to Him. It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t need to have analogies. Just short, simple, and sincere. Pour out your heart to him, just like David did. I encourage you. Get writing! You can even speak your thoughts aloud. God always hears you, even when others don’t. You won’t regret it.
Any thoughts or reflections about the prayer? What do YOU think about the concept of "self-talk"? I’d love to hear from you below!!
Lots of ❤️,
A true friend will always hurt. Yes, always. And that’s just the surface of it.
Shock, realization, and pain—those three emotions surged through me as I heard the truth spoken right to my face.
And the truth hurts.
Paralyzed, I strained to listen as my mother and sister confronted me about how my selfish and haughty attitude had affected so many people around me and had taken over what I said, thought, and did. Deep down, somewhere within me, I knew they said these painful words because they cared, but that didn’t stop it from hurting.
Most of us might’ve heard of the “wounds of a friend” mentioned in Proverbs 27:6, which tells us, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” However, many of us fail to look at this verse and ask ourselves a question, one that has driven mankind insane for centuries:
What is love?
Love is not being nice. Love isn’t attention-seeking. Love is found in the truth.
Whoa… I just dished out three culture-clashing, unconventional statements… But let’s just take a step back and think about what they really mean.
Have you ever heard of stories in which the villain does something seemingly benevolent for someone else just to get something out of it? To me, the ideal example of such a diabolical villain is none other than Hans in Disney’s Frozen! Was he “nice” to Anna? Geez, yeah! Just to turn around and use her trust in him to stab her in the back!
Would you look at that change... Who would've known his eyebrows could make him look so evil??🤨
This overly commercialized movie illustrates one crucial point: we can do something nice without feeling any love for whomever we’re doing it for.
We live in a culture that thinks being nice is love. Many times this causes people to misinterpret actions, categorizing people who do nice things but for their own benefit (kisses of an enemy) as loving and accepting, and people who don't constantly flatter others but genuinely share the truth and advice (wounds of a friend) as judgmental or harsh. Confusing world, right? If so many people are faking it and trying to put on a nice façade, then what is showing true love?
When we love, we desire God’s will for the other person, not for us to gain acceptance. Despite how much we want others to think we're nice and good friends, we can ask God to help us show compassion as a result of a changed heart that has truly experienced God’s love. When we love to get something back, even acceptance, to think of it, that isn't true love anymore. God's love gives. Unlike our type of love, it doesn't seek to gain and take.
Returning to the subject of being “nice,” it might be considered “nice” to let someone have what they’ve always wanted; therefore, gaining their favor, but is that always the most loving thing? What if a friend or family member wants to date someone whom you know will just lead him or her downhill? Are we going to go along with Hollywood and say, “follow your heart?”
Love is not attention-seeking but seeks the best for the other person. SO many times, we love so that we feel that WE are extremely lovable and admirable. Where is our focus? I've fallen into this trap so many times. Reaching out to others so that I would appear as the "selfless, righteous" one. But I've realized that if I truly reached out to someone because I loved them, I wouldn't constantly think things like: "Does he or she like me?" "Do they think I'm kind enough?" "Do they like being with me?" I've caught myself focusing on myself many times, and talked it out with my parents and God. I really hope to focus more on others when interacting with people!
John 8:32 says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Don’t you want your friends to be free? Free from the bondage of the world’s lies and their misconceptions? We should make it clear to them that we are telling them the truth because we truly care about them. Remain humble and listen to their side of the story. But so many times we find it extremely hard to tell our friends the truth, and we think we can’t bring ourselves to because we love that friend too much! Wait. Let’s examine our hearts. Is what we’re really afraid of the hurt we will feel when telling our friend the truth? We might be stopping ourselves from telling the truth that would help our friends, in fear of feeling the pain ourselves. We humans really have a knack sometimes for disguising selfish feelings as “good intentions.”
Whatever the case, remember this: All our actions should point others to God and His amazing love because no matter how much we try to love, the only person who can love perfectly is God.
So, let’s put away that façade. It’s hard. It hurts.
But it’s worth-it to be real.
I would love for all of you to respond to one OR both of the following questions in the comments below! Let’s spark some fruitful discussion!
1. What is one way you can show genuine love to and not just do nice things for a friend?
2. What is one thing you think you need to change in your heart concerning how you interact with your friends?
Lots of ❤️,
There are so many things we don't understand about our faith, even if we're Christians— things like God's sovereignty, how he created the intricate and magnificent beauty of the universe, and difficult spiritual concepts. However, one of the hardest things ever to grasp in the Christian faith are emotional issues. Have you ever noticed? Most people may seem like they oppose Christianity because it doesn't seem rational or intellectually compatible or whatnot, but actually at the root of it, many a time, they have a deeper reason for rejecting it, such as, "why do bad things happen to good people?" And most of the time, the things we struggle with are emotional, like, "how do I love God?" or "how do I submit my will wholly to God?" or...
"How do I forgive?"
In the story of Joseph, we learn about forgiving by offering hope and encouragement, like how Joseph told his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” (Gen. 45:4). And at the same time, he did not minimize his brothers’ sin but admitted that that they meant it for evil, admitting that what they had done was sinful. Forgiveness, you see, does not seek to minimize sin, but it does include giving hope and encouragement. Today, we will look at exact, practical principles we should take note of when trying to forgive someone. I like to call it forgiving "Promptly, Privately, and Permanently!" (Am I the only one who hears a ring to it? Haha!)
Here they are:
1. Promptly forgive
A mark of true, godly forgiveness is granting it quickly. In Chapter 45 of Genesis, Joseph says, "Come near to me!" almost IMMEDIATELY after he reveals his identity! Forgiving quickly reveals the purity of heart and the fact that we are not holding on to any more bitterness or hatred by hesitating! God did NOT hesitate to sacrifice his very own Son for the sin WE committed! Jesus did NOT hesitate to say, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34). So, let us PROMPTLY forgive!
2. Privately forgive
We saw this in Genesis 45:1 when Joseph sent away the Egyptians in the household before he revealed himself and forgave his brothers. He did so as not to shame his brothers because despite their attempt to even kill and then sell him, he still cared for them. There is an inspiring WISDOM in Joseph's decision. Proverbs 10:12 says, "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions." (Prov. 10:12). Declaring your forgiveness publicly may just stir up more hurts and bitter feelings, as the other person may feel scarred, taken advantage of, and vulnerable. Also, Matthew 18:15 tells us, "And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother." Let us be prudent and discreet by forgiving PRIVATELY!
3. Permanently forgive
Real,unconditional forgiveness is NOT circumstantial, wavering, and ever-changing. It is PERMANENT. There is no time limit for forgiveness and neither does it depend on the person's current treatment of us. In Genesis 50, Joseph's brothers were afraid that he would terminate his forgiveness as a result of their father's death. However, Joseph STRONGLY REASSURES them of his unconditional, unending forgiveness, saying, "'Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.' Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them." (Gen. 50:19-21).
Wow. I am amazed at the intensity of unfailing love Joseph was able to show his brothers, showing them that he did not forgive them because of their father but out of the true kindness of his heart. I pray that we will be able to forgive just like Joseph did--just like JESUS did. The essence of forgiveness is not thinking about ourselves, but thinking about GOD's sovereign plan in the grand scheme of things and caring for the offender. Notice that Jesus added, "for they do not know what they are doing." He wasn't even thinking about Himself as He hung there, hands getting ripped apart slowly but excruciatingly with the nails and his chest not being able to heave upwards and his lungs struggling to take just one breath. He was thinking about US—making an excuse for US. Wow, if only God would give us the STRENGTH to forgive in such a powerful way. If Jesus could forgive us unconditionally, by HIS GRACE AND GUIDANCE, we can too.
Lots of ❤️,