“My past reminds me of grace it doesn’t define me with shame.” – Anonymouse Quote
I know a man, a Christian man, who’s been a preacher since his late teenage years. He grew up in church, read the Bible, and publicly lived according to Biblical principles. I say “publicly,” not as a judgment, but because of his own confessions. After high school, he enlisted in the military as a Chaplain. Once retired from the military, he worked at a Chaplain for his State’s Department of Corrections. His life was preaching. He also did weddings, funerals, and taught groups in prison settings.
His story, as told to me, is paraphrased below:
I married a good woman, a Christian woman. Somewhere during the pregnancy of our second child, I began running around on my wife. Women loved a good Christian man, and a preacher man…the women loved us. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I did what I wanted to do. I ran around on my wife with women in the church; the same church I was preaching in. I didn’t think, or care, if others knew because I knew I wouldn’t be held accountable for my actions. I was a preacher. Who would judge me? At least to my face.
I was 70 to 80 percent to blame for the failure of all my marriages. My first marriage, I was 100% to blame. Not only did I mistreat my wife, I didn’t support my two children by her. She had to contact my Unit Commander in order for child support to be taken out of my paycheck. That’s what she should have done. I was responsible for my kids and I wasn’t supporting them. I’m glad she did that. I needed to be held accountable. It showed me something about myself, and yet I still didn’t change. I knew, though, I didn’t want anymore children. It was easier to not have anymore than to be held accountable for them. I knew I was wrong.
My children tried reaching me when they got older. I didn’t respond. I was afraid of how they would act toward me. I didn’t realize they didn’t have any ill will toward me. They simply wanted to know who their father was. At this point, I was finishing my military career, had been in several marriages, and I didn’t know what I’d say to them. It was easier to stay away. I didn’t know I continued hurting them. They were adults, but they were still my children and they wanted to know me. The man who was a part of their DNA. The preacher who’d mistreated their mother. The father who wasn’t there for them, ever. I was ashamed. It was easier to not face that shame. It was easier to not face them.
My fifth wife, she displayed some negative behaviors, some mental health symptoms. Things I didn’t like. I loved her so what was I supposed to do except marry her. Our marriage isn’t perfect and it shouldn’t be. I did all of my wives wrong. I was preaching the Word and not living it. I still preach the Word. The difference now is that I see and accept my failings. I know God forgives; I’m not sure I ever asked for it. I feel the things I’m going through in my current marriage is because of all the wrong I put my previous wives through. I accept how my marriage is and I’m committed to not leave her. I deserve my life.
I was saddened to hear this man’s words. He honestly felt he deserved occasional misery because of his past life. Christians believe, preachers preach, the Bible speaks: God forgives. And, that God soothes the wounded heart. Yet, here was this preacher man believing he deserved to be discontented because of his past sins.
If God forgives us, why not forgive ourselves? Do we think God doesn’t really forgive? Do we think we deserve punishment for our past wrongdoings?
What are your thoughts on the above article? What do you think about God’s forgiveness? Is it easy to believe God forgives you? Is it difficult to forgive yourself? Why do you believe or feel what you do?
I look forward to reading your thoughts. As always, comments are welcome.
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