Caterpillar or Butterfly?

You see that picture there?  That is a picture of me when I was 21 years old holding my sweet baby Casey, Young Me and Little Her. You see that clock on the wall? That is time ticking away.  You see that butterfly floating under the clock?  That is hope for release and peace.

No one is perfect, not mommas or children.  Children certainly don't come with instruction manuals, and there certainly isn't a competency test to have kids.  I was such an idiot when I was 21.  I could have used an instruction manual, but alas there wasn't one wrapped up with my first bundle of joy.  I made a lot of mistakes.  So many, in fact, I heard accusations of "BAD MOM" in my head like a broken record.  Ever had a lie like that happen to you, then hold onto it like it was the truth? 

Those two little words could make me lose my joy in a heartbeat.  I would hear them then hold back from my children afraid to make another mistake.  I would hold fast to the lie that wouldn't die and kept me attached to this broke-down, defeated, idiotic Young Me person.

I practiced those unforgiving words until the day I met someone.  Someone who showed me how to set those words aside, to forgive myself and move on.   Despite my stupidity and brokenness, he told me "I love you and you are precious to me." Hearing that was like pouring water on a sun scorched Georgia field.  My heart just licked it up and wanted more.  He loved me so much that he died for me.  No one ever had loved me like that.

Fast forward 21 years to today, just fifteen days to Little Her's birthday.  I was praying for her, for me, for anyone who came to mind.  I was meditating on the Our Father.  You know the part in the prayer that says: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."  As I said it, I focused in on a little card with these words printed on it:

"Jesus breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.' " John 20:22-23 (American Standard)

What jumped out at me was the word retain.  According to this word can mean (1):

  1. to keep possession of.
  2. to continue to use, practice, etc.: to retain an old custom.
  3. to continue to hold or have: to retain a prisoner in custody; cloth that retains its color.
  4. to keep in mind; remember.
  5. to hold in place or position.
You can trace its roots to the Latin word retinere which means to hold back, to hold fast, or keep (another)attached to one's person, keep in service(2).

How many of us keep possession of a hurt someone has inflicted on us or we have inflicted on ourselves?  Do we continue to club to ourselves or others for said offense?  Have we retained that person or ourselves in a prison, never to be paroled?  How often do we remember the issue and give it a place holder in our minds?  How many of us remain attached to the lies of our youth because of a heart of unforgiveness?
Always holding back, holding fast to the negative, and never moving forward.

Throughout the day, all I could picture was Jesus' ravaged body hanging from the cross.  He didn't hold onto a single mistake anyone of us made.  The pound of flesh we owed taken out of his body in lieu of ours.  Instead of seeking retribution and repayment from us, he said, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do."  (Luke 23:33-35 NIV)  If he forgave us, who are we not to?

Well, it's time.  It's time for Adult You to take Young You to that person you can't forgive.  Maybe it is someone who bullied you when you were little.  Maybe it is someone who took away your innocence.  Maybe it's just a short trip to the bathroom mirror.  It's time for the two of you to look the people or person who hurt you in the eye and say, "I. FORGIVE. YOU. You didn't know what you were doing, but I forgive you anyway."

You aren't getting any younger. Time is still ticking. Jesus has given us peace and freedom. Why waste another minute being a hairy caterpillar when you can float like a butterfly?

Chew on this:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
(John 14:27 NIV)

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.(John 8:36 NIV)

Listen to the words of these songs:

1) retain. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: April 26, 2012).

2) retain. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. (accessed: April 26, 2012).


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