A Blog by Jennifer Aulthouse

A heart for those who want more of God. A desperate plea for those who don't.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I heard someone say recently the words "I'll forgive her but I'm not going to have dinner with her or anything".

In actuality, we define forgiveness as the choice to repress the passionate feelings of pain and anger that have emerged due to what has happened to us at the hands of another.  It's the emotional response of agreeing to calmly co-exist with another only in ways that are necessary as life functions; to bury pain so it will stop interfering with what we're trying to do.  But if you transfer this definition to what happened for you at the Cross...

No wonder we're not chasing God with hearts aflame.

Maybe it's better defined as the willful decision to be expectantly open towards, with great hope and joy, the possibility of one day being in full trusting relationship again, because that other person is worth it to God.

I read "The Shack" recently.  I've been wanting to read it for awhile but just never got around to finding a copy of it until I happened to notice it sitting on a shelf in my church's library.  And one thing I've had a very hard time dealing with is entirely releasing the lives of my children into God's hands; and that means that He can use their lives for however He wants.  However.  That's a terrifying notion.  So when I saw the book there I knew it was time for me to read it.  I was being drawn into becoming part of this story, just for a little while, as if it were happening to me, because it deals with one of my greatest nightmares in regards to my kids.

I'm not here to give a book review...theological inconsistencies, questionable inferences, etc.  But the message of the story on the true meaning of forgiveness and relationship was absolutely penetrating to me, and I'm a step closer to making that leap because I've come to understand what He's asking of me in releasing my children:  He's not asking me to be "okay" with my worst nightmare happening...He's asking me to believe that no matter what happens - no matter what - that He is good, and He is worthy of my trust.  Everything, everything hinges on this, and I am to release everything that matters to me unto Him, resting solely on this paradigm.  It is enough.

Forgiveness is God's willful decision to be expectantly open towards, with great hope and joy, the possibility of one day being in full trusting relationship with me again, because I'm worth it to Him. Forgiveness has nothing to do with being "okay" with what that person did to you.  That is so, so the opposite message being given through the Cross.  It also has nothing to do with burying pain...the passion of the hurt and anger He felt was met full on.  When Jesus reappeared after His resurrection, He showed Thomas the marks in His wrists.  It didn't happen so He could calmly co-exist with me being in His world and then distantly move on...we're invited to dinner.  Read Revelation.

Here are some paraphrased quotes from "The Shack".  They've rocked my thinking in regards to relationship:

"Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved." 
"A child is protected because she is loved, not because she has a right to be protected."
"Rights are where survivors go, so that they won't have to work out relationships."
"Without wisdom, imagination is a cruel taskmaster."
"Walking on the water with Jesus seemed like the most natural way to cross a lake."
"Filling roles is the opposite of relationship."
"Love does not grow.  It is the knowing that grows, and love simply expands to contain it.  Love is just the skin of knowing."
"No one reaches their potential in this world.  It is only preparation for what God had in mind all along."
"The people who know Jesus are the ones who are free to live and love without an agenda."
"This world is not a playground where I keep all my children free from evil."
"Forgiveness...is the choice to limit the interference sin has in a relationship."
"Forgiveness does not establish relationship."
"If anything matters, then everything matters."