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Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Martin Luther moment

Gearing up for the holidays has been something I've enjoyed since childhood. Unfortunately, growing up in the painful family I did, all my excitement usually ended with ugly family arguments or icy silence during and after the holiday.

This year is different. The family argument has already taken place before the holidays even started. But this time I’m different too. I laid appropriate boundaries and stuck with them even when my mother laid all the blame at my feet and said because of my boundaries she would not come visit and hung up on me.

Needless to say that was a hurtful conversation. But I took it to God and am still growing into all He’s show me through these circumstances. One of the first things He revealed was my “place” in my family of origin. I have, ever since I can remember, been the family “bad guy” and “scapegoat” because I tried to be the family counselor and no one wanted to hear what I had to say. I was the problem for saying we had a problem. When I became a Christian in my teens, I became even more of a “problem” because I had words to define the awful stuff that went on in my “everything looks good on the outside” family.

It took this year’s argument with my mother for me to face my role as the “bad guy” in my family. To see that I still believed her insults even though I pointed out what’s wrong in our family system and said I wouldn’t continue to walk that way.

But God had something different to say about who I am.

When I went to Him with all the hurt and all the painful things that were said, God took me to three different verses about blame. I’ve personalized them in my special Bible verse album (it’s a dollar store photo album) that I look through when I’m discouraged. It helps me remember the Truth.

The first verse was Ephesians 1:4: “For God chose Amy in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love…”

The next verse God showed me is one of my all-time favorites~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify Amy through and through. May Amy’s whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

At this point the truth started to seep into those wounded places in my heart and wash out some entrenched lies. I don’t have to “get blameless” or prove anything to my family. God is the one who makes me blameless and keeps me blameless in Him. And, not to be cold, but it doesn’t matter what my family thinks. What they say and how they treat me is on them, not for me to bear and live as though it’s true.

How I act is another story.

So I started talking to God about all the ways I’ve failed to be a godly example to my family and all the ways I’ve failed to honor and respect my parents. I started to see how I’ve tried to push harder and work faster to get blameless and make myself perfect to avoid the painful rejections from my family when I did mess up. Instead of resting in God’s perfection, I tried to get there on my own.

Big mistake.

But one that is like all others… paid for at the Cross.

When I started thinking about the Cross, that’s when my Martin Luther moment happened. Like Luther’s reading in Romans and realizing salvation is by faith alone and the amazing revelation of God being a God of grace and love, I had my “ah-ha” moment reading in 1 Peter 2:23-24.

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

All I could think over and over in my mind and heart was, “Jesus bore my sin. Jesus bore my sin. Jesus bore my sin.”

While I’m pretty sure I had a vague understanding of this at salvation some twenty years ago, the everyday truth I missed. But in reading those verses and talking about all my family stuff with God, He made it real to me. I don’t have to bear my sins. In fact, I can’t. Jesus already did.

Even if my family wants a perfect Amy who sees no wrong or else I’m insulted and punished verbally for my opinions, I don’t have to receive what they believe and play the family scapegoat role. Jesus bore my sins. And He left me an example to follow as well as the Holy Spirit’s power within me to do as Jesus did.

So this holiday season will be different for me in many ways. While I won’t see any of my birth family and that saddens me some, I also won’t be playing the old family role either. I’m stepping into a healthier place. One where I hope and pray my parents and siblings will choose to join me. I’m trying to invite them in little ways. But even if my family doesn’t respond, this truth and the healthier place it has produced in me is bearing fruit in my own family. I’m learning in action that I don’t have to be perfect to be loved, and neither do they. My husband and I and our precious princesses are being freed by this truth to enjoy each other and celebrate this holiday season with renewed hope.

We give thanks because Jesus came as a baby and grew into a man for the purpose of bearing the sins of the world on a tree.

My girls and I were talking about this a few days ago. About how the shadow of the cross was on the infant in the manger. What an amazing truth.

I pray I’ll remember each day that the shadow of the cross rests on me because the blood shed there paid for my sins. Totally. The only role I have is that of God’s Beloved Child. I don’t ever want to forget or fail to be moved by this simple truth…

Jesus bore my sins.


HeyJules said...

My girls and I were talking about this a few days ago. About how the shadow of the cross was on the infant in the manger. What an amazing truth.

Now that was the best line I've heard in a long, long time, Amy.

Once again...great post!

Amy Wallace said...


That was one of those lines that I typed and went, "Wow God, that was cool!" ;-) I love when He teaches me something through what appears when I type. All-God.

Thanks for letting me know it touched you too. That is the best encouragement you can give a writer. ;-)

By the way... I'm still waiting to hear about the two books with publishers. I'm guessing at this point it won't be until the new year, but please keep praying! I'll let you know as soon as I do.

Merry Christmas!

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