Photo: Again we Say Rejoice Photography
Author: Lynne Carter
We women may not boast the muscle strength of our male counterparts, but often we make up for it in the might of our words. Do you not agree that in the moment of fight or flight our mouths can hurl a word faster than a 98mph fastball over home-plate? Don’t we too often use our word-filled ammunition to strike-out our targets rather than pitch the ideal words for an out-of-the-park homerun? Yes, we’ve been gifted and tasked with the awesome ability to communicate, but are we aware enough of the difference our words or even one little word can make?
Perhaps there’s been that proud or regretful moment in your life when you’ve thrown out just the right words to take your offending opponent totally down. No doubt, you struck ‘em completely out and racked-up one awesome point for “team me”. However, although stunned, “team they” miraculously brushes themselves off and returns to the plate. Whattya do? Well, since you are a fine Christian woman, you decide to take the high road and pitch out some slow and easy words of forgiveness. Yes, you’ve certainly made your point to “team they”-no need to make yourself look bad. But just as your gently tossed words hum across the plate and “team they” is about to swing for the bleachers, “team me” throws out a quick little “but” to make sure it’s clear that this particular game is not quite ready to be over. Indeed, there it is, the ever powerful word “but”. The spit on your fastball. The foul to the potential homerun.
Yes, we women are all too aware of our butts, but are we completely aware of our “buts”? “Yes, I’ll volunteer for the blah, blah, blah, BUT you need to realize what a sacrifice it will be for me.” “Yes, I can donate to blah, blah, blah, BUT don’t count on me to give my money away every time you ask.” “Of course I’ll come to your important event, BUT you realize that obligates you to do whatever I ask of you next time.” Whether the “but” is verbalized or not, it maintains the power to counteract one’s acts of love and generosity, and in its place ties us to stipulations and conditions.
If you ever want to utterly defuse the power of the word forgive, just put the word “but” in close proximity to it and it is rendered feeble. “I forgive you, BUT you better not do it again.” “I forgive you, BUT you have no idea how much you hurt me.” “I forgive you, BUT if I ever catch you doing it again…blah, blah, blah.” However valid, one’s forgiveness needs to be offered at full strength and without the draining power of the menacing “but”.
As believers in Jesus we are offered full pardons and complete forgiveness without the diluting power of the “but”. If Jesus were merely human, he would drown in pure exhaustion of trying to keep up with offers of forgiveness contingent on his demands. But because Jesus is Godly he offers forgiveness out of pure love. No strings, no stipulations, no conditions, no contingencies-just pure forgiveness. In Revelation 22:17 the Spirit says, “Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life”. We are offered a 100% free gift of love and forgiveness. As difficult as it can be to in turn offer this same gift of 100% free forgiveness to others, it can be even more difficult to accept and claim this overwhelming gift for ourselves.
Undeserving and undeniably stained, it’s hard to fathom that Jesus could love us enough to “wash us white as snow”. To be unblemished in His eyes when through our own vision we are pocked and marred is unimaginable. We practically beg for a “but” just so we can somehow earn our worthiness. BUT, no “but” will ever stand in the way of Jesus’ call on your life. He asks only for acceptance. “I know Jesus says he forgives, BUT I don’t think you understand how big my sin is.” “Jesus forgives, BUT I haven’t been to church in years.” “Jesus may forgive people, BUT he doesn’t have any reason to forgive someone like me.” Again, the intrusive “but” attempts to steal the life-changing power of Jesus’ love and forgiveness, and again you are asked only to believe that Jesus is more powerful than the “but”.
Change your life. Fully forgive and accept full forgiveness. Unburden yourself from unforgiveness because Jesus is big enough and loving enough to rise above any “buts” you put before Him. You’ve been gifted with a clean slate. Enjoy your freedom! Jesus has paid the price for you. No ifs, ands and especially no buts!
Lynne Carter is the mother of four with two still in college. She is currently in the final chapters of her great American novel. When not writing she can be found walking on the greenway or at her favorite antique stores. Her favorite Bible stories are those of God’s unending grace, and she hopes her own writing can instill that same message.