I’m so happy to share this guest post with you, from author Tracey Casciano. We all struggle with forgiveness that’s why I think that this week’s post is something we can all relate. A true story of light out of darkness.
One spring day I was sitting in church and the pastor started speaking about forgiveness. This immediately made me uncomfortable. You see, I had been estranged from my parents for over 16 years. I didn’t like our relationship, but no idea what to do.
As the pastor began speaking, I felt as though a spotlight was on me. Nothing else was in focus. The pastor was talking directly to me. He read out a Scripture passage:
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”
(Matthew 6:14 NLT)
I began to fidget and move around in my seat. After years of carrying my burden and hurt from a life with an alcoholic mother and sexually abusive father, I didn’t want to forgive them. I felt that would be letting them off too easily.As I wrestled with this for the next few days, I decided to talk to my pastor. I learned that by forgiving them, I wasn’t excusing their behaviour, I was freeing myself from the years of pain and guilt that I had held on to. So I wrote my parents a letter. Even though it sounded easy enough, I must have started, stopped, and reworded my letter thirty times. In the letter, I explained that my dad and my mum didn’t deserve my forgiveness, but that I was tired of suffering from their actions. I emphasized that I didn’t expect anything to change between us. I referenced the Bible and made it clear that the real reason I was choosing to forgive them was because I needed to put my past behind me.
I felt that the burden of my past was finally released. As days and weeks passed by, I never received a response from my letter to my parents. I am amazed by God’s knowledge that I needed to surrender to the message of forgiveness at that time, as just six months later my father died. I am humbled by my own obedience and am confident to this day that I made the right choice by sending the letter. I can’t imagine the potential result that I could have experienced from carrying unforgiveness any longer.God knew the exact time I needed to surrender to the message of forgiveness Click To Tweet
Little did I know that this journey to forgiveness would shape my future. I taught special education history classes at our local high school and had been for eight years when I received the call. It was from an unknown caller, who turned out to be God. His message was clear: I want you to write a book about your past.
My gut reaction was NO WAY. I was full of fear, doubt, and many excuses. I wasn’t a writer. I didn’t have time. My friends will think I’m crazy. I didn’t want people to know about the secrets that I’ve kept for so long. I tried my best to ignore the nagging feeling inside of me, but God wouldn’t allow me to. He made sure that I attended a writers’ conference and told other writers about my idea. He made sure that I received positive reinforcement. He got me a laptop. He helped me put the words on the screen.
This sounds like it was easy, but I really struggled. There were several times that I almost gave up. I was exhausted from working a full time job, running a household with four teenage boys and a busy husband. When I found the time, the last thing I wanted to do was re-read the portion of my life that I tried to avoid for so long! I prayed and asked God why He was asking me to do something that was so hard. I read this verse in the Bible from Psalm 37:5-6 (NLT)
Then it hit me. This wasn’t about me. It was about God. God was using me to help others. My job was to provide hope for the hurt and broken by sharing my story. Once I realized that, my attitude changed. I started having a new perspective on what was truly important.
I realized that in order for me to do this important task that God had given me, I needed to devote my entire attention to it. After eight years, I hung up my teacher hat and became a full time writer. Many of my friends were surprised and I was asked many questions when they found out that I was no longer teaching….
How come? So what are you doing now?
(At first I wasn’t sure how to respond….)
“Ummm….God called me to write a book, so I quit my job.”
Oh, what is your book about?
At first I worried that people would think I was crazy when I told them that I’m working part-time so that I could write a book about my horrible past and how I got over it.
Then I remembered…this isn’t about you. Once I reminded myself of that, I got over my insecurity and now I look forward to seeing old friends and telling them about this incredible journey that God has taken me on. And guess what? Everyone has been kind and encouraging!
So next time God tells you to jump, don’t worry about not having the time, money, or courage. Your response should be, “How high?”
MEET Tracey Casciano
Tracey Casciano has a background in education and was a history teacher for eight years in a public high school, where she was also the sponsor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. At her church, Tracey is the executive assistant to the pastor and volunteers as a leader for the youth group. She has been on two mission trips to Guatemala. She lives in Virginia with her husband and four sons.
Tracey is officially an author having had her book ‘Out of the Darkroom, into the Light’ recently published. You can find out more about her book and read an excerpt over on her website. Tracey also blogs at http://ephesians2v8.wordpress.com