Last summer, I attended the She Speaks Conference sponsored by Proverbs 31 in Charlotte, North Carolina. I could spend the rest of the week talking about the incredible women I was privileged to meet during those three short days.

One in particular was Tracie Stier-Johnson. While I didn’t spend a ton of time with her, I spent enough to know she and I . . . We kindred spirits.

When you have walked through some hard stuff, your fellow-survivor meter sounds when you meet another with similar experiences. My fellow-survivor meter went-off when I met Tracie.

She’s the real deal, friends. And she didn’t get that way by walking down Easy Street. I adore her and I adore her writing.

While we discussed conflict last week, this week we will focus upon forgiveness. The two sorta go together, eh?

OH – and can I tell you how much I LOVE her new book, 31 Days of Forgiveness? It’s one of my favorites. I gave five away here a while back and I just bought five more copies to pass out to people in my life who are struggling with forgiveness. I love it that much. The best $6.47 I’ve ever spent.

Will you join me in welcoming Tracie Stier-Johnson today?

With Easter weekend behind us, I can’t help but feel the heavy conviction of any unforgiveness lingering in my own heart.

You see, it wasn’t nails holding Jesus on that cross … it was love.

And forgiveness flows from love. Jesus loved us enough to hang there until death. So we could live forgiven.

Love is a sacrifice.

Forgiveness is a sacrifice.

God sent His Son to die for our forgiveness — so we could live in freedom. While doing so, He also sent a very important model for us.

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. Matthew 6:14 NLT

I believe many of us have the concept of forgiveness all wrong. We tend to think if we forgive someone we’re letting them off the hook. By forgiving them, we’re basically telling them what they did was okay, and we think they’ll be “getting away with it.”

I’m here to tell you–this way of thinking is all wrong! Friends, I know from a deep and difficult personal experience, unforgiveness burdens and hinders your quality of life. But when you finally let go of the stronghold of unforgiveness, an amazing thing happens in your life.

YOU live free!

Does it take sacrifice? Yes, absolutely … a lot of sacrifice! We’ve been hurt, lied to, betrayed, and the list goes on. Our human flesh wants to hold on to all the wrong that’s been done to us. Sometimes it takes a lot of sacrifice to let go of the pain and the control we THINK we have over the other person and situation.

Wanna know a secret? We aren’t actually controlling anything!

In fact the reverse it true … unforgiveness is an ugly stronghold in our lives. It festers, it grows, and IT controls us.

But Jesus.

Jesus died to take it–all the pain–from us. Jesus died so we could live free and unburdened. When we hold onto unforgiveness we’re basically taking this beautiful gift from our creator and telling Him it’s not good enough.

No thank you. I’m doing things my way.

Dangerous. Very dangerous ground right there.

Friends, forGIVEness is a gift you give yourself. A gift we have the freedom to give ourselves because Christ loved us enough to sacrifice His life for our forgiveness.

If we believe this core gospel truth, shouldn’t we be sharing this truth with others in the way we live, love, and forgive?

If you’re struggling with any forgiveness issues in your life, I’d love to share my newest resource with you, 31 Days of Forgiveness. This book was written from the depths of a difficult and painful experience. One requiring more forgiveness than my human heart was able to offer … but Jesus … Jesus took my heart and loved through it.

He has a way of doing beautiful things like that, doesn’t He?

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