I was going to break this into a two part series but now it will be three. God has put a lot on my heart tonight to share and the 4th stumbling block is a tough one………
4. Forgiveness keeps us from a closer walk with God.
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25-26
God stresses the importance of forgiveness as a subject 108 times. I think God is trying to tell us something! I have no great insight to add to forgiveness as it has been preached on many times. However, this is where my story, our story-mine and Lee’s, can be an example of what forgiveness does in your life. Here goes………
If it were not for forgiveness, I would not be living God’s will for my life. The mix of Lee’s alcoholism and my immaturity caused great strife in our relationship. When I left him in 2000, it was the hardest decision of my life because I knew this was the man God had created for me. However, he had made so many bad decisions and done so many things to hurt me emotionally, mentally and physically in the last few months of our relationship I had to make a choice that was right for me and my children. I said a prayer, called my dad and left.
When I left I was pregnant with bronchitis and a double ear infection. My anger and bitterness for things that had been said and done made me say things and do things I wholeheartedly regret. Three times Lee tried to reconcile with me and three times I was too stubborn to forgive him. I knew the drinking would not end and my immaturity of having everything handed to me from childhood through my relationship with Lee would not allow me to forgive. Pride got in my way, pride got in our way.
I knew this man loved me like no other however I also knew he had tried several times to stop drinking and couldn’t. So Lee left my parent’s house one afternoon and I called the police knowing he had been drinking. I sent the one man who loved me more than anything. The one man who truly, madly, deeply loved me and my children and I sent him to prison for 3 years with that one phone call. That was and always will be my biggest regret in this life.
Lee struggled after I did that to him. Eight months later our son born. He again tried from the jail to call me and talk to me about our son. I still would not listen. I was too hurt from our rocky end and embarrassed at the same time. Pride got in the way so I told him to leave me and my son alone. I would do it by myself. I regretted that comment the moment I made it. Lee thought I hated him with that one comment. He thought I wanted no part of him but in all honesty, I didn’t just want him, I needed him. I had just had our son.
Lee and I can both relive the night he was created in detail. It was one of the few nights Lee was sober. It was a rare moment in our relationship in our last few months together-his soberness. Every time I looked at that little boy I saw his father. My girls were all me and this one child from the one man I thought I wanted nothing to do with anymore was a living reminder not only in looks but actions and deeds of his father. He was the good parts of Lee. A loving, extremely intelligent, kind-hearted little boy who would protect his loved ones to the death.
For 13 years, Lee and my son, MacKenzie, never knew one another. However, God always kept Lee in front of me through our son. He is his father’s mini me. Same mannerisms. Same face. Same brain. It is scary to think of how similar these two human beings are-twin like almost. Sometimes it annoyed me to the point of anger but one night in the hospital with a woman I wish I still knew changed my life!
I came to the Lord in 2001 at Children’s Hospital of Dallas when my daughter had a shunt malfunction. I was at my wit’s end. I had a newborn child, and a 5th grader at home with my 5 year old in the hospital. I never felt so alone until this woman who was in the room next to me visited me. She told me about Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him. I thought she was crazy. I was raised Catholic and in light of recent events in my life I had let God go. I had given up on God and me doing anything together. But after a long heart to heart conversation I came to the Lord and surrendered my life to Him. I let go of the anger, bitterness and resentment and forgave Lee. After all, I loved this man enough to create a handsome young man with him. I chose him as my partner. How can I loathe the man who gave me such a precious gift?
I felt the weight of the world lifted from my shoulders. I began attending Fellowship Church in Grapevine with Ed Young. It was a great church. They had a Special Needs program and a Single Parent’s prorgram and one of the greatest women’s ministries in DFW. I became a small group leader for the Single Parent’s ministry. I met with some great parent’s of special needs children and I met some life long friends. It was an awesome experience to attend church there.
After five years of being a single mom, I began dating again. There was never a man who could live up to what I wanted and there was always something missing. They all fell short. There was always some kind of strife. Now I look back and realize that what I wanted was Lee.
While I was working on all that, Lee was living a rough life of alcoholism and drugs. He let them take over his life. He was in and out of prison three times. His last stay in prison began in 2009. That is when he turned his life over to God and truly left the alcohol and drugs behind. In 2010 he led the prison ministry at every prison he was transferred to and studied to receive his Master’s of Divinity. He is now working on his PhD in Christian Counseling.
It is hard for me to know that the man I loved and the father of my son lived this rough life. Lee is a well rounded, educated, cultured man who drove sales for many corporations. If there was an award, he won it. We had a very nice extremely blessed life. To know he had fallen and fallen hard is not easy for me to imagine. To know I wasn’t there to help him saddens me even more.
Even at our worst, I never hated Lee. He was always “the one”. However, until God broke the strongholds of alcoholism we were not going to work. Until I grew up and became the woman God intended me to be, we were not going to work. I will not sit here and tell you I was perfect and he was all wrong. I made mistakes and I have owned up to them. Lee and I have 11 years between us-that made for some difficult times all those years ago.
About three months before Lee came back into our lives in 2014, God had put him on my heart. It was a long day of work and I was winding down. I jumped on Facebook to check on my children’s pages and message an old friend who had messaged me when it popped up. “People you may know” and Lee Colin’s picture was there. My heart sank.
I have always prayed for Lee from the moment I left. Some long prayers asking for specific things and others just a short “God be with Lee today”. Everyday for 14 years Lee was in my prayers. He is the father of my son; he had hurt me not my child. I wanted them to have a father/son relationship. My son was reaching an age where he needed his dad. But it was also one of those things that after 14 years I had given it up to God and said “it’s in your hands Lord”. I wanted him in my child’s life just did not know God had a different plan.
Today, after a lot of time talking and renewing our parenting relationship something else happened. We got to know each other again and fell in love again. However, in order for that to happen we both had to forgive one another for our transgressions. Not just say we are sorry but truly forgive one another for the things we had said and done to each other all those years ago—and we did!
Today we are engaged to be married this summer and our family has been put back together again. Since I am now living God’s will for me, I am happier and more blessed than I have ever been in my life. Lee is now a pastor and finishing up his schooling to be a Christian Counselor. I have moved to a job that requires less time and pays more money. My special needs daughter, Marissa, will hopefully get into a program at Texas A&M for special needs children and my son is an A/B honor student in the top 10% of his class. Fourteen years and a lot of forgiveness has changed our lives.
Life is awesome all because I forgave one man who had hurt me in a way I never thought could be repaired. God can fix anything but first you must give it to God and let it go!
What grudges are you harboring tonight? Who has hurt you that you need to forgive? What friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, doctors, nurses, church members, strangers, and loved ones are you harboring anger, bitterness or resent toward? LET IT GO! GIVE IT TO GOD!
Me, Lee and our family have not had an easy journey and 1700 words does not do it justice. There is so much more in those 14 years on both sides but hopefully this quick highlight reel helps you understand how forgiveness can change your life.
Verses to Guide you: Psalm 41:9-13; Isaiah 49:14-16; 2 Timothy 4:16-18, Romans 12:14-21; Luke 17:3-4
Goodnight and God Bless,
A Blessed Woman