The Hardest Thing About Surrender Isn’t Laying It All Down—It’s Forgiving Yourself

I love it when other women share their personal stories of overcoming grief and pain and forgiveness. It’s like receiving a precious gift when you least expect it. When you stumble upon a story of hope in the midst of hopelessness, healing amidst the pain or love for the unlovable, it moves you.

I grab onto stories of life found in the desert, and bury them into my soul. In a world where brokenness, selfishness and evil turn up on every street corner, I am need of a present wrapped in sheer grace. To actually see and hear and listen to how salvation has sprung to life through the lives of others is so much more than a gift … it is living water.

Actually, Jesus says this same exact thing to another woman overcome by grief. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14, NIV).

The word ‘life’ that Jesus uses is actually ‘zoe’ in Greek. It is the element of life found in the spirit and soul. The Key Note Study Bible writes, “Zoe is a somewhat metaphysical term which denotes the vey life-force itself, the vital principle which animates living beings to breathe.”

Did you catch that?Your soul actually breathes from the saving grace of God.

I can remember what it felt like to need to breathe. I mean, I wasn’t the woman by the well with five husbands and a man on the side. No, I was just a woman by a different kind of well (wine and bars and money and stuff), about to get divorced, having an affair and no-where-else-to-go. I was a woman who was exhausted, suffocating and drowning out pain with all sorts of numbing agents. Sure, some scars were not caused by me, most were.

I have had to forgive others for unimaginable transgressions, I find that forgiving my own transgressions is much more difficult.

When the consequences are from your own actions, when the grief is self-prescribed, when you find yourself on the dirt road of bad decisions, shame and regret.

When it’s all your fault.

Forgiving others and ourselves is excruciating, both are impossible without Jesus. I found grace and forgiveness in the desert of my soul, much like the woman at the well.

Resolving your own sins, shame and guilt can only be done through surrender. This is what makes it nearly impossible. I have a tendency to need or want or try to fix things on my own. Surrender is in direct contradiction to this.

My absolute favorite woman in ALL of Scripture is the ‘sinful woman’ found in Luke. This woman (who only holds all of 14 verses) beholds a gift wrapped in sheer grace. Scripture describes her as “a woman who had lived a sinful life” (Luke 7:37). She had the reputation, she held the scarlet letter. But she also displayed one of the most amazing acts of surrender in all of Scripture.

Oh, how I resonate with her. How I feel her pain of longing and suffering.

She pours oil at Jesus’ feet and sobs. She did this in front of the people who would judge her. She did this in front of the people who thought she was less than nothing. Needing the love and forgiveness of a Savior.

Needing the inside of her soul to breathe.

The past two years for me have been a journey of forgiveness and healing. I’ve had to bare my soul and trust that Jesus can really heal, can really forgive, can extend to me a gift of living water. I’ve had to stand in front of judgment and opposition. When people can’t seem to differentiate the sinner from the sin. Jesus does and can.

And every time I approach Jesus in prayer, every time I get on my knees, every time I stand sobbing at his feet, He whispers to me in the deepest part of my soul, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” And my soul breathes.

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This post originally appeared at Devotional Diva.


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Jennifer Kelly
Jennifer Kelly is a very messy wife and mom. She loves reading, writing, philosophy, music, art, theatre, and really anything that is created by an artist. Jennifer currently attends Christian Colorado University where she is studying Biblical Studies. Follow along with her at www.jenjkelly.com and find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.