Flowers of Forgiveness

“How can you be friends with him after he hurt you?” another friend asked me recently.

I could tell she was looking for peace, and so I gently assured her with my smile that it is indeed possible to genuinely enjoy and love someone even with a history of pain between your heart and theirs.

I replied simply saying, “It is just no longer worth it to me to spend even one day not loving.” 


I have been reflecting on the story of manna; and in my own desert life, I see the moments when I was busy storing up instead of spending my day simply being grateful for the daily bread God was giving to me. The Lord told Moses,

“Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.”

Exodus 16:4

God wants me to cherish the people in my life just for today. I am not promised any other future except a life with Him, where pure love will be the law, and I will never hesitate to follow its perfect commands. And until I arrive to that eternal home, the purpose for my journey through this world is to prepare me with various tests to see if I can receive each day’s graces and respond with love, gratitude and forgiveness, just as My God has demonstrated for me time and time again after I have hurt Him. 


Love also reminds me of the servant who owed a large debt. His Master forgave his offense, even after there was an obvious sever of trust. Who among us has a boss that would let us off the hook for not coming in for a shift, let alone supply us more hours if we continued to fail in following through, especially with matters of money?

Yet here, this Lord removes any guilt, any shame or embarrassment, and allows his servant to take more time preparing what was owed. I imagine this servant to be feeling the most relaxed he has ever been, having basically just escaped imprisonment. Yet, his appreciation bears no fruit: when he in turn is financially slapped by one of his own slaves who had also forgotten that it was payday, he did not show the same Mercy to one whose debt was much smaller than his own offense.

I, too, am posed with the question of my own handling of offenses. How can I not share the great love given to me, day to night, for every stumble and sin, at every stopping point, constantly poured out after I have pierced the Heart of My Beloved? If He continues to overflow with graces of healing for my thirsty soul, then I refuse to be a dam preventing His Mercies from reaching those who are most in need of water. 


But on my own, I cannot love anyone. I am merely dust. Only God can love and then use me for His purpose of love. It is my brokenness that nurtures the demand my human heart has for His Love. Without the example of Grace from my Master, my encounters with another’s offenses would bear no fruit of forgiveness.

His Grace is the water. My sins are the seeds, and from their evil, His Goodness is manifested and His Flowers of Mercy are delighted in. These sins and grievances set in motion for my soul’s garden a necessary death, and I return weeping after having rejected His Goodness. In this death, Love raises me out of My Pride to His Selfless Heart—this is where I learn how to be forgiven and forgiving.

His Heart is where I learn how to love with no agenda. His Heart teaches me how to love someone after both of our human hearts have caused damage. In the classroom of His Heart, I come to know where my own choices have made my Savior Sorrowful. But also in this sorrow, I enter His Mercy. And my heart can only pray, “Dear Jesus, teach my heart how to love and forgive like you.”

Letting God Heal You from Trauma

By Caroline van der Wegen

When hearing the word “trauma” the first thing that comes up in my mind are terrible accidents, extreme injuries or emotional hurt due to horrific things that I have heard happened to people. I never thought that I would be in a situation where I would have to go to seek out help due to a traumatic experience. But this did happen, and I had to seek out help. And help came.

Let me take you back to March 1st, 2018. It was a Thursday, 3pm. I was working in Minnesota as a missionary for NET ministries. I am originally from the Netherlands in Europe, and I moved to the US in 2016, as I felt the call to be a missionary. My family was still back in the Netherlands, which made that it was 9pm for them when I got the call. On the other side of the phone, I heard my sister in complete panic telling me that my mom just had had two seizures within a timeframe of about half an hour. A bit later, I received the diagnosis that no one wants to hear: Brain tumor.

There and then, I thought that I was going to loose my mother very soon. I cried on my roommate’s lap, cried in the chapel, cried at home. Being on the other side of the world, I tried to support my siblings and my dad as best as I could over the many video connections. In the days that followed, I prayed, I cried, I prayed more, took some walks, and cried again.

I had planned on continue serving with NET ministries the following year. But after receiving the message of my mom, I changed my plans and decided I would go home to support my family. I did not want to leave, as I felt very called to continue to serve as a missionary, but now I had come into a situation where my family also needed me. I prayed about the decision and had some conversations with my supervisors. I told God that if He wanted me to stay another year, He needed to be very clear. A few hours later, just before I had to let my final decision be known, my dad called me and encouraged me to stay to continue to serve as a missionary.

So I did stay in America and continued my work as a missionary. After this traumatic experience, I went to seek out professional help. I found a counselor who was Catholic, and she asked me often about my own personal prayer life. This held me accountable to dedicate some time every single day for personal prayer, during which I pray and simply sit with God. I started to see that the Lord was inviting me to let Him heal the wounds that this traumatic experience had left. He invited me to reflect on every wound, on every part of the experience, and to entrust these to Him.

Reflecting back, I can now see that God had placed me in a loving Catholic community so they could be a huge support during that difficult time. I can now see more clearly that God is leading me along the path of His great plan for me, even though this plan is sometimes difficult for me to see. I learned to rely on God in a deeper way, trusting that He will never ever leave my side.

God truly comforted my heart by inviting me to lean into His love, by providing the loving community for me and giving me clarity on what to do next. He cared for me by providing me with a great professional counselor. He healed my heart through His invitation to lay down my burdens into His hands.

And my mom, she received surgery and is currently stable and doing very well! All glory to God!

If you have gone through a hard experience, a mental health professional, such a counselor or a therapist, might be able to help you. Besides that, I want to invite you to turn to God in prayer and to ask Him to show you His unconditional and abundant love for you. Ask Him to heal you. He is right here with you, by your side and He will never let you down if you just let Him. Ask someone can to pray over you for healing. Be open to be healed. God wants to restore you, He is waiting for you. Now it is your turn to run to Him.

Hard Christmas

By Rebekah Hardy

Christmas can be such a dreamy time of year: houses and churches take on new beauty with the lights and garlands, love seems to be in the air as couples post romantic pictures, we give and receive gifts–all of this is bright and merry and beautiful.

What happens when the most wonderful time of year is crossed with suffering? With loss? How can we navigate a time of great joy when it is overshadowed by great sorrow?

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Strength in Vulnerability

By Kylie Mann

Junior and senior year of high school were rough. I was in a dark place–alone–and my family was disconnected.

When you have depression, you just really don’t care. You don’t care much about yourself, let alone your family dynamic. Because if you don’t really care about yourself, why would you think others care about you?

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