There are so many things I can be thankful for at this point in my life. I have a wonderful family who has stayed together and accepts me for who I am. I have a congregation that is there for me in big and small ways. I have a good job. I have a nice apartment. I have an amazing roommate. I always have plenty of healthy food to eat (thanks to my amazing roommate).
I am also thankful for certain intangible things, like God’s love, grace, mercy, and compassion and understanding from my peers and safe people in my life.
But the one thing I am most thankful for at this stage in my life is forgiveness.
Yeshua said about the woman who anointed His feet with oil and wiped them with her hair, “For this reason I tell you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven – for she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47 TLV)
I used to be the one who loved little. Not that I didn’t love God or my family or friends or even strangers, but I didn’t have a very whole understanding of love. My understanding now, though not complete, is much deeper and more of the holes have been filled in. Because of my life experiences (granted, I’m only 26 years old), I have learned a great deal about love and forgiveness.
Growing up as the eldest child of four, I was what many would call a “goody-two-shoes” and a “teacher’s pet” and I saw myself as a person who did good things and treated people the way I wanted to be treated. I felt I was very spiritual and smart and talented at many things. I didn’t think I was perfect, but I thought I was closer than most. I also had a lot of pride…ha ha.
I had a next to perfect childhood and what I would call perfect parents who somehow found perfect schools and churches to take us to. In my mind, we were the perfect family: two girls and two boys, a cute Beagle for a pet, and lived on the corner lot of a beautiful neighborhood in central Florida. From my perspective, I lived a good life and I was a (really) good person.
I also knew God loved me and that Jesus died for my sins so that I could live with Him one day after I died. Telling others about my faith was very important to me from a young age. I wanted my classmates to know my Savior and get saved like me. I did my best to live out the example of a good follower of Jesus. I cried over the spiritual state of my friends at school and believed they were going to hell because I failed to save them. Fortunately, my mother helped me understand that I did my best and it wasn’t my job to save them.
Fast forward to my college days at the University of West Florida. At 19 or 20, I started to experience some less-than-comfortable things and no longer saw the world through my rose-colored glasses. The older I got, the more I realized just how cruel the world could be. I also realized how utterly sinful I could be. My final semester in college proved to be full of depression, anxiety, and skipped classes and I thought my life was falling apart.
For the next five years (now we’re caught up to the present), I struggled with a stronghold in my life that I never, ever thought was possible for me. Me? A believer? No way! This kind of stuff happens to other people – not me, or so I mistakenly thought. I’ve shared with the right people about this stronghold, which ultimately became an addiction. But to help you understand how it has impacted me, here are some of the things I often told myself or believed about myself: “What is wrong with you, Catherine?” “How could you let yourself get here?” “You are the most disgusting person!” “You’ve ruined your life!” “You will always have to struggle with this now.” “God is disappointed in you.” “You have to pretend like nothing is wrong for the sake of everyone else.” And so on and so on.
I imagine many of you have said those very same things to yourself at some point in your own life. When those kinds of thoughts begin swirling around in your head and they consume you, you begin to believe that God won’t really forgive you. Yes, His Word says He will, but you don’t live like it’s true. You continue to condemn and heap loads of shame and guilt on yourself because, let’s be honest, you need to be punished somehow, right? Wrong.
Recently, my Abba Father has given me a new revelation of His love for me. He has shown me that even in the midst of my willful sin, He is there with me. He isn’t disappointed in me. He isn’t disgusted with me. He isn’t shaking His head and waiting for me to clean up my act before coming to Him with my head down. No! He is sitting there WITH me with His arms around me and speaking gently to my heart, “My daughter, I love you. Come be with Me.” So, I am thankful for His love, yes.
It’s the love of my Abba, my Daddy, that convinced me that I am forgiven. The fact that He would still want me…it blows my mind! It has nothing to do with whether I can forgive myself, rather it has everything to do with whether I believe that my Abba has forgiven me or not. He always does forgive, but until I choose to believe it in my heart, I will remain in a mindset of unnecessary condemnation and shame. This knowledge of my Father’s love and forgiveness has set me on the path of healing and recovery and hardly a day goes by when I don’t stop to thank Him for delivering me from that wretched pit in which I found myself.
Am I perfect now? Ha! Hardly. Am I forgiven? An emphatic yes! And this truth has set me free, as Yeshua said (John 8:32), and it even allows me to see myself on the same plane as others and I can have genuine compassion for them when they stumble and fall, rather than judgment.
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15 TLV)
Catherine Currier is the Children and Youth Coordinator at Brit Ahm Messianic Synagogue in Pensacola, FL. She is the eldest of four children (two brothers and an awesome sister) to two amazing parents and has the sweetest grandmother in the world. She wears many hats in her congregation, including leading musical and liturgical worship. She graduated from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor’s in Studio Art and enjoys ceramics and pottery. When she’s not working in the office, Catherine likes playing guitar, bike riding, hanging out in her hammock, and roller skating. Catherine also feels a calling from God for international missions and loves sharing the Good News of Yeshua with people from all nations.