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A sea of tissues––crumpled up and used––littered the ground around me. Hours had passed since I had first sat down with that blue binder, praying for God to allow me to see, and it seemed my prayers were beginning to be answered.
More than nine years had passed since Dad was murdered, but in all those years, I had never once read through the contents of the binder in its entirety, let alone in one sitting. But now, I needed to.
God had called me to forgive the man who murdered my dad. I had just received my first letter from him that afternoon, which I certainly did not welcome. But after having read the letter––after having cried out to God for what seemed like hours––it occurred to me, for the first time, that perhaps my truth was not God’s truth. And in that moment, all I knew came into question as I realized I had never sought God’s truth in this area of my life. I had simply believed what I had believed all along. Never once did I challenge my perceptions even though I knew they were biased.
Clearly, I thought, it was time to revisit my past.
I poured myself over the contents of the binder––years of newspaper clipping and printed articles covering the murder and the subsequent hearing and trial; notes I had taken during the trial; and cards expressing condolences for my loss––all materials I had collected over the years so that I might someday be able to properly explain to my children what happened to their grandpa.
As I read page after page, I prayed for God to allow me to shed my biases. To lay them aside so that I might be able to see the situation surrounding the murder with fresh eyes. Eyes untainted by pain.
When I finished, I sat and pondered what I had read. I couldn’t help but feel that I had just begun my quest for truth––a quest that would continue for many more months, would require carefully and prayerfully measuring everything by the Word of God, and would involve seeking answers from several people, including the man who murdered my dad. Months later, this quest resulted in greater understanding and the ability to see the circumstances surrounding Dad’s murder as God sees them.
Throughout this journey, I came to understand that the man who murdered my dad was simply a man who allowed his pain, his anger, to lead him to do the unthinkable. He was not the heartless villain I had thought he was. He was simply a man in need of grace––like you, like me.
God had, truly, graced me with sight, as I sought His truth.
I never thought it would be possible to shed my biases. To view something as terrible as my dad’s murder from an objective point of view. And in a sense, I was right. No one can see as they ought to see apart from God. But with God––as we seek His perspective, as we line up all we know with scripture––we can come to see our situations and circumstances as He does.
But we must understand that a “truth” that contains even a hint bias is no truth at all. Still, truth is attainable. For, God’s Word is clear. The moment we give our lives to Jesus, we are new in both spirit and mind. But if we’re to be “transformed by the renewal of [our] mind[s]” we must pay closer attention to our thoughts (Romans 12:2). For, thoughts ultimately dictate emotions, and it seems biases grow best in the bed of corrupted thoughts and emotions.
Trusting my feelings ultimately led me astray. My emotions colored the way I viewed much of my life, my circumstances, and all I had been through for far too long. And I believe this may be true for many of you as well.
We don’t need to hold onto our pasts. We don’t need to continue to allow past pain to numb our present. We can shed our biases and see our lives with fresh eyes. For it is truth that ultimately heals. Not your truth, but God’s.
And so, I leave you with this one, pressing question.
Is your truth God’s truth?
Don’t simply believe what you have believed all along. Challenge your perceptions and make sure you’re resting in God's truth. You may find thatit’s time to take down your own “blue binder”––in whatever form that may take––and begin your own quest for truth.
Laurie Coombs is a writer who encourages others to follow Jesus despite their fears or their feelings of resistance. She lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband, Travis. They have two little girls and are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. To read more about Laurie’s journey toward forgiveness and the redemption she’s experienced, visit LaurieCoombs.org and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Be sure to watch for her upcoming book!