Originally published Monday, 11 February 2013.
When I met my husband, I was 21 and he was 18. I know. Scandalous.
He had never dated before. I had a more checkered past.
I remember the night that I cried & told him about the boys I dated, what had happened between us, what we had done.
As I sat there, covered in tears and snot and shame, he pulled the car over. Ran to the passenger side door and flung it open. He took my face in his hands and forced me to look at him as he said those three words for the first time.
I. Love. You.
We hadn’t ever said these words to one another. I knew what I felt in my heart, but I was, we were, trying to play it safe. Guard our hearts.
I love him all the more for choosing that moment to voice his love for me.
For the first few years of our marriage, I still felt a little unworthy of it. Unworthy of him stooping to love a girl who had not waited in all the ways she should have.
But I wasn’t unworthy of my sinful husband. I was unworthy of my perfect God.
I hadn’t really embraced His amazing mercy and grace. I didn’t own the second chance. I dragged my past around with me, always feeling a little like an imposter. Like under my Christian exterior, you would find a Scarlett Letter deeply embedded on my heart, in my soul. One that would never go away.
It took me years to really get it. To realize Christ’s death removed my past completely.
There was no scarlet letter. Not anymore. Jesus washed it away and made me new. I was shamefully bearing the imaginary evidence of sin. The ghost of my Scarlett Letter past haunted me, when the present reality of Christ’s freedom should have empowered me.
It took me years to truly understand that any sin, big or small requires His second chance. Though my husband didn’t commit the same sins as I did, he was a sinner just the same. He needed Christ’s death, His love, mercy, & grace, just as much as I did.
I’m not unworthy of Nathan. I’m unworthy of Christ.
And He destroyed my unworthiness. Made me whole and perfect and new by His sacrifice.
I sometimes feel that shame hangs on to me for dear life. In reality, it’s me who’s hanging on to shame. Not able to let go.
When I do, when I completely embrace His second chance, only then can I love Him, myself, others the way He intended.
Accepting His acceptance, so I can embrace & accept others. Those in need of their own second chance.
Filling Up on His Love: Psalm 103:1-5, 8-12
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
This is how we embrace our second chance.
This is how we know the love of God and how very beautiful it is.
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”
- Crowns us with love & compassion
- Satisfies with GOOD things
- Renews our youth
- Will not always accuse
- Will not hold on to anger forever
- Removes our sins from us… as far as the east is from the west
We don’t need to carry around our Scarlett-Letter past or let the ghosts of our sins haunt us. He has taken all that away and separated us from it. As far as the east is from the west.
Pouring Out His Love on Others: 1 Peter 3:8-11
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, becompassionate and humble.9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
Knowing how God loves us, this passage is even more challenging.
When I have sinned and I receive God’s second chance love, it’s beautiful. When someone else has sinned and I need to give God’s second chance love, it’s impossible.
Unless I accept so much of His second chance love that it courses through me.
We are to seek peace, pursue it. Repay someone else’s evil with a blessing, so that we may inherit a blessing ourselves. We are to sympathize. Be compassionate and humble, knowing our own need for that second chance.
I don’t have to create this love. I’m not the source. I’m just sharing out of the abundant love I’ve been given.
Today’s Challenge… Give Someone A Second Chance
Is there someone you know personally who needs some second chance love? Do you need to give them another shot?
Maybe it’s someone who has hurt you personally. Or hurt someone you care about. Or hurt themselves.
Embrace God’s love, throw away your own scarlet letter past, and share out of His abounding love for you.
There are also so many people who could use a dose of God's second chance love through no fault of their own.
Help us #SpreadtheLove on Valentine's Day! We are working to create a second chance for kids who need a home, filled with God's love. Join the #SpreadtheLove Facebook group. Post, tweet, Instagram, Pin, use all your social media channels on Valentine's Day to celebrate adoption. We are also encouraging people to pray all day, and if possible, donate $14 to an adoption fundraiser or related cause in honor of Feb. 14.
If that's not for you, you may think of connecting with a local “second chance” ministry. Helping people rehabilitate and become whole in Him. Addicts, prison inmates, the homeless. There are great organizations everywhere that could use your help or donations. A great program that serves homeless youth around the country is Stand Up For Kids, and they are entirely volunteer run.