I was raised in a Christian home. My upbringing was as normal as they come. My dad worked and my mom home-schooled me and my younger brother. We were in church every time the doors were open, and by the time I was 15 years old, I had already been to South America three times on missions trips. I also began playing guitar, singing, and songwriting at age 11 and it was equally the best and worst thing to happen to me. Music and songwriting would end up being my haven and solace for years to come, however, it drew a lot of unneeded attention to me at a young age. I feel that forced me to mature and grow up a lot faster than really necessary.
The real story to be told here is one of forgiveness. Not only that God forgave me, but that He is teaching me how to forgive others from the overflow of His forgiveness. You see, this nice picture I’ve painted for you of my picture perfect upbringing has one harsh secret to it. At a very early age, I somehow developed a very bad habit of unforgiveness and bitterness. It’s interesting to me that no one had to teach me to be unforgiving. I did it instinctively as young as two years old. And yes, you read that right. As long as I can remember, when someone would hurt me or a loved one, I would just write them off. I literally would cut them out of my life. Then I pretended by doing so that I was ‘over it.’ I have had to learn the hard and painful way that true forgiveness doesn’t work like this.
I would love to be able to list to you all the ways this sinful habit reared its ugly head through the years, but those stories would take hours to read (and write!). What I can tell you is that sin enjoys company. And by allowing unforgiveness in my life for so long, it opened the door for many other sinful strongholds. I would also like to be able to say I realized this early and worked to correct it. But that is also not the case. It took me hitting rock bottom for me to see what I was doing to myself. How can anyone truly receive the forgiveness of the Father when they refuse to let go of their own unforgiveness? I wasted so many years being bitter. I have been bitter towards friends, boyfriends, churches, family, circumstances and even at times, my husband. It completely derailed my life.
As a result of the inward, emotional turmoil I was often in, I began turning to pleasures and comforts. Whatever made me feel a certain way is what I just had to have. The two most common sources for me are also the two things I have had the hardest time admitting. As I grew older and craved to satisfy the pain and longing in my heart, I turned to gratification by food and sex. Both of these things have brought me immense shame over the years, but God is more powerful, forgiving, and glorious than my sin and shame.
After many years of unforgiveness, I finally broke. I was battling two chronic hormonal illnesses, depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. I believe all of these things were in some way a result of my disobedience in unforgiveness. As a result I had to walk away from my dream job (worship pastor). I was sad, overwhelmed, angry and resentful… And it was the best thing that could have happened to me. For the following two years I withdrew from just about everyone. The Lord very clearly spoke to me and said He needed me to pull back from the influence of man so He could reteach me who He was. It was only during this time that He began to reveal to me my lifelong battle with unforgiveness. I know it sounds crazy, but I honestly did not know it had such a hold on me until this point.
“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Romans 2:4 NLT
How beautiful is that? This is one of my favorite Bible verses and one I have clung to through the years of the Lord correcting me. It is His kindness towards me that has turned my heart to truth and repentance! How gracious and loving He truly is to extend such grace to me! So many times throughout the New Testament we are told that we must forgive others if we expect to be forgiven by God (Mark 11:25, Matthew 6:15, Col 3:13). I honestly had a hard time reconciling this concept for a long time. However, the forgiveness of God and my unforgiveness cannot inhabit the same space. When I finally allowed the Lord to walk me through the steps of forgiving all those who had hurt me through the years (which was very hard!), I then began having breakthroughs in many other areas of my life.
Sin can affect seemingly unrelated areas of our life: Quiet Time was all of a sudden easier to commit to, I desired the Lord like I hadn’t felt in a long time, compassion was instinctive again, my unhealthy relationship with food began to heal, as did some of the severity of my health issues. My anxiety ridden heart full of sin and facade was exchanged for the restoration and peace of the Lord.
Are you battling with unforgiveness as I was for so many years? Do you feel shame? If so, I intimately understand you. And because I do, I encourage you to surrender it to the Father! I know it’s painful. And our humanity tells us we have the “right” to be mad or hurt. But true healing comes from letting go of that “right” and allowing God to heal our souls. We can either cling to being “right” or we can receive healing and forgiveness. I can promise you that the hope, healing, and forgiveness of God exceeds any hurt I once felt towards others. I pray the Father’s kindness will draw all those who struggle with unforgiveness to the same beautiful restoration that I have found.
“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For His unfailing love towards those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.” Psalm 103:8-14 NLT
Tiffany was born and raised in central Alabama and earned a bachelor’s degree in Theology while residing in Mobile AL. She then moved back to her hometown and met her husband while working as a barista in a local coffee shop! Tiffany and her husband Lex have now been married for 6 years and have both service in several different church staff positions. She is a proud dog mom and loves coffee, songwriting, art, Japanese/Thai foods, sunsets, and spending the day at the lake/beach! Tiffany is passionate about helping women deepen their understanding of Scripture through Bible study and quiet time, and as a result, creating lasting discipleship!