Music has always been an integral part of my life!  I was in the church choir, which I absolutely loved!  I played clarinet from 5th grade through sophomore year of college and played piano for my high school years.  I excelled at clarinet and it’s what got me through school, well what got me through school was the influence of a special band director, piano teacher, and the opportunities music opened for me.  I love to dance, sing, and listen to music.  While I’ll admit ELO, The Eagles, BonJovi, the Bee Gees are still some of my favorites.  I don’t really listen to much secular music anymore.  I haven’t for several years.  I just find worship music feeds my soul.  However, I still MUST listen to Jim Brickman very often – I just find the piano music to be so soothing.  Of course, I listen to a lot of classical music too, but only if it’s a recording of one of my nieces performances!  A song that came out several years ago by Matthew West entitled “Forgiveness” has completely changed my life!  I loved it from the moment I heard it.  I love the lyrics and the tune, so much so that I would catch myself humming it often.  About the time the song came out I lost a very close friend due to hurtful words and actions on both of our parts.  Looking back now, to have a fifteen year friendship severed of two supposed Christian women is just really sad – sad because both got an “attitude” with the other and sad that we didn’t turn to our Father in heaven for guidance; which is actually a largely missed opportunity.  While I still believe that relationship ended because of actions on both sides, I see now that I was not giving grace – forgiveness – or acceptance to all who were in my life.  I was a hypocrite!  I was being, especially, very judgmental of my sister and other “sisters” in my life.  If someone hurt my feelings, instead of turning the other cheek as God instructs, I got an attitude.  If someone hurt one of my loved one’s or someone I cared about, I got an even bigger attitude.  And, yah, I’ll admit, while I was quoting biblical instruction, serving other’s, attending church, and singing worship songs I was not living out grace, mercy, acceptance, or forgiveness.  I am so very thankful though that God got a hold of my heart and changed that.  I am grateful that God didn’t give up on me and that He kept orchestrating opportunity after opportunity for me to hear and learn about forgiveness.  And, yes, then I had an “aha moment” and it was while listening to “Forgiveness” that it all finally “clicked” and the Holy Spirit guided me into forgiving and letting go of the score card I kept that “justified” my “attitude”.  I prayed on my knees that day and asked Jesus to help me not to be a hypocrite, to give me courage to just let the hurt go away – really let it go and not stuff it, and to grant other’s forgiveness as my heavenly father gave to me when I accepted Him into my heart AND gives to me every single day when I sin – cause I do!  I makes tons of mistakes, bad choices, say the wrong thing and am basically an unfinished mess of a work in progress every single day!  And, you know what the really cool thing about forgiveness is – it’s so dang freeing I want to “Denozo slap” myself for not doing it sooner in my life!  I wasted a lot of time and have had a lot of missed opportunity because I copped an attitude and didn’t forgive someone, therefore I didn’t get to have an authentic relationship during that an entire time with the person.  Dumb!  Just dumb!  As the song says:  “it’ll clear the bitterness away, it can even set a prisoner free, there is no end to what its power can do, so let it go and be amazed by what you see through eyes of grace – THE PRISONER THAT IT REALLY FREES IS YOU!  Do you get that?  When being unforgiving I was a prisoner of my own bitterness, hate, anger, etc….. but, when I chose to forgive – truly forgive I became FREE!  And, please don’t misinterpret this….I’m not on a high and mighty kick here….and, I don’t do this perfectly….I still get an attitude and don’t always give grace when I should, I was born with sassy britches on!….but with the help of Jesus, I’m getting better!  And, living FREE is so worth swallowing the big monster fur-ball of unforgiveness – the monster of bitterness, anger, resentment…!  Easier said than done!  But so worth the work of doing so!!  So, I’m going to leave you with a challenge….in two weeks we’re celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.  He died on the cross for me…..for you….for all of us – the sinners that we are.  He wants you to come to Him.  So, google Matthew West’s song….listen to it, read the lyrics, and open your heart to!….whatever you’re holding on to just let it go!  And, then google another one of my faves….Crowder’s “Come as You Are”… which it says “lay down your hurt, lay down your heart, come as you are”.  It’s a powerful, powerful song – life changing, yet all so easy – lay all of it a the foot of the cross and let Jesus take it so you may be FREE.

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