“Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.” –William Arthur Ward
About five years ago, my wife and I went on a trip to Snowshoe, West Virginia in celebration of our 5th wedding anniversary. I’d fulfilled my typical role as the navigator, following the 3-page long MapQuest directions I’d probably printed out weeks before. Anticipation for this trip was high since it would be a weekend of snowboarding, freedom from parental duties and work, and relaxation.
About a quarter of the way into our journey, I made a wrong turn. I remember feeling like I should stop and ask for directions (this was 2007 and GPS wasn’t nearly as big of a deal as it is now) but something inside me kept saying, “keep going… you’ll figure it out as you go.”
Three hours later… I finally stopped and my wife got out to ask for directions. And what should have taken five hours ended up taking ten!
Pride, in this instance, resulted in a funny story (that wasn’t so funny at the time) about selfishness. You see selfishness always leads to problems no matter which way you slice it. It’s inherently what’s wrong with all of us and has been since the beginning of creation. It’s the whole reason why mankind needed Jesus to begin with. Selfishness, or the focus of self, is the reason why we sin. And there is only one remedy to sin: forgiveness.
When I started this blog a little over a year ago, my intentions were simple: I wanted to share my life experience with others with hopes of helping them avoid the same pain I’d been through. I also wanted to put myself out there with hopes of finding others like myself who had that same desire.
It’s funny because those simple intentions actually sound really good as I type them out. Maybe they were? Regardless, I’ve discovered that somewhere early on in this journey I took a wrong turn. My motives changed before I could recognize it. My pride took over, and what maybe could have been something beneficial became laced with angst.
Deep down, I feel like I’ve always been a peaceable kind of guy. But there’s something about the Internet that allows us to make monsters out of ourselves. It’s a lot like the little brother who can say whatever he wants to his friends when his big brother is around. I guess what I’m saying is that “big brother” has left and I am now dealing with the choices I’ve made.
What I’m getting at here is that I regret the way I’ve went about this blog. In the process of sharing my experiences, I ended up bashing my former church. Let’s just call it what it is. I justified my actions by telling myself, “you’re not naming any names” and “only .1% of the people that read this stuff will be from your former church.” I allowed pride and selfishness to seep into the things I shared.
Lately I’ve been feeling as if what “good news” I did share with you all was probably contaminated in some way.
If you are reading this and you are from my former church, I just want to apologize for anything you’ve read on my blog. While the things I shared were real, they were also biased and only one side of the story. A certain degree of damage has probably been done, but my hope is that those things can be restored somehow.
If you are reading this not knowing of the specific church I speak of, I hope you learned a little more than “Stephen really despises his former church.” Rather, I hope you can “eat the watermelon and spit out the seeds.”
As far as the Prosperity Gospel and Word of Faith Movement go, I still believe that this teaching is counter to the Gospel message of Jesus. But in my journey, I’d assumed that it was the problem when, in actuality, my own selfishness was what was eating at me. And no matter what I experienced along the way, there is simply no excuse for my stepping out of love with others.
With all that said, I’d like to thank everyone for reading this blog. I do look back on a great deal of it knowing that I probably helped certain people. I suppose only God knows exactly what that is. I would appreciate prayer, as I’ve had moments of great frustration over the past few years. I could sure use a healthy dose of restoration and forgiveness. My prayer is that by moving on, I can finally heal from past hurts and forgive those who I hold grudges with.
I plan to leave this article set as the homepage of this blog until I give up the rights to this web address next March. I also plan to make minor edits to the content I’ve shared on Christianity.com, removing all mentions of my former church.