D R . E L R O I

A PERSONAL JOURNAL OF A MAN LIVING WITH HIV

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Craft of Forgiveness

It has been seven months since my last entry here. Reading my last blog, I could not help but smile. The reason is that what I am about to write here is closely connected to that. Yes, it is what the title says...the craft of forgiveness.

Once again the Lord has proven me that none of our life experiences go into waste. Be it positive like victory, joy, and peace or negative such as pain, suffering or hurt caused by people we love. Everything has a purpose. Everything happens for a reason. However, you will only able to see the purpose or reason when you pause and see things in a bigger perspective like drone view. I talked about overlooking the offense last time here. I did not realize until the past few months that this particular experience is something that will be very useful in my post-grad studies and psycho-education work.

When I found out last June that one of our courses for the semester is about Forgiveness in Psychotherapy, I was not that excited. I have this notion that I might have known a lot already about the topic. Well, I have been living as a follower of Christ for almost twelve years now. So, is there something else I have not read and learn? Absolutely! I believe it is not only me who has this kind of attitude. I have seen this through the three 3-hour workshops of the same title in which I have conducted! There are three important things I have personally realized and decided to impart to people through the 3-hour workshop I have designed.

First, I recognized that I did not understand the meaning of true forgiveness. Among the several definitions our professor has presented us, I happen to identify with and like this one. Forgiveness is at once an expression of a commitment to a way of life, the cruciform life of holiness in which people cast off their ‘old’ selves and learn to live in communion with God and with one another, and a means of seeking reconciliation in the midst of particular sins, specific instances of brokenness (Jones, 1995, p. 5). Honestly, this is difficult to embody. However, the second thing most people do not understand is that forgiveness is a process and sometimes it is a very long process. But the important thing to do first is the decision to forgive. Based on my experience, it is very hard to forgive when the pain caused by the offense is too much. This requires an everyday choice to forgive accompanied by a prayer of asking for a forgiving heart. Forgiveness is not based on feelings but a decision and regardless of the offense, we are called to forgive. Why? This brings me to the most important realization.

As believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must understand that we are living a FORGIVEN LIFE. God has given His Son and what He did on the cross has radically changed our destiny! By His amazing grace, we have become forgiven and we are now living the life of a forgiven child of God. So, if God has forgiven us even if we do not deserve it, who are we not to forgive anyone who trespassed against us? It is stated in the Lord’s Prayer and we all know this...but unfortunately only by the head and not with a heart. That’s why it is a challenge for most of us to forgive. Yes, regardless of the gravity of the sin, we are called to forgive. For we have been forgiven. 

Matthew 6: 14-15 says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Most importantly, in Him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1: 7). Evidently, we are living a forgiven life. We are a forgiven child of God. We are called to embody and craft the act of forgiveness. So, let’s practice and pray for a forgiving heart. God bless us all.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Overlooking The Offense (Birthday Reflection)

“Accept then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. This will miraculously transform your whole life.” These are words of Eckhart Tolle. Acceptance is an attitude that we often do every day consciously or unconsciously. But when it comes to pain, emotional pain caused by offenses to be specific, acceptance can be quite difficult. You will find yourself struggling between retaliation and forgiveness. This the lesson that God has been teaching me lately.

Retaliation can be in any form. In my case, giving a hard cold shoulder when the person is around and staying away are my ways of being polite. On the other side of the pendulum is overlooking the offense, a Christ-like way. The consequences of the former choice can be detrimental to the relationship. Pain caused by the offense, especially if is not true or sometimes you are clueless, can cloud not only our judgment. The sorrow and worry can also cloud our perception upon the offender. However, the most painful about retribution when we dwell on it is the trouble it can cause us. It has the power to interrupt our day and ruin it even before we know it until we snap our self out of it and move on. In short, inner peace has become elusive. The worst part, the offender did not even know or sometimes care about it.

Overlooking the offense is not easy. If the pain that it caused you is a bit much, forgiving can be a challenge. In my case, through prayers and acceptance, God has led me to overlook the offense and forgive. By His grace and through constant prayer, God has led me to reach out to the person even if my heart did not want to. Moreover, God has shown me how rewarding it was to obey Him. More than the reconciliation of relationship, the blessing of inner peace and joy are found again. The best part, God is honored and glorified.

The key to dealing with offenses is not easy. “We overlook offense by looking up to God” according to Scott Hubbard. By His grace, overlooking the offense is quite possible. I have to realize that this attitude is what God has been chipping out from my heart by His chisel for the past two years. Thus, I can say now that I am grateful to my offender for the pain he has caused me. So, you see. Even people who are difficult to deal with has a purpose in our life. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Great hearts can only be made by great troubles.” Remember, every cloud has a silver lining. Thank you, Lord, once again, for continuously allowing me to see the SILVER LINING through offenses by overlooking it, for teaching me more about humility and grace through acceptance of any situation, especially when my heart says no.

Monday, December 31, 2018

A Worth-Remembering Lesson


Journaling, writing, blogging or whatever we may desire to
call it nowadays for me has become spontaneous like tonight. Perhaps I got inspired by the New Year’s Eve holiday. I feel nostalgic to reflect back on the most important lesson that is worth-reminiscing that took place in the past year. THE ACT OF FORGIVENESS.

First, it is truly a HUMBLING experience. Forgiving someone whom you have thought to be the last person to deeply hurt you by his unsubstantiated claims was really hard. With his gentle but blatantly throat-cutting words, I felt judged, worthless, and untrustworthy. He’s the greatest influencer in my eleven years’ journey with the Lord Jesus Christ. I am who I am today largely because I have internalized his teachings and principles from the scriptures! Again, those words were entirely groundless and pure assumptions. He was like a mentor to me! I look up highly to him! I believe you got my point.

Second, the act of forgiveness is truly a PROCESS. The offense took place virtually a year ago when I was moved by the Holy Spirit to do it. My heart was protesting but my mind and body were united to go against it. Honestly, I still cannot believe he did that and I am still hurting until today whenever I think of it.

But I am glad God did it because lastly, the act of forgiveness when you are deeply wounded can only be done by His GRACE. Whenever I think of those words he said, until this moment I fail to understand how or why he did that. It cost our intimate relationship. However, I chose to forgive him almost every day with a little hope that restoration towards a sweeter relationship will happen soon. It taught me what an elder told me a few times. The amount of grace you have received from the Lord is the same grace you can bestow to others especially to those who hurt you the most. Indubitably, I am so grateful to the abounding grace like an ocean that God Himself has bestowed upon me over and over again. So, who am I not to do so? But then again, it is difficult, however, by His grace it is possible.

Yes, through forgiveness reconciliation has taken place and largely, to a certain degree, it has freed me from negative and unhealthy thoughts about him. Nevertheless, as I tread on the path of 2019 towards my twelve years with Christ Jesus, my prayer is that the Lord will allow me to see the remaining pain in a different light. A new perspective that will usher me to become more like Him. That is to do what is right always despite my pain and sinfulness simply because I love Jesus above all. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to see the SILVER LINING through hurt and for teaching me more about humility and grace through the act of forgiveness, especially when my heart says no. Truly, this is a lesson worthy of living and remembering. A Blessed Happy New Year to all! 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Awakening Desire


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That was the title of the book I just finished reading. It is about encountering the Divine Feminine in the Masculine Christian journey. My former professor gave me this copy, her latest book, perhaps as her way of thanking me for allowing her to include one of my journals as a requirement during my class with her. The content of this book could possibly create some controversies for some especially those who considered themselves conformist. Nevertheless, we got to respect every person’s experience particularly if that experience is about encountering God. Well, my own experience is cited here.

Becoming a part of one of the chapters of Dr. Irene Alexander’s work is truly an honor and a privilege. I felt so blessed. I really appreciate the way she has quoted what I said. This book made me feel that God is truly incomprehensible or beyond our finite mind can understand. And yet, we are called to trust Him even more. Yes, it has moved me to trust Him even more and let go of the stereotypes and concepts I unconsciously have towards God. I guess, I have to read the Bible more and really spend more time digging and reflecting upon His words, which is a bit of a challenge nowadays honestly. So, what desire will or should be awakened? I surmise this is it...to seek more of an intimacy with Him. That is the desire to know God more through seeking His presence and staying in it. That is the desire to get to know Him through reading, studying, reflecting, and allowing His words to speak to me while abandoning myself in Him completely.

Additionally, I have understood more the "liminal experience" she has introduced us years ago through the life of men she has presented in here. For legalistic Christians, this experience is termed “backsliding”, not really a good word if I may add. Simply because I believe that every experience we have both good and bad will all contribute to our transformation. Similarly, God has allowed or ordained some awful things, including sins, to happen. For what? Eventually, all for His glory. Through this book, I have come to realize I did not have to be too hard on myself when it comes to the cross that the Lord Jesus has asked me to carry virtually 11 years ago. My SSA and the remnants of my sexual abuse (which I have unexpectedly discovered recently) and the struggle of sexual addiction (which I also have "discovered" or more have accepted lately) are possibly huge areas of my life that the Lord will do a lot in terms of healing and dealing with my sexual brokenness.

This book came in at the right moment. I have been struggling a lot about my “crosses” lately with no one to turn to and talk about it. However, I thank God for our mandated personal psychotherapy as a postgraduate student. At least initially, I was able to cry out to God through my therapist the pain of these recent discoveries about myself. But I can feel there’s more. What truly important is that, yes, “Awakening Desire” has awakened my desire to encounter God more than ever. As Charles H. Spurgeon said, “Great hearts can only be made by great troubles.”

Saturday, September 22, 2018

SSA and Two SAs?


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Very important...two words that have reminded about what I said on my last entry here. That is, I would write again when something very important happens. In the past couple of weeks, something happened and it’s both good and bad.

What’s keeping me really busy these days for so long is juggling between ministry work and doing all the post-grad required readings and paper. Prior to the beginning of the last semester, I was on the verge of giving up this study and stop completely. I have been so stressed out and felt like its taking the toll on me. However, I was able to come to pass this struggle, thank God. As I continue reading the last few books, I believe God has revealed something to me. Not just one but two books and both are about issues that most people do not want to talk about. First is the Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction by Mark Laaser, which has greatly and deeply impacted me. I guess from the title itself you already what is it all about. Second is The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender. This material is about understanding what sexual abuse is and how a sexually abused person can find healing from the trauma. To understand and learn these complicated issues was all I have expected. Little did I know that there’s something more in store for me.

It took me a long process to finally acknowledge, accept and embrace the same-sex attraction (SSA) that I have only to take it as my cross in obedience to following the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, there’s a lot of sexual issues related to this such as thoughts, sexual desires, temptations that are unsatisfyingly satisfied through occasional pornography, masturbation and very quite rare sexual intercourse. These are the sins and temptations that I and other people who have decided to chose this less traveled path, have to battle with virtually every day. And for almost 11 years of this journey with Christ, I thought everything is in control, I am doing fine, and on my way to the healing of this sexual brokenness. Unfortunately, I was wrong. God is not contented with where I am in my journey. Occasional slips or relapses of my sexual issues need to be dealt with for God is holy, therefore, we should work hard to be holy. That is very clear in His words when you are set apart for the Lord Jesus.

As I went through the pages reading Laaser’s material, it was like mirroring me as he describes the comprehensive definition and symptoms of sexual addiction (SA). It felt like I was reading about myself. Honestly, this is difficult for me to accept and embrace. Perhaps I was or still in denial for I refused to call my behaviors an SA. I was told already with this by a researcher who took me as one of her subjects but I ignored it. I told myself her assessment was wrong. I kept convincing myself that I was not and I am not. But with all this information and learning I got, I really wanted to cry. I did not know how to process this and do not know what to do. Good thing, I was able to grieve over this at my session today earlier this evening.

The Lord is not done yet with His revelations. As I read Allender’s, I realized through his pretty comprehensive description of sexual abuse about something. That almost all of us have been sexually abused in one way or another. We are not just aware of it. Some of the types of sexual abuse that the author has described happened to me when I was young. I just hope that every memory I remembered are all there is to recall and no more repressed or buried experiences in the unconscious. Similarly, this was also hard to accept but for some reason, it is easier to acknowledge, embrace and deal with. I have been carrying this in my heart heavily.

These revelations from God through these brilliant books cannot be ignored. Besides, it has been a while since the last time God has spoken to confront me. It’s very clear. God is calling me to be not contented and address this issue. Moreover, I realized I have been praying each day that God will heal me. Now, He is obviously responding and I need to take my part. Simply I cannot sit, pray and just wait for Him to do something miraculously. As bright as the sun shines during the day, I need to do my part.

Consequently, it was bad because of this not really new discoveries. It has been lingering around for some time already and I just chose to ignore it. The feelings I have towards these revelations are not good. I feel extremely sad, deeply broken again, and having some self-doubt. On the other hand, it was good because of the acquired deep understanding about these issues. Also, I was able to discover something about myself in which will be another focus of understanding the way I am. It is not only SSA but also SAs. Thus, good and bad. Well, the journey must go on even though this less road traveled is becoming narrower than before. Like what the Bible said that we aim for perfection for God is perfect (Matt. 5: 48). He is holy thus, we need to be holy (1 Pet. 1: 16). All these are possible by the grace of God. We simply have to keep on trusting. Have enough faith...each day.