Saturday, June 6, 2015

Duggar and Daughters

Duggar and Daughters. Two words that will certainly get some emotions stirring. Even though most of us don’t know the family personally, this situation has a way of making it feel personal.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve even watched one episode of their reality television show. My experience with them is only from listening to Jim Bob and Michelle speak at a mom’s conference I attended. I went from thinking they were completely crazy to understanding their choices a bit. While I didn’t agree with them on every aspect, it seemed that they were doing their best to love God and love others.

The information that has flooded our homes lately comes to me from what has been written or broadcasted. I have zero firsthand information. I know there is always a bigger story than what is being reported but there are disturbing facts that cannot and are not being refuted that have made this situation explode. Truth or Tainted, my knowledge of the situation is much like yours.

This post is not to weigh in on any of the Duggars. I am not in their shoes and have no idea what they are feeling right now. Still, the situation has weighed heavy on my mind. My heart has grieved along with the public. If there is one place everyone agrees, it is that this is a sad situation… one that everyone wants to go back into time and change. Sadly, that cannot be done. Sin was chosen and the consequences are here. Therefore, we are left with the question “What now?” It’s a good question to wrestle with any time. What will we do with the mess placed in our laps? We all have them. It’s what we do with them that matters… because we cannot go back in time and undo what’s been done.

Most of my thoughts are those of gratitude. Very often, I find myself thanking God that each one of my children are girls. Not that this prevents this type of situation from happening, but it certainly diminishes the potential. I cannot imagine how any parent would be able to protect their children 100% of the time from every evil lurking out there. It’s just extra sad when it happens in our homes where we should be safe with the people that we should feel safe with.

So, here’s what I think is important for us to learn from this situation (even if it’s just for my heart and what I would say to my girls):

#1: Sin has consequences. An adolescent boy chose to sin and now he and everyone involved in his life have to experience the painful consequences. There are consequences for him. There are consequences for the girls involved. There are consequences for his parents and siblings and wife and children. There are consequences for everyone that knew him. And because he was a public figure, there are consequences to each of us. Sin has consequences. Every. Single. Time. We must keep this in mind when we are faced with choices. The world will tell you to do what feels right for you. However, God tells us there is a filter outside of ourselves for right and wrong. We are to filter things through His Word; not our feelings. What feels right to you, especially in the moment, may still be very, very wrong. Have you thought through the potential consequences of the choice you are about to make? “Youthful indiscretions” don’t give you a pass on consequences. Have you counted the cost?

#2: Forgiveness is powerful. The choice to forgive does not go back in time and undo the wrong. Forgiveness does, however, bring freedom to the soul and gives everyone involved the power to move forward. We don’t extend forgiveness because the perpetrator is deserving. It isn’t even required that our wrongdoer come forward; repent and seek forgiveness. Extending forgiveness is for our benefit. We forgive because God forgave us when we least deserved it. God is our ultimate example for life and love and He forgave us as He died unfairly on the cross (in our place). I once read a quote that gave me a great visual to prompt me to extend forgiveness when I want to hold tightly to a grudge. “Bitterness is like a hot coal. The longer and tighter it is held; the deeper the burn. Like a hot coal, bitterness will leave a scar that even time cannot erase.” Forgiveness allows us to heal. We may have to forgive over and over again to experience true freedom but it is in our best interest to choose forgiveness. Even when we feel like they don’t deserve it or the one who wronged us hasn’t apologized, we still need to choose to forgive.

#3: Redemption is possible. I don’t care who is shouting the loudest and what they are shouting. God says that He can redeem our pasts… no matter what is in them. Do we believe it or not? I don’t want to be labeled for the rest of my life by the sinful choices I made in my past. I want to be forgiven and move forward with God’s power to change me. I do believe that Josh Duggar can change. I don’t know him or if he has changed but I do believe change is possible. No, I don’t think a teenager needs to be forever labeled for their sinful choices… no matter what they are. (Although I do believe boundaries should be put in place.) We are all susceptible to different sins. Sadly, this was his. Forgiveness and boundaries; but not condemnation. Sometimes I wonder if we say we believe Jesus changes us but then we point fingers and say “Well, not you… you’re the exception. You’re sin was too bad.” God doesn’t make exceptions! He sent His son to die for each of us and wants to transform each of us to become more like Jesus. With Jesus, we are able to become a new creation… everyone… no exceptions! "There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus."

#4: Don't wear the victim label forever. In today’s society, we want to victimize everyone for everything. Yes, there are victims in this particular situation. They were sinned against and it will forever alter their life… but they can move forward. When our dog died, I came home one night to my daughter sobbing in her bedroom (well past bedtime). She had a picture of our beloved dog, the dog’s collar and was drawing and writing about the dog. I needed to help her close the book and put the memories away and give her sadness to God and rest and allow Him to heal her heart. Dwelling unnecessarily on our pain only brings more pain. While I think it is good to reflect and express our emotions, we cannot sit and stew. Forcing our minds to relive the painful memories over and over again don’t help us move forward. Yes, we will need to recall them (even forced to when we don’t want to sometimes) but we don’t want to wade in our pain forever. The painful reminders of sin’s consequences have a way of lurking in every doorway. There are places to relive those painful memories in an effort to move past them: counseling; among trusted friends; alone with God… but I would argue that the public arena is not the place to do this. You may have been victimized but you don’t have to forever be a victim. Let go. Allow God to heal your broken places. Become an advocate for others who need healing in this area if you want but don’t wear the label of victim forever. Labels don’t allow us to move forward. There is an entire life ahead of you. What do you want your future to be? In Jesus, we are victorious. Live there. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 15:57

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:16-21