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A message of forgiveness and redemption

Many people are currently discussing the movie, I Can Only Imagine, based on the life of Bart Millard, which was the inspiration for the song by Mercy Me. I would put forth that, while this is a story of an abusive husband/father, the true story is the message of forgiveness and redemption.

Jim and I saw the movie this week, with our small group Bible study friends. I had been told it was a real tear-jerker, which I avoid at all costs. I was thankful that it did not cause me to shed tears. Thankful because it was not a story I could relate to. Thankful that I do not have a physically abusive father or husband. And yet…

I would venture to say that most of us have people in our lives that have had a less than positive impact on us. People who we allowed to get into our heads and start to doubt ourselves. It may have been a family member, a classmate, a co-worker, neighbor, or even someone from church. People who allowed you to believe:
• You aren’t good enough
• You aren’t pretty enough
• You have no talent
• You have no value
• You are worthless
• You will never amount to anything
• It’s your fault
• “Loser”
Those things can get in your head and you start to believe them yourself. Even when you think you’ve “shown them” and are doing well, it’s amazing how the negatives can come creeping back into your head at really inconvenient times.

In the movie, Bart’s dad feels guilt about his abusiveness and asks for forgiveness, from God and from Bart. Bart quickly claims God has forgiven him, but he can’t. Holding on to that anger and hatred could cause the person not being forgiven to continue to feel sad and guilty; at the same time it holds the person who is still angry in its clutches as well. Seems to me if you truly want to be free of the pain someone else caused you, you need to forgive them. We’ve had this discussion before. You can’t move forward positively until you come to terms with your past.

Once you have forgiven the person who wronged you (not saying what they did was okay, but saying you are not going to let it eat you up anymore), then redemption comes into the mix. The person may choose to try and make amends for the wrong they have done you. You don’t have to let them back into your life, but you can if you choose to and it’s a healthy relationship at this point.

The movie had a closing screen that showed a resource for those who have questions about faith, forgiveness, and God. It also showed a helpline for those who are being, or have been, abused. While I thought I Can Only Imagine was a great movie with a powerful message, I believe this information could be the most important for people to know about. I am including it here, in case it may be of benefit to you or someone you know.

*Pam Horton is a Board Certified Advanced Christian Life Coach.

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