Chained by Unforgiveness: a Guest Post by Chelsea Carpenter

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I had to travel 206 miles to meet a kindred spirit who lives only 6 miles away from me. I met Chelsea Carpenter at LIT, a one-day conference put on by Living Proof Ministries, in the crush of women waiting to get into the event. I lost sight of her when the doors opened, and I was disappointed to lose contact with a LIT sister who lived in the same town as I did. I didn’t find her again until I decided to stop off at The Cheesecake Factory at the very end of the night, where I found her in line (now I have proof that chocolate cheesecakes are good for me). I was glad to exchange info with her that time, and it’s been wonderful getting to know her and her passion for Jesus Christ. I’m honored that she is sharing her amazing testimony with you on my blog today. When you’re done reading, I hope you’ll head on over to her blog, Chelsea Carpenter Ministries, to see her other posts.

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Chained by Unforgiveness

A Personal Testimony

by Chelsea Carpenter

Unforgiveness is a poison. It will take away your life – and it will destroy the lives of those you love. It was never intended to thrive with us here on Earth.

I grew up in a loving home, filled with laughter – but behind the shield of laughter was an unspoken truth – a truth that held a daughter captive…

When I was three years old, I was sexually abused by a deacon in the church. I was also physically and emotionally abused by his wife. This abuse continued for many years until I finally found the courage to speak out. Two months later I was raped. My attacker made several attempts to kill me but failed to do so. Soon rumors began to spread about the attack. I was pushed, tormented, threatened, and called a liar. I went from being the most popular girl to the most hated – literally overnight. As a result, I was left to dwell on my own pain and frustration. I became angry and resentful. I blamed the world for my problems, but more often, I blamed God.

I felt like David in Psalm 22 who cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief” (Ps. 22: 1-2, NIV).

I cried many nights and often prayed for death. When God failed to answer my prayers, I cast Him aside. I became involved with drugs, alcohol, and black magic…basically anything that offered an escape from my own personal misery. I was spiritually dead inside, and soon, Satan began to pursue me with a vengeance. His demons chased me for many months, and it wasn’t long before I started hearing voices in my head. They would tell me that I was unworthy and that I should end my life. When I failed to listen to their words, the hallucinations began. I lived in fear for many months, and no one knew. It was my own personal hell. I prayed for some kind of relief. I wanted to be set free from the demons that haunted me.

It wasn’t until seven years later that God answered my prayers. I accepted Christ into my life at the age of nineteen, and He immediately changed my imperfect world.  The voices stopped, and I began to feel peace. I talked and walked with God daily, and I grew stronger in my faith.

One night, when I was fervently praying, God exposed my heart; He showed me that my inability to forgive those who had hurt me was holding me hostage. The chains of bitterness had enslaved me, and I was unable to move on.  God softly spoke to me about my unforgiveness: “Not only has unforgiveness held you captive and dismissed [My will] for your life, but it has held those you have persecuted as well. Release [your enemies] from this dungeon of doom, so that I may move them closer to me. Do not cast this sin upon yourself; for it will wreak havoc wherever you go.

I fell to my knees, for God had brought me to the cross. I zealously cried out, “God, I forgive! Help me to forgive!”

God reached out to me and declared, “Your faith and your forgiveness have set you free! Now watch and see what I can do!”

I was amazed at the wonders of God. Suddenly, I was set free from my afflictions. I was no longer haunted by my inner demons but declared saintly by God’s unfailing angels. This was a day I would always remember: the day I had cast aside my own will and started living for God’s will.

God kept His promise, and I watched with wonder as the people I had imprisoned were set free. Some followed a vicious path, and it soon led to their own demise; others rejoiced and were led to the cross where they laid down their lives at the feet of Jesus.

Imagine what God can accomplish when you choose to let go of the past and forgive those who have persecuted you.  I encourage you to take off the chains of vengeance and set your prisoners free, for God has already promised you victory in the name of Jesus!

This story is for anyone who walks in the darkness filled with bitterness, sorrow, and regret. I pray that you will allow God to lead you to the cross, and when you arrive, may you lay your regrets at the feet of Jesus, for He shall set you free!

With love,

Chelsea Carpenter

Scripture Reference:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Jesus is quoting Psalm 22:1 in Matthew 27:46) – I always thought this was a peculiar thing for Jesus to say while He was dying on the cross. Didn’t He already know? The Old Testament has over 300 prophetic scriptures about the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So why would the Messiah utter these words as His last breath on the cross? Jesus never does anything without a purpose. I believe He was sending a message to those He came to save: “I have walked where you have walked. I have heard your cries. I have felt your pain. I am the only God, who has walked in your shoes. I am the Only One who has ever come to save you.”

Chelsea

My name is Chelsea Carpenter. I am a Texas Christian University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Education. I currently reside in Tyler, Texas with my husband James and our two beautiful girls, Bailey Rose and Ryleigh Alana. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, writing and traveling. I am a blogger, author, speaker, and teacher @ Chelsea Carpenter Ministries. I am writing a Bible study series entitled, “How to Experience God’s Greatest Miracles.” I am also writing a book about the power of forgiveness.

Photo Credit: Joey Quandt

Grace for Clueless Tee Ball Players and Me

God is the Coach

by Heather Bock

Last Saturday, my four year old had his first tee ball game.

It was a comedy of errors.

Several of the kids hit the tee more than the ball, sometimes knocking it completely down, but they ended up on first anyway. Any time any of the kids would make the ball move, most of the outfield would run in together to get it, bumping into each other in the process. During one of the first of these races, JP lost out in a battle with two other teammates to grab the ball, and he started crying, heartbroken. The next time he got the ball (I say got, not caught, because I’m not sure he, or any of the other players, ever actually caught the ball in the air), after being repeatedly encouraged to do so, he threw it half-heartedly toward first, as he was still in a temper.

After one of them would win out and obtain possession of the ball, most of the time the child would forget what to do with it. After many voices encouraged him or her to throw it to first, he or she would do so, only to have the first baseman miss it, or retrieve it and just stand there while the runner went right past.

JP wasn’t worried about going past. When he reached first, he squatted down on the base and started playing in the chalk.

My personal favorite: one little girl hit the ball, then kept a firm grip on her bat as she ran to catch the ball she had just hit.

The last hitter was a sweep batter, meaning that he or she would automatically get a home run in order to clean all the players off the bases and bring them back. JP was last twice, so he ended up with two home runs–the coaches standing on every base to encourage him to continue running the whole way (which was needed by the second home run, as he was walking, kicking the white foul line dust as he went).

The coaches had a lot of grace on those kids.

I imagined what it would be like if they forced them to strictly stay by the rules. I imagined them sending kids back to the dugout after they repeatedly hit the tee. I pictured them losing their tempers as the kids misunderstood what to do once again. And I laughed. I laughed because who wouldn’t give grace to those clueless little kids with their hats pulled cattywampus and their shirts as big as dresses half tucked into shorts as big as sails.

What is tee ball for, anyway? The purpose is for coaches (mostly volunteer fathers) to teach some littles the rudiments of how to play baseball.

I couldn’t help but think of my own heavenly Father as I watched all this.

Sometimes I cry in frustration when I mess it up, when I figuratively just can’t catch the ball. A lot of the time, I’m honestly trying to do my part but looking a little (or a lot) clueless nonetheless. When I do get the ball (i.e. I’ve started to do something right with God’s help), I’ve been known to forget what to do next. Most importantly, though, I listen for the voice of my Coach, my Daddy, and like those little bitties playing tee ball, I awkwardly bumble at obedience.

“For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust” (Ps. 103:14).

Sometimes my pride gets the better of me, and I like to think of myself as a Major League player, or at least a college player, who strikes out sometimes, who overthrows the ball now and then. But really? No, no, no. Compared to God, I’m just stepping up to the tee. And what’s the point of tee ball again? Learning.

What does God do in this analogy?

He gives instruction, then encourages me with cheers as I attempt to follow His Word.

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Of course, He does have to send me to the dugout at times—four year olds do need discipline. He might chuckle at times, too, but never with derision. I imagine Him like I was on the sidelines: grinning at the awkward attempts, heart full to bursting.

“The LORD your God is in your midst; he is a warrior who can deliver. He takes great delight in you; he renews you by his love; he shouts for joy over you” (Zeph. 3:17).

 

Knight Birthday Party for a Nine Year Old Boy

by Heather Bock

I was excited when Mr. C wanted to have a knight themed party for his ninth birthday (which was actually in February–a little late posting) because I knew it would be fun to make the decorations. I was also just excited that he’s still willing to have me decorate big for his parties and have it at home–that won’t last forever!  Continue reading