My Lessons from Heaven: Everyone Has a Story

Dr. Mary NealBy Dr. Mary Neal5 Minutes

Hello, and welcome to episode three of Strengthen Your Walk. I’m Dr. Mary Neal, and today I’m going to talk about grace. In the last episode, I told you about my drowning death, and my decision to ask that God’s will be done.

After my initial surprise at being held by Christ, I was taken through a life review that had nothing to do with judgment, but everything to do with grace. I watched as the most difficult, painful, and wounding experiences of my life passed in front of us. Intermittently, Jesus would reach out toward one of the experiences, and we would be re-immersed within it. I re-experienced each situation with a complete understanding of the me within that event. I understood my life story, my back story — everything about me that had brought me to that moment in time. I also understood the back story of every other person involved, and I understood how they had come to that point in time when I hurt them, they hurt me, or they hurt someone I loved.

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What I discovered is that I no longer felt any negative or destructive emotions that had arisen from those events. I felt no anger, bitterness, confusion, remorse, shame, or guilt. Those emotions were just gone. Evaporated.

All I felt then, and all I feel now when I think about those events, is profound compassion, empathy, and love — for myself and for each of the other people involved. It wasn’t a matter of forgiveness. The anger I felt toward a neighborhood boy who abused me as a child, and the shame that arose from his abuse, did not disappear because I forgave him. It disappeared because there was just no room for it.

The empathy, compassion, and other forms of love that fill our hearts when we understand the genesis of our own or someone else’s actions made it impossible for the destructive emotions to even exist. I equate this relationship between destructive emotions and love, to the relationship that exists between darkness and light; Darkness has no capacity to exist on its own; Darkness is nothing more than the consequence of light being absent.

I’ll use a simple example to make the point. Most people would be irritated, angry, and outraged if one day, they were almost hit by a car that was wildly careening down the road. But those understandable, yet destructive emotions, would be entirely replaced with empathy and compassionate love if we knew that the driver of that car was on their way to the emergency room to see their dying child.

I think you’ll agree that the emotional change seen in this example is not a matter of forgiveness, but a matter of understanding. And I think this is the essence of grace.

Of course, we’ve all been misjudged or we’ve misjudged someone else. We can’t always know the back story, but we can acknowledge that every person has a story. And we’ve been biblically assured that God knows our heart and our story.

If we trust the truth of this promise and accept the premise that love always displaces destructive emotion just as light always displaces darkness, then we can be set free from the destructive emotions, relationships, and events of our past that can interfere with our ability to be open to God’s presence and His abundant love.

Today, I pray that you acknowledge this truth and accept that light always replaces darkness and love always wins.

Thank you for listening today and I hope you join me tomorrow for another segment of Strengthen Your Walk.

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