Your Journey

A brisk wind pushed me down the slope as I walked around the Lazy H and inspected the changes that would transform a church camp into a home for young adults. If felt good to be doing something to help kids without a family support system. I sat on a boulder overlooking a creek and pondered the journey that had brought me here.Looking back, I realize that pain and anger created the engine that drove my life off the tracks. Although that was my experience, the truth is that nobody makes it through life unscathed. There’s a lot of evil in the world and it comes in many shapes and sizes.

Children and adults have been beaten, burned with cigarettes, sexually molested and gang raped. Kids have been sold into sexual slavery, prostituted on the streets and in brothels. Horrific things happen every day. You may have lived through such things. Whatever your story, there are things in life that hurt.No matter who you are, where you’ve been or what you’ve been through—there is hope for you.Somebody loved you so much that He died for you. That person is Jesus. He wants to make you whole, happy and successful.One of the most amazing things about Jesus is that He paid the price for your sins and mine, before we were born. Do you know what that means?

You’re forgiven.

God forgave you, and your path to freedom from pain is to forgive. Let me repeat: Forgiving those who hurt you doesn’t make what they did right. They might need to be held accountable to the law and that’s okay. Behavior has consequences. They will also be held accountable to God.A lot of people refuse to forgive because they don’t want to give up their right to be angry. You have the right to be angry. Just realize that holding onto the anger also holds the pain in place. It keeps you frozen in the same cycle of misery and pain.

The other thing it does is hold you in a victim mentality. I never could stand being a victim. Still can’t. Don’t give anyone that kind of power over your life. When you forgive, you take back the power of your past to hurt you. You take back control over your emotions.Forgiveness will take you from being a victim to being a victor.I’m not saying you can’t achieve success without forgiving. I did, and you can too. But it makes success so much harder. Why? Because you’re dragging around a ball and chain of emotional anger and pain, which affects you every day.

I know this by experience.I also want to clarify that while forgiving those who hurt you won’t change your past; it will change your future. 

When Adam sinned, death entered the world. God expelled Adam and Eve from the garden as they had exchanged their life in paradise for a curse. They were cursed, their bodies were cursed, and the world was cursed. Their bodies, once perfect, died a little every day. Their souls, once in tune with God, were now predisposed to rebel against Him. Thousands of years and hundreds of generations later, we are the heirs of that curse. Our bodies, despite medical science, are even more susceptible to disease than Adam and Eve’s were. Our DNA, after generations of radiation and chemical exposure, is riddled with defects. And our society is so inundated with sin and our souls so easily trapped that our actions can alter our physiology in such a way that sin becomes even more natural.

God knows this. He knows that our sin and our physiology are sometimes connected. In Genesis 3:16, He explains the effect sin has on women: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Sin had an impact on women such that future sin would be more prevalent. And God knows that sin—whether original sin, our own sin, or the sin of others—can change us in such a way that following God’s standards becomes more difficult. The fallen state of the world has induced, directly or indirectly, many different conditions that weaken our understanding of God’s plan for us. Brain abnormalities, such as those associated with autism, can make it hard to empathize with others and show love. The sin of others can cause attachment disorder, which damages the fellowship God designed us to have with others. And in-born physiology can make healthy sexual relationships difficult.

The first thing to realize about these conditions is that they are nothing compared to the power, love, and grace of God. Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Nothingin us or outside of us, nothing we do and nothing done to us, can keep God from forgiving us and accepting us as His children. He knows our physical state and our difficulties. He knows our mental and emotional capacities. But we are all pre-conditioned to sin.

The second thing to remember is rather a double-edged sword: God knows our limitations, and we are still expected to obey. God knows our starting point as damaged people. His promises of hope and healing are just as applicable to someone with autism or a mental disorder as they are to anyone else. But, while we cannot contribute to Christ’s work of salvation, we are expected to cooperate with God’s work of healing in us. The principles of sanctification and dying to flesh still apply. We are still expected to consider God’s plan for us above our own desires. That may mean continuing to take required medication, even if we don’t feel like it. Or being diligent with therapy. And “healing” will not look like what the world expects, but God never intended us to conform to the world—He wants us conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29).

Everyone on this planet is predisposed to rebel against God and live a life of sin. Sometimes that predisposition has a name and medical significance, and sometimes it doesn’t. But in God’s eyes, there are only two types of people—those who have accepted Jesus as their savior, and those who haven’t. Our physical limitations and proclivities may determine the challenges we will face in our attempt to obey God, but they need never separate us from God’s love.

StevieRay Hansen


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