Spoiler Alert

Written By Christy Gibas


Recently I took my daughter to see the Cinderella movie. It was an amazing film bringing the story of Cinderella back to life capturing the imagination of modern audiences. I was surprised I liked it so well as I’ve always thought that the story has given us step moms a bad rap. 


The tale stayed true to the original version. Cinderella’s life was quite sad. If anyone had the right to be angry and hold a grudge it was this girl. Her sadness was much more than not being permitted to attend a ball. She was treated like she didn’t matter. Her family wasn’t kind to her. While her step sisters were offered lovely things, Cinderella was forced to give up her room and live in a bare attic while serving the family. They would not allow her to eat with them, spend time with them, or have anything of her own. Her life was a lonely existence of being subjected to bullying, name calling, and mockery. Yet the most powerful moment in the movie occurs before Cinderella leaves her home. She turns to her step mother and says, “I forgive you.” Her step mother never asked for forgiveness, she never apologized for her vile treatment, but Cinderella forgives the wicked woman before being whisked off to the palace to embrace her “happily ever after.” 


There is an important formula in this tale for achieving Happily Ever After. Though it is simply a fairy tale, it contains valuable truth. We cannot live happily ever after with unforgiveness in our hearts. When someone has mistreated us in some manner we spoil our future by hanging on to the offence. While forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation it does mean we release the person from our desire to seek revenge. Romans 12:19 teaches us, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge. I will pay them back,’ says the Lord.” 


Finally, while we are unable to control the behavior of others and how we are treated, we are able to control how we will respond and move forward. Forgiveness is a gift of peace that we give to ourselves. Paying back blow for blow is an ugly way to live and denies the power of God to work in our lives. Romans 12: 17-18 instructs, “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” We will either rob ourselves of future peace or we can obey the scriptures and move forward trusting that God will bring justice. Forgiving others unleashes true freedom to embrace our future of peace and joy that is found in a life of faith.

 

Getting Free

Getting Free
Written by Christy Gibas

My dad tells a funny story that has always resonated with me. When he was young, he worked in a restaurant in Pittsburgh. Anytime someone broke a dish, the manager required them to write on a board what the reason was for the mishap. Most would write things like, “it slipped out of my hand,” or “the tray wobbled.” But when the manager broke a dish, he would walk over to the board and write in large letters, “GROSS NEGLIGENCE.”

We always laughed when my dad told us that story, but the meaning came through. At times over the years when I have totally screwed up I have responded, “GROSS NEGLIGENCE.” Some have laughed at my honesty while others were completely thrown off guard. We are so eager to excuse our behavior instead of admitting our failures. It’s easier to believe that failure was out of our control. We can’t stop drinking because of the stress we are under. We lose our temper because other people make us angry. We are unable to change a habit because of something that has happened to us in our childhood. These are all convenient excuses to keep us from being free. Excuses keep us stuck in the mud. Excuses keep us stagnant and tied to our behaviors and shortcomings. Excuses are the words of the powerless that say, “What happens is beyond my control.”

But there is a better way. There is great power and freedom in owning our circumstances. When we take personal responsibility for our actions healing and change can begin. God’s truth is that we never have to stay where we are. When we let go of excuses, we make room for the power of God to work in our lives and change us. Romans 12:2 (NLT) tells us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you well learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

The road to freedom is paved with responsibility. It is the custom of our world to shift blame and make excuses instead of admitting, “GROSS NEGLIGENCE.”  The day we take responsibility is a glorious day where victim mentality dies and victorious living in freedom begins.