I had a special moment today that I really needed. I have been reflecting a lot recently with another fallen pastor about regret, sin and self-condemnation. Those types of discussions tend to lead to self-doubt and shame. For fallen pastors, it’s very difficult to come to terms with any kind of forgiveness after committing adultery and leaving the ministry.
When a pastor falls, there are years of thoughts like, “How could I have done that?” and “I threw away my calling.” There are countless nights of staying awake thinking about the people who were hurt, the years lost and feeling like you let God down.
Today, I was sitting talking with my step-daughter who is the youngest of my children and who knows the story of my fall, God’s intervening grace and this ministry. Recently, she was challenged by someone about how she felt about the whole situation. I wasn’t sure how she would respond. I love her and have been in her life for eight years. In fact, we had our special moment a few weeks ago when she called me dad for the first time.
I know that the day my two daughters found out, they immediately forgave me and gave me grace I needed to carry me through.
So when my step-daughter told me that she responded to the person with, “I love him and forgive him,” I melted. More grace than I deserve. She’s better than I deserve.
It’s another reminder that no matter how far any of us fall, we aren’t defined by those who refuse to forgive. We are lifted up by those who extend love and grace and by our Savior.
Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.
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