~ Forgiveness. It’s such a complex thing. Such a necessary thing. It’s something we long for from others when we have wronged them. It’s something we struggle to do when we feel we have been wronged. It’s something God the Father gave us freely, unconditionally, lovingly, sacrificially. And if anyone knows what it feels like to be wronged, it’s Him.
~ Today, I was thinking about hurts that happened years ago. I was contemplating all the horrible things I would say to the individuals that hurt me so they would understand what they did. Then, in the midst of this heated, imaginary argument taking place to appease my pain, I had a sort of revelation, if you will. I realized I needed to forgive. I had never even acknowledged that I was struggling with unforgiveness. It had never once crossed my mind.
~ How often do we stew over things; words said in anger, silence from a dear friend, manipulations inflicted on us by others, back handed words spoken from a loved one, deception from a trusted confidant? We play these events over and over in our tortured minds trying to make sense of them or plot how we can set the record straight and be vindicated.
~ Yet, we have a Savior that forgave us every horrible thought, every lie told, every heartbreak inflicted, every fornication committed, every pointless idol we bow our knee to. A beautiful, wonderful Man who took every sin we would ever commit and bore the weight of it. Allowed Himself to be tortured, belittled, disrespected, disgraced, shamed, and hung on a cross while painfully dying for the love of His life. The last thing He saw and heard where the happy faces and the cheers from His beloved creation reveling in His torturous death. “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” And He forgave. Without thought, without question, feeling and understanding every emotion this failable race experiences.
~ And failable we are. I wish forgiveness was easy. I wish I could close my eyes, count to ten and let it all go. But it doesn’t work like that. In fact, I don’t even know where to begin. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. So, I have a heart of unforgiveness. I hold grudges and plot my revenge and pray someday those who hurt me will feel my pain and know just what they have done. But I also desire to let it all go. To be met in that place where I can begin to put it all behind me and give the same grace that was so lovingly given to me.
~ Forgiveness for us mere mortals is not a onetime thing I’m afraid. It is a battle. A battle we fight every time those memories service, or we run into a person who has wronged us, or we indulge in some self pity for a moment. We need to arm ourselves for this battle and be aware of just how easily we deceive ourselves into thinking our unforgiveness in justified. How arrogant we are! We rank sins so often. We think the lie we told our friend is far less hurtful than the depth of the deception they inflicted on us, so therefore we are entitled to hold bitterness in our hearts because they deserve our resentment.
~ I have a friend I’ve known since my early teenage years. She and I were quite close for awhile but have recently drifted apart. I tried to make amends for whatever had happened. I tried reaching out and restoring what we once had. But it was rejected. She threw her anger and bitterness at me while trying to manipulate my guilt. So I stopped caring. Stopped reaching out. After all, I was the one trying to be a friend, here. She could die alone surrounded by all her cats because obviously with her attitude she wasn’t going to have friends surrounding her.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15
~ Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love… these things bind us together in unity. In Acts, one of the running themes is unity and how deeply God wants His children united together as one undeniable force, proclaiming His name! If my heart is flooded with unforgiveness, it cripples me. I can’t give the other six without a heart of forgiveness.
~ People are going to hurt us, hate us, wrong us, belittle us, reject us and condemn us. We aren’t in control of their actions, but we are in control of ours. Why allow their sin to cause us to sin and fall short of experiencing the unity we can have with the Lord of Creation and our brothers and sisters in His name? We aren’t hurting them; we are wounding our own hearts.
~ My friend may not ever know how she hurt me. She probably will never think back on it all and feel sorrow for the loss of our friendship. And I sincerely pray my heart is brought to that place where I can look back with love and compassion, instead of resentment and unforgiveness. I pray that every time I’m faced with showing grace or inflicting condemnation, I would take pause and listen to that still, small voice of my Savior reminding me of what He has forgiven me from. “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Luke 7:47
~ We have been forgiven SO MUCH!!!!! How beautiful would it be if we all stopped worrying about our own selfish agendas and started mimicking the heart of our gracious King?