If there’s one thing I struggle with, it’s forgiveness.
Of course I can forgive a person for calling me a name, or borrowing my favorite shirt and not giving it back. But, it’s the deeper things that crush my spirit so easily that make forgiveness seem nearly impossible.
I am currently reading “The Storm Inside”, by Sheila Walsh – totally an amazing book for women. It has a pretty self-explanatory title.. it’s about the storms inside of us that are hard to face, but as Christians we have to. As I read through the chapters, taking countless notes if I must say, I seem to always flip back to chapter three on forgiveness.
Just a quick, little insight on who I am as a person.
I am very simple, so it is very easy to make me happy. But in the same breath, I am also a very sensitive person. I could be laughing one minute at a joke Amy Poehler said on Parks and Rec, then a second later I will be getting tears in my eyes because of those heart-wrenching Sarah Mclachlan commercials. Those poor animals..
Since I am highly sensitive.. I have a tendency to turn small things into big deals. And it is something I don’t mean to do. It’s just when something is said or done, I take it personally, and every time my heart breaks a little more. Most of the time I don’t like confronting those feelings, because deep down I know I am wrong. But since I don’t confront them, my feelings build up until I explode. (I do not suggest trying that at home).
I have been hurt by a lot in this passed year. By people who mean the world to me.
I have been told things a woman shouldn’t hear. I have been called names any person should never be called. The trust that I have developed for certain people has been torn down, built back up again, and then completely diminished because of something that has been done. I have been pulled down by those evil things that have been burned into my heart for way too long.
But it seems like every time I forgive those people and let go of the hurt, something happens again that tears me right back down again.
I have now gotten to the point where I have realized forgiveness isn’t for letting the person who has hurt me “off the hook”. It’s about me and God.
Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied. “but seventy times seen!”‘
Sometimes I don’t even want to forgive once, but God is telling me to forgive the same person 490 times.. wow.. that is a bunch of times.
In “The Storm Inside” Shelia tells us what forgiveness isn’t.
Forgiveness does not say that what the person did was okay; people do many things that are far from okay.
Forgiveness does not mean that you have to continue in a hurtful relationship with someone who has harmed and will continue to harm you.
Forgiveness is not burying your head in the sand and pretending the offense never happened.
Forgiveness is not denying the pain.
Forgiveness does not mean we don’t take the wrong seriously.
So.. what does it mean?
“More often than not, forgiveness means dragging our will and our feelings to line up with the will of God, as an act of obedience.” (p. 44)
Sometimes it really doesn’t sound like fun, but in the end God rewards us for being obedient to his word. “Forgiveness is not about removing someone else’s liability, but about setting our own hearts free.” (p. 51) That’s so beautiful to me. It’s about bringing the debt and debtor to God. It’s about actually forgiving someone with our whole hearts.
It reminds me in a sense of my favorite story in the Bible found in John, where Jesus says, “Whoever has not sinned may cast the first stone.”
We’ve all been on the opposing side of the forgiveness court. Some in bigger ways than others. But we all have longed for the taste of forgiveness in some way.
Tonight I just pray for each and every one of us to truly find peace in our hearts and our minds with the people that we need to forgive. It is such a more beautiful and enjoyable life when we can forgive a person who has hurt us with our full hearts and forget the pain that they have caused us to feel. Refusing to forgive puts us in direct rebellion against God.
Write down on a piece of paper everything that is hurting you right now. Every person that you need to forgive, and ask God to put peace in your hearts for everything that they have done to bring you hurt and sadness.
God is listening right this second.
He will make everything new.