All through my life I discovered this morning that I was not clear on what’s actually involved with the act of forgiveness. I learned today that forgiveness is not saying that things are hunky dory now, and then going back into an abusive situation. Just like it is not letting someone off the hook by saying, “You didn’t do anything wrong.” I had always been taught that forgiveness is, was, should be….unconditional love with no boundaries. It was that kind of forgiveness I could not handle….well it appears that that is not what forgiveness is about. I don’t have to deny to myself that the hurtful situation exists, and I don’t have to pretend that no one hurt my feelings, and I don’t have to stick my head in the ground and not see the existence of a hurtful situation. Whew…I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders this morning. How cool is this information….and here I have been going around feeling like a bad person….because I could not pretend the situations were there…even when I had asked for forgiveness.
The Bible gives us a great deal of instruction when it comes to forgiveness but I guess the one that struck closest to home this morning was that we are to forgive….because we have been forgiven by God (Ephesians 4:32). Busted! I can’t expect people to forgive if I don’t forgive…and again….Jesus forgave me…on a cross…dying for stuff I had done….not him. Ouch. Could I do that…..I think not. As much as I wish I could stand here and sound like Super Christian Forgiver….I can’t!
Now…I also learned today….and not as a happy camper…that we are to forgive others to gain control of our lives from hurt emotions (Genesis 4:1-8). Ouch. Now there Kevin went and walked all over my toes. Actually, I believe he called me out in church. I felt myself blushing like a fog light on a light house. Then he slayed me with Hebrews 12:14-15 when he said, “we forgive so we won’t become bitter. I cut my eyes around to make sure everyone was not looking at me. I stayed in a mentally abusive relationship probably 22 years longer than I should have….because I thought it was what was right, what God expected of me, what everyone else expected of me….and became bitter at the end. I finally realized that if I did not leave….I was going to lose my mind. Everything I believed as a Christian was shattering…..so one day….I packed a few things up….and moved on…..the problem is….I just never could forgive him. I wanted him to change and come and get me….and when he didn’t….I was angry….and refused to forgive.
Today…at the altar of my church….I finally let it go. It was sweet release.You know, there are times we don’t feel like forgiving those who have wronged us. It is easier to just move on and pretend we have dealt with it. But are Christians people who have a non-forgiving nature? I certainly hope not! If you can’t or don’t forgive….you WILL become a very bitter person, and you know bitterness has been linked to stress-related illnesses. Is not forgiving worth your health? By forgiving others, we become free, both spiritually and emotionally. Hallelujiah. I could not sleep last night….and today I know why….God wanted me to be pliable….and ready to listen to His word….and listen I did. If you are reading this….and I have ever hurt you….please forgive me. If you are reading this and you have hurt someone else….ask for forgiveness. I promise you, you will feel a whole lot lighter. I am not saying this is easy....and that I have arrived. I certainly haven't. I made one small step today....I still have some giant strides to take....but after today I am willing to start walking!
Bless you all real good!