Forgiveness. Oh what a beautiful phrase! We write it on walls, cards, quotes, inscriptions, basically it’s one of those go to phrases you use when you need to be all touchy feely or you’re trying to hit one of the big topics of Christianity.
Sure, I’ve spoken about forgiveness. I’ve talked about how it really benefits us because we’re the ones who are all worked up about something when most of the time the person we’re upset with has not clue. I’ve talked about how it makes sense psychologically and it’s good for our emotional health. And don’t forget about the health benefits of forgiveness and how it relieves stress and makes us healthier physically as well as emotionally.
I even gave a sermon about a year ago that I was particularly proud of where I used cute little luggage tags to represent the baggage we carry around when we don’t forgive others.
So what do you think I got hit over the head with this week…
And let me tell you, it has been ugly. I mean UGLY. And as a woman, I really don’t appreciate things that are ugly, especially when they are staring me in the mirror.
My older siblings are both going through rough times in their marriages. To be exact, a separation for one and a divorce for the other. And as the Christian/Pastor of the 3 of us, do you think I did the right thing? Do you think my attitude has been loving and gracious. NOPE. Not even a little bit. And the worst part is that I know it, I recognize it, I see myself doing it, and I don’t even want to repent. (Oh Lord forgive my wretched heart)
What a brat right! Talk about middle sister syndrome.
So why has this ugly bitterness taken over my mind? Why is my heart so hardened, and where did all of this come from?
Are you ready for the ugly truth?
Ten years ago I got married, and guess who didn’t support the wedding and didn’t support me…yup you guessed it. And then 5 years later, when I went through the worst time of my life and the most painful thing I have ever experienced, when basically I was ripped in 2 and then forced to figure out how to put myself back together again after being completely broken and lost and all alone, guess who wasn’t there when I needed them…yup, right again.
Yes, this is tragic and wrong, but come on, it was 5 YEARS AGO. Move on already, right??!!
Well, going back to the beginning of this post, these feelings all took me by surprise. I had no idea I felt this way or the significance of how much I was hurt until now. They are going through something similar and it’s my turn to be there for them, and now I finally realize all this was buried in my heart.
Tell me if these thoughts ring a bell…
They have no clue they’ve hurt me. Therefore they have no clue that I am still hurting. They don’t think they’ve done anything wrong therefore why would they ever apologize. This is the hard part. How do I forgive them for something they don’t even think they’ve done? It just doesn’t seem fair. Where is the justice moment when they come to me and apologize and tell me what a horrible sibling they’ve been to me and how sorry they are for the millions of tears they’ve caused me? Where is the giant bouquet of flowers and mounds of presents to make up for their cruelty? Where are the balloons for the pity party they’re supposed to throw me?? And how can I forgive them for these things without justifying their actions? How do I forgive them without it meaning that what they’ve done is ok? And who the heck am I even worried about justifying this too? They don’t even know, let alone care?
So here we are again, talking about forgiveness and how you have to give things up to God and know that he will take care of the healing and that he will take care of the justice and that he will take care of the grace. Because, say it with me, I am only hurting myself by holding on to my bitterness and refusing to forgive.
Thankfully, I have mighty prayer warriors who offered to carry me through while I’m licking my wounds and taking my sweet time. And thankfully, I have a Heavenly Father who is more patient then I can imagine. Thankfully, He doesn’t strike me dead because He is so annoyed with repeatedly teaching me the same lesson…
What about you? Any recent lessons on forgiveness? Have you found the line between justification and forgiveness?