Recently I was involved in a small group Bible Study at our church that devoted time to getting to know the life of Joseph (Jacob’s son). The study revolved around the theme of forgiveness.
As Christians, I think this topic becomes somewhat trite and watered down ~~ almost to the point of considering it as “that” aspect of our lives. Of course we realize and understand that “this” is the foundation of our relationship in Christ ~~ but yet, I tend to think we don’t fully embrace “this” as a way of life.
I will be the first to agree with the old adage: “easier said than done.” Hurts ~~ well, they just down right HURT! Some seem to sting longer and stronger ~~ some don’t ever seem to leave us (no matter how hard we try to forget them) ~~ some come flying out of left field and smack us so hard that the scars always look fresh and the debris seem to never get completely mopped up.
And yet …
We are instructed … encouraged … admonished …
I pen these words from fresh wounds, Girlfriend. Wounds that just seem to be the spot where if you could tell someone,”here, just follow the dotted line of the previous injury …” it would retrace the trauma of days gone by. And sad to say … with the same person(s).
Can anyone relate?
Recalling back on the days when tear-filled eyes looked back at me and trembling lips quivered ~~ when there didn’t seem to be enough tissue in the box to dry up the fountain of pain flowing from the face then standing in front of me … I’ve seen and heard Girlfriends pour out their hearts in anguish, releasing the pain and sorrow that was stored inside them, with the hopes of finding answers and relief at the end of their trail of tears. It’s never easy to tell someone that forgiveness is the answer.
And maybe this is why I, too, wrestle with such an enemy of my soul ~~ because the answer is to continue to extend the grace of forgiveness ~~ just as God has freely extended towards me.
Whenever my children were learning how to do a task that just challenged them in a new way, I would observe their struggle to “get it right.” And as a parent, my own struggle was in simply letting them experience this learning curve so that they “could get it right.” It’s never easy to let your child “trip” or “fall” ~~ but sometimes that’s par for the course ~~ because the Journey includes the potholes and speed bumps.
Forgiveness is the same way ~~ if we view it from the perspective that our God wants us to learn to keep persevering through it, and to truly offer it along the Journey to those who may not genuinely know what forgiveness looks like or tastes like or sounds like. Let’s not forget that we, too, were once so ignorant.
A Girlfriend once asked me, “why do I have to keep experiencing this?” In other words, why must she continue to experience the hurt of pain in relationships.
If only there were a “pat answer” to cover all of that ~~ but then there would be little opportunity in life to explore the wonderous possibilities of friendships and love.
This I do know: that as we continue to forgive ~~ and here’s the most challenging part (at least for me) ~~ even when it doesn’t make sense ~~ even when you think that it’s giving the other party “the edge,” or “the victory” ~~ you are actually being part of God’s Victory over sin.
Forgiving is NOT excusing ~~ if you’ve been hurt, please DO acknowledge it for what it is and the damage it has caused. Forgiving does NOT require you to invite the other party to dinner or to dwell within your house. Boundaries can be safely set in place for irreconcilable situations (but NOT as a solution to avoiding or ignoring the other party). Forgiveness is a genuine act of love that comes with practice.
Trust me when I say, I, also, have “difficult” people in my life ~~ some whom I would prefer to not be with in the same room for any length of time. And if you’re like me, these “difficult” people are in the family tree so you can’t simply “shake them loose.”
These “difficult” people just seem to know which buttons to push and which “wrong words” to say. Every attempt at “pleasing” them fails miserably.
I get it.
And with nearly every encounter, something goes awry. Before you know it, words have been hurled so fast and strong that the speed of light would seem slow! BOOM! Damage done and no way to retract any of it.
Whether you have been the victim or the assailant in such a situation ~~ maybe you went toe-to-toe and matched word-for-word … doesn’t matter which side of the battle you stood … if you’re a Follower of Christ, every step you take puts you on Holy Ground. And on Holy Ground is where we Worship. Worship and inflicting pain by withholding forgiveness cannot coexist with anger and bitterness ~~ there just isn’t enough room in your heart for the ugly stuff.
You may have lived through some VERY UGLY experiences, Girlfriend ~~ I get it. There’s NO comparing ~~ regardless of the “intensity” or “frequency” ~~ it’s ALL UGLY. Living in a fallen world guarantees the occurrences will be there throughout our lifetime.
But God … (aren’t those sweet words?)
Has made a provision of love that heals if we will yet follow through with His Remedy for dealing with hurt and pain. Forgiveness does not assure us that all will be well with the other party. However, it does deal the issue of how God continues to relate to us ~~ in and with love. The other person ~~ that’s His Business. We pray for that part, and sometimes that’s all we can do.
Personally, I have found this comforting. I’ll admit, it’s an ongoing work in progress ~~ but that’s what I am ~~ a work in progress. I must constantly remind myself that progress does not sit still; it moves forward, while learning from past mistakes.
Yes, it’s hard … but Girlfriend, God calls us to peace.
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NLT
I hope and pray for your hurts, Girlfriend. That God will pour over your current situation with the assurance that He has you wrapped in his Arms of love. Let His Love fill you to overflowing ~~ so that forgives and healing will be part of your legacy.
I love you to Heaven and Back ~~