Forgiveness used to seem like such a simple concept to me. When I would overhear people say "Forgiveness is hard!" I never understood them. "How could forgiveness be hard?" I thought to myself when I would hear them say that. However at that point in my life, the only circumstances I had experienced involving forgiveness were with my brother asking for me to forgive him for stealing my toy, or pinching me in the arm.
Then the pain came. Somebody hurt me so bad, that I never imagined I would be able to truly forgive them. Or, better yet, I convinced myself that I somehow HAD forgiven them, but on the inside I really hadn't. My thoughts said "yes!" but my heart was saying "NO." My version of forgiveness involved me simply running away from the past and that painful situation, and pretending it never happened. I believed that by holding onto that pain of what that person did to me, then somehow I could mask it all up and pretend that it never actually happened.
THEN I met Jesus. From the start, Jesus started renewing every bit of my life. There was no masking with this guy. Although I was uncomfortable with the way Jesus boldly entered every door of my life, I saw He was working for my good. "Um...alright God, I really don't want to go there, let alone even talk about that situation, but if you insist..." was my typically kind of response to how Jesus would confront and begin to heal many areas of my life and past.
And finally one day, not too long ago, Jesus came to the door of my forgiveness situation, knocking boldly as ever. Jesus was not happy about this situation, not on bit. He said to me: "Jessica, you have certainly not forgiven this person. Your wound is still there. No matter how many times you bury it, it will always resurface unless you give the pain of that experience to me. Now, please let me heal you so you can truly move forward with your life, in joy and peace."
And my response to Jesus when He said this to me was this: "But God! I HAVE forgiven this person. I'm serious. It's behind me, I'm over it, I'm all good."
As I said this to Jesus, all of a sudden I imagined myself sitting there with that person, talking with them over conversation at dinner. Within seconds after sitting down with them, I immediately imagined myself throwing a diet coke in their face and then chucking the deuces at them while saying
...oops. Maybe I was a kinda-sorta still upset about the whole thing. And a little bit mad at them.
So God, you were right all along. It looks like I really haven't forgiven this person, but now I really am committing to making it happen. I see that it is going to be a process that takes effort and discipline. My emotions will typically go against me in this process, but I must deny them in order to obey you. I want to be set free from my past, and I want to forgive this person.
"Make allowance for each others faults, and forgive anyone who offend you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."
So friends, forgiveness is hard. We may be weak, but our God is strong. Has God called you to forgive someone whom you have no intention of ever forgiving? Remember, if you work with God and rely on His strength instead of yours to help you forgive that person, you will be set free! Your bitterness, anger, and hurt for that person will be gone. My prayer today is that we each rely on God's ability instead of our own to forgive those who have hurt us in our lives.
Love always, Jess