This week, God has been speaking to my heart. It hasn't been comfortable. It hasn't really even been all that pleasant. It never really is, when you're forced to acknowledge your shortcomings.
I'm just going to be flat-out honest because I don't know how to do this blog thing any other way.
I'm struggling to forgive.
This is not something new for me. Anyone who knows me well knows how skilled I am in the art of the grudge. That's not really something I want an award for.
I thought I was doing better, growing up. Since I've been with my husband, I've learned how to talk about things and move on and get over myself. But then something ugly emerged, and I failed.
And I've harbored a grudge for almost a year. And I've let it eat at me. And I've let it begin to make me bitter. And I knew what it was doing to me all along, but my pride was too strong to do anything about it. Because, honestly, it felt good to feel that way. It felt justified.
And because of that little word -- justified -- this ugly thing has been allowed to creep back in my heart over and over again. I'd say it's forgiven, I'd say I want it to be over, but if I were honest with myself, I knew that wasn't true. And so I became a liar.
But you wouldn't have known that about me. Because I hid it. I'm good at hiding the ugly.
This week, though, the issue of forgiveness has become a central theme. From personal devotionals, to heartbreaking stories I've read, to even the Sunday school lesson I helped my husband with, God has been telling me I need to forgive. For real this time.
And even if the forgiveness is not reciprocated, I need to move on. My heart can't afford to be weighed down by this sin any more.
I want to leave you with some excerpts from the chapter "Faithful, Focused, Forgiving" from the book A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus: 30 Days to Christlike Character (Elizabeth George). These are words that are resonating in my heart today.
"I forgive you." Three words. Three words that are somewhat easy words to say. Three words that are extremely hard to mean and live.
You know what normal is, don't you? It's the response we instinctively leap to when we're hurt. Whether our injury is emotional or physical, we move into retaliation mode. Normal thinks, you hurt me, so I'm gonna hurt you. This kind of response is the natural, normal pattern of the world. It's no secret that forgiveness is not the normal or human response. We are to give the supernatural response.
If the person who hurts you or devastates your life never repents...or acknowledges the pain caused to you... or never asks you for forgiveness...or never even says "I'm sorry," you are still willing to extend forgiveness. Forgiving that person will free you of a heavy burden of bitterness!
Forgiveness isn't about THEM, it's about YOU. And your connection with God.
Our Savior's plea, issued to us all those centuries ago, was to imitate His heart of forgiveness. As He pointed out, our love and forgiveness would be-and is- a sign to the watching world that we march to the beat of a different drum. We follow the Lord Christ, not our emotions, or what we see or read, or what we witness all around us or are told to do. When we love and forgive others as Jesus did, we shout to the world that we are God's children. Truly, forgiveness is a mark of Christian love.
Forgiving others is not an option. It's not up for debate. A Christian's forgiveness is based on realizing he has been forgiven.
Jesus never asks anything of us He did not do Himself. He asks us to forgive. He expects us to forgive. He enables us with the power and ability to forgive. By His all-sufficient grace, you CAN forgive!
Lord Jesus, thank You for forgiving my sin, and help me in turn to forgive others. Search my heart for situations in which I'm not fully forgiving a wrong inflicted upon me. Whenever I recall the injury, pain, or memory of that hurt, let the beauty of Your forgiveness wash over me. Give me the love to forgive seventy times seven. Amen.