Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I was going to write this post on Sunday.  Glad I waited.  The slight conviction I was feeling then has metastasized into full-blown angst.  Not always a bad thing.

Especially not in this case.

I've hit this subject of forgiveness hard during the past six months.  First was the realization I had stuffed years of pain down deep, until it all burst out my insides back in March.  Sadly, I imagined those bodies floating in the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina...dead bodies swelling in the water and heat...swelling until sometimes they burst.  Death won't stay neatly inside, it will eventually spill out its blackness and disease, yes?

Honest- I didn't have a clue how to forgive, heal, move forward...move at all.  Worse was the barreling down epiphany, right on pain's heels, of my own actions, words, thoughts, and behaviors in response to years of unreleased pain.

We sometimes do awful things when we are hurting, don't we?

Plus, there was a social situation our family encountered at the beginning of this year which needed me to extend forgiveness into also.  Thought I had moved on from it months ago, but a conversation with a dear friend over coffee and a brownie had me spewing anger and ugly, black unforgiveness.  Oh, how I needed God's grace intervention there.

And...just because I personally think God likes to bring about freedom, healing and restoration simultaneously in several areas once we are willing to allow His hand into our messes....

I was reminded on Monday of probably my toughest extension of forgiveness in my entire life.


You see, I had reached levels of forgiveness in my heart in all of these situations, some deeper than others.  Sometimes we feel healed and whole until memories are brought forth, then we feel the pain and shame all over again.

Does this mean I hadn't forgiven?

I believe I had.  But I'd forgiven like this:

“Forgiveness means it finally becomes unimportant that you hit back. You're done. It doesn't necessarily mean that you want to have lunch with the person. If you keep hitting back, you stay trapped in the nightmare...”  
-Anne Lamont, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.

Sure, I'd stopped fighting back.  Well, except for the angry spewing over brownies.  But the blackness was still in my heart, in varying amounts per circumstance and person, poisoning my insides. 

I had not forgiven like this:

"As far as the East is from the West, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
-Psalms 103:12

You are thinking right now, "That's God talking...that's not for me to do."

But Jesus did it for us.

When others hurt us, they are transgressing against us, yes?  Overstepping our personal boundaries, violating us in some tiny annoyances or with gigantic, life will never be the same, offenses.  

Guest speaker pastor on Sunday...forgive me for not recalling his name...reminded us of the parable Jesus told in Matthew, and how it relates to our forgiveness of others:
A Story About Forgiveness
 At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, "Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?" 
 Jesus replied, "Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

 "The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn't pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.

"The poor wretch threw himself at the king's feet and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.

"The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, 'Pay up. Now!'

"The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' But he wouldn't do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

"The king summoned the man and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn't you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?' The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt."
-Matthew 18:21-35


I know I've been trying to hold others accountable for their ten dollar sin debts to me, in my heart, when Jesus has forgiven my life debt of sin that I can never repay or make right.

Does this mean I forget what they've done to me?  I'm honestly not sure it's humanly possible.  And some transgressions do indeed require cutting someone out of our life, for our own safety or well-being, or that of our loved ones.  So, no, I don't think we ever forget.

But we can forgive.  Release our transgressors from their sin debts owed us.  Gain the perspective of heaven, realizing we are all worthy of death for our sins...our sins against each other and against God.

Sure, it's a process.  I hope it doesn't sound like I am dismissing great and horrible pain perpetrated against you by others.  I am not.  But when we let go...when we choose to forgive and leave the pain and shame in God's very capable hands

We heal.  Can breathe again.  Regain hope and a future.

 I hope you are able to take a step toward forgiving today...I am walking there with you. 

*As I was searching for a picture for this blog, I found the above.  I'm not sure there's a more powerful modern day example of unmerited forgiveness than the response of the Amish community in the aftermath of the school shooting in 2006. Our country demanded hate and retribution, but the Amish poured out love in a way which mystified and challenged us all. 

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