Happy Wednesday! Tonight’s message was about forgiveness. Byron reminded us of how, in order to love, we must “not remember what God forgets.” This subject has been on my mind and heart so much lately. I have two friends who have been abandoned by the one who was supposed to protect and cherish them – they don’t deserve what’s happening to them, but the best thing for them is also the hardest: forgiveness. I find it hard to even fathom that they should be expected to do this. But, being in bondage because of hate toward someone else is not freedom, and it’s not what God desires for us. But, it still makes me so angry to think about how much they are hurting, and I wish my anger could make their pain go away, but that’s not the way it works. Only true love can heal – Agape.
Tonight, I was reminded that we were not meant to HAVE to forgive. We were created for the Garden where we would fellowship with God and each other in perfect harmony – until sin entered the picture. So, now, until heaven, we can’t physically experience “the Garden”, but emotionally and spiritually we experience it EVERY TIME WE FORGIVE. So, it’s natural that I would struggle with this unnatural thing. But, tonight it struck me that it may not just be the injustice of my friends’ wounds that are causing me so much trouble – maybe it’s more about my own wounds.
I don’t want to admit that I’ve struggled to forgive real or perceived offenses in my own life – that doesn’t sound very spiritual. But, to say I’ve struggled with this lately, would be an understatement. I’ve felt abandoned and betrayed – and this by people who once called themselves my friends. So, maybe my issues with my above-mentioned friends’ REAL abandonment and betrayal, are also about my own feelings of loss. So, maybe I need to “practice what I preach” and lay it down.
So, I choose to forgive: the lies, the slander, the dirty looks at the grocery store, the glares at my children’s school, the phone campaigns, the lawyers, the “inviting” others to your “new church” right in front of me, the sabotage of our ministries – especially children’s ministries, the soccer field huddles, the lack of loyalty, the playing the victim, the alienation of anyone who defends us, the tears of my children, the attacks against my husband, the mistreatment of our staff, my feelings that “NO ONE STAYS” when the road gets rocky, and I’m left on a cold mountain with no visible shelter (previous blog “Shelter Friends”).
So, I choose to forgive, so that I, my family and my true friends can be free. And because these offenses don’t begin to touch how Jesus was treated.
I once had a dream. In it I was being beaten – by someone I had loved and trusted. I was on the ground bloody and broken when someone appeared before me. It was Jesus, and he looked like I did: bloody and broken. And through swollen eyes, He looked at me, and I was filled with peace as I realized the “point”: When I am abused and betrayed and broken, and yet choose to love, I LOOK LIKE HIM. So, that’s my desire: that my wounds cause me to resemble Jesus. And that through forgiveness, they become something beautiful – a beautiful brokenness that reflects a beautiful savior.
So, today I and, hopefully, my friends will walk in peace and freedom in our beautiful brokenness.