I read somewhere today that forgiveness isn't just a one time deal. In other words you have to work on it daily. This idea kind of bothers me a little because I'm the kind of woman who likes to do things right (and well) - the FIRST time. If you have to keep coming back to something then you've obviously done it wrong - right? WRONG.
Today I got a big fat choking dose of this reality when I found out the person who had already caused so much pain in so many lives (including mine and my families) was seen joking on facebook about running us all down in a car. I mean who does that??!!!
So I found myself getting angry all over again, and flashes of resentment rolled over me like a heavy bout of sea sickness as I was painfully reminded that humility is STILL no where to be found, let alone the concept of acknowledging and taking responsibility for the massive amount of hurt caused - the effects of which are still being felt far and wide.
So back to the drawing board. How the heck can you forgive someone who hasn't bothered to acknowledge his sin against you, and appears determined to keep the tongue sharp, nasty and pointed in your direction? I thought it was damn near impossible to forgive in the first instance let alone continuously! That's just me being completely honest, and I know I speak for so many of us.
Now before you start thinking I have an issue with unforgiveness, please hear me loud and clear. Forgiveness for me has never been too terribly hard. I know people who will hold on to an insignificant grudge for YEARS just because letting go and forgiving that person who annoyed them was too inconvenient...or not a priority to them. Maybe I'm being too harsh as everyone is wired differently, but how they carry on that way I have no idea. It must drive them secretly nuts!!
I on the other hand have a very real issue with remembering who 'said and did what' almost immediately after forgiveness is given. Just ask my husband. He benefits hugely from this reality LOL. (Joking....or am I? ;-) Not to mention the track record I have at forgiving the real whoppers. Like the man who sexually abused me as a child for 7 years, and my mother who took her own life away - from me. These are just two very real and very big examples of my ability to forgive and live a life of authentic forgiveness. And for the record I did forgive this man and his family. It was hard but I did it. And now the issue of 'continuously' has risen.
So. Now that we've got that cross examination out of the way let's get back to my point. There are two issues here; How and Why. HOW can you forgive someone who hasn't owned up, especially if you have to do it continuously...and WHY should you have to, especially if it appears they don't really care one way or another ???
Gosh well obviously (as of today) I am still trying to figure out the HOW part. But the more I write, and the more I send up my big question marks up to the Lord above (even right now as I write this) - the more clarity I get about the whole ugly mess. There is only one way. And it ain't your way or my way. Oh, I could go see a counselor or do a bit of self help talk, maybe even try a little positive visualisation. Or maybe I could repeat positive affirmations in my mind or have a little rant on facebook, I could even seek revenge and give them a taste of their own medicine! Maybe I could talk about it over and over again to anyone brave enough to listen....and the list goes on and on.
I could just ask God to help me. Maybe I could just ask Him to change My heart. I could always leave it up to Him to do this important work in me considering He's the one who requires it of me. All He really needs is my desire to do the right thing in His name and submit to His process. Not find the strength or will to do it all myself. When you genuinely do this, great mountains get thrown into the sea and you are left wondering what the big deal was in the first place! Not to mention the beautiful spirit infused peace you receive. And why wouldn't you want these things after all? The alternative is ugly, soul destroying, spirit suffocating, heart squeezing HELL. I sure as heck don't want my heart to live in that place any longer than necessary. So God....PLEASE HELP ME - PLEASE HELP US - to let go, die to ourselves again, and forgive continuously. By your power and strength, not ours!
Ok, so that's the HOW. Now onto the WHY part.
Well I'm not entirely convinced forgiving someone who doesn't believe they need to be forgiven is going to benefit them in any way. I could be wrong about that, and am willing to humbly change that train of thought if anyone can apply biblical truth to it - but right now its easy to think; If they don't know and don't care (or even worse - think they are in the right) then what's the point?
I've always been told that forgiveness is more about the condition of your own heart as opposed to shoving it down the throat of someone who clearly doesn't think he needs it. If we walked around for the rest of our lives feeling full to he brim with resentment because we were unable to let it go and give it to God. ....well..... imagine the quality of OUR lives. We would be eaten from the inside out and eventually become incapable of thinking/acting/loving and being like Christ. Which by the way is the whole purpose of being on earth. Unforgiveness is a diseased seed and it will eat away at you bit by bit without you even realising it...until one day you stand up (choked by the tares) and say: "NAH!!!! Can't do it sorry! I just can't forgive him. I cant and I won't!!!"
Now that's a dangerous place to be for anyone - let alone a Christian.
I guess what I'm saying is....why would you do that to yourself? Why would you allow MORE hurt into your life? Don't you think you deserve better? Don't you think your worth more? I'm convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom: 8:38) Unless YOU choose otherwise. So CHOOSE you this day to be all that He's created you to be. Decide right now that your on His side - even if it's hard. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! It's true!
So the 'Why' is more about you and your desire to be whole, loving, and healed. It is also HIS desire to see these things be done in your life. So where's all this in the bible you may be thinking? Well, why don't you go and find it for yourself. Now there's a cool little challenge. But as a side thought - infact a little seed I believe the Holy spirit dropped in me just now.... Consider Jesus on the cross. We all know the story and many a forgiveness sermon has been preached on it. But I have a potentially random yet simple point to make;
Not everyone in the whole world heard Jesus cry out just before he died "Forgive them father for they know not what they do". Which means the words weren't directed AT them or maybe not even entirely FOR them. At least in the way we've always understood it yeah? Imagine if Jesus didn't say those words for the benefit of our ears? Or for the reason we've always thought. Maybe there's more to it than the obvious. Maybe, just maybe he wanted to ease the heartbreak our Father God was feeling as he looked down upon a depraved (and clueless) generation who had just brutalised his only Son and now was about to kill him in the worst possible way. Forgive them Father so YOU can be at peace. So You know it is finished and can finally celebrate that with me - your son. 'See you soon Dad'. And then the earth groaned and shook and the sky poured out as God released His forgiveness. Thankyou Jesus. Obviously this is just a thought but it's a picture that settles well in my spirit.
I began this blog by sharing with you some ugly but very real challenges I and many others are faced with (continuously as it may appear!). I realise that I was very close to ranting and admittedly I did have to delete my first couple of goes at adequately expressing myself lol, but the way I process truth is by being VERY REAL about what is going on and acknowledging life experiences that help shape my thoughts - good and bad. Its called 'being real' and I won't apologise for it. This is how God has wired me and I am thankful to Him for continuously helping me convert bad experiences into beautiful opportunities for growth and healing. I also hope these VERY REAL words can help someone else along the way. Forgiveness on a daily basis is vital for my spiritual and physical health and well-being so I've discovered. And I believe the same for you.
Whoever you are, and whatever your facing, try a little forgiveness on for size. Whether its forgiving others, or even yourself. Precious peace and joy awaits you. I promise you. Or should I say HE promises you! But don't ever forget, its not usually a one time gig. You have to work on it continuously and die to yourself daily. Its not always easy but its always worth it.