Why would we spend a some blogs on forgiveness when we just wrote a chapter on it in “The Cure”? Probably because, in the blinding pain of hurt, the way home is hard to get our head and hearts around. So we need to keep seeing it from different angles. We need to hear from friends who’ve stubbornly and bravely tried it every which way but right. So, today I’ll give a snapshot of my walk into unforgiveness that just about crippled me.
So, I got hurt.
“Suddenly, in a fight you never wanted, you discover you’re not only the victim but the issue.” (“The Cure” p. 66)
There’s a moment, somewhere in the season, where you believe it is taking God too long to solve this, to vindicate you and prove to all mankind the guilt of the other! A moment where you wonder if God’s paying attention. And then a settled resentment that maybe He’s siding with the one who hurt you. Because apparently everyone is just going on with their lives, unaffected. You see your offender across the room in a coffee shop, laughing blithely, without an apparent care in the world.
That’s when it happened. The moment I thought, “God, you don’t get it. You either don’t care, don’t understand, or I don’t get your sense of justice!” That’s when I took over. That’s when I began to go it alone. That’s when I became the issue. And that’s when dozens of hooks got embedded into my heart and enflamed me into a new distorted reality of subjective anger, alienation, and resentful victimization.
Meanwhile, I couldn’t help but rehearse the scene over and over, complete with a soundtrack. I could recall everything; the smell of the room, the color of his shirt, the exact words said.
And then, just so others could “pray more effectively” I began telling the story of being wronged to a larger and larger audience. I had a 3, 5, and 20-minute version.
*I became a prosecuting attorney, consistently build my case
*I became obsessed with “justice and accuracy”
*I became less and less able to love well, neglecting the needs of others
*I became unable to see from any other vantage point but my own
*I became more and more uptight and my joy was robbed
*I became progressively more unhealthy
*I became intent on telling “my side of things” to as many as possible
*I became unable to interpret history accurately
*I became gradually to alienate myself from all unwilling to carry my banner
*I became willing to question God’s motive, intentions and care
And I got tired. And weak. And empty. And dark. Eventually, I was less concerned anymore about justice as I was just getting my life back.
But I was stuck. My offender was not owning his stuff. God apparently was not convicting him. And I was wounded. I couldn’t imagine that the God I knew would just want me to bluff a forgiveness that wasn’t in truth. I stayed in that conundrum for a long, long time.
The first step home was to face my pride that sent me out into the wilderness. I know those are hard words to read. But I needed an understanding of forgiveness that would free me. I needed a way to admit that I stopped trusting my God and went it alone. I needed a way to allow Him to solve what I absolutely could not.
A friend wrote on my Facebook page, in response to the last blog, these incredibly true words: “Forgiveness is setting a prisoner free only to find that the prisoner is you.”
I needed to allow God back in to stand for me in this fight that was killing me. And that meant letting go of the right to be judge and jury. I stood at that crossroads I long, long time.
“This is a unique moment when faith becomes a risked action. I’m putting everything on the line, because, after all, this is my life, my pain, my reputation. Never is the proof of new life more evident than when I cede control because of my trust in His character, love and power.” (“The Cure” p. 74)
Next time, we will walk through a forgiveness that does not deny truth, does not pretend, and does not ignore injustice or my pain.
The first stage of this forgiveness is for me. It involves God and me only. It takes the hooks out of my heart and brings me home, free, and full of renewed and restored life. It is a step most of us have ignored before rushing to the second forgiveness, involving me and the other.
Again, I know of no experience of the miraculous more profound and beautiful than what happens to one released from unforgiveness.
If you are in the middle of this madness, take heart. God may be about to invade your closed system and bring back all you feared might never returned.
You know, that is why they call Him God and all.
So proud to walk with this crowd.
John, one of the three amigos, part of the ever-growing tribe of grace.