Ever struggle forgiving someone? (That’s like asking: “Ever put shoes on over socks?”) We’ve devoted an entire chapter to it in “The Cure” because it confronts every one of us, often.
“First you get hurt. It’s especially painful when the person hurting you is someone you care about. They intentionally do something to wrong you. Maybe they’re willing to put your integrity in question to defend their position. They refuse to own it, or when challenged, they blame it back onto you.
You make sincere attempts to reconcile, to own your stuff. But it just gets more tense and strained. Soon your discover they’re coughing their justification to an ever growing audience with supposedly dear friends now buying the other’s version of the story.
Soon, you’re increasingly alienated in your pain, forced to defend yourself against lies. God’s silence makes you begin to wonder if He too has been poisoned by these fake accusations! Suddenly, in a fight you never wanted, you discover you’re not only the victim but the issue.”
(“The Cure”-page 66)
I spent three years in those paragraphs, and all the madness that follows. There is a way home. But it will never come by pretending you’re over it, or by offering up the knee-jerk formula of “I forgive you” when you don’t. Time does not heal it. Rehearsing it only gives it more power. And revenge winds you up in lawsuits or jail.
I’m not sure there is a more dramatically tangible experience of miracle than when one is freed from the bitterness of lack of forgiveness. But the first step always involves you and God, not you and your offender. It involves giving up your self-entitlement to fight this one yourself. It involves an immensely practical application of this word “trust” we talk about so much.
A close friend told me recently he’s beginning to realize when it involves something really important, he’s, all of his life, ultimately deferred to his own self-protection over God’s assessment and direction. I’m not sure how different he is than many of us. It is great heroism to learn to stay in the pain, not take over with your own medicating fixes, and instead allow God to stand with you in it’s midst.
So, maybe the next time or two we’ll all walk this path together. We’re proud to walk with such heroes.
John, one of the three amigos, part of the ever-growing tribe of grace.