Clearly it has been a while since I’ve been keeping up with my regular blogging. My family has been in the process of moving and getting acclimated in a new home and new circumstances.
As always, there have been a number of personal trials and triumphs that I’ve been unable to share, but what I can say is that the Lord is never-failing. I’ve been able to keep up with my thoughts and Bible studies in various journals while I’ve been “away” from internet access.
One of the areas of my main focus has been working with God about an inability that I have to “forgive and forget” in certain circumstances. I would like to say that I don’t really have a problem with forgiving, but that it’s only the forgetting part that I get stuck on, but essentially, the two are inseparable in many ways. The bitterness that arises when replaying situations over in my mind is the number one tell-tale sign that I haven’t truly forgiven people from my past.
A couple of years ago, my husband was dealing with a demon from his past, and he repeatedly struggled to explain to me that he wanted to forgive the person who had hurt him, but he just didn’t “know how.” At the time, the idea of not knowing how to forgive seemed unfathomable to me. “It’s easy, you just do it”, is what I would tell him.
Now as I am facing that same giant, it’s not quite that easy. How do you truly forgive somebody when you can’t shake the feelings of bitterness about something that they have done in the past?
While I’ve found that it isn’t exactly a quick-fix, I have found that there is one somewhat simple thought that helps to pull it all into perspective.
God doesn’t remember all of the times that you’ve hurt Him in order to use it against you later.
That’s not what forgiveness is.
I had never really thought about it, but for most of my life I have carried around a list of people who I had subconsciously labeled as “unforgivable.” It suddenly occurred to me that if God carried around a list like that, we would all be in serious trouble. Do you think that God has a list of people who have just messed up one time too many? No. He doesn’t give up on us. Why should I or anybody else give up on another person. God doesn’t hold each persons mistakes against them, so what right do I have to do so? Absolutely none.
I’d been praying about this and spending so much time with God about this issue, and thought I hadn’t been seeing any results, I certainly wasn’t adding God to my short list. My perseverance paid off (as it always does with God), and suddenly I saw a change in the last place that I had expected it.
Years ago, as a teenager, I had a falling out with a friend. Our lives were very different, our families were very different and it just wasn’t the season for that relationship to blossom. I certainly was not innocent in the desolation of things, but for years I had harbored a bitterness for the way that things had happened.
Concerning the most recent contingency of that family, I had certainly not acted as the godly creature that I strive to be. In fact, I walked out of a worship service because I refused to subsist in the same building with one certain person for an hour. How childish. I can be certain that God was not pleased with my actions or my heart that particular evening.
Since that had all occurred, God has shown me many of my mistakes regarding each aspect of the situation, and I have been able to make things right. In fact, I am now in contact with that friend again, and am very happy to see some of what God has been doing in her life over the years.
This was, as I said, the last place that I would’ve looked for the changes that I had been praying for, but it was in this unexpected instance that God showed me how my heart had been changed, and in turn how my life has changed.
I can’t say yet that my list is gone, and while I’d like to defend myself by saying “hey, at least it’s a short list”, I know that wouldn’t be a sufficient answer were I standing in front of the Lord.
It keeps me reminded of the “imperfect progress” that Lysa TerKeurst talks about in her latest book, Unglued. I am far from perfect, and I will remain that way, but it is a great feeling when God is working inside of me or anybody else.
Praise God for His unending Goodness.