Unforgiveness

Unforgiveness

When your church pastor says something like “And it’s important that you forgive. It’s important to your health and relationship with God!” do you just smile and nod because you are all forgive-d up and this is no problem for you, or does one name come to mind?

I am in that second group. I have forgiven a particular person over and over and over.  I have sobbed in church, telling God that I completely release any debt that this man owes to me, and really meant it. I have sat on the floor on my bedroom in despair and begged God to let me forgive once-and-for-all-ly. I have been counseled and prayed for, I have prayed many, many times myself. Every time I think it’s done. Every time it eventually grows back.

I know it’s not gone even now. I want nothing more than to tell you this man’s name and for you all to know what a fake and a fraud and a phony this man is. That might be a little clue that this forgiveness thing in my heart most certainly is NOT finished. A while ago, I got one of those “people you may know” notifications and saw his smug little face just sitting there and I will tell you the truth that when I pushed the “block” button, I got great satisfaction. Facebook was so kind to say “You’ve blocked _____ _____. We’re sorry you had this experience.”  I was like FINALLY, AN APOLOGY! THIS FEELS FANTASTIC!

And there I go again.

On my bad days, I tell myself that this is different because we’re supposed to forgive people like God forgives us (Ephesians 4:32) . Sometimes, I convince myself that God does not just plain ol’ forgive people just because it’s the healthier option. He actually has some requirements: We have to confess (1 John1:9), we have to stop doing it on purpose (Hebrews 10:26), we have to repent (Luke 13:3), and we have to believe in Jesus (John 3:16). Here’s the thing: the man I’m talking about has never confessed, he still does what he does on purpose, he still hasn’t repented, and I’m  not even sure he really believes in Jesus.

Oh yes I did say that. Sorrynotsorry.

So, here I am, right when I get to the end of this spiritual “proof” that I do not have to forgive him. He’s an unrepentant, unrelenting, wolf in sheep’s clothing. I am justified to hold an account in this guy’s name. He owes me (and MANY others) a public apology. I think he also owes the state of California a little jail time, if you must know. And I really think that he owes our community some restitution. He’s done a LOT of damage.  I certainly think he owes his supporters the truth.

But on my good days, I remember the scriptures which say that God forgives us in the same way we forgive others (Matthew 6:14). I don’t like this, I think, so I talk to God about it. I picture my conversation with him about those scriptures like this:

Me: I don’t really see how this is fair, God.

God: Prepare yo’self, Amber. How do you want your sins forgiven? Through the lens of bitterness and punishment? Or through the lens of ‘Christ’s blood is enough?’

Me, with my head hung low, and my voice barely above a whisper: the second one.

God: Then, what do I ask of  you?

Me: To let it go. BUT I’M STILL SO MAD AND I’M STILL SO HURT.

God: Your job is forgiveness. My job is vengeance. Remember that?

Me: But can I please watch the vengeance happen?

God: Is that how you want me to handle your sins?

Me: I guess not.

God: Then, let’s go back to doing what you were created to do. Not to police the world and exact revenge. Not to expose the liars and sinners, but to love them.

Me: BUT HOW?! I CAN’T!

God: The way that I do it: through Jesus.

Me: BUT WHY?

God: Because I love you and I asked you to.

Me: oh, snap.

I could go on and on with this conversation that I imagine, but I think you get it, and it gets all embarrassing and love-y, and frankly, it’s still a work in progress. As I clean out my spiritual closet, I realize not all the junk that’s weighing my heart down is false religion, a good portion is my own dumb fault for holding onto bitterness and other crap that I don’t actually need and is just taking up space. Today, I am getting rid of another big chunk of it and forgiving again. It may be a process, and it may come back, but I’m doing what I can today. Not because I deserve it, certainly not because that guy deserves it, but because God deserves it.

After all, He forgave me first.

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Amber Lappin
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Amber Lappin

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Amber Lappin is a speaker & consultant for schools, churches, and parenting groups.She and her husband have three children (teenage twin girls and an adult son) and live in Southern California.Visit www.amberlappin.com for booking information.
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9 thoughts on “Unforgiveness

  1. Natalie

    Yes. So much yes. This is so brutally honest and powerful. Thanks for sharing something I think we all go through–it’s so much easier to go through when we share!

    Reply

  2. Gretchen

    I feel your tender heart on this like it all occurred yesterday, my friend. Hugging from up north.

    I remember when a “Christian” hurt my husband in the name of Jesus, & it took me years to forgive him, & his offense was tiny compared with the situation you describe. I think the hardest part for me is that when someone calls themselves a Christian or, worse yet, is in Christian leadership, they’re supposed to KNOW BETTER. So, even though all sins are the same crud to God, we humans categorize them on a scale from bad to worse–and as you alluded to in your convo w/God–we also tend to see our own need for forgiveness in a much different light than we see others’ needs for the same. Doesn’t this just suck?! Bring a human in the holy process of sanctification is no joke, man. There are days when I hate it. Because of my flesh. But most days, I can’t even believe our Jesus would wring out my filthy rags in His precious blood.

    Thank you, gf. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing that forgiveness, like sanctification is both immediate AND a (hardestthingeverwhenpeoplearehardtolove) process. XXXOOO

    Reply

    1. SandyM

      SO well said, Amber AND Gretchen!

      Reply

  3. Julie Steele

    I echo Natalie and Gretchen’s words. I also was just thinking how these folks seem to pop up again when I need my faith temperature taken. I get an instant read on what I need to work on, even though I thought it was dealt with. I am forever telling folks forgiveness is a process. Blessings on your journey and thanks for speaking what we all have thought.

    Reply

  4. Diane

    So agree with Sis on this one. It is a process. And it may take awhile. My belief is that God honors the process, and will get us through it as quickly as we let him. Sometimes us stubborns take longer. I put myself in that league…but once I got through the process with one of my torments, it made the others easier! Sorta. (;o)

    Reply

  5. Jen

    That conversation with God? Ouch. I’ve had similar and sometimes I learn from them, sometimes I don’t. Thanks for being real with us, Amber!

    Reply

  6. Rhonda

    It is so good to see that I am not the only one struggling with this. Thank you, Amber, for being so honest and stomping on my toes a little.

    Reply

  7. Tara Watson

    I love this SO much- hugs Amber! I just read this last night- Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. – Romans 12:19
    It was so timely because all of these forgiveness posts were stirring things up.
    I have a family member who has finally gotten his time in jail (20-40 years) for crimes against me and others. This wrong took over 20 years to be righted. I never thought it would happen. But I had to trust that even if it didn’t happen, that God was in charge of this man’s soul and his redemption. During one of my many counseling sessions, the counselor reminded me that I need to work on what I can control, and that’s the condition of my heart. I can honestly say that my heart is at peace now. Do I get fired up when another family member posts his picture or stupid stuff on FB? Yes! But only for a moment. He’s not worth my anger or my torment. He doesn’t control me anymore. I take comfort in the fact that in the end of his days, He has to account for his actions, not to me, but to God, the ultimate judge.
    Thanks for such a raw post Amber!

    Reply

  8. Diane Tarantini

    This is a great post, Amber, and a great comment thread! I too, have had the need to forgive certain individuals over and over. You think you did it and then up comes the anger. When I read “Boundaries” last year, the authors said “if you continue to feel anger towards an individual who hurt you, you are probably still harboring unforgiveness toward that person.” That’s my paraphrase, by the way. That anger is how I know when I need to re-visit and/or refresh my forgiveness of someone.

    Reply

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