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). @Grace_and_Such
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.