As a little girl, I always loved going through the automatic car wash. I was fascinated with how the soap bubbles looked as they slowly slipped down the windshield. The splashes of soapy colors, swirling and ever changing. I’d squint my eyes and use my imagination, making images out of the bubbles.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”right”]I’ve come to realize that secrets are like worms, you think you cut them off but they just multiply, wriggling and digging under the surface.[/pullquote]I went through the car wash today and must admit that I still play that game. I turned off the radio and sat quietly as the brushes and bristles churned, letting my imagination take over. However, my mind was altogether elsewhere, pondering our Grace & Such theme for August, forgiveness. Writing about forgiveness has turned out to be even harder to write about than holiness. Not because I don’t have oodles of experience with seeking and giving forgiveness, but because I DO have oodles of experience with seeking and giving forgiveness.
The act of forgiveness is a lot like going through a car wash. My car is a 2010 Mazda, it’s in pretty good shape but the exterior has a few scuffs and dings. When I run it through the car wash, my car appears clean but the brushes and bristles don’t remove the scuffs and dings, the cleaning doesn’t go quite deep enough.
Over the past few years, I’ve done some significant work in the area of forgiveness. Hurts twenty plus years old have reared their ugly head laying me low. Deep dark and unfathomable family secrets have come to the surface. I’ve come to realize that secrets are like worms, you think you cut them off but they just multiply, wriggling and digging under the surface. On the outside things may appear fairly normal, but under the surface, those worms are making a holy mess. Such a mess that I went to a counselor and we did some hard work to free up my heart.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting but forgiveness does mean being able to move beyond the circumstance or person who hurt you. It means being able to remain present focused and stop dwelling in the past. When I forgive I’m not diminishing the pain, the betrayal, the outlandish and unthinkable acts that happened to me- however, I am letting them go.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. ~ Colossians 3:13
I have not done this forgiveness thing on my own. God has been working his magic on my heart, pouring His grace and mercy right into me so that I have enough to do the same to others. That’s really truly the only explanation of how you can move from hatred to peace. From having the same repetitive nightmares to being able to sleep solidly. From living in fear to living in faith. The current condition of my heart is nothing short of a God-given miracle.
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! ~ Romans 11:33
Yet here’s the hard part, the really, REALLY hard part. Those that I have forgiven are still in my life and let’s just say that my act of forgiveness did not change who they are. I took a HUGE leap of faith in freeing up my heart because now it’s lying wide open to the possibility of being hurt again by those same people. In choosing to show them God’s love and kindness, I left myself vulnerable.
Human forgiveness is a lot like a car wash. For the most part our heart is washed clean, but it’s left with dents and dings that only God can remove. And I think we have to walk through this life being OK with that. Knowing that we’ve done our best to show others grace, mercy, kindness. Accepting that we’re all a little damaged and that only God’s forgiveness can wash us clean.
This is real love- not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. ~ 1 John 4:10