Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Feeling Forgiving?

The comment:
This summer I was very hurt by someone, and am really struggling with forgiveness. Knowing that I can say I forgive the person as that is what God asks of me but not wanting it to be a lip service or something just said. I want to feel it and to know that in my heart there is forgiveness for the pain, not sure how to get to this place and I've been holdin on to the anger, resentment, and pain. Despite all this the person has moved on in life and either has no idea I'm mad or hurt or doesn't care, which only brings more feelings to surface. Where to go when I can't seem to move on.
I feel you in this.
I've struggled a lot with forgiveness in the last year, wrestling with what it actually means versus what I think that it means. Honestly, there hadn't been many things in my life that seemed 'unforgivable' until recently and so while the easy answer had always been to forgive, this became a more challenging thing to actually do.

I think that I have to detach forgiveness from emotions. Like a lot of things in life, I think we operate primarily on emotion when it comes to forgiveness. I don't think that's how it works though. I think there are going to be things in life that deeply hurt us every time we rekindle the past, but that we can still choose forgiveness. I don't think this makes it lip service, necessarily.

As believers, our commandment is clearly to matter what. Forgive 70 times 7. Forgive them, even as they beat you and stone you to death. Forgive them, even as they crucify you...because they do not know what they are doing.

It's funny because our dictionary would say that forgiveness means to 'stop feeling angry or resentful...'.  Honestly, I'm not sure this is something that's humanly attainable. I think that miracles can happen, and that we can certainly feel the release of these emotions very quickly... but I also think that time is a healing agent. As we are further removed from a certain situation or a certain person, we begin to see things a little begins to hurt a little less. But, I don't think that feeling angry or resentful means that we need to act within that realm.

If you've hurt me, if you've wounded me...I must forgive you. I must act in forgiveness. What does this mean exactly? It means still loving you. Which then begs the question of, 'what does it mean to love someone who has deeply hurt you?'.  It seems this can look really different, depending on the circumstances. For, when I look at what love is, it seems that this doesn't have to be as up close and personal as we might have initially thought. It seems that I can love you well...and then, if you hurt me deeply, that I still might be able to love you well, it just might look a little differently than it did. I think this is okay.

But, I probably also think at the crux of truly loving someone we expose ourselves to the possibility of pain, rejection, betrayal, abandonment, denial. After all, isn't that how Christ loves us? Despite the fact that we suck? Isn't that the way He forgives? ...and isn't that the reason His grace is so amazing?

Clearly I still wrestle with this even as I type.
Here's where I currently reside:

--We must forgive.
--We must love.
--None of this is about us, but has everything to do with something bigger, something greater, something more beautiful than we might possibly imagine.
--When we choose forgiveness and love EVEN WHEN we have been hurt, betrayed, rejected, abandoned, denied... we are truly living out the gospel.

So, where do you go from here?
You wake up every morning and you beg that the Lord would give you the strength to choose forgiveness, yet again. And, no matter how you feel, you seek to love those who have hurt you, those who persecute you, those who hate you, those who want nothing to do with you. If you aren't around them still hope for them, you still pray for them, you still honor them with your lips.

Somedays you'll truly feel like you've forgiven them....and somedays you'll think you made it all up. Walk in the decision to keep forgiving them, no matter how you feel.
Be faithful in this and know that it is worth it. Desire what is good, and press further into it--even when it feels unfair and even when it comes at your own expense.

Forgive them.
For they know not what they do.
...and even if they do know?
Forgive them anyway...and let them see Jesus in you.

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