This post has been a loooooong time coming. For some reason I still struggle with Forgiveness. Not as a concept mind you, as a concept I think it’s GREAT. Especially as a recipient of said forgiveness—I think it’s a win hands down. But at the age of 32 I STILL struggle with the execution of it.
There was this quote I read in Junior High—it was in one of my two best friends’ houses. It was one of those quotes that someone took the time to painstakingly cross-stitch and then frame and hang up on their bathroom wall (directly in front of the john). Because of its location it did indeed receive more attention and concentration than had it been placed in a hallway. It said this:
“Forgiveness is needed the most, when it is deserved the least.”
And ain’t that the truth? If one deserved forgiveness—then there wouldn’t actually be a need for it. (Unless I suppose the unforgiving party is holding a grudge over something that truly wasn’t an offense in the first place—then I SUPPOSE the accused would be deserving of forgiveness for the accidental offense. For which they may never apologize, because they don’t realize the nature of the hurt they unwillingly caused.) I digress.
Even with this raw knowledge I have built upon since Junior high—I STILL have a hard time.
I choose forgiveness EVERY time. Hands down. No Contest.
But then—I cannot swallow and digest the feelings that seem to linger afterward—you know those feelings— the ones that whisper in your ear saying “But you were wronged” and “You can forgive them but you don’t have to trust them.” or “They probably don’t even know that you were mad.” “They don’t think they did anything wrong—so they will probably just go right on doing it…”
Those thoughts—they make forgiveness SO.HARD. sometimes. Can I get an “amen”?
Now—I am not writing because I have found the ultimate solution to this problem. But I am here to tell you that if you have ever felt that way—you are not alone. I love people. I truly do. I was born to network, make connections and bridge gaps between others, to help provide resources and to bring solidarity to those who feel on the outside. I consider myself a “bridge builder” of sorts. In light of this, I have developed a mentality based partly on my own personality but also upon my favorite Bible verse of ALL time.
Philippians 2:1-4 “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Paying special attention to verse 4 is what provides me the gasoline to care about other peoples lives, interests, talents, abilities, and struggles more than my own. I know my own story inside out…at least the part I’ve already walked though—so I choose to enter into every relationship in my life with an excitement and an interest in others’ stories—THEY are the exciting one, not me.
So, if I have this concept as a pretty solid and long standing foundation in my life, why then does it seem to go completely out the window when one of these precious relationships causes me ill-will or harm? I honestly, do not know. But herein lies the problem.
They matter to me, more than I matter to myself—until they hurt me. And then—they matter a little less.
And I have found that with time, if I don’t do something about it—they will begin not to matter at all. Which is the basis for so many broken friendships, and wounded hearts, and this will ultimately drive a wedge between you and your God.
So—forgiveness. I have been told that it is more for the forgiver than it is for the forgiven. I believe that wholly depends on the state of the forgiven’s heart at the time.
I feel the need to apply this concept to a real life situation. Of which I personally have 3.
The all-powerful triad. 3. Three situations that hurt me. Three people who may or may not care about the damage they have done. And three persons that require forgiveness EVEN if they don’t think they need it, want it, or care.
The burden is now upon me. Or else with time, I will forget to love them. And this will drive a wedge between me and my God. The one who loves and forgives me unequivocally.
The fight between good and evil is won and lost on the battlefield of forgiveness.
This. Is. Important.
Especially because I have little ones who watch me even when I think they are playing with plastic food in the other part of the room. -_-
So, here goes:
- Written off on Cherrywood Lane: This was in Junior/Senior High. Someone I loved, and respected, and spent a great deal of time with, decided that I wasn’t worth their time anymore. They were better than me. OR at least thought if I wasn’t around to compete with anymore, they would be better than me. They even told me: “You just think you are so much better than me…” which was faulty thought #1—I never compared myself to them. But they were convinced that I did. Additionally I was told: “I will never grow up and learn to do things for myself with you around” which was faulty thought #2— all they had to do was point out that I was enabling them by helping too much and I would have corrected. It’s just that they always wanted my help. Never said otherwise, so I had no idea. Faulty thought #3 is implied….I believe this person was listening to whispers of the enemy because they believed that they were not good enough—and that somehow I was better than them—and then they believed that removing me from their inner-circle would somehow make all things right in their world. Cherrywood Lane is doing well now—but I think they went through some really tough times between college and the present. I wish I could have been there in those times, but that wasn’t an option for me. Even though I tried. So, though it STILL hurts, and I long for reconciliation and it continues to hurt that it has not been given to me, I forgive Cherrywood Lane for hurting me and casting me aside as a worthless part of their life. But I don’t think Cherrywood Lane has ever truly forgiven me for making them feel the way I did. I hope one day that happens. I miss Cherrywood Lane.
- Mistreated in LA: Once on a road trip, I was ignored, spoken to rudely, never thanked for my time or financial contribution. My personal and physical needs were disregarded, and I was demeaned as person. I did everything I could to make the event run smoothly, until the end of the day when I just clocked-out. This particular trip along with a myriad of other similar moments has colored my entire relationship with LA. I have worked so hard to forgive LA, and I pray often that God would help me to love the unlovable—even if they continue in their completely selfish acts. Because I don’t want to condemn them. I wouldn’t presume to hold the authority to do so anyway—and ultimately my desire should be, (and most of the time is) that they would be reconciled to God first and then to me as a result. LA and I aren’t close. Never have been. I tried. Failed. Tried again several times. Then gave up. But my hope is that one day we will be close. Even though currently forgiveness is greatly needed, however least deserved.
- Inconsidered in The Garden: This one is a doozy. I loooove the person that caused me grief in this situation. And I have forgiven them 100x over. But that voice man, that little nagging thought always pops up to drag me back into the cesspool of hate that is a grudge held. I trusted this person to do what was right, and they usually do. However, the ball was dropped. In the Garden is a very busy person, and as a result they sometimes fail to organize, prioritize, slow-down, and think through, or care about some of the “small” things in their world. Trouble is, in this situation at least, the “small thing” to them, was something bigger to me. Something that communicated a lack of consideration, a lack of care, and ultimately a lack of respect. I know they love me, but I was offended by the state of the situation, and the nature of their disregard.In The Garden apologized (and meant it, I think) but even the apology was tough for me to swallow because it was long, wordy, felt like they were scrambling for some sort of justification—and it had a bunch of holes, excuses, and ultimately white lies in it. I knew what The Garden was doing, they were trying to patch things up with me while simultaneously making themselves feel better, less responsible for the situation and trying to absolve themselves of some wrongdoing. But the truth is, when someone feels wronged—its their perception. So it’s their perception which must be apologized to. That is why excuses and justifications never work. You see, I didn’t care about ANY of the reasons that the ball was dropped. I knew In the Garden didn’t think the issue was that big of a deal. What I wanted was for them to realize it was a BIG deal to me—and to say something sweet, and genuine like: “Hey, I know that what happened really hurt you, I cannot exactly relate in this situation because, well, it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me, but I hate that I have failed you in this way—and I am sorry. It will never happen again. Please forgive me?”
I didn’t need a timeline of events, reasons the ball happened to be dropped, or a comparison to the importance of my issue versus the issues they were dealing with the day the ball was dropped. All I wanted was to see that they really did care about me—and that the ball dropping was more of an accident than anything—and they were sorry for said accident. So—here I am. In The Garden is still a BIG part of my life. I still love them dearly. But now that they apologized—it’s my turn to actively forgive them. EVEN though the apology was less than what my heart needed. I still have to recognize that they attempted to do what was necessary to make things right—and if I don’t accept that— then the failure of that relationship resides on my shoulders. Not theirs.
Alright. So I know that was a rather long rambling—but what can we hope to learn from these examples? I am sure your insights may be different than mine, and there is a lot more to learn from these situations in my life than what I have actually gleaned from them so far— but here is what I have gotten from it to date:
- Apologies may not live up to their potential. Forgiveness is due regardless.
- Some apologies never come. The one who ought to request forgiveness may not be introspectful or empathic enough to see a need for an apology. But Forgiveness is due regardless.
- Failing to fully forgive is failing to forgive at all.
- Failing to Forgive as you have been forgiven by others and by your Creator is a gross abuse of grace in our lives. It is proof that we have not fully taken hold of what God has done on our behalf.
- Failure to forgive hurts us more than it hurts the one who needs forgiving. BUT in my case with Cherrywood Lane, it continues to hurt me too. And Cherrywood may not even know the loss I have experienced though their failure to forgive me.
- I’ve realized Cherrywood Lane is in a similar potion towards me, as I am in towards The Garden. I hope Cherrywood can find it in themself to continually choose forgiveness until the day it has been fully dispensed and is no longer a struggle. Just as I hold the same hope for myself towards The Garden.
- LA has continued to pile on the offenses. And they place themself above reproach in all circumstances. So, in that situation I am actively learning to forgive even when it’s not requested. Because my relationship with God depends on my ability to forgive as similarly to the way He does as I can possibly manage.
- It seems the theme of these three relationships in my life is that the forgiveness isn’t a one-time thing with us humans—it sometimes requires a repeat application. It makes me so grateful that God forgave us once and for all, and thankful that he doesn’t deal with the struggle to dole out “takebacks” at every corner. As for The Garden. I think they have moved on. I accepted their apology as far as they know….so I am the one fully responsible for making sure I walk in the forgiveness that I myself hope to receive from others. Because I do mess up, and I should hope that my friends and loved ones will give me the grace to both correct and move forward when I do. The least I can do is offer the same.
To leave you with a simple summary, in the words of an unknown author:
“To forgive someone is to set the prisoner free—and then to find out that the prisoner was you.” — Unknown
May we choose to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly, WITH our God.
Forgiveness is where it all began—and I surmise it is at the foot of the place of forgiveness, where it will all come to an end.
Be encouraged. You are not alone in this walk/hike/jog/climb. We can forgive each other. All it takes is a desire to do so—and a constant reliance on the One who has forgiven us.
Let’s do this.