Forgiveness is Not Free
Forgiveness is not free. It costs something to forgive. We pay with a settlement of relinquishing our pride. We lay down our right to be angry and our right to be justified for it. It feels like such a posture of weakness, yet it requires the greatest strength. We may be so justified in our anger and pain. Our pain is valid. Yet, is it wise to park there with your emotions in overdrive and let your brain rehearse, over and over, the wrong inflicted on you?
Refusing to forgive costs more than the price of forgiveness. The anger left unchecked leads to resentment which leads to bitterness. Both resentment and bitterness are passive-aggressive reactions to anger. Both of them make YOU bound and neither of them do anything to your offender. They only harm you.
"Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner."
Lewis B. Smeades
Forgiveness never justifies the wrong done or the wrong doer, but it does release you from bondage. Letting go helps set you free from reliving the offense over and over. If you chose to remain in the trauma inflicted on you, the trauma will remain in you. Trauma held inside of you will eventually turn into dis-ease. So even though forgiveness costs you something, unforgiveness costs you far more.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Jesus is our perfect example of forgiveness. He hung on the cross suffering and bleeding. While his enemies continued to torture and crucify him, he showed incredibly deep compassion for them. He asked his Father in heaven to forgive them for they know not what they do. His death on the cross paves the way for our forgiveness and it is the ultimate example of compassion.
But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. ~Isaiah 53:5
"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." ~Mark Twain
We all have difficult people in our lives, toxic people who seem to suck the very breath out of our lungs when we are with them. I believe in boundaries. They are healthy and they are more than necessary most of the time. I have had many, many lessons in dealing with people close to me that are toxic. People called family who are supposed to love you, support and encourage you along this path of life. People that are older and whom you assume to be wiser. They should fill your life with godly advice, direction and guidance. Instead, they act like spoiled children demanding that only their needs matter at every turn. My natural tendency is to RUN from them, to put up a boundary so high and so wide that they cannot get anywhere near me. This is what my flesh screams is the only rational thing to do. That is, until the Lord whispered his grace to my heart and put a picture in my mind that helped set me free.
I was having my morning quiet time, pondering and praying over old and new wounds inflicted. Years and years of memories and pain sat all around me reminding me and informing me about how justified I was for my feelings.
I want to let go, but the memories grip me from time to time and they won't let go. As I sat quiet, an image popped into my mind. It was a toy that I remember playing with when I was young. It is a tube made of some kind of plastic like fabric. You put one finger in each end of this thing and when you pull your fingers apart, the toy squeezes and tightens it's grip. While pulling your fingers apart it is impossible to get your fingers out. However, if you push your fingers together the thing loosens and your fingers easily pull out. It is the exact opposite of what seems logical. You do the exact opposite of what comes natural to get your fingers out of this thing.
I knew exactly what the Lord was communicating to me with this picture so clear in my mind. He whispered, "Press in, get closer to them." EVERYTHING inside me resisted! I reasoned that I need more boundaries and more space. The situation had become so toxic, how could I dare get closer? Oh, how I screamed inside and I wanted to jump up out of my chair. But, I remained and sat quiet. After a bit, my heart softened.
God never rushes us to obey, He only invites us.
I pleaded with Him at this point because I had no idea what this should look like, let alone how to do it. I simply, said, "Yes, I will try."
That was 2 years and 4 months ago to this day. It has been a very, very slow progression of baby steps to obey. I pressed in cautiously where I could and I pulled back carefully when the threat felt too great. I let the Lord show me every step. I put aside what came natural and followed His lead. In the process, healing has come. I no longer live in the trauma and it no longer lives in me. I no longer sit with the painful memories and I no longer get triggered by their demands. Nothing about them has changed, but I have. The nerve has been cut. I am free and it came through the process of pressing in closer just like the Lord showed me.
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Forgiveness is a journey. The deeper the offense, the longer the road. It is a process, but it all starts with a simple choice and a willingness to follow Christ's lead. In the process, He is there. He will supply the compassion as the verse above says, He will crown you with love and compassion. We can't muster it up on our own. We have to rely on Him to supply it.
God encourages us to forgive for our benefit and for His glory. He instructs us to forgive so that He can forgive us. In the measure we use to forgive, He uses for us. The more we forgive others, the more He forgives us. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
"The voice of sin is loud, but the voice of forgiveness is louder."
Pray with me...
Oh, Great God of compassion, draw near. When our hearts get broken, crushed and we feel abandoned, come closer. Wipe away our tears and fill our hearts with compassion for those who hurt us; a compassion that can only be explained by Your grace; a compassion that we can't muster up on our own; a compassion that our flesh can't comprehend but our spirits know will set us free. Let the fragrance of forgiveness be so great that the scent of sin vanishes. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, every evil. Thy Kingdom come! In Jesus Name