Preface: I’m being very vulnerable… Please be gentle with my heart.
Today we are going to talk about forgiveness.
Let me begin by saying, “Blah! Ugh! Shoot! @$#@%$#$%#%!” Now that I’ve had a tantrum, let’s proceed.
I have been avoiding this topic like The Black Plague! Interestingly enough, I just encouraged you to forgive, let go, move on, and live in my post Just Let It Go…. I sincerely meant every single word I said, and I have even sought God to help me forgive this dude that I absolutely hated… No for real, I legit hated him. Like, “Loathe entirely.” (Movie reference: How The Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey.) I’ll come back to that. Anyway, as I tried to avoid the topic of forgiveness like a bill collector because I knew it remained in my heart, God kept allowing it to “pop up.” My pastor talked about it in a few sermons, all of a sudden it seemed all the funny memes on Instagram were replaced with memes about forgiveness, Pinterest kept suggesting pins with steps to freedom through forgivenss, and then my best friend decided to post this…
“Some of us are putting our own lives on hold because of unforgiveness. Learn to bury the hatchet before you have to bury the body. Resolve it even if you feel you’re not ready to. You can still live after this!”
Daggone Jo’sef Haynes… That one post brought back to the surface every instance over the last 60 days (SIXTY days!) where I have been encouraged, challenged, and dared to forgive. Aaaaand as his oldest brother, John, (who is just as wise and challenging) said, I must take it one step further and have a courageous conversation. Daggone John Haynes, III… Daggone Haynes brothers.
So here’s my story… the quick version: The transition into Chapter 29 has caused me to wipe a few slates clean. I’m all for “laying aside every weight” so that I don’t drag it into my new season. As aforementioned, God allowed me to walk through a process to forgive someone who I hated. (Couldn’t stand his guts, his face, or his life.) I had the courage to communicate how I felt and why I felt that way, accept an apology I didn’t receive, and move forward (<– the “Courageous Conversation”). I was even in the same room with him a few days later, and I “nothinged” him. I didn’t like him or hate him… I nothinged him. That was not only my sign of forgiveness but healing; in order to agree, you had to have known how strong my disdain for him was [
because my love was once much stronger]. So cool, I forgave, I moved on… But there’s this other situation; this particular issue is a little different. The individual didn’t do anything to me directly; no bullets where aimed at me. I wasn’t the intended target if there even was an intended target. My unrest is fueled by indirect blows that have bruised me internally which in turn affects my mentalities and even other relationships. Addressing that thing would hurt too much, so I ignored it, I changed my focus, I lived my life…I turned 29! I just knew with the changing of my season, all of my unresolved feelings would just disappear. Want to hear something interesting? Those feelings didn’t not just disappear. In fact, God has been challenging me to have the necessary conversation and begin the process of truly forgiving and healing. So here is my commentary with God…
Me: “But why? I don’t want to! It won’t matter anyway. Why bring it up? It will only do more harm than good. Why do I have to address “it” in order to forgive it? Can’t I just keep it moving like I’ve been doing? I’m living my life aren’t I?”
God: “You have to forgive because I told you to. If I urged you to do it, wouldn’t I handle all the details including any pain associated? Not addressing it and moving forward… How’s that working for you?”
After that clap back, I realized God was not as interested in my new season or my “Chapter 29” as He was in me doing what He told me to do. Oh, aight! Let me just say, though I know I have to make a move or God is gonna get me, I don’t want to. There, I said it! With my “believing God, singing His praises, loving His people, following Jesus” self, I don’t want to begin this process of forgiveness for one overall reason…I’M SCARED! Reasons:
- Forgiving someone requires you to acknowledge what they did to you. Even repressed memories are fair game.
- Forgiving puts you in a position where you have to be both vulnerable in order to open your mind, heart, and emotions AND strong enough to seek some form of resolve [even if the other party isn’t interested or aware].
- Forgiving sometimes means doing so when the other party isn’t sorry or doesn’t even see their actions as wrong. — Accepting an apology that you may not receive (piggybacking off the previous point).
- Forgiving someone means that you may have to hurt before you heal. Think of when a wound has to be properly cleaned before it can be bandaged…that thing hurts especially if it became infected, but the cleaning will prevent further damage and promote restoration of healthy blood flow and cell regeneration!
- Forgiving forces you to look from a perspective other than your own, see your offender for the state he/she is in (hurt people hurt people), and acknowledge any fault you may have had in the situation.
- Forgiving means that you no longer get to wear the “Hello my name is ‘Victim'” name badge.
In my case, I am most afraid of opening up just to be dismissed. Plain and simple. Who wants to be vulnerable just to have their feelings minimized? Just as I began reminding God why this is too hard, He reminded me of what He said…
“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
Mark 11:25 [New Living Translation]
“But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses.”
Matthew 6:15 [The Amplified Bible]
So I noticed this recurring theme: If I don’t forgive, I’m not forgiven, and purposeful unforgiveness can interfere with my relationship with God …Shoot! I can’t have that! I have a laundry list of things that I need to remain covered by, submerged in, and washed with the blood…currently! And I NEED HIM! Life doesn’t work without this relationship I have with him. I really don’t have a choice but to forgive.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
I apologize that this blog wasn’t all fluffy and funny like my others; please take a moment to browse another blog for a pick-me-up. This go around, I just wanted to be real and get to the point. For me, this particular situation is at the core of a great portion of my dysfunction — fear, apprehension, hesitance to trust, low expectation of others, mistreatment of myself and others, etc. This isn’t a laughing matter, and though I tried to type out “Knock Knock Jokes,” I couldn’t. Maybe you are like me… Maybe there is one person or situation that has you paralyzed in some ways. You are functioning but not properly. You are living but not fully or freely. You, like me, may have convinced yourself that your feelings are warranted. You didn’t ask to be hurt, and if you wouldn’t have been put in that position in the first place, you wouldn’t be carrying this unforgiveness. That makes sense, right? Well, God reminded me that He won’t agree with me on this one. His word…
“And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
Hebrews 8:12 [New Living Translation]
“He has removed our sins as far from us a the east is from the west.”
Psalm 103:12 [New Living Translation]
“I – yes, I alone – will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.”
Isaiah 43:25 [New Living Translation]
God does not hesitate to forgive us when we mess up, AAAAAAND He chooses to forget about it. I have yet to read a scripture that says He refuses to forgive us and would rather hold a grudge; however, I have read in His word that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness ” (1 John 1:9) Heck, even Jesus asked God to forgive the soldiers who led him to Calvary to be crucified and gambled for his clothes! Remembering His word made me do a heart check… If I am really made in the image of God, shouldn’t I have a heart like His? He is hurt daily by those whom He loves and saved who still choose to disobey Him. Still He never turns His back, He doesn’t revoke His love, and He doesn’t deny them the opportunity to be forgiven and to get it right. If I am supposed to be like Him and I have His power living within me, why didn’t I even have the desire to fix this — why did refuse to fix it until this year, and why did I not think He would help me do it? What in my heart has become so tainted that I am okay with living with unforgiveness? Have I forgotten how His love and forgiveness has transformed my life? So my prayer today…
“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.“
Psalm 21:10-12 [New Living Translation]
TODAY (I have no more time to waste) I vow to begin this process. And just like God walked me through it before, He’ll do it again. If you are at this same crossroads, let’s walk this journey together. “Resolve it even if you feel you’re not ready to. You can still live after this!”
This post was inspired by the quote above by Jo’sef Haynes and the following new single “Too Hard Not To” by gospel artist, Tina Campbell.