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Posts tagged ‘forgiveness’

Forgiveness

It’s not a small word. Three syllables. Eleven letters. Centuries of meaning.

Weighty.

My daughters ask me what it means. They don’t want to forgive. They think that to forgive means to sanction. To say, “What you did to me is okay.”

It’s not okay.

And they never have to say that. I never have to say that. You never have to say it.

Forgiveness is the compassionate ability to see the brokenness and hurt behind the evil actions of another … and to no longer give them any power over your life and the choices you make.

They don’t deserve the power your bitterness gives them to control you. 

All you need to do is let it go. Set yourself free. Not them. Not the ones who hurt you. Just you. Your poor, aching, bruised soul has suffered enough. Open the cage. Let her fly.

 

 

 

Love

loveWe need to love ourselves. Once we understand some basic principles, we have the tools we need to love others.
We are loveable. Every human is loveable. So loveable, in fact, that God thinks we’re to die for.

Just think about that for a bit.

It’s not about being good or kind or fair or generous or helpful or forgiving or any of these things … it starts with LOVE. He LOVED us. And He keeps on LOVING us. Forever and ever and ever amen.

We are loved.

Each person is so very loved that, even if that person was the ONLY person on earth, He would have died for them. He would have died for me – and only me – if I was the only one. He loves me THAT much. He wants to be with me. He made me to love me. He made all of us to be loved: to love Him, to be loved by Him, and to love one another. The Word says that’s how we’ll be recognised as His: by our LOVE. And yet, how often are Christians characterised by their LACK of love? We fight. We judge. We nitpick. We’re hypocrites and we hate. We don’t even love ourselves. We buy into the lie that we’re worthless and evil.

Yes, we’re sinners. In other words: we make mistakes and we think thoughts that result in pain and misery in our lives. Sin is making a mistake. It’s natural and human and INFINITELY forgiveable. How do I know? Because I’ve been forgiven by the Infinite One. He teaches me to forgive and, above all, to LOVE, by ACTIVELY SHOWING me how it’s done. If the Infinite, Perfect,
Inimitable God of the Universe can love me, who am I to hate myself?

He MADE me what I am. How dare I not LOVE it? How dare I not revel in it? How dare I not be inexpressibly grateful for every cell and breath and thought and emotion and skill and personality trait and talent and inclination ever? It’s all from Him! He made it!

Wow.

But instead, we complain. We hate what we are and we resist it and we try to change it and we reject it. We don’t love ourselves. Not even a little bit. Not even at all. We just hate-hate-hate. We don’t accept the gifts we have – from the smallest toenail to the longest hair on our heads. We try to change every part, like ungrateful prigs returning heartfelt Christmas gifts.

We need to learn to LOVE ourselves – I need to learn to love myself – … in a daily, ceaseless flow of gratitude for all that we are. I can do that by meditating on the truth of Him: my Maker, my Creator, my Sustainer, my Substitute on the Cross, my Saviour.

When I fully grasp how loved I am, how loveable I am, it becomes to easy to love others. Love casts out fear. Love makes forgiveness EASY. Love sets us free. We can easily love when we are loved. Everything becomes beautiful and clean and perfect and loveable.

The Rose

“Unforgiveness is a slow-acting, painful poison that we drink, in the vain hope that our enemy will perish.”

A young lady found herself wandering bare foot and carefree through a beautiful garden. It was well kept, neatly maintained. Predictable. As she ambled down the well manicured garden paths, idly contemplating each twist and turn that lay ahead, she enjoyed the comfort of knowing that nothing in that beautiful space could hurt her or take her by surprise.

Her favourite part of the garden was undoubtedly the roses. The colours lined up neatly, in a breathtaking gradient from the deepest reds – so dark they almost looked black – past delicious ice-cream pinks, and ending neatly in the crispest white she’d ever seen.

She dutifully stopped to smell each and every bloom. How could she resist? They all seemed to hold their own secret scent, meant for her dainty nose alone.

we can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses

we can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses

However, she hadn’t gone far when her amble was brought up short with a piercing stab of pain. She’d stepped on a thorn, and it had lodged itself deeply in the soft skin where her toes met her foot.

She cried out in agony and limped awkwardly back to the house to see what could be done. Her suffering was severe. It wasn’t just the physical pain of having a barb lodged inside her. She felt betrayed. Her beautiful, safe afternoon had been shattered, and she wasn’t sure she’d ever have the courage to walk through that garden barefoot again. How could she be sure there wasn’t another concealed prickle out there, waiting to ensnare her, to hobble her?

When she found help, they tried to pull the spike out of her foot, but to their surprise, she resisted.

“This is MY thorn,” she retorted. “It’s my pain, and I will choose when, how and IF I let it go. Until then, that thorn is staying just where it is. I want to make sure that whenever I see that stupid, ugly rose garden, it knows what it did to me – how it’s ruined my life!”

And so it was that every day, this stubborn, crippled young woman would hobble out to the garden (well shod!) and admire all the lovely flowers that grew there, and the orderly paths arranged around them. But she turned her head, and raised her nose in the air, and (sniffing timorously as she held back the tears over what she had lost) she would stalk past the roses and stoically avoid their gaze, allowing them just enough view of her to see the damage they had done.

The roses, for their part, gave out their beautiful scent, and filled the garden with their sumptuous colours, and rustled among themselves as the days cooled into Autumn. They spared no thought for our invalid.

As Spring bloomed into pulsing Summer, then cooled into the mellow sleepiness of Fall, still our young protagonist allowed no one to remove the shrapnel she wore in her foot, a badge of honour announcing the roses’ betrayal to any who would listen. Finally, however, the thorn began to fester. Her foot swelled up. The pain was excruciating. The smell was unbearable, and the foot’s dewy fresh tint faded to sickly green.

At last she no longer had a choice. It was time to lose her leg, or lose her life. The surgery was painful, and the recovery time seemed interminable. Her crippled state ceased to be a personal choice, a mark of pride worn to signify a long-held grudge. Now it was permanent, as were the crutches she needed to visit her garden.

Notwithstanding, she bravely soldiered on, visiting the flowers, breathing in their heady scent. She looked longingly at the rose garden, missing the pleasure these blooms had once given her. Even now, however, with one foot securely locked in a boot up to her knees, and the other foot gone altogether, she still lacked the confidence to face her old enemies and admire their loveliness.

Then she saw it. A thorn detached itself lazily from its rosy branch and sidled to the floor, clearly waiting for an unwary foot to chance upon it. She watched in anticipation to see what the roses would do. Surely they would get rid of the thorn? Surely, after all her suffering, they’d realise what they’d done, and make amends? Surely!

But the roses kept doing what roses do. They didn’t care. They didn’t know. They couldn’t change. That’s how it is with roses.

(S)he who refraineth [her] lips is wise

The peace of Jesus (found on Pinterest)

The peace of Jesus (found on Pinterest)

Recently, I’ve been struggling with conflict in certain areas. I haven’t addressed the conflict directly, because a) I didn’t believe I would be heard. I felt that my words would lead to more strife, and not resolve anything. And, b) I didn’t want to be guilty of stirring up strife or gossiping. What I ended up with was growing bitterness eating away at my joy and my relationships, and a sense of lonely isolation. Who could I take my problems to?

Where I was right

We ought not to gossip. Ever. Proverbs 10:9 tells us “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin, and he (or she) who refraineth his (or her) lips is wise.” In other words: if you’re saying a lot of words, some of those are bound to cause trouble.

We also learn in Psalm 17:9 that “He (or she) that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends”. So it’s better not to share someone’s mistakes – especially if they ARE mistakes. Sharing the shortcomings of others destroys relationships – and entitles them to share your shortcomings. No one wants that!

Why I was wrong

First of all, covering a sin and keeping quiet are two different things. It takes grace and forgiveness and love to cover a sin (even a perceived sin against oneself). What I was doing was bottling it up and festering. Hardly gracious.

Secondly, I was in fact not refraining my lips at all. Rather, I was “dumping” the bitterness on my poor, patient husband, winding him into my festering malignance. It was unfair, and could very easily have “separated very friends”. That is hardly the behaviour of a loving, supportive wife.

Finally, Matthew 18 tells us how we should deal with conflict and sin. First, we go directly to the person involved, explain why we feel hurt or wronged, and ask for repentance or an explanation or an apology: we try to restore the relationship. (I didn’t do this because I was utterly convinced it wouldn’t work. Someone else did, and it did work). Second, if they refuse to mend their ways (or explain them, so that we see their perspective), get another godly friend involved. Only if that fails should anyone else be involved. That allows the person in the wrong (whether it’s them or me) the dignity to resolve the situation and restore the friendship without the politics and pain that often accompanies perceived (or real) injustices in small groups.

What now?

Jesus gives peace (found on Pinterest)

Jesus gives peace (found on Pinterest)

I was wrong for festering. I was wrong for not addressing the perpetrators. But most of all, I was wrong for not trusting God. The question is: do I trust my God to solve my problems? 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to “[cast] all your cares on Him, for He careth for you.” Do I believe that? If so, I should take this to Him, and leave it there. If I really need someone to talk to, someone to unload on, I have Someone perfect, ready and waiting to hear and to heal. He can change my perspective. He can fix the brokenness. And He can give me peace even though I don’t understand. While godly counsel tends to wise action, in its absence we have access to the Godliest counsel of all: His precious Word, and that sweet hour of prayer.

Don’t neglect it as I have. Let’s commit to getting closer to the One who knows best.

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