It’s been a long day.
Actually, it’s been a long few days.
I’m currently on a business trip and I’ve hung up my boots in St. Louis, MO for the next week. We traipsed from Winston to Nashville yesterday and then from Nashville to our destination today.
I’m kind of stuck in an introspective spot. To be honest, I’ve been dealing with those same old “you won’t ever be good enough” feelings a lot recently.
A couple of weeks ago I found myself feeling extremely hopeless. The suicidal thoughts had come back and there really seemed to be no hope of rescue. A week after that occurrence, I came to the end of myself and God stepped in. I’d never felt such freedom. I’d never experienced such a release. It seemed that I was free from the bitterness and anger that held me captive for so many years. It was over, done, finished. Praise God…right?
Not but a week later I found myself in the throes of personal failure, external criticisms, and those very same feelings of frustration, misery, and anger. You see, forgiveness, once decided, is a lot harder to continue choosing than it looks.
As indicated, I believe that forgiveness is a process that starts with a decision and is inevitably followed by consecutive decisions to choose release instead of revenge. It’s always a battle coming to that initial decision of forgiveness. We have to literally die to our seemingly justified emotions begging for us to follow through with our ill-willed intentions. When we decide to lay down our “guns”, so to speak, we have to continually remind ourselves of our willingness to forgive. That wound is still fresh and it doesn’t take much to make it start bleeding again.
Let’s be real though, if you’re wounded and holding on to bitterness, the only thing keeping you from healing is yourself. We all know the old, tired, clichés for forgiveness so I won’t even bother. What I will say, however, is that if you’re wondering why you can’t get out of a rut and you haven’t forgiven, you can surely expect to stay exactly where you are.
Forgiveness isn’t a magical solution that automatically makes you feel great. I would argue that forgiveness makes you feel terrible. Your initial reaction is to stick with that bent up hatred but forgiveness goes counter to that. Forgiveness doesn’t feel good but it’s worth it.
I guarantee you that the person whom you’re holding this ill will towards probably knows nothing of the matter. They’re not feeling your anger and even if they did, they probably wouldn’t care. Let it go. Forgiveness is coming to the ultimate realization that you have no control over what was done but you do have a say in what happens next.
I’d also argue that forgiveness from God should give us all the more reason to want to forgive others. Realizing what exactly we’ve been forgiven from should automatically drop us to our knees and make us expert “forgivers” on the spot.
Forgiveness begins with the realization that you, at your core, are no better than the other person and you have some pretty nasty faults as well. It also takes being able to realize the love that Jesus has given to you and then be willing to give that love to others. Jesus was hated, reviled, and rejected. He was murdered. What were some of his last words though? “Father, forgive them for they know not what they have done.”
Powerful, isn’t it? Well, I think so at least. It’s not easy, it’s not fun, but nothing that was ever easy turned out to be worth it in the end.
I’m writing to you from a place of introspection about the recent circumstances I’ve dealt with but it’s also a reminder to my heart that forgiveness must be an active part of my life. If it isn’t, I can, and will, quickly slide back into the muck and mire of unresolved anger and bitterness. You and I both know that holding on to those kind of emotions will only rot our souls away. Knowing that, why do we fall prey to that unrelenting force of perpetual grumpiness? It feels good. We all know though, that just because something feels good doesn’t necessarily make it good.
Trust God. Know that you’ve been forgiven of much. Go forgive others just the same.
You and I really have no justifiable excuse to refuse it. If we did something wrong wouldn’t we want to be forgiven? Treat others as you would want to be treated….right?