Well yesterday’s topic(s) were fun weren’t they? Such a bright spot of sunshine!
And so…we continue. Because obviously I love nothing better than to muddy-up issues that are already in official quagmire status.
Yesterday I made mention of healing as it pertained to me. After reading the post again, I thought perhaps I should elaborate on something. I have made it to the “other side” as it were, in my particular circumstance…but I don’t mean to infer that I have all the answers or that I have “arrived.”
We’re all works in progress. My progress to this point took years. YEARS. I used to speak about the time I spent pondering my pain and my rage as wasted time. I don’t feel that way today. Jesus reveals Himself to all of us in His own good time and in His own wisdom. None of the time is wasted.
Also, I don’t want anyone who is still on the path to healing to think of yesterday’s post as some sort of judgement against them because they aren’t where I am. I think I said it yesterday, but I’ll say it again…these posts are in no way meant to condemn or criticize. They are meant to encourage and to let people know that healing and freedom is entirely possible this side of Heaven.
Forgiveness is not optional in the sight of Heaven…everyone has to receive it and in turn, extend it. But the timing of it I believe is in God’s hands, and many times (maybe all the time), it goes hand in hand with healing. There were many, many days when I would scream out to God “JUST HEAL ME ALREADY!” But in His infinite wisdom He ignored my crying and worked (and continues to work) in His own time.
Some of you may still be reeling with the shock of what you’ve experienced. You may be sitting there, rigid, jaws clenched, hands fisted, tears starting as you stare at this screen. Perhaps the thought of forgiveness to you right now is like a sword rending your heart into a thousand jagged little pieces. I used to think,”Lord, please don’t make me,I can’t do it.”
The Lord’s steady determination to re-fashion us into His image is sometimes painful and frightening, usually because at the time He is re-fashioning us we haven’t really learned to trust Him yet. Hannah Hurnard described it this way in her book Hinds Feet On High Places:
Love is beautiful, but it is also terrible–terrible in its determination to allow nothing unblemished or unworthy to remain in the beloved
Once we hand ourselves over to Jesus, He is gently and patiently relentless in His quest to remove anything in us that doesn’t belong there. Including unforgiveness, bitterness, fear, rage…and on and on.
Unfortunately, there is no formula to this process. The basics are the same for everyone…”Love your enemies, pray for those who despitefully use you” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But how do we get from hate to love?
I can only tell you my experiences. For me, it really began with understanding that forgiveness was first and foremost really about setting me free. I had no idea how much power I was still giving to “the enemy” by harboring rage and bitterness. The unforgiveness was keeping me bound, because I couldn’t let it go. Memories, pain, nightmares, unexplicable rages, depression, the desire to die…all were feeding off of my need to nurse my wounds.
Once I began to realize the harm I was doing to myself, I began to do the grunt work. I won’t lie. It was not easy. There was a lot of two steps forward and ten back. There was a lot of gritting my teeth and saying “As an act of my will I forgive, I forgive, I forgive.” Also, I did none of this on my own. I had friends, my church, my husband…all of whom God had ordained to pour into me at just the right time with encouragement, love, understanding, and sometimes…a good ol’ kick in the pants.
The second real milestone came the day Jesus revealed to me that unforgiveness was tantamount to my spitting on His sacrifice. Seriously. I was shocked. I didn’t understand what He meant. But He showed me that He had not only died for me, for the sins that I had committed…but for everybody’s sins. Including those that had been perpetrated against me.
Basically, I was saying to Jesus that His blood was big enough to cover my sins, but not really big enough to cover others. This may sound odd to your ears, but I would ask you to search the word and pray about it. As I said, this is my experience and there are no formulas.
After this, bit by bit, step by step…the Lord did miraculous things and opened my heart and freed me from the burden of vengeance, judgement, and justice. Those are all His to do with as He pleases. In other words, I was finally able to come down off the cross and allow God to be God in this circumstance.
Another milestone came when I found myself able to recognize that these perpetrators were in many instances, preyed upon themselves as children. I suppose you could say God enabled me to see that these people are just as broken as I am.
There’s a lot more to it, including accepting responsibility for my sins and choices made in an effort to cope with all the lies I had swallowed. I won’t go into anymore detail except to say friend, do whatever you have to do in order to forgive. However long it takes, don’t give up. You receive so much more than what you give away when you forgive.
You receive yourself back. Be blessed friend.
*NOTE* I reiterate that these are my experiences. I am not an expert on theology nor on forgiveness. If any of what I’ve said sets off a “trigger,” please seek out help immediately. Call a trusted friend, counselor or Pastor…someone who can talk you through it. If you sense a desire to do self-harm…please contact your local suicide prevention line, or call 9-1-1.