Five shades of forgiveness
The summer before we officially started homeschooling, we were swimming at a friend's neighborhood pool. (This particular friend has 2 super sweet girls- naturally) When we got back to their house, Jude noticed a group of boys, around his age, playing basketball in the cul-de-sac a couple houses up. His eyes lit up with excitement as he asked, "Mom, can I go play with those boys?!" Of course I let him go as I watched his interactions from a distance. I watched as he politely went up to each boy and introduced himself and asked some questions, and then went out to join them in basketball. What happened next crushed my mom heart.
One little boy pushed Jude up on the sidewalk and told him that he was not allowed to play with them since he was not 6. Jude kept trying to step out onto the "court" and play, and the boys ignored him and then pushed him back up onto the sidewalk.
The boys ran to the back yard, and then one of the Mom's came out and invited Jude to her house to jump on the trampoline in the back yard. Jude came running over, super excited and asked if he could join them. I looked at him with all kinds of emotions in my heart and said, "Jude, those boys were not being very nice, why would you want to still play with them?!" And he replied, "It's ok Mom, I forgive them."
His desire to connect and feel accepted was greater than any hurt worth harboring.
Forgiveness is a funny thing. It comes in all colors, shapes and sizes. It is necessary in relationships, and it is necessary for self preservation, personal conviction and moral obligations.
To be completely transparent, being quick to forgive is not my strong suit. It has definitely been an obstacle for me to over come in our marriage. There were so many times that I would hang on to un-forgiveness, as if by doing so, I could guard my heart and have an upper hand. When in fact, hanging on the the un-forgiveness only harbors bitterness and bitterness can be a disease. It will slowly eat away at you and create the perfect environment for the enemy to sneak in and wreak havoc on your life. In Psalm 103, the word tells us that "He forgives us of all our transgressions and heals all our disease."
I wrote this post over a year ago in a season where forgiveness seemed too easy. I was in no need to ask for forgiveness or forgive any one person.
God has a beautiful way of revealing His character in our lives and letting it manifest in a subtle way. I will admit that I have experienced forgiveness in all forms within the last year. I have been hurt and desired an apology. I have had to ask for forgiveness, and I have had to forgive my self to let go of Mom-guilt and bitterness and rid the enemy from speaking lies into my mind that seep deeper into my heart.
I am in no way an expert on forgiveness, but I do know that whether or not you are the one that needs to be forgiven, or if you need to forgive someone, it is an incredible tool in maturing in your life as a Christian. The enemy desperately wants us to hang on to un-forgiveness to create the great divide. But forgiving someone, truly forgiving someone takes an act of God.
So how do we get there?
Every one of us can tell a story of hurt. You see, I believe the enemy pours on fear and insecurities to distract us and give us reasons as to why it may be too difficult to mend what may feel broken.
The enemy will create time, space and distance as a bandaid of sorts in hopes to momentarily help you forget what the Lord has commanded for us to make new.
"In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and thing in earth." —Ephesians 1:7-10
I will not claim to be an expert on forgiveness, nor will I claim to be able to fully express everything that is written in the bible about forgiveness, it is something each and every person should dive into. The word is so rich with the depth and width of God's love that conquers the impossible in order to draw us near to him. The word tells us that we have been delivered, that our darkness and our unrighteousness was transferred on the cross to Jesus. By nailing our sins to the cross, "He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in him." (Colossians 3)
If we are believers in Christ that was it. We are forgiven and we are free. We are free from guilt, shame, and condemnation because those very things are not in Christ and we have been given a regeneration, a new beginning, as sons and daughters of The Most High. We were forgiven in order to draw us near the creator of the heavens and the earths, because his love was so great for us.
Forgiveness is redemption, unity, peace and love.
So does that make it easy? Of course not, after all anything worth doing is never easy... or so they say.
Where does this bring us as humans on the subject of forgiveness? We like to make excuses because we are too busy or justified in our own eyes, or perhaps too prideful, or even more so, we have heard this story time and again and still do not grasp the depths of true forgiveness.
It reminds me of this time when I was maybe 17. A girlfriend and I were driving around town and I remember seeing a sign at a drive-thru car wash that said, "free vacuums". I remember being so excited, I whipped my little Sunfire convertible around and pulled up to those vacuums and started digging around for some quarters. After a couple minutes my friend spoke up and said, "Uh, Bre...what are you doing?" Ha ha. Blondie was looking for quarters to vacuum out her car after she just read the sign that the vacuums were FREE! (Enter hand hits head emoji)
But isn't that what we do?! We hear about this free gift and get excited for a moment, but then turn around and frantically start scrambling for ways to work off our short comings and mistakes in life. But it is all FREE. No work needed.
I think back to when Jude so sweetly forgave those boys and they were completely unaware they had even mistreated another person. They didn't ask for forgiveness, but they had already been forgiven. The love of a pure heart is one that reflects the heart of Christ. Jude so perfectly displayed the love of Christ that day and it still brings tears to my eyes.
Sometimes, we can choose to forgive someone, even when they do not ask for forgiveness. We can forgive because the Holy Spirit works through us so that we may give that burden to God because it was never ours to shoulder.
"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body."
— Colossians 3:12-15
In my studies on this very subject, this last verse struck me the most in the resolution of hurt feelings and the weight of un-forgiveness. Pay close attention to the words the bible tells us to "put on". (*These notes were taken from the study section of my bible and they were eye opening.)
- Compassionate hearts-—An emotional, caring relationship with those whose lives are hurt and broken.
- Kindness— Readiness to do good, even when it may be undeserved.
- Humility— a posture of lowliness and servanthood.
- Meekness— or gentleness. A non-coercive approach to encouraging change in others lives.
- Patience— Willingness to take the long view in the face of human frailty.
I know that I am not the only one that struggles with forgiveness. However, I don't know what size or shape your brand of forgiveness is, and I know there are varying degrees. I do know, that there is power and a release from the grasp on the enemy when we ask for forgiveness and when we forgive in our hearts when it may not be possible to vocalize the need for forgiveness or to gain a necessary apology. Sometimes, forgiveness is the hardest when we need to forgive ourselves. I love my readers, those I know who are reading and those I may never know who read this post. I have had a deep conviction in my heart to write this post for a year and a half. In fact, I started it August 2016 and God made it very evident that I needed to get this post out to start my year with redemption and grace. Maybe there is someone else who needed to hear this as well. What better time to release the weight you are trying to carry around than January of a brand new year.
Be free in knowing the width and depth of the love of Christ that surpasses understanding and strengthens you in joy and peace by grace that is lavished on us.
Have a wonderful week friends.
*Notes found in The Reformation Study bible by R.C. Sproul.