Monday, October 20, 2008

Forgiveness in the Midst of Pain

If there is one thing I have learned it is that nothing is harder than trying to forgive someone who has just caused you a great deal of heart ache. I could write epic novel length dissertations on forgiveness, but this is raw to me and so I'll just summarize what is brewing in my world.

This year has been horribly hard. There has been way more death than I'd like, way more sickness than I'd like, heartache, betrayal, anger, rejection, straight up sabotage, desperation and hate. It's amazing to me how the moment I finally stop arguing with God about the calling on my life and agree to do things God's way, that all hell breaks loose. I know all the philosophical and theological things one could say about testing, strengthening, conditioning, yadda, yadda, yadda. But, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how great the lemonade is that you made from's still bitter and horrible after brushing your teeth.

Look, I have been stabbed in the back Brutus style by people I trusted and never thought about not trusting them. Family, friends and religious mentors. You can't help but feel like there is something really, really wrong with you and you're not meant to do the things God's asking you to. You feel worthless, with no value and you don't understand why when you're making major sacrifice's to live your life of and for God, that everything around you starts to unravel. God is helping me and it's that love, grace and peace that gets me through, but the hardest part is taking that gut wrenching pain and rejection I feel from almost the whole world, and turning it into lemonade or...turning it into forgiveness.

How do you look the person in the eye who just spit in your face and say "I forgive you?" You hear about mother's who visited the men in prison who killed their children, hold their hands, pray with them and say "I forgive you." God's not asking me to forgive any one's killer so it shouldn't be that hard, right? I'm a woman of faith working on her master's of divinity, so forgiveness shouldn't be that hard for me, right? WRONG!

I'm a sinner too. A miserable, messed up ball of chaos that is so consumed by hurt feelings that she can't see straight. You see, I'm working hard at forgiving those who hurt me, but I'm not very good at it. I try not to preach much about forgiveness because it's not my strong suit and I'm certainly not the moral authority on the subject. That's where I need God to work in me. It's where I'm asking the Holy Spirit to reside in me and help me let go of that pain and anger and resentment. I need to be able to trust those around me because when I can't trust I feel out of control and insecure.

Gosh...I guess I could use a good nights sleep and that's exactly where I'm running to. I think though that I will pray to God tonight about forgiveness. I pray that God helps all of you reflect deeply on those who have hurt you and to forgive them so that you too can move forward in peace. There are so many hurts in this world that maybe, just maybe, we can fix one forgiveness at a time. After all, forgiveness is something we give to others because Christ gave it to us. I guess, if Jesus can forgive me for all the sins I've committed and the one's I'm sure to commit, if he can love me after I helped drive those nails into his hands, I suppose that I might be able to find a way to forgive those who have driven nails through my heart. Jesus had to bleed so I could be washed clean. Maybe my heart has to bleed a little so that I can learn from the pain and know how to love people better. I don't have all the answers, but I know who does and that's who I'm trusting. Put your faith where it counts and thank God for the forgiveness given to you. Lord knows I'm grateful.


Francois said...

Great post! You really have a gift of getting to the heart of the matter. Forgiveness is such a tought thing. I have been on both sides of it and God has played a major role in both instances. Thank goodness for forgiveness!!!

Ps. What do I call you? I feel so stupid cos I don`t know what to call you and saying "Great post Woman on a mission" sounds a bit silly!

David Richardson said...

My friend, thanks for baring your soul on this topic.

I remember reading C.S. Lewis once on this matter, and he stated that forgiveness is so easy to discuss and so hard to do. And he's right.

I've shared the following ideas with the church I pastor:

[1] Forgiveness does NOT mean, "Oh, what you did to me was ok." It's not ok. If it was ok, we wouldn't need to forgive that person.

[2] Forgiveness does mean this: "Even though you caused me immense pain, I choose to bypass bitterness and refuse revenge." To "bypass bitterness" means that we will not stew over it and constantly replay the tape in our minds. To "refuse revenge" is to turn down opportunities to pay them back.

[3] God has forgiven us much more than we will ever have to forgive each other. I'm so grateful to God for His forgiveness that has covered my sin, blessed my heart, and changed my life.

Again, thanks for your remarks. Very good stuff!!

Darryl said...

It's interesting . . . Forgiveness is one of the hardest things it is for me to do, yet once accomplished, results in an incredible amount of freedom.

For me, I guess it's a control thing. As long as I hold a grudge in my heart, I feel like I have control over the other person when in reality, the grudge controls me in such a burdensome manner.

Knowing about the need to forgive is the easy part; it's actually obediently practicing it that's challenging for me.

Woman on a Mission said...

Francois - thank you for your comment. I too have been given the gift of forgiveness as well as given it. Sometimes, it's really hard to get there. You can want to forgive and let go with all your heart, but your stubborn pride just refuses to let you get there. There is no doubt in my mind that the two things I struggle with the most are forgiveness and patience. Also, you can call me Tiffany.

David - C.S. Lewis is a brilliant are you. Thank you for your thoughts as they have been greatly received and appreciated. You are a blessing to your congregation. I can totally relate to number one.

Daryl - Thank you for your comments as well. I suppose it might be a control thing. I've never thought of it that way but it certainly makes a lot of sense. It has given me something to be in prayer about.

I think the most important thing is to be self aware enough to realize when there is something about you that needs attention. For me, it is the pain or rejection of a situation that causes the hurt and I want to forgive people, but I wait until they say "I'm sorry" and I have had to realize that often the apology doesn't come until the forgiveness comes first. What a great God we have to mix it up and keep us on our toes. Thank you all so much for your brilliant insight and advice.

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