Or What I Need (and Want) to Do, but Have Not Yet Succeeded in Doing
So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive
your brother from your heart.”
Mark 11:25: And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Luke 6:37: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;
Luke 17:3-4: Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
C.S. Lewis talks at length about forgiveness, and what it means to really forgive. It is a task much more significant and difficult than simply uttering the words “I forgive you.” It is a radical action, like love, that when done with the same desire and fervency that God has shown, wholly reconciles the relationship. It is not forgetting, but putting it in the past and leaving it there.
I had a mirror held up to my
face heart over the holidays, and realized that I have become that which I hate most. I seek forgiveness from Christ for the most inexcusable in me, yet I have not done this for others. I seek reconciliation and redemption from Christ, but I have not offered this to others. I ask for God’s mercy and grace in my life, but I am reluctant unwilling to spare even a measure of it for others, even those who have granted me an undue portion.
What do you do when you realize that all the navel-gazing in the world…that which you thought would give you a release from the bitterness, anger and frustration that has plagued you for so long…does so only minimally, but has the very real consequence of hurting others more than helping yourself? When the mirror was held up and I
saw SAW, I realized the bill of goods that I’d been sold…and believed. In the effort to make others see, really SEE, I failed to see for myself. And what I see…finally…is this: I can not claim forgiveness for myself until I am willing to forgive trespasses against me. I can not be reconciled to Christ unless I am willing to be reconciled with those in my earthly life. With my family and friends.
And it is HARD. I have had this crutch, this safety net of anger & pain, for so long that to try and break it down is unbelievably daunting. Tim Keller talks in Counterfeit Gods about how we don’t realize what becomes a false god to us until we recognize that we have made it more important than God Himself. Why can’t I trust God to protect my heart? I know He will. Why can’t I rely on God to show me the way to redemption? He always does. Why can’t I lay at His feet the shackles of hostility, bitterness, pain, grief, anger, frustration, worry…and know that He is bigger than all of those barriers, that He is more than enough, and that He has only been waiting for me to cast aside my counterfeit god and truly rest in Him?
I hate being vulnerable. I hate being in a position to be attacked, vilified, and ridiculed. I hate feeling as though knowledge about me constitutes ammunition that can be used on me later. There is a sense of protection in putting things out into the world in writing, so that I can say what I
need want to say without immediate repercussion. So I have taken the easy road. I have written about the litany of hurts and slights in my life. I have wallowed. And I have hurt others. I have made targets of people in a manner that allowed (I thought) for as little consequence as possible. Except that now it is out there, and the bell can not be un-rung.
I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions many years ago. What was the point? We all start the new year with expectations that it will be different from last year, and from the year before that. 2013 was no different for me…I started the year with no list of things to do better, no list of changes to make, no list of goals to meet (other than to try for the gazillionth time to read at least 100 books). Then came the mirror moment that reflected how empty my soul has become, because I keep digging at the bottom instead of turning around and letting God fill me up. I am tired. I am tired of only partially trusting God, and in still thinking that I have to do the heavy lifting in my life. I am tired of propping myself up with grudges and grievances. rather than laying them down at His feet and moving on. I am tired of what so much navel-gazing has rendered in me…which is nothing. I am tired of being empty.
Here are my resolutions for 2013…a very different lot than had I made them 17 days ago:
- Make God the biggest part of my life, rather than the grudges I have held onto for so long.
- Think of others before myself, care for others before myself, serve others before myself.
- FORGIVE. My single, biggest impediment to quieting the personal demons, and to reconciling relationships that have been hurt by my
inability unwillingness to forgive.
- Understand that forgiveness is both an action and a process. Do it daily, sincerely, and continuously.
- Read my Bible every day. Let it infuse me, and change me.
- Stop making excuses.
- Be joyful always. In fact, do just as 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us: 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Practically speaking, this means the blog will change. A number of posts will go private, and I will not publish them again. I have hurt and angered others by writing them, and that stops now. I will not publish new posts airing grievances against others. If I can’t find a way to focus my thoughts in an uplifting way that points no fingers, it will not go live. I want to do something better with my time and my passion.
Does it seem strange to look at this chain of events and thank God for the crushing blow of clarity? Sometimes – MANY times – it takes exactly that to get it. How many times do I need the mirror to be held up before I realize my brokenness is by my own hand, and I am crushed by the weight of my own sin? I don’t know…I’ll let you know…this year…as I let Him help me out of this spiritual, mental & emotional pit I have dug for myself.
I believe, Lord. I truly believe. Please help me to take it to heart and live it out.