Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dropping the "F" bomb {it's not what you think}

I applaud you if you're still reading after seeing the title of this post. Today, I've decided to drop the "f" bomb ... I hope you're sitting down because I'm gonna say it - forgiveness. *GASP!* For many of us, this "f" word makes us cringe much more than the real "f" word. Forgiveness is such a complex thing, but it's something we'd all like to think we're good at. Everyone has heard the phrase "Forgive and Forget", right? Well clearly whoever coined that phrase had never truly been burned or hurt by someone. If only it were that simple.



What does it even mean to forgive someone? Here's how Merriam-Webster defines it:

for·give

verb \fər-ˈgiv, fr-\ : to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)
: to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)

transitive verb
1 :  to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult>
2 :  to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)
Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn't it? Then WHY is it so difficult to do? To REALLY do, I mean. One thing to note is that the definition does not include "forget" anywhere in the definition. Interesting. Often times we claim to have forgiven someone, but the next time something comes up with this person, our white flag is lowered and we quickly dig up the "forgiven" incident. That's what sin nature does and what our enemy wants us to continue doing. Dig it up and throw it in their face. But as a Christ-follower, my heart knows this isn't the right way to respond, no matter how much everything in my being is screaming "DIG. IT. UP!". By forgiving someone we aren’t saying that their choice was right, we are saying, “You've hurt me yet I’m choosing to let go of the anger and resentment I have towards you.”

Personally, when someone has done something to hurt me {whether intentionally or unintentionally}, my first response is to keep my mouth shut and avoid them like the plague. I despise conflict. DESPISE it. If someone has truly hurt me {the deep, damaging, heart-wrenching kind}, I'd rather go to the extra effort of avoiding them for as long as possible than to actually take the time to go through the process of working to forgive them – and I certainly won't give them the satisfaction of seeing me blow up, spewing unkind words back at them in an attempt to make myself feel better. Probably not the best approach, but that's my first reaction – avoidance. Unfortunately, avoiding the conflict doesn't erase the thoughts running crazy in my head. It doesn't wipe out the looping reel in my brain, replaying the incident(s) over and over. And it certainly doesn't erase the wound(s) on my heart. Try to imagine if Jesus had taken this approach. Imagine if He'd avoided all those who had wronged him. All those who made snarky remarks directed at Him. All those who laughed at His "far-fetched" teachings. All those who claimed to be His friend only to turn around and slap Him in the face. All those who laughed at and spit on Him, then hung Him on a cross. I can't even fathom it. Really, I can't.

This picture has caused me to do some real soul searching – specifically in the area of forgiveness. My selfish sin-nature wants to scream from the rooftops that I AM THE ONE who has been wronged, yet my heart knows that I need to prayerfully and humbly fall at the feet of my Savior, begging Him to give me the strength and courage to truly forgive. Just as He has. He's been there. He's experienced the hurt. He's experienced the frustration. He's experienced the feelings of betrayal on a much deeper level than I ever will. Yet He has forgiven. I've come to the realization that the only way to truly forgive someone is by crying out for HIS help. He has the ability to heal wounds and to help us move past things. The scars will always be there just as His are. But with HIM, all things are possible ... even forgiveness. True forgiveness.

"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

Colossians 1:13-14

Forgiving someone doesn't mean that we are condoning their actions. It also doesn't mean that there won't be times that we think about the offense(s) against us. Most times forgiving someone doesn't mean your relationship with them will bounce right back to what it once was – sometimes that relationship needs to be terminated because it's unhealthy {which is okay!}. And quite honestly, forgiving someone doesn't even require that the other person takes part. I'm learning that forgiveness is a gift God has given us that releases us from carrying these burdens any longer. It frees us to move forward, focusing on HIS plan for our lives, rather than being stuck in the vicious cycle of unforgiveness. It also allows us an opportunity to show Christ-like love towards others. Even if, in the world's eyes, they don't deserve it. None of us deserve even a sliver of the love and forgiveness He continually shows us. Yet we're showered with His forgiveness, love and blessings each and every day. Oh to be able to forgive like Jesus. It's possible. If we let Him take control and guide us through the process.

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