We all know the “church-talk.” Forgiveness is about your freedom, and we are commanded to forgive, and forgiveness releases the other person from hurting you any longer.
But this post isn’t really about forgiveness.
I remember a time where I was going through some very difficult emotions regarding what someone had done to me. Everything I felt was justified. In fact, I felt like, if I took the time to count, I would have reached 490 instances of forgiveness (70 x 7) that I had given to this person.
They had hurt me over and over and over again, and I had turned the other cheek, the other arm, the other ear, the other everything. Over and over again. Eventually it came to a climax. They did something to me, that I finally decided NOT to forgive them.
I felt like I had forgiven them enough. I had given them enough chances to get it right, I had done my 70×7. This time, they would have to PAY!! I wanted them to hurt as much as I had when I forgave them all those times. I wanted them to feel the pain and anguish that I felt. And I was stuck on it. I wasn’t forgiving, they weren’t going to get away with it this time. I wasn’t moving. I didn’t care what God had to say about it.
Because He and I have a relationship, I shared all of this with Him. All of the feelings, all of the anger, all of the hurt, all of the confusion, all of the stubbornness. I told Him exactly how I felt, and what I wanted Him (my daddy) to do about it.
Well, I’m sure we all know how that went. Swiftly, the Lord nudged me again. “Forgive them,” He asked.
“NO WAY!!” I responded. ”Are you kidding me? How could you even ask me to do that? You know what they’ve done to me. You see how it has affected me.”
“Forgive them,” He asked again. His voice as soft as a feather.
So I stopped talking to Him about it. God obviously wasn’t giving me what I needed during that time. I decided to call one of my friends, who gave me HORRIBLE advice. Well, at least I felt like it was horrible at the time.
“You should pray that God let’s you see them how He sees them,” he said. “You need to pray that God will help you to empathize with where they are coming from and why they are doing these things.”
SERIOUSLY?!?!?! Could I get nobody to join the party? I was having an amazingly festive pity party and I couldn’t get anyone to show up.
Again Jesus nudged me. “Forgive them,” He asked.
I keep saying He asked, because that’s exactly how it came across to my heart each time He spoke those words. It wasn’t a COMMAND OF THE LORD. It wasn’t a “do this so that you can be blessed” kind of thing. He was asking me to do Him a favor. He never said please, but I could feel the “please” each time He asked. It was as if he was saying, “Will you do this for Me, please? Because we’re friends, I’m asking you for this favor. Will you do it for Me?”
I really didn’t want to. I wanted nothing to do with forgiving them. I didn’t even want Him to ask me that. I wanted my Father to say, “I’ve seen the atrocities leveled against you my son, and I am pouring out my wrath upon them!” (insert God voice) I wanted to see some of that Amorites, Jebusites, Hittites type action from my God. But He simply asked me to forgive them.
For the next few minutes, I struggled with God. We went back and forth a bit, me laying out my case, Him continuing to ask the same question. Eventually, I gave in. Not because I wanted to, not even because it was the right thing to do. But, simply because I loved Jesus, and He asked me to.
What he said to me next was so powerful. As I was struggling to open my mouth and say the words. As I struggled to pray the prayer my friend suggested, I could hear Jesus cheering me on. I would open my mouth about to speak, then abruptly close it again in anger and He would softly say, “You can do this!”
I would get a couple of words out, “Father in the name of Jesus I…” and then stop, and He would say, “Come on, you’re almost there.” I would try to speak again, then stop and say, “But what about my heart God they just get to run all over me?”
“You’re strong enough for this,” He said.
“God I pray…” I stopped again, thinking to myself, I can’t do this! With the slightest nudge Jesus spoke to me, “Yes you can, I believe in you.”
Finally, the words came out of my mouth. “Father in the name of Jesus, I forgive them. I ask that you would let me see them as you see them. God help me to understand your heart towards them and their heart so that can know how to love them better. Help me Jesus! Help me, help me, help me.”
As tears streamed down my face, while the words were coming out of my mouth, all I could hear from Jesus was, “I’m so proud of you!” As I continued to speak those words, as I continued to forgive, He began to flood my heart with gratitude and appreciation. Not for the other person, but from Him to me. “Look at you,” He said. “You’re doing it! Look at you! I’m so proud of you!” I felt like a little boy hearing the cheers of His father as he conquered his fears and rode a bike for the first time.
My daddy was proud of me. As the tears began to subside, He continued to speak to my heart. “I’m so proud of you my son,” He said. “You did this even though you didn’t want to, even though you didn’t feel like it, and even though you were completely justified in your unforgiveness.”
He then spoke to me the purpose of this post. He said, “I didn’t want you to forgive them because I command you to. I didn’t want you to forgive them so you could be blessed. Yes, those things are true, it is a command and it does release your heart from the hurt and open it for blessings. But, what I really wanted, was for you to open the door so that I could show you just how proud I am of you.”
“I wanted to encourage you. I wanted to cheer you on. I wanted you to know, that I’m behind you all the way, even when you feel like you’re being asked to do the hardest thing ever. I’m on your team!”
All I could say was thank you.
If this is you, and you have someone in your life you don’t want to forgive. I hope this story helps.