That is what my journey has been these last few months. Back in February the Lord showed me I had a lot of unforgiveness in my heart towards people and how they treated or didn't treat me after my Dad died. Before February, I had no idea that I even struggled with unforgiveness. I would call myself a very self-aware person. When things come up, I think I do a pretty good job in addressing them in a timely matter and figuring out what the issue is and how it can be remedied. So when God brought this unforgiveness to my attention, I was honestly quite shocked! I don't think I had ever really had to deal with this before. Where do I start? How does one forgive? Do I actually have to forgive if I was the one wronged?
From that moment, God started me on a journey of forgiveness. It has been one of the hardest things I've ever walked through because forgiveness means you lay down and surrender the fact that you are completely justified in being angry and hurt. It means that you actually have to trust God to have vengeance...not you. It means you have to let go of the hurt that has been caused to you that you now wear as a cloak around you for security. It means you trade that cloak in for one you don't see yet, but one that Christ has offered you.
Anyone who says these things are easy is a liar. Laying these things down is completely opposite to our human nature. And if anyone has a justice heart like myself, laying these things down seem to go again almost everything you thought was just and fair! Fight for the weak and victimized...even if that's you! The person harming you should be punished and brought to justice! Laying these things down is probably the hardest thing our heart has to do in our whole life, especially in cases that you were the one severely wronged.
That is the place I have once again found myself in. God knew that the journey He started me on back in February would be a warm-up for what I face now.
One night this week, God tenderly ask me, once again, to forgive...this time, in a situation which feels like there's more hurt, pain and anger. Full of justification for those feelings. I told the Lord this person did not deserve forgiveness because they probably didn't even know how wrong and awful they had been. They need to know! They need to pay for that and answer for what they did! I mean this person broke my heart! They need to be punished before I can forgive and let this go. I need justice. I am worth more than how they treated me! It's not fair that I forgive when they think that they are in the right, where's the justice in that, God?! I am so angry. They don't deserve forgiveness!
In the Lord's mercy and grace, He sweetly spoke to my heart and said, "These things are true, Hannah. You are right. They have been awful to you and they don't even know the extent of it all. You do deserve to be treated better. And they don't deserve forgiveness. You are correct.
"However, my Hannah-girl, you did not deserve to have my Son die for your sins...but He did it anyway. This, my girl, is why you need to forgive. Because of what my Son did for you, not because of whether or not someone deserves your forgiveness. You need not hold that anymore. Allow me to protect you, watch over you and comfort you. Let this go and forgive. I desire freedom for you and that is found in forgiveness. Allow Me to hold your heart and protect it. I will do a far better job at that than you ever can, my girl. Choose to forgive. I want you to walk in freedom, but you must choose to forgive."
"Oh Father," I cried, "You love me more than I will ever know."
So...after struggling a lot with my anger, hurt and pain, I chose to forgive with my heart and not just my head. The thing is, nothing has changed; my circumstances are the exact same today as they were yesterday--but I know that I am experiencing more of God's love today than I did yesterday. Not because He has changed, but because I am now allowing His love to flow in the back corner of my heart where I so tightly held the hurt and pain.
Forgiveness takes trust. Trust that God is all He says He is. I want to trust Him with all my heart...and sometimes, often times actually, that means I must let go of what I think is just and fair and instead hold on to His promises and will for my life. I want to love God more than I hate what has been done to me.
I don't write all this to have you think I'm awesome and a super-Christian. I actually write this to maybe encourage you that you're not the only one holding on to things that are justifiable; you are not the only one who needs to let things go and forgive with your heart and not just your head.
Maybe forgiving with you heart is what Jesus meant when He told us to forgive 70 x 7 times (Matthew 18:22). Not specifically that the same person or situation harms you 70 x 7 times and for each time we must forgive (which I'm sure He meant as well), but that everytime the memory of that harm comes back, we need to choose to forgive each time.
I think forgiveness from the heart is the most difficult thing we will ever do as a Believer. Because it means letting of the justice we see to be most fitting and instead allow and trust that God's justice is actually the most fitting. He's better at being Judge than you or me.
I'm still on this journey of forgiveness. It's hard. I have to daily say, "I forgive..." out loud. I do know that one day this situation will become a little further away and that Christ's love will flow a little more freely in that corner of my heart. I think He just wants us to just start somewhere. His grace will be very evident once we take a step. This won't be the last time you or I will be wronged, but maybe next time it won't take us as long to choose to forgive.
Thank you God for forgiving my sin and calling me your own. I am seeing more and more, that I did not deserve that act of kindness from You, but still You did it for me. Thank you. Thank you that I am Yours. Thank you that you love me with an everlasting love. Thank you that I am a blessing to you. I love you Papa. Amen.