Monday, January 12, 2009

Forgiveness Yesterday

This post has been in my head for a few weeks, but I couldn't get it structured how I wanted it, so it's just going to spill out. I think someone needs to hear this today.

I've seen how unforgiveness can warp itself into bitterness. Shane and I see this demon eating away at someone we both love. We see it in the easy tears she sheds, the cocooning, recluse-like lifestyle she leads and the absolute refusal to bring the issues out in the open. As far as we see, she isn't aware that unforgiveness has eaten away at her for almost forty years. She's lived with it, nursed it so long she doesn't even realize it's robbed her blind.

A few years ago I had a friend who went from the "red headed baby lady" to a close confidant. We met when she brought fetal models to the pregnancy center I was getting off the ground. Eventually she took a job there, making us co-workers who drank homemade kefir together on our breaks. We were often found together outside of work thrift store shopping, cooking out with the families, or daydreaming about marrying off our kids to each other's offspring.

Then one day out of the blue it all came crashing down. I won't go into details here, but just know that it was like a light switch. One day we were on and the next day the lightening struck and we were off. There was large conflict which became one of the stickiest, messiest situations of my life. In our last conversation that day, we left the ball in their court for future discussion and closed the door.

I cried. I recounted it all. I cried more. I prayed. I read the Psalms and the words about enemies made me cry even more. I was confused and hurt and no longer even trusted my self to make right decisions. I questioned everything. When my heart settled down as the weeks went by, I still thought about my friend and the pain every. single. day.

As time went on, I just wanted to hear from her. I had been asked by Shane to honor the "ball is in their court" part so I had to just be quiet and wait. I had a tape set of hers and wanted to mail it back with a card but didn't know what to say so it just gathered dust. I let myself hope at holidays or birthdays that something might come from her. After maybe two years or so, I had just about given up reconciliation.

One hot summer day while waiting for the girls to finish their piano lesson, my phone rang. The number was vaguely familiar. Oh my! It was HERS! That was one of the best days of my life.

She called and we small talked. Then she cut to the chase and said she would like to talk. She had heard I was pregnant (with Jaika) and didn't want to miss any more of my life. She came over to visit and we cried and rehashed a little and cried some more.

That was over two years ago-is it coming up on three? Our husbands (maybe just mine) aren't "there" yet, but that's okay. I'm seeing progress just the same. We have to be on purpose about seeing each other since we no longer work together and live almost an hour apart, but we're doing it.

The bottom line is this-I knew that once we were reconciled, it wouldn't matter if we didn't continue the relationship, I just wanted peace between us. It's icing on the cake that we have built our friendship back up.

Can you see a difference my friends? The cancerous bitterness that fills us when we don't reconcile verses the sweet peace that floods our hearts when we do? In the Bible, Joshua said he would choose life. Can you see which choice leads to life? It sure isn't the one that changes you from the inside out as parts of you rot away from the bitterness!

If it is within your power, choose life. Make the step towards reconciliation. No one said you have to have the long term relationship with the person (that isn't even healthy all the time, it's not in my first example for sure), but make your peace. That person may be waiting with baited breath each Christmas to see if you've sent a card as a proverbial olive branch.

I know this post is long, but hear me through one more example. This weekend Shane & I got short with each other just like last Saturday (this happens when you attempt to read the Word together each day, Satan doesn't like it). We were really angry with each other but after an hour or so apart, my anger faded and I saw the pattern of our weekend being under attack from the enemy once more. I went to make amends but he wouldn't have it. He stewed until the next morning at church. We talked in the cry room but by that time, our weekend was about over. Score one for the Father of Lies.

If you're the one wronged but someone asks forgiveness, please show grace and mercy. Life is too short to nurse the wounds! Let them go, you'll do better without them. They don't help you, they only eat away.

Is there someone you need to talk to as a new year is upon us? Don't walk through this new year with this over your head. Don't put it off. It's worth being the most important thing on your to-do list. It's worth it. Do it.


Luke said...

Excellent post.

It has been a long road for me and forgiveness and release of bitterness. And, honestly, I've still got a long way to go yet. But you are absolutely right: Bitterness and lack of forgiveness eats away your life. I've been there and done that.


I'm very thankful for the redeeming power of God to return what has been stolen [smile].


Supermom2JakeAndEmmy said...

Such a true post - thanks for that.

The hardest for me is teaching the children to be forgiving. It's in our human nature to NOT be, and they don't quite understnad the concept of forgiveness yet. Well, Garrett and Christin DO, but the heart is not yet willing. Emily is still learning.

Scott said...

I love the post...

I wonder what the comparison is to forgiving yourself for something? That same unforgiveness affects everything in their life and even lets the bitterness and anger out to other people...especially since there's not another specific take those frustrations out on.

I mean, it seems like when the wall finally comes down between people, it comes down just as you said...quickly and with a lot of tears. How does that process take place for a person with unforgiveness towards themselves? ...and what can trigger such a "coming down" of that wall with yourself when you can't just pick up the phone and call yourself? ...and what can those that love that person holding those feelings about themselves do?

Wendy said...

Luke~it is a process, for sure and I'm glad you see progress in your life. I have a long standing situation in which I feel I've forgiven, yet when things come back up, the pain clouds it all. Yet, like you, I'm trying.

Jennifer~good for you for trying with the kids, it is hard to get it through. I think the best way to teach them is for them to see you forgive others.

Scott~you touched on a VERY important and hard part of forgiveness. I've worked with women who aborted and the hardest part for them was the forgiveness of self. I'm going to think & pray about this and probably post on it soon. Thanks for bringing it up.

Anonymous said...


I too have struggled with forgiveness. Forgiving others that have wronged me and forgiving myself for making lousy decisions in life. As Luke said, it is a process. There are no short cuts along this road.

Like Jennifer, I am struggling to teach this to my children. Especially my oldest, as she comes to grips with the divorce and who her father is. There is no magic formula. It must be modeled.

Thank you for being open.


D Unstoppable Mom said...

if we can't forgive ourselves or someone else who has wronged us, how can we hope to be forgiven by the Father? All that ugly stuff WILL be forgiven by Him, therefore we must forgive the trival "human" stuff! Took me a long time to get that point!
Always need a reminder though!

Janet said...

My mom & dad divorced over 40 years ago. He was unfaithful and left her high and dry with 6 kids. Over the yrs he apologized several times to us kids (but not mom) but every time it was with excuses of how it wasn't ALL his fault. My dad began a true relationship with God about two years ago. Last yr when my mom was in the hospital he came to see her and asked her forgiveness...without excuses. She told him she had already forgiven him (although it hadn't been long before!). They had a good visit, comfortably talking in a way they hadn't in decades(they are 78 & 83). Family get togethers have much more joy now that the bitterness and blame are gone. They were both at my house on Christmas day. They were laughing, talking about good memories and even talked about their spiritual life. It was cool! I can just imagine how much lighter their hearts must feel. :) Side note-The nurse in my mom's room, who had overheard it all, asked how she was able to forgive him, she was going through something similar only fresher. My mom was able to witness to her how Jesus had softened her about God's timing! This has to be something we can't do without help from above...