Forgiveness is one of the hardest words in the English language to me. It’s one of the toughest things to do…to give. I think it should be a four-letter word, except, well, it has more than four letters, but whose counting?
How can one word be so difficult yet so freeing? Why is it expected to be given when it is so undeserved? It’s one of those things that my head knows I need to do, but I can’t seem to convince my heart to do what my mind knows to do.
When an offense comes against us and we find ourselves with a wounded spirit, refusing to forgive prevents our own healing. In fact, when we refuse forgiveness, in addition to the harm that has been done to us, we heap even more harm on ourselves. Anger settles in. Bitterness settles in. It’s like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. Who would do such a foolish thing?
Where do you picture yourself when you picture yourself at total peace? Is there anywhere you can go where you know beyond a shadow of a doubt God is right there with you? Where He wraps you up tight and gives you a big hug of peacefulness? Where for a brief of time all is right and good?
I grew up near the SC coastline listening to soft breaking waves, the lonesome cry of seagulls, and the crispness of sea oats scraping against each other. Those images and memories continue to speak the gift of peace and God’s presence to me. If I were to do yoga and structured meditation (which I unfortunately don’t), I suspect I would do it picturing myself there with those same coastal sounds. Oh… that feeling of totally being in the presence of God, where the daily cares fly away like the pelicans! I love it!
Sometimes the intent of another is not to wound us but rather to prevent us from hurting ourselves. In Proverbs 27:5-6, King Solomon, known for his wisdom, wrote, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”(NIV) The New American reads, “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”
So what does that mean? It means that maybe our thinking is all wrong. We think that a true friend is one who always says nice things to us, and tells us how wonderful we are, and of course, always takes our side when we are, in our opinion, being treated unjustly. But the writer of Proverbs says, “Nope!”
My daughter just finished her first semester of college, and yes, we have all survived! Praise God! Survival has come through many hours of prayer, reading Scripture, and lots of free therapy from friends and family. By the way, thank you all for not charging! I can now look back on that first day of college with a little perspective, not through the fear and tears I had at the beginning. I remember getting ready to leave for school on that fateful morning and my daughter asked me how she looked. I was prepared to tell her that her hair looked great, her clothes matched (not always a given in our household), and that she looked very “college-worthy”. My sweet daughter had another adjective in mind; she wanted to know if she looked approachable?
“Approachable?” I asked.
“Yes, I’m wearing my Young Life shirt and do you think people will know about YL and want to approach me?”
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