This post is going to be honest, because I don’t have time for anything else. I read some place recently, “If you tell the truth all the time, you never have to remember.” Seriously.
There are times I wake up in the middle of the night, like right now. I grab my phone, just to see what happened on Twitter and Instagram and my inbox while I was sleeping. The second that screen lights up, my brain turns on. Out of sleep and into whatever universe my iPhone takes me to. It’s not restful, it’s not sleep, and it’s probably a habit I need to break, because when my brain turns on, the restful state I was in turns off.
I’ve also read somewhere that your most creative state is the space between sleep and awake. They say Salvador Dali used to sleep with a spoon in his hand, and as he relaxed and fell asleep, it would fall out of his hand and wake him when it clattered to the floor. Who needs a spoon when your iPhone is buzzing on your nightstand, though?
But I didn’t start this post to write about creativity. The subject on my mind and heart lately: forgiveness. I have two stories.
I had a conversation a while back with someone I have known for a while. The conversation turned deep, and the person asked me: “Have you ever done anything to hurt me?” Reflecting back on how long I’ve known this person, and reflecting on the fact that I’m most definitely a work in progress, I could only reply with “Yes, I’m sure I have.” They responded with, “Anything specific?” I wracked my brain and wondered how on earth I had gotten into this conversation, but in the spirit of honesty, could only think to say, “I’m sure I have, and I want you to know I’m sorry.”
When the conversation ended, I mentioned it to my husband, and what came blabbering out of my mouth in recalling the story made a whole lot of sense to me: if Jesus didn’t make me list my sins to him when He died on the cross, then why do I have to list my sins to my fellow man?
I’m by no means a theologian, so I’m not saying that’s the correct response. What I do know without a shadow of a doubt is that I’m forgiven, and forgiveness covers all sin. Amen, hallelujah, and thank the Lord.
Fast forward a few weeks. Completely new story. I receive an email with an apology. It read somewhere along the lines of, “I think I’ve done something to hurt you, and I’m sorry.” Me, in my humanness, starts digging to summarize a list of those wrongs. I wanted to reply with, “Oh why YES! You HAVE hurt me. Here, let’s hash through everything. We can start with Grievance #1: Last year, you…”
As my mind started to wander down that road, something stopped me. It wasn’t my place. That wasn’t my responsibility. Rehashing those wrongs wasn’t going to help anyone. It wasn’t going to provide healing for me. It wasn’t going to re-establish trust in a relationship. If anything, going down the path of re-hashing wrongs only threatened more pain to both of us. In fact, the only benefit to pursuing that tactic seemed to be to myself, and only short-term. Something that would make me feel better about myself, and make them feel worse about themselves. A sense of personal justification at someone else’s expense.
No, that didn’t seem like a good path to take at all.
I picture in my head a giant red button, kind of like the Staples “that was easy” button. Instead of a giant white “EASY” lettered across the top of the button, the button says, “FORGIVENESS”. In my mind, every time I find myself wanting to throw something against someone, digging up a past grievance, I mentally hit that forgiveness button. It’s a reset button, there to remind me that I’m forgiven. I’m loved. And because He loves me, I have the strength to hit that button and forgive forward. There will always be people who hold things against me, and that’s their problem. This forgiveness thing, it’s between me and God. It’s His opinion of me that counts, and only His opinion.
Here are my choices in life:
- When I’ve wronged someone, I can choose to say I’m sorry.
- When I’ve been wronged, I can choose to accept the apology. Embrace it, but don’t hold onto it to tightly. Let it go.
- Remember that I’m forgiven, and forgive forward.
Accepting an apology and forgiving someone are two different things. Accepting an apology is a simple, one time, gesture of gratitude. Forgiving is constant, and has to be, simply because we’re human. It’s that reset button, and we’re going to have to keep hitting it, time and time again. It’s kind of like working out. Forgiveness is a discipline.
I don’t know about you, but I think I’d rather hit that forgiveness button a million times than have to carry that list of wrongs around in my back pocket. Talk about a heavy back pocket.
Today’s challenge: who do you need to forgive? Think about them for a moment. DO NOT think about the grievance or the wrong. Just think about them as a human, with a heart and a soul, with hopes and dreams, as someone who fears and loss, as someone who seeks joy and love: just like you. Remember, you’re not perfect and He loves you. LOVE THEM. I know it’s hard, but no one is asking you to die on a cross here. Actually, maybe that’s what this verse means: take up your cross and follow me.
Nobody said it was easy. Except for Staples. And they’re not in charge. 🙂
So, you ask, this LOVING THEM thing–what does that look like? I don’t want to love them. Do you see what they did to me?
Hey, now. Forgiveness reset button.
Have a beautiful day, friends!