I knew I should forgive and move past the situation.
But I had been hurt.
The swirl of painful words splattered my heart. The hurt moved from my heart to my head where I replayed the argument often. I thought of a multitude of different endings. I would have said this, and I would say that. When she said “x”, I would change it and say this. Like a hamster on the wheel, my brain went around and around about the argument, but it got me nowhere.
I had a choice to halt the replay, but something in me didn’t want it to end. It wanted to continue that replay, to continue running on the hamster wheel of emotions.
As I traveled the miles on that wheel, leaving forgiveness in the dust, the hurt blossomed into anger.
It all started as an argument with a family member, years ago. It was untimely to say the least because it occurred the day before Thanksgiving. We lived miles apart but were spending the holiday together.
Together, that is, until the argument.
Like the clanging of pots and pans, we clashed in a loud and noticeable manner. Twice. Afterward, we retreated to our quiet fight ring corners, better known as bedrooms. (Because that’s where all females go when their feelings are hurt, right?)
After licking our wounds and refusing to speak to one another, we parted ways.
Sadly, there was no holiday celebration together that year, only hurt feelings and anger as our main entree.
Words and withholding forgiveness had come between family.
And I didn’t want toforgive. After all, I had been the one hurt, or so I thought.
So I stewed for a while.
The “while” turned into days. Days turned into weeks, and weeks progressed toward a month.
The anger brewing inside was changing who I was.
And not for the better.
There was a bitterness in the air and a hurting heart attempting to beat to its usual rhythm.
But life beats out of rhythm when forgiveness lacks.
Bitterness creates its own disjointed rhythm, filling the airwaves with ugliness.
“You better get this figured out because I don’t like who you’re becoming,” my normally mellow husband quipped.
This wasn’t usual territory for either of us, and because of our marital bond, he was forced to slip-slide through the anger with me. He wasn’t pleased.
My choice to withhold forgiveness was impacting more than simply me.
I knew I should forgive. My head said, “Forgive.” But my flesh wasn’t ready to let go of the offense.
I didn’t want to forgive.
But what do we do when we don’t want to forgive?
Maturity says we forgive anyway.
Love says do it because Jesus did.
Forgiveness says it sets us free. The Word says offering forgiveness shows our understanding of how much we’ve been forgiven. And when we understand much and have been forgiven much, like the woman who poured perfume on Jesus, we love much.
Therefore, I tell you,
her many sins have been forgiven –
as her great love has shown.
But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Here are some tips that help in the battle when we don’t want to forgive. They are based on the word FORGIVE.
1. Focus on Jesus. When I take my eyes off the situation and place them on my Savior and what He would want, my strong will is gathered appropriately and the aroma of Christ begins to fill my mind and atmosphere. (Hebrews 12:2)
In my situation… I started thinking about Jesus more than the negative replays. I chose to recall what the Word specifically said about forgiving and that there would be joy beyond the hurt.
2. Offer myself. It’s opportunity to say, “Not my will, Lord, but Yours.” (Luke 22:42)
In my situation… My husband took the kids away for a few hours one day while I worshiped and prayed, specifically for the Thanksgiving debacle. It was an intentional time of seeking the Lord and offering myself. The replay button was stopped and the “take my life and do what You want with it, Lord” audio was in place. I had finally set my will aside, and had taken up the Lord’s. I began praying for my wounded family member and myself. I asked the Lord to show me how to forgive and move beyond the hurt. I specifically said, “I forgive…”
3. Remember that it takes two to tango. When we focus on Jesus, offer ourselves versus demanding our own way, the Lord will open our eyes to see that there’s more involved than what we realized. Remember: ultimately, this is a spiritual battle, not one against flesh and blood. (Eph. 6:12)
In my situation… As I prayed, the Lord opened my eyes to my own offenses in the situation. It wasn’t one-sided as I had thought. I asked the Lord for forgiveness, then I decided to:
Just like Jesus.
Just like love.
Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Eph. 4:32 NIV
The Lord has since restored my relationship with that family member to an even better depth than before. It took time and baby steps for the relationship to get there, but it did. Forgiveness took it there. Is it time for you? Are you angry? Are you ready to offer forgiveness? Yours may be a situation like mine where forgiveness allows you to draw close to another person once again, or it may be like Jamie’s from last week’s posts. Forgiveness set her free, but it didn’t mean she had to draw close to her abuser again.
Either way, with forgiveness the hurt and anger will subside and glory to God will arise. Be encouraged to consider and give the gift this Christmas season, my friend.