December 26, 2016
“When you are praying and you remember that you are angry with another person about something, forgive that person. Forgive them so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins.” Mark 11:25 (ERV)
It’s making me squirm in my wooden chair, this idea of total forgiveness.
People talk loudly around me as I sip coffee at a restaurant and read Jesus’ words that rock me to the core. I wonder, Can these people hear the secret welling up in my throat? I’m a Christian and I don’t know how to forgive.
I instinctively put my hand over the page to hide the words. I feel exposed.
I’ve walked with God for many years, but I’m struggling to get over past hurts. My relationships are suffering, and the same personal issues keep rising up in my life. I’ve realized I haven’t really shown mercy to those who have injured me, not completely. Forgiveness does not come naturally.
I thought it would be easier to love others like my Father in Heaven. But today, forgiveness feels strange, uncomfortable and radical, like the sun blazing hot on me through the cold cafe window.
Forgiveness is heat and exposure, my heart laid bare in front of God. It feels like surgery. I’m having to admit I’ve become angry and bitter. There have been times lately when forgiveness feels nearly impossible because my heart is bound up tightly like a kid’s knotted shoelaces.
I have pitted myself against others and fought hard for my own rights. I’ve justified myself under the cloak of righteousness and called it love. Slowly, I’m realizing I cannot change people. I am the only problem I can fix.
I think of those who have forgiven me. My husband who pardoned me after I walked out years ago. My kids who hugged me after I yelled. A whole roomful of people who loved me anyway when I threw something in anger.
The capacity to forgive means we are wholly reliant on these open hearts of ours walking around, alive and resurrected in Christ. Beating, open, raw. Forgiving, letting be, letting go.
To forgive is to be transformed completely and never bring up a fault again — no matter what it is. We are to pray and want the best for the one who has injured us. This is unsettling because it feels impossible. Even after I forgive, anger tries to sneak in again and again.
Forgiveness feels like letting people off the hook. Releasing our vise grip on “I told you so” and “You hurt me.” Without forgiveness, our hearts become hard as stone, petrified wood, rotting slower than time.
Today’s Scripture verse reminds us feelings cannot be trusted, but God’s mercy can. It’s not easy, this everyday surrendering of ourselves. We must keep our hearts open to be reworked day after day.
When past hurts rise up and our spiritual lives grow cold, it’s time to bare our hearts to our Heavenly Father, who changes hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. He is faithful to fill us with grace as many times as we need. On repeat. Forever.
We don’t have to be cold, dead wood. We can be heat and life to this world like God. He is constantly reminding us of places we need to let mercy in. He lays our hearts bare at the table, and we experience the great undoing, recalibrating work of grace. We forgive so we will be forgiven. Totally.
Dear Jesus, old hurts and feelings still threaten to hijack my heart, but I want to forgive like You forgive me. When I feel anger creeping in, let that be the signal to forgive again and experience mercy’s healing power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Christina Hubbard is a member of COMPEL Training, an online writing membership community for those who want to write words that move people. Registration for COMPEL only opens a few times a year, and we’ll open it for a few days in January. Sign up here to be notified when registration opens again.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How much we forgive others determines the amount of God’s power we experience in our spiritual lives. What hurts do you have that need to be brought into the light of forgiveness?
© 2016 by Christina Hubbard. All rights reserved.