Thursday, December 2, 2010

Forgive, Forgiving, Forgiven

In the last Freedom for Life meeting, we talked at our table about how hard it is to forgive. It feels like ripping off a scar, something that you'd rather leave covering whatever damage is below the surface. We were asked to make a list of people we needed to forgive. My list was long, longer than I thought it would be. And I also noticed that there were things on the list that were just ridiculous. I'm very embarrassed to say that things like a poor report card and less than perfect public behavior made the list - normal things for which I was holding grudges against our kids. Crazy. Sad. And just wrong. Then there are the things that really did hurt me, deliberately or not, and that part of the list is long, too, and was WAY easier to make and detail. Those things just sit there in your mind and heart - if you let them, and wait to be given room to voice their complaints.

Alyssa at Resolved to Worship recently posted this:
Sometimes forgiving seems to minimize what has been done to me, to others.
I think that's what my brain wants, to NOT have the injustice forgotten or overlooked. There is a part of me that wants to rise up and say, "But look what they did! See how hurt I am? What about me?!?"and, "If I let this go, if I don't tell them in excruciating detail exactly how they hurt me and what they should have done instead, they will just do it over and over. I'm just not willing to lay it down!"

But my heart longs for reconciliation. Sometimes your heart knows things that your head can't make sense of.
There is a couple at church that I hurt. I hurt them so deeply that they left the church we were in at the time. They chose the painful prospect of breaking fellowship to get away from the sin I am responsible for. Of course there were reasons, I was in leadership, sought counsel for a situation from an appropriate person and I unwisely chose to follow the advise I was given. But I chose, I sinned against this couple, and the results were immediate, clear and unquestionable. For a while I was able to absolve myself by assuring myself that, even though I had actually carried out this act, I was merely following the leading of someone in more authority than myself - for a while. And then some other stuff was going on with us and we, too, left that church.... only to settle at the same church as this couple! 

Avoiding them in the small church building, especially in the entryway the "size of a Hummer," was a challenge. We never spoke a word, I didn't talk to anyone else about the situation and I assume they didn't either as I never heard a whisper, but I could practically feel the air thicken as I tried to avoid them, probably only obvious to me. Our pastor and God seem to have some kind of deal where he continuously preaches right to whatever is going on in my heart, and so came the Sunday where he preached about forgiveness and I sat on an aisle and the other couple sat on the opposite aisle a couple rows ahead of me - right where I could look at them through the. whole. service. Our church has ministry time at the end of just about any meeting we have, always leaving space to respond to and hear from God. As the message ended, we all stood to sing, and I watched this couple walk to the front to be available to pray with anyone who approached. I. was. not. approaching! I hightailed it downstairs to pick up our daughter from her class. But we did come back upstairs to worship and dance and that couple was still there, not praying with anyone. 

I finally gave in to what the Spirit had been whispering, nudging, and finally pushing me to do. I had sinned against this couple and I longed for reconciliation. I went forward, daughter on hip, and confessed my sorrow at ever hurting them. And they heard me, hugged me, cried a little with me and forgave me, and I came away lighter, with a sense of God's extravagant, bottomless grace.
What I received that day, over three years ago, was more than just their forgiveness and God-who-never- forgets-the-lessons-we-shouldn't-have-forgotten, is reminding me of the peace and joy He brings in reconciliation. The last few weeks, He has reminded me-the-forgetful and I find myself looking around in our new, larger facility to see if I can find them, this couple that gave me such a gift through their forgiveness. Once in a while I do and I have such overflowing joy to see them and know that we are all good. We are not close, but I feel intimate with them, real fellowship. I can choose to be the forgiver or the forgivee, or both. They both feel pretty good.


  1. I love it! Thank you for sharing again. Your honesty is a blessing and God loves it.

  2. Kathy you just keep moving forward with God, what a blessing you are to us all! I Love you!