I am totally stuck. I have the poison of unforgiveness coursing through my veins, my mind and my heart these days and it’s torturing me.
I know I’ve touched on this before (so please forgive me!), but what do you do with a person who looks at you and says, “I disapprove of you,” and then says months later, harshly, “Why do you care if I disapprove of you?” while tears stream down your face?
I have thought about those words every day since they were said to me months ago. I have looked at this disapproval from every angle, holding it up to the light, hoping for some new revelation of understanding. I have asked people for insight. I have looked back at the period of my life that this person disapproves of, asking God to reveal anything to me that I’m missing, retracing my tracks, re-reading journals. I’ve seen words on pages spilled out like blood where I begged Jesus for fifteen months to help me feel something I didn’t feel, to help me want something I didn’t want, to keep me in that one place when all I wanted to do was get in my car and drive as far away as I could, to help me do what I was being told to do no matter how I felt, to help me do what I was being told to do no matter what kept being done to me.
And I look back at that time in my life – this disapproved-of season, my disapproved-of choices – and though I didn’t do it perfectly (it was admittedly so, so messy), I know deep down that I was trying so very hard to do the most right thing every single day of that fifteen months. I know deep down that my heart was cold and hard YET I was begging Jesus to change it and I was still making myself do every single thing I was told to do that I didn’t want to do. And that at the end of that fifteen months, a group of wise, kind, praying, discerning, godly people who were selflessly surrounding us like a circle of angels cheering us on, looked at me and said, “You did your part.”
I have even asked myself the frighteningly difficult question, “Should I have fought the petition of divorce against me?” and I have wrestled with that question and my frailty and others’ harsh words and the blame I feel almost constantly and came to the conclusion that I should not have. That it actually would have been worse for me to fight the divorce. I could have handled myself better, of course; but I didn’t handle myself wrong.
Which means this: my judge is wrong. My judge is wrong to disapprove of me. My judge is wrong to assume to know my heart. My judge is wrong to disapprove of every counselor that was around me for giving me the counsel they gave me (which is what my judge is doing). And my judge was wrong to speak to me that way, so cruelly, especially in light of my very obvious sadness and vulnerability. (Why has it taken me months to come to the conclusion that another person was wrong? Why has it taken me months to come to the conclusion that – God forbid! – I might have been right about something? Abuse, abuse, abuse…)
So, now what? Well, I totally know now what. I must forgive. I must forgive someone who doesn’t feel remorse, who will never apologize to me, who I will never have another conversation with to wrap up our loose ends. I must forgive this person as if this person is dead.
I have done this before. And I will, I’m certain, have to do this again. But for some reason, this toxin is hanging on a bit longer than it usually does. I currently have someone in my life who hurts me on a regular basis and I don’t feel even a tenth of the pain from that person as I do from the disapproval encounter. (Perhaps I’ve come to expect pain from the former and never expected it from the latter.) ButI so wish I knew why. I would give anything to get to the root of this, to understand why I care so deeply. Has this person been on a pedestal? Did I expect so much more from the heart of this person I trusted? Did I expect too much?But I won’t be understanding anytime soon, and I can’t wait for a magic discovery to make everything clear.
So, I must begin the arduous task of forgiving. I do not want to, I must admit. I think I enjoy, somewhere deep down, savoring this pain. But, as they say, holding onto an offense is like drinking poison and expecting your offender to die. My offender does not care. My offender more than likely gives no thought to me. I am the one keeping this alive.
And though, yes, there are innumerable Scriptures that prod me to forgive, I think what I’m struck with the most is the number of verses where God tells someone he is going to forgive them or has forgiven them; which means, God is a forgiving God. Which means, I should be a forgiving person. Because I so desperately want to be like him. And I am desperate to live free the way he wants me to live free. And so it begins.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. –Colossians 3:13-