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-
Perhaps this is someone whom you respected, clearly trusted and enjoyed their approval for many years. To have that removed is so very hard. I think is is natrual to grieve the loss of relationship, of approval and let go of the need for their validation that their words/judgement were wrong. You can do it!
Elisabeth, you may be in a place that God is allowing this to strip you of man’s approval and acceptance. For you are fully pleasing and accepting before Your Heavenly Father…You have an audience of One and His Name is Jesus…yes, we need to stay open to allow God to examine us on a daily basis…
Not meaning to just hand you a book but this book greatly encouraged me in a time when it seemed the whole world was caving in on me…Total Forgiveness by Dr. R. T. Kendall…He states, forgiveness is a life sentence….I pray it would encourage you pass this place of being stuck….
Know I am desiring to cheerlead you on in your spiritual journey knowing that His Grace is Sufficient…Keep doing the right thing and in time you will be in position to extend grace, that which has been extended to you and all, as believers in Christ…Much love to a sister in Christ….
Wow, again, God uses you, I feel like a broken record. I feel like when I comment on your blog, you probably go ‘oh there is that girl again, stalking me’…LOL…probably not, but God continues to use you in my healing and therapy. I believe it was NO accident that I came acroos one of your articles on crosswalk.com when I was frantcally looking for anything on adultry and marriage and ‘what to do’. I don’t think it is any accident that when I seem at my wits end with thought patters jumbled in my brain, you blog and seem to put the words that were in my head right there in front of me. THAT is God. How he can use a total stranger for HIS purpose. My story did not end the same way as yours. We have just come out of a year of restoration and I believe a divine emotional healing or more healing just recently took place at Reinhard Bonnke’s Gospel Fest last weekend. However….I can now say this, GOD has given you the EXACT answer, that person who disapproved of you was on a pedestal. I believe we fogive in layers and now it was time to really understand that one. You are so right….so right. It was the Enemy’s way of just trying to get to you again. You must forgive and I believe by this time next year….that person, will apologize to you – I do believe it. I am claiming it. In Christ, Michelle Pritchard
Facilitating a small group to 5 couples on Love and Respect, my husband and I discuss this unforgiveness issue almost weekly. We are so inclined to savoring that hurt! I used to do it all the time, and then I am reminded that God loves me UNCONDITIONALLY, therefore I must forgive for no good reason, other than God commands me to not hang on to the hurt. Thank you, thank you, for sharing your heart struggle. Im so sorry for your pain, and so thankful you bring it to the Father in truth! We are right there with you, sister. Praying for you, and me.
Do you have a link to the post about what happened?
Renee, what part are you asking about? What happened that I was disapproved of, who disapproved of me, or if I finally forgave?
Yes, just wondering what happened. Great post.
About 10 years ago a close friend stunned me with the news she was getting divorced. As a fairly baby Christian at the time, I did everything in my power to convince her to change her mind, sometimes I went too far in my zealous fervor for “doing the right thing”. Occasionally it got really nasty, once in the sanctuary of our church. We both could have handled ourselves better with hindsight, but the relationship was never the same again. Shortly, thereafter, my family moved to a different state and all contact was severed. For years I hung on to my conviction she was wrong (I saw only black and white, no shades of grey), until life started to show me it can be messy and there is no black and white in relationships. I realized finally there was a lot she never told me about her marriage, things too personal to share, things kept hidden, locked away. I realized too late that I should have shown more compassion and love, I should have just been there regardless of how I believed she should run her life. As a disciple of Christ we are called to help the down-trodden and weary, support them in their time of need, be a friend. I failed in this big-time. Now I’m hoping others will show me the grace I so sadly failed to show my friend.
Trina, this is one of the most humble things I’ve ever heard anyone say. I hope your friend knows you now feel this way…if not, it could be such a blessing for her to hear this.
Hey Elisabeth, How I relate to the things you’ve written about! A few years ago, when struggling with how to live with an unrepentant spouse, I read Chris Brauns book, Unpacking Forgiveness. It was so helpful and freeing. Have you ever read it?
Pam, I haven’t read it, but I’ll definitely look into it. Thanks for the kind words and the recommendation.