I am grateful to say that I am coming along – albeit slowly – in this forgiveness process that I’m on. I’ve been reading Lewis Smedes’ Forgive & Forget (highly recommend, by the way) and I’ve been asking Jesus to really work with me on this, to really heal me.
I’ve had a few huge moments of clarity over the past couple days.
Lewis Smedes says that you know you’ve begun the healing and forgiving work if you can wish the person well who has done you great harm. Though there is still hurt and anger that I’m working through because of numerous things said recently and over the years, I was able to honestly say that I do not wish these people harm in the least, and other than my fear that the same words and actions will be repeated to someone else and cause damage, I absolutely wish these people well. And I have prayed prayers of blessing over these people many times. So, this was the encouragement my heart needed that I’m not as stuck in unforgiveness as I thought I was.
I am, as I just pointed out though, scared for those coming up behind me, that they will be the recipients of the same kinds of harsh words. I would give anything for these people to understand why the things done and said hurt so deeply and the damage the actions and words caused, but you can’t make someone listen who believes they wouldn’t do anything differently if given a chance. And then I read these words of Mr. Smedes:
“Let God handle those people you would like to manhandle in your (anger). If they need teaching, let God teach them. If they need rescuing from their own stupidity, let God rescue them. If they need saving from their own crazy wickedness, let God save them. What youneed is healing from the infection of malice left over from the open wounds they have left in your life.”
I gasped. Yes, Lord, this is what I need. And so I surrendered all three people who came to my mind immediately, asking God to teach and rescue and save them. I asked God to bring others into their lives to correct their thinking, knowing once and for all that I am not the one to effect change in their lives anymore (or perhaps, sadly, I never was). And I asked God, yet again, to heal my wounds and the lingering effects of their hurtful words and actions.
And then I realized as well that part of what I’ve been struggling with is simply the why behind it all. Why were those things said and done to me all those years ago, repeatedly, and why were the new words said to me? And then I heard Beth Moore say this:
“God has a very strange and wonderful way of so protecting his own glory, of so protecting his status as Savior, that whoever I make a false savior of, whoever I am clinging to, instead of him, he will find a way over and over again to separate me from that person.”
Though my outward appearance showed a stubborn, opinionated, ministry-starting, ministry-leading woman, wife and mother all those years, inside I was just a scared, little girl who was emotionally vulnerable and didn’t know what to do about the marriage that was falling apart all around her every single day for fifteen plus years. In a way, emotionally, I was very much a small child when it came to my marriage. It took everything in me to ask for help, and I put my helpers on a high pedestal and then listened to only them for so long, and I dare to say this, as if they were God. I was being hurt in my marriage and hurt outside my marriage because of my marriage. I wanted to be saved. But no person could save me. And they did what people do. Actually, they did more. They prayed and listened and tried to help. But they weren’t God and they did a lot of things right but some things not so, and I, in part, blame them for the length of my painful season.
But God didn’t want people in the role of rescuer in my life. And, just maybe, he used any missteps along the way because he knew that if my marriage were going to eventually end (which he did know), he knew that for my sake – so I could live with myself – I needed a long marriage and not a short marriage to end so that I could look back and know that I did all that I could.
So maybe, what my enemy meant for harm (and it did cause much harm), God meant for good. Maybe it wasn’t even about the people who have hurt me as much as what I’ve done with the hurt. Maybe it was about putting God in his rightful place as my only Savior. Maybe it was about learning to take people off my hook. Maybe it was about walking in a certain direction for a very long time so some very important work could be done in my soul. Maybe it was about remembering that even when you feel despised, God’s love is the only, only thing that really matters. Maybe it was about all of this and so much more I’ll never see this side of things.
But I know this: I want to be done. I don’t want to think about them or the hurt anymore. I don’t wish them harm by any means, but I just don’t want to carry this with me…it’s been too heavy and I’m too tired of it and I have other things to carry these days that are so much more important.
So bless them, Lord. Bless the ones who have hurt me. Bless the ones I have hurt. Help me forgive. Forgive me. Heal them. Heal me. And help me be done. Amen.