photo credit: Brooke Boling
I’ll be honest, this month’s blog was not the easiest to write. It’s not a fun topic and it’s certainly not something that gives warm fuzzy feelings. Nevertheless, it’s something we all have to deal with continuously in life and that is: forgiving someone who has hurt us…especially when it is a friend who is supposed to care. After all, aren’t friends supposed to be the ones in our court supporting and cheering us on? Unfortunately, lovey, as we both know, that is not always the case. In fact, sometimes it can be quite the opposite. However, what I have learned along the way and want you to know is that we can allow our circumstances to make us bitter or better. The choice really is up to us. When we make the choice to harbor resentment in our hearts, it doesn’t do one thing to the other person; it only eats away at our spirit and consumes us. Yet, when we make the choice to forgive and let go of the hurt and disappointment, I believe it not only frees us from the weight of it all, but it also gives us an opportunity to grow and become stronger in our own lives. Stronger because we are not handing over our happiness to someone else and looking for their approval, but rather we are finding our contentment and identity in the Lord, who created us, loves us fiercely, and has an amazing plan for each of us. The key to it all is looking to Jesus to fill the vulnerable places in our heart rather than to other people, for it is through Him alone that we find the strength and the will to forgive and become better because of it.
The Bible has a lot to say about forgiveness, but before we go there I want to first say what I believe forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not about becoming a doormat for others to constantly walk all over and take advantage of. Forgiveness is not about condoning mistreatment and unkindness. Forgiveness is not about casting a blind eye and never making our feelings known. Yet, on the other hand, it is also not about exploding and lashing out all in the name of airing our feelings. I’ve seen that so many times when people choose to react in anger rather than to respond with grace. James 1:19-20 really offers such powerful advice in saying, “let everyone be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” This is so true! It never helps the situation to let people have it. So how do we navigate through all of this to figure out how to deal with those who offend us? Well, sweet girl, often it is not cut and dry, and I will be the first to say that I am a work in progress with it all. However, I believe with all of my heart that when we truly bathe these tough
circumstances in prayer, God will show us when we need to speak up and when we need to do otherwise. The best example I could give you of this is a few years ago when one of your closest friends from school decided that she didn’t want to be friends anymore. I will never forget watching you run up to her every morning as we would walk into school asking if she would play with you at recess only to be told, “Let me think about it. I’ll let you know…” which always ended up being a no. It broke my heart every time. And you have no idea how many times I wanted to take over. Hence, it was especially hard for this mama bear to remind you to pray every night for this girl when all I wanted to do was march in there and give her a piece of my mind. As you know, we prayed for her every night for 2 months. However, the situation came to a head when she and a friend of hers thought it would be funny to put a post-it note on your back at recess that said, “kick me.” All of a sudden, it was time to no longer just pray, but to take action and believe me, without hesitation your daddy and I sure did. I bring this up to show you that when the time came, God definitely directed us in how to deal with it. And not only that, I am so thankful that I can look back now and say that your dad and I did not lose our tempers, did not say or do anything we regretted, and I believe it is because of all those nights you and I laid in bed praying about the situation. From this, I hope you never forget that prayer truly makes a difference. It may not always change the circumstances, but it will always change our hearts when we allow it to… especially when it comes to forgiveness
Practicing the Pause is a great way to help in our response to others when they have hurt us. Rather than immediately lashing out, if we will take just a moment to step back and ask ourselves these three questions not only will it help us calm down but it also might give us a different perspective which will help us move on:
Is what just happened really the end of the world?
Will it matter a year from now?
Can I let it go?
Chances are it is not the end of the world if someone has been mean to us. It won’t really matter in the years to come. Therefore, I can choose to let it go. See the difference, lovey? When we pause to think before we speak or act, we can see everything in a totally different way and set ourselves up to deal with situations properly rather than through feelings of anger and frustration. Once again, I’m certainly not perfect at this, but I will say that when I take the time to ask myself these questions, I can almost always let it go.
In Matthew 18:21, when Peter asked Jesus how often he was to forgive someone, I’m sure he was thinking he was being very generous and quite remarkable by suggesting 7 times to Jesus. Boy, was he in for a surprise! Jesus put it all into perspective when he responded by saying, “No, more like 70 x 7.” Wow! That’s equivalent to forgiving someone 490 times! Pretty sure my record doesn’t even come close to that. All throughout Scripture, we are commanded to forgive others as we have been forgiven. That’s the thing–it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we ALL make mistakes and have been forgiven, so why do we think we don’t have to extend that same forgiveness to those around us? Perhaps the best picture of forgiveness in the Bible is when Jesus was dying on the cross. He was not filled with anger, rage and resentment toward those who crucified Him. No, it couldn’t have been any further from that as He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” When I think of the way He forgave such overwhelming hurt and betrayal, how can I choose to not forgive those who have done much less?
To sum it up my sweet girl, none of us are perfect. We are all human and will let people down. When we truly see our own shortcomings, it helps prepare our hearts to forgive others who have let us down. Also, it’s important to be mindful of the fact that many times hurt people hurt people. In other words, people who have been hurt sometimes lash out at others because of the hurt that is inside their own heart. Not that this makes it okay, definitely not! But what it does is help us realize that sometimes the way we are treated has absolutely nothing to do with us and everything to do with what is going on inside of the other person. Even when people are jealous, it still has nothing to do with us and everything to do with them. Thus, when we choose not to take it personally, it can be so freeing and can truly help us to move on. Believe me, I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s so powerful when we finally choose to do it.
Lastly, I hope you always know that your daddy and I are your biggest fans, and although we are not perfect, I can promise you that we will always love you, believe in you, be here for you and cheer you on! Most importantly, we hope you always remember that although there will be people who disappoint you in this life, the Lord will never leave you or forsake you. When others walk in and out of your life, you can know without a doubt that He is a perfect friend who will always be faithful and who you can completely trust with all your hopes, your dreams and your heart.
Love you forever,