"Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.' And they divided up his clothes by casting lots."
Luke 23:34 (NIV)
Every time I read of Christ's crucifixion I am reminded of many things, including the beauty of forgiveness and how easy it was for Jesus as he was nailed to the cross, but how hard it can be for us- for me.
Why do we make forgiveness so hard?
Sometimes we forgive, but we don' t allow ourselves to fully forget. When that happens, our hearts hold on to pieces of the pain that we once encountered by the person or event that caused it. And every time we think of that person or event, reminders of pain sting us. Over and over again.
Is that what forgiveness really looks like?
When we are wronged by someone, everything inside of us feels shattered. We feel deceived, disappointed, and so very heartbroken. There is truly no epitome to the amount of pain heartbreak brings. And if you're someone who invests the entirety of your heart into your commitments, well, you just feel damaged and destroyed- for good.
I'm the kind of girl who loves fearlessly and with confidence. I believe that the people I meet are placed in my life for a reason, and I believe that I am placed in the lives of others for a reason as well. If I could only do one thing right in this life, I would hope that it would be to love others as close to the mark as God loves me. I invest my heart in people because God invests His heart in me.
But before I invest, I commit. And before I commit, I pray- over, and over, and over again. A lot of the decisions we make throughout our lives are life-changing ones. It's important that we open our ears to God's voice and tune ourselves to hear what He has to say about what it is we are considering. So that's exactly what I do; I listen for God's voice, and when I feel that the answer has been planted in my heart, I take it and go. No looking back.
But ladies, just because God says yes to something for a season of your life does not mean that He is saying yes to something for the rest of for your life.
If you are someone who is struggling with learning how to forgive, know that it's okay. Learning how to forgive does not make you a bad person. Just like healing, forgiveness, too, takes time. And when you commit to taking the time to learn how to do it, God walks with you and He instructs you in the process.
It is possible to learn how to forgive with a broken heart, because somewhere along the way you find healing. And that healing is exactly what you need in order to move forward. That healing is an affirmation that you're doing the right thing. You're providing an act of true love.
For the past five or six weeks now, I've been on the journey of learning how to forgive fully and faithfully. You'll question, you'll cry, and you'll want to give up. But God will answer, wipe your tears, and encourage you to keep going.
I want to share a few things with you that have been beneficial to me.
1) Pray Without Ceasing
Instead of waiting for an apology, I want to encourage you to pray for the person who wronged you. Don't worry or waste time waiting for an apology. If you receive an apology, that's wonderful and redemption is written all over that! But if you don't, know that redemption is also written elsewhere, and it's through focusing on the Lord and His ways of showing you how to forgive without the assistance of an apology.
When you think about this person, pray for them. When your emotions rise up against them, pray for them. When you just want to be sad for a bit, be sad, but pray for them. When you feel like talking about it, talk to God and pray for them. When you can't sleep, pray for them. Any time that you find your mind wandering, pray for them. Pray without ceasing.
Pray that God will break your heart for what breaks His. When we wrong the Lord, we break His heart. But guess what? He forgives the inexcusable in us because He loves us. We must also forgive the inexcusable in others. When you are wronged by someone, pray for growth in both of your spiritual lives. Ask God to give you His vision to see forgiveness for what it really is so that you may use it to its fullest extent. Pray for the person in the midst of your pain.
This is what forgiveness looks like; a true act of love on Christ's behalf.
I have been so incredibly blessed by devoting myself to prayer. My prayer life has flourished immensely, and it is truly the only thing that has brought healing to my heart. When my mind wanders to the person, I pray for them. When my mind wanders to the pain, I now thank God for it and pray that He turns it into something beautiful. I want to encourage you to do the same.
I've been reading the book of Psalms aloud to myself each night before bed. Lamentation after lamentation. Tear after tear. But in the midst of all the lamentations, there is joy. Pure joy and praise for God. And it's so inspiring. In the midst of my own lamentations, I, too, have felt joy and shouted many praises to God.
As I've been reading through Psalms, I've also been highlighting the verses that have hit the heart real good. I want to share some of my favorites with you.
"But You are a shield around me, O Lord; You bestow glory on me and lift up my head." (Psalm 3:3, NIV)
"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Psalm 4:8, NIV)
"You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and You listen to their cry..." (Psalm 10:17, NIV)
"You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light." (Psalm 18:28)
"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:13-14, NIV)
"...seek peace and pursue it." (Psalm 34:14, NIV)
"For with you is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light." (Psalm 36:9, NIV)
"You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay." (Psalm 40:17, NIV)
"Send forth Your light and truth, let them guide me..." (Psalm 43:3)
"Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.." (Psalm 47:6, NIV)
"For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end." (Psalm 48:14, NIV)
These Psalms have worked wonders in my heart. I encourage you to pick up a highlighter and start reading them. I've been reminded that in the midst of my pain, God still deserves my attention and praise- every ounce of it. Wallowing in the pain is what Satan wants you to do. Walking through the pain is what God wants you to do.
3) Trust and Know
Trust that God knows what He is doing. Know that God is at work in unimaginable and unattainable ways, weaving your pain into something for His glory. He is taking care of you- I promise. Healing is in His hands.
Seasons come and go, but the way of the Lord remains firm forever. Trust that God wants the absolute best for you. Because He does, and He refuses to give you anything less than that. Wait for Him. It's all about His timing, not yours.
There is beautiful hope in forgiveness. It is the giving, ah, and the receiving of life. Today, I invite you to partake in this ultimate act of love and experience a transformation in your heart that will change your life in magnificent, eye opening ways.
Faith can move the mountains. Let your faith move those mountains to allow way for your path to forgiveness. After all, the prisoner it really sets free is you.
God forgives the inexcusable in you. Won't you forgive the inexcusable in others?