Forgiving When You Don’t Feel Like It ~ God’s Perfect Size
I have a confession to make. I need God to help me forgive my enemies. And sometimes, just sometimes, I don’t feel like praying for them or myself to forgive them. Maybe your are not shocked at all by this revelation. I really don’t want to be an unforgiving kinda person. But some people really set my teeth on edge. Can I get a witness??
Recently someone I worked closely with was supposed to help me on a project. At the last minute they bailed on me. I was heated. The kind of angry where you mutter all manner of things under your breath. The scene looped in my mind over and over again feeding my anger. Each time leaving me a bit more outraged and fantasizing about how I really wanted to respond- which definitely involved some choice words and a tiny, ever so tiny cliff.
Instead of just sharing how I really felt about being let down, I smiled a fake smile and said “that’s OK”.
Though I said it was fine I didn’t really mean it. In fact, I proceeded to nurtured a seedling of bitterness until it grew into a full fledged plant, large enough to take shade under.
Have you ever heard the old adage “Time heals all wounds”? Well let me just tell you it certainly wasn’t true for me. Mine just festered. Fast forward to a recent time. I ran into that person while I was just out and about minding my own business. The perpetrator- I mean person, Seemed genuinely happy to see me and asked why I had not kept in touch.
So… Let’s pause for a second. God presented me with the perfect opportunity. As I see it, I had three choices:
A. To be honest and share what really happened
B. Forgive and let it go.
C. Carry on with the charade and fake it like all was well.
You guessed it. I chose door C for $200.
After a few more stiff pleasantries we parted ways. On the drive home, I felt uneasy.
Later that night during my prayer time those same unsettled feelings arose. This time I couldn’t ignore it so I tried to justify it before the Great I Am. Yeah, you already know how well that went.
He allowed me to remember that I offended him with my sin and when I asked Him to forgive me, He did! He also invited me to repent for the unforgiveness I had been harboring. And I did. But I still did not feel the gooey emotions that I thought should accompany forgiving someone.
My heart was pretty hardened towards that person. What amazed me is, even though I still had not made things right with the person, God forgave me. He forgave me right there in the midst of my stubbornness holding my well groomed plant of bitterness. And then I realized something amazing. In the midst of him forgiving me,he was also placing forgiveness in my heart. God gave me the forgiveness I needed so I could in turn give it. He took my anger and bitterness and exchanged it for compassion and forgiveness. I thought I had to feel something in order to forgive. God showed me that even if you have nothing to give, He does. He can give each of us what we are lacking.
We don’t have to be afraid to go to the Lord empty handed. We are all bankrupt without him. Romans chapters 7 & 8 captures my struggle perfectly. To paraphrase, the end of chapter 7 conveys this message, “the loving things I want to do sometimes eludes me because of my sinful nature, but praise God who delivers me!”
I had no way of delivering myself from the prison of resentment I built, but I know the Only One who can deliver. He is ready and willing to give us mercy, grace, forgiveness and any other good and perfect gift we are in need of. All we have to do is ask. As for me, its time I give out what I have received from God. Keep me in your prayers
Ephesians 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
*Read Romans chapters 7&8. You will be blessed by it!