I can look back at my life and see these monumental moments that really mattered. Choices I made. Paths I took that led me here or there. Friendships that helped, relationships that hurt. And I can see moments of complete rejection that have effected the way I love people today. Even more so the way I love myself. And in all of those moments the F word was really necessary.
Forgiveness. I never thought I had an issue with it. I always thought it came easy to me. But when I can think of a person's face and all of the horrible things they have done to me flash through my mind like a movie...yea...I think I struggle with forgiveness. All of the words they said, the things they did, I see it, I remember it, and I feel it as if it just happened. But forgiveness isn't a feeling, it's a choice.
Forgiveness isn't a feeling, it's a choice. "
Forgiveness is a decision. You see our feelings cannot be trusted and if we allow them to dictate our lives, it will deteriorate our relationships. And if I base my decisions and my love for others and myself off of feelings, well...I will be inconsistent and unable to love wholly and love myself for who God created me to be. So, I have started to dig deeper and I realized that I struggle with forgiveness because I have trust issues. I have been hurt by a lot of people, and rejected by key figures in my life. Maybe you can relate. I could list them all right now, but I bet as you are reading this you can think of someone that has hurt you in such a way that it has changed the course of your thinking about yourself and your relationships.
I have realized that I go looking for love and worth from everyone. But the truth of it all is we are fully loved already. So, if I can live in the truth that I am fully loved then I won't go looking for scraps of love from anyone else.
Photo: Brittany Pannebaker
But no soul can soar to the places of living fully loved if you can't forgive. Oh girl, and I want to soar and fly and live my life loved and I want my 3 beautiful girls to know what it looks like to forgive and what it looks like to be free.
But why is forgiveness so hard? Why does it feel like I am pouring rubbing alcohol on a cut? The sting is just so fresh and unbearable and I can't look past it until that feeling goes away.
Forgiveness cannot be won with our flesh, it is a spiritual act. And if I am really honest with you...and you could see my journal...you would see a lot of reasons why this person does not deserve my forgiveness. The way she spoke to me, treated me, and pushed me aside like I was nothing for years and years...I have a lot of reasons to write her off. But something within me is pushing me to fight for her. I have been shrugging my shoulders at this saying, 'No, God, no way. I don't want her to think she can walk all over me. I am not going to change my schedule around to fit hers after 5 years of this. It's not happening. I need more time." Yet I hear the voice again. And again. And again. That voice keeps telling me that I have an enemy but it's not her. And the voice says, "Aren't you glad I didn't need time to forgive you."
When you don't forgive, you allow room for roots of bitterness to grow in your heart. And those roots tangle themselves all over the place and it begins to affect every inch of who you are. Out of the mouth the heart speaks, and our hearts are our mind, will and emotions (feelings). But bitterness does not belong in a heart as beautiful as yours my friend.
Bitterness does not belong in a heart as beautiful as yours.
And none of this is easy. I am trudging through the deep waters of forgiveness with you. And when I have been hurt I don't automatically say to myself, "Oh it's ok, because I know God loves me and my identity is in Him." Nope. I am usually crying, then I get to a place where I am mad, like need a punching bag mad, and then I think of all of these awesome one-liners or great comebacks I could have said. (I have never been very witty) And then I play through the countless scenarios for the next time I see this person and how I am going to act or what I am going to say. I have it all planned out, and I am ready with fists tight and jaw clenched. Because I won't be hurt again. I won't be treated like this. And I build that wall around my heart because people cannot be trusted. But if we live in a place of being fully loved by God we allow people to be people. Fickle and fragile. And simply trying to figure themselves out as well.
And our job in these moments is to honor God and His job is to take care of everything else. Well, what does that look like?
Have good intentions in the midst of a bad situation
Speak with love when you have been unloved
Walk in peace in the midst of war
Trust in God's love for you not in the person's actions towards you
And we must choose to do all of this, not so that we can gain a friend, or fix a broken relationship. Not even so we will be back in each other's lives. We don't forgive because we think we are right, or because he is right or she is right. We do all of this because we want to honor God and we want to soar.