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forgiveness

tear down the lies.
put up the Truth.
bow to the Truth.

that is [in a really short nutshell] what Beth Moore teaches in Breaking Free, for how to live in freedom on a daily basis. reject the lies that the enemy throws at you, replace them with Truth from God's Word, and then listen to that Truth. do what it requires of you.

last week, as part of our weekly study, Beth asked us to practice these steps in the area of forgiveness. she wanted us to write it all out, look up specific verses, bring it to our group when we met. i'll be honest. i didn't do the exercise, because i'd already [more or less] done it in real life just a few months earlier. i wanted to share my personal story with my Bible study group last thursday, but we ran out of time. so i'm sharing it with you now. not the in-depth details, but the most important parts. it's pretty long, but i hope you'll stick with me to the end.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

a few months ago, i had the opportunity to forgive someone who had hurt me deeply. almost more than i knew was possible. in the very moment that i was faced with the facts, and had the immediate opportunity to forgive, i did. instantly. please don't think i'm some sort of saint. i'm really not. but in that moment, the Holy Spirit rushed through me like nothing i've ever experienced and i forgave this person on the spot.

fast forward through the next few weeks, as the enemy decided he'd do his best to tear that apart. he'd do whatever he could to make me question whether forgiveness really was necessary, justified, deserved. he wanted me to believe the world, when they say you should stand up for yourself and make people pay for what they did to you. don't let them off the hook too easily, or they'll just hurt you again. you're an easy target. and on and on. it makes me sick to think back to the toxic lies i was believing during those weeks. i began to regret my decision to forgive. i wanted this person to suffer as i had, and i wanted them to have to deal with the pain of my unforgiveness. that's the least i could do.

i wavered back and forth between lies and truth, the flesh and the Spirit. i knew these ideas were not of God, but i wanted to think them. they were comforting.

one particularly defeating day, i opened my Bible to the passages in the Psalms that i had been reading regularly for a few years. [psalm 51, psalm 103, and psalm 139] i had them bookmarked, the bookmark labeled "read daily". i wasn't necessarily planning to memorize them word-for-word, but my goal was for those themes to be in the forefront of my mind constantly.

psalm 103 has been an important passage to me for a long time. particularly these lines [verses 8-14]:

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

every time i needed to be reminded of my human-ness, my dust-ness, and His overwhelming Grace, i'd read this. and i'd marvel at His forgiveness. i'd thank Him for dealing lightly with me. i'd praise Him for His compassion and mercy on me, when i completely and utterly did not deserve any of it.

i  flipped to psalm 103 that "particularly defeating day" that i mentioned above, and for some reason, i felt prompted to replace "us" and "we" with my offender's name. i began to claim this Grace and Mercy and Compassion over the person who had hurt me. almost instantly, my bitterness and anger melted away. it was all diffused by this Truth that as God "does not treat me as my sins deserve", He also treats my offender with the same gentle patience. He loves my offender as much as He loves me. He "remembers that [my offender] is dust", too. 

you guys, i've never known supernatural love for someone like i did that day. Christ's love literally flooded me for this person. i couldn't escape it. as i began to pray, God brought some thoughts to mind:

had i believed that somehow i was worthy of God's forgiveness, after all my grievous sins against Him, that somehow i had done something to deserve it? no, i didn't believe that. so why, then, did i exalt myself above God? as if other people had to do something to deserve my forgiveness, or else they weren't worthy enough for me to bestow it? somehow i was believing that God had to offer forgiveness and unconditional Grace to me, but i shouldn't be required [and willing] to do the same? was this offense against me greater than all offenses against God? surely not.

furthermore, i realized that while this person sinned against me, they had also sinned against God. and i knew that God had forgiven them for the offense. [this person was completely repentant. while that may have made it easier to forgive, i don't believe repentance is a prerequisite. see the paragraph above] who was i to hold on to the bitterness when God Himself, against whom all sin has been committed, has "removed the transgression as far as the east is from the west?"

it's pretty humbling when you think about it. at the root of it, unforgiveness stems from pride. and it's a dangerous place to be, when you assume you are greater than God. that, even if just for this one offense, you are more important than Him.

after i had torn down the lies and put up the Truth using Psalm 103, i had to bow to the Truth. i had to compose an email and really truly forgive this person. [i know, an email? the truth is, i'm just so much more articulate when i write, and i knew that face-to-face i'd be so overcome with emotion i probably wouldn't get the words out properly, if at all]

thankfully, the email was met with understanding and relief. i've never been the same since that day. after years of practicing bitterness and holding grudges [and suffering the physical and emotional consequences of it] i pray that i will never go back to those old habits. that i will always claim psalm 103 over my offender and pray for eyes to see them as He sees them. human, desperate for his Grace and Compassion, dust.

nothing is too huge that you cannot forgive it. i realize that's a bold statement, but it's completely true. by the power of His spirit, and because of  His redeeming blood, you can forgive.

thanks for sticking with me :)

click here for part two... 

Comments

  1. oh my goodness, i'm just catching up on my blog reading and this is amazing. i love it. these are really necessary words for every person to hear. how amazing the way God filled you up and equipped you to forgive in such a supernatural way. thank you for sharing this piece of your story. its a beautiful offering.

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  2. I appreciate what you have to say about the "repentance" of the person who hurts us. I think that was an issue that provoked a long conversation because D.Miller didn't talk about it. I have struggled for years on just that point. I WANT the person who hurt me to know it, to be sorry. On and off I "think" I have forgiven, but then those "toxic" voices come up - thank you for sharing and passing along a beautiful way to pray for "those who persecute" us. Blessings!!!

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