Hope and Pray She Stays

Last night, at our ‘H’ gathering, the topic of forgiveness crawled out of the corner and circled between our feet, nudging us, until she finally reclined right in the middle of our circle, refusing to be ignored. And I suppose that is exactly where she belongs. She must be addressed.
So. I’ll welcome her to the light and make her comfortable, hope and pray she stays.
First, this is what forgiveness is NOT.
(I am operating under the assumption that you have been wronged, seriously wronged. The Bible says, “IF someone has wronged you…” and “IF someone offends or sins against us…” They did, it’s real and it hurts. This is not personality quirks and preferences, these are wounds that leave scars.)
Forgiveness is NOT justifying what they did, it’s NOT saying it wasn’t so bad, it’s NOT saying they were right. Forgiveness is NOT reconciliation, NOT the same as restoring the relationship. Sometimes, people are toxic and dangerous and should not be given access to you, should not be given the chance to hurt you again. You are much, much more than someone’s carpet, that they will walk all over. You are worth much, much more than a punching bag. Forgiveness does NOT mean there are not consequences for their actions.
Here’s what forgiveness is –
It is you releasing them from the jail you put them in. You want them to be punished, want to be the one to punish them, want it to hurt them (at least as severely as they hurt you), and want them to see their error, make amends and change before your very eyes. Right?
Sadly, this is not our job (as much as I may wish it was was). We aren’t the Chief Justice of the rest of the world. Most of the time, they don’t recognize what they did, how big it was, how much it mattered, how much it hurt you, or in some disastrous circumstances, don’t care. People will do what people will do, and too often, that means hurting other people. The only good news about this is that, sometimes (I’m sure very rarely, almost never) you will be the one who needs forgiveness, whether you know it or not.
We have to open our hands and let them go. Why? Because Jesus says we do, and that’s enough.
And, because when we release them from that prison, it will mean that we are also released from that same jail that we’ve been guarding, in our heads, hearts, souls, making sure they stay locked up, making sure they lose, too. What we fail to realize is that we’re also in chains. How much time and energy do we spend thinking about what they did, twisting into bitter, burned, resentful pretzels of angry offense? When we let them go, we let ourselves go. We release ourselves of the responsibility for being the Police Of All Mankind. It’s heavy, and something we were never meant to carry. Imagine what you can do with all of that time and energy and stress – watch the sunset, read a book, take me to dinner, watch a great movie, go to the Bridge Sunday morning at 10:30;) You can do, literally, anything you want to do. You’ll be free!
One more thing.
When you release them, you are also releasing yourself from their control. I had issues with my dad for much of my life, issues I couldn’t forgive or move past. Several years after his death, I was able to lay that weight down and only then could I see that every decision, every step, every part of the man I was becoming was, largely, a result of him. I was angry, frustrated, constantly not feeling good enough. I made decisions based on doing the exact opposite of what he would do. Only when I could set that down and leave it behind, I was liberated to discover and step into who I really was. Only when the control I had forced upon him (that he unknowingly possessed) was stripped, could I find and become Chad. And being just Chad is the greatest.
I probably make this sound easy-peasy, but it’s not. We’re not in the business of pretending – This is very hard, and takes so long, full of missteps and backslides, but like most everything, it’s totally worth it when we can fly without the ropes we’ve tied around our own wings.
I’ll see you Sunday morning

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