There’s nothing more like insanity than living in unforgiveness. Recently God showed me an area of my life where I needed to extend some forgiveness. I found myself in a bit of a pickle though.
As the Lord whispered to me about forgiving, I was quick to point out that the offense He was asking me to forgive was ongoing. God actually showed me three people I needed to forgive. The common thread in all three circumstances was an ongoing offense or result from the offense. As quickly as I could lament my offenses, the Lord reminded me of this scripture:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8
My heart was cut deeply by these verses. It’s as if God opened up the heavens and shouted, “I forgave you while your offenses were still ongoing. I’m not asking you to do anything I haven’t already done”
“Aha!’ I thought. “I’m not Jesus. Surely you can’t expect me to do this just because you did?”
“Oh, but my child,” He said. “My spirit lives in you. You can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.”
I knew I was defeated in that moment. Who can argue with the living word of God? Still I didn’t know how I would accomplish this monumental task. So I prayed the most fervent prayer I have prayed in a long time. It sounded something similar to this:
God I know that unforgiveness is unpleasing to you. I know I am commanded to forgive others, and that you promise to forgive me as I have forgiven others. I know these things with my mind father, but my heart is holding onto the pain. I do not know how to let go. I do not know how to love when these things are still hurting me. I do know that your word dwells in me, and that you have equipped me to do all things according to your will. Father, I cannot forgive on my own, but you can forgive through me. I am surrendered to the work you want to do in me. Please Father, help me to forgive.
A couple weeks went by and nothing in my heart seemed to be changing. In fact, I found myself suddenly more vulnerable to offenses in other areas of my life. I began to struggle in new places in my life with minor infractions that felt like targeted attacks. By this week I was a wreck. The burden of my offenses had taken its toll on my emotional health.
Thankfully, God has given me such a great support team. As I reached out to my prayer warriors and spiritual advisers this week, I realized an important truth about insanity. Insanity can come into our lives for a number of reasons: unrealistic expectations, unforgiveness, busyness, lies, abuse, shame… the list could go on and on. No matter the cause of our insanity, one sure fire way to combat insanity is with scripture and an accountability team. Others have a way of diffusing our emotions and speaking truth in the most overwhelming of circumstances, especially when those others value the word of God deeply.
This morning the Lord woke me early. He led me to a passage in a book and showed me the truth about my emotional wreckage. The tiny scratches that were hurting me so bad had fallen on old wounds that were gushing with pain. The Lord impressed on my heart to pray passionately for these three people that He had previously asked me to forgive.
The most interesting thing happened as I poured my heart onto the pages of my journal. I found that each of these three people has a struggle with shame, a chain the Lord has removed from my life. I found that God has uniquely equipped me to pray for these people through the battle I’ve faced in my own life. As I battled for their souls in prayer, I found a weight was lifted from my heart. I was able to face the minor infractions with a light heart.
Here’s what Jesus said:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” -Matthew 11:28-29
A couple weeks ago, forgiveness looked like a trap to me. A life sentence of allowing others to get off the hook for legitimate wrong doings. Though I knew God is always right, I could not see how forgiving would help. After all, what I really wanted was a change in my circumstances.
God, however, wanted a change in my heart. He loved me too much to say yes to my lesser request. Although a change in circumstances would have been good, a shift in my heart to look more like Him is better. Now I am free from the real trap of unforgiveness! Thank you Lord for knowing exactly what I need!