…to do the impossible. ~ Matthew West
Forgive and forget, get over it, let it go…words from those who have never had to actually do it! Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have to forgive. ~ C.S. Lewis. The word itself seems like something impossible to do when we think of things that hurt us to the very core of our existence. To those giving advice it’s a simple gesture but to those having to extend forgiveness it’s as if a part of the heart is experiencing the offense all over again and it feels just as fresh. I came to this place of forgiveness a few years ago. A place so daunting that I felt as if I had forgotten how to breathe. It was the day I extended forgiveness to a man who robbed me of my innocence at the tender age of 7, a man I loved and trusted in the absence of my father.
I lived the better portion of my adolescence being a tomboy and wrapping my developing breasts in ace bandages. In my naiveté, I thought it would postpone the inevitable. I didn’t want to be a girl and tried to put it off, because these things didn’t happen to boys. I was bitter, ashamed, angry and in a self-imposed prison. I couldn’t or shall I say I wouldn’t, let anyone in, afraid they may figure me out, they may gain my trust and destroy it. I was in prison and if you got too close, I would back you away either with my behavior or words. Thus, the sign on my heart read, “Keep Out!”
As an adult, I continued living in confinement. On the outside, I was fine, happy and content…which in fact, was a performance deserving of an Oscar. Even after I accepted Christ and as He helped me heal, I still didn’t allow myself out of the prison. As time went on, I learned that in Christ, love didn’t have to hurt, love didn’t violate, love doesn’t betray and Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions, Proverbs 10:12.
All transgressions? Wait what? Forgive?!?!? Not me! Not that man! Not this!!! No! It doesn’t include what happen to me, not what happened to me the day he tried to rape me, no…NOT THAT!!!
But on an old rugged cross that’s exactly what Christ was talking about and what He was asking me to do. Christ didn’t just come to die for my sins but those who are called the least of these, which included that man. The man who trashed my innocence and gave me a life sentence of shame and bitterness. I realized that if I don’t forgive, I was doomed to be shackled by his betrayal for the rest of my life. Trust me, to the world, I lived a life that seemed free, but inside, I was dying in my personal prison. I had to bring this betrayal to the cross and walk away from it. Sheila Walsh wrote in her book, The Storm Inside; “Forgiveness is God’s gift to us to live in a world that is not fair….The cross has given us [me] a place to take the worst that has been done to us and leave it there for God to handle.”
It is hard to understand, “Forgiveness is not about removing someone else’s liability but about setting our hearts free.” It doesn’t mean that what this man did to me is fine or releases him from his accountability to the betrayal. But what it does mean is that I can’t handle it and I gave it to God so He can. This opened the door of my prison, then I had to find the strength to walk through it. Totally afraid and totally empowered. Many times we become so accustomed to the prison, that we prefer to remain in it. Believe or not, known pain over a change to something unknown is preferred, its human nature. We hold back because we are afraid of the uncertainty of a new life in freedom. So I released this man to God and rather than asking for God’s vengeance, I simply prayed for God’s mercy.
Then, the true test came, I received a call to pray for this man. God whispered, “Go and pray for him.” Once again shaken to the core of my being, I was challenged. I know God would never give me more than I can handle. I felt God say, “I have chosen you because you know the hell he is in.” I wanted to go back into the safety and comforts of my prison, but that’s not what God had planned for me. I want to say that I went with strength and dignity, but that was not the case. I was scared, shaking, anxious and I went scared, shaking and anxious. When I walked into the room his eyes were like a deer in headlight. He never expected me to walk through those doors. It had been years since I visited this man. Then God nudge me to lay hands on him and God said, “This time the touch is on your terms.” As I did there was a sense of release as if I was floating. I felt like I needed to hold on because the weight of this world was off my shoulders. Together we said the sinner’s prayer, together we cried, and together we will enter in His kingdom. I’m not boasting in what I did but what God has done through me.
God honors obedience over sacrifice. I had a choice, I can be bound to this man because of what he did to me or forgive him thereby freeing me…it was a choice. Victim? Or Victor? I chose the latter!!!
- Forgiveness does not say that what he did to me was okay.
- Forgiveness is not about pretending that it never happened.
- Forgiveness is not denying the past.
- Forgiveness is about freedom. Freedom from the grip of the offense, from the prison, from the shackels, that the enemy of your soul has convinced you, you deserve.
- Forgiveness is being released from satan’s life sentence and entering into God’s life destined.
- Who do you have to forgive in order to be free? Write each name down: mother, father, yourself, a child, maybe even God…
- Verbalize forgiveness toward them it doesn’t have to be in person it could just be between you and God and then release it.
- What opportunity do you see in this challenge?
- What does that mean to you?
Keeping It Simple & Straightforward