Recently, I found myself thinking back on different seasons of relational pain. Family members, friends, coworkers, guys…the whole spectrum. There’s an extent of inevitable confusion that living side by side with other humans can sometimes bring. The pain, the disappointment… and in certain relationships that perhaps had a sour ending, choices have been made, and there have been times where I’ve felt cheated and betrayed. I’ve beenmad at people — and I mean maaaad. I don’t find myself to be a distrustful person, but like anyone, you expect that there are certain things invested into a friendship (time, confidence, laughter, tears…) that would make someone appreciate that bond the way you do. I have wanted the worst for people who seemingly didn’t meet my expectations of what it means to “value my friendship”. I have wanted God to “catch” them and put them in their place. I’ve wanted people to be humiliated in the same way that my trust in them was.
My bitterness had to eventually come to terms with the fact that that’s not the Jesus I serve. You see – he has this way of exposing the nastiness in our own hearts when nasty things happen to us. And I had to come to a conclusion – I had to decide that the way that God handled those who have hurt me was none of my business, that he’s my advocate, and he (cliches and all) always makes things work together for good. I had to come to this place of the reality that those people were not and are not my enemies. They didn’t owe me anything because the way they treated me had nothing to actually do with my value as a person.
There’s this certain dying off of the flesh and a “see ya” to the ego that has to come for forgiveness to work its way into our lives. I’ve had to give up my right to closure or a final word, or letting someone know just how deeply they’ve wounded me. Truthfully – I could be as articulate and pin point exactly what it was that hurt me, and that would never in a million years mean that another human could fix it. Forgiveness is looking Jesus in the face and saying, “God, you know them much better than I do. Be what they need, be what I need.” And, like many things, I believe forgiveness is not a one time choice, but an everyday mindset to step into and see out of. “Believe the best”, is something my dad has hammered into my head over the years. I used to find it so painfully obnoxious. Eye rolls for days. I’ll believe the best when they show me the best. Thank you, Jesus, for not saying that on the cross. Bless. Now, if I were to hold any type of picket sign up, it’d probably say, “Believe the best.”
I’ve had to fight to find a place in my heart to trust Jesus in this way. And what I’ve found is that maybe his justice looks like making things right in relation to himself, not vengeance as I would expect it. Whatever was going on in that person’s life was only going to be made right (in context to Jesus, not me) if they discovered the expanse of his grace on a real level. And not in a, “Oh honey, bless your heart,” kind of way. My bitter heart was only going to be made whole if I could hope for that grace to be extended to them, and receive that which was extended to me. And it’s a lens. It’s a lens you can carry with you throughout the day, or leave on your bedside table and let your eyes get wearier & wearier as you just see everything for face value. It’s a lens you can constantly clean and refine, or a lens you can forget to tend to and accept every little scratch as “just something that happens”. Be diligent in your forgiveness.