Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Drinking Poison

“I will never forgive you for that, so stop asking.”

"The longer we dwell on our misfortunes the greater is their power to harm us.”  Voltaire

When I was in elementary school, I was deeply hurt by someone I trusted, and I never thought I could forgive that person.  Above my head I waved the flag of innocent “victim”, firmly believing in my right to hate the one who hurt me, to see myself as excused for evil thoughts and the like.  I held onto this for years and though I prayed about it some, I didn’t really confront it until college.  On the stairs of my dorm room I broke down, crying into the phone to my mom, feeling a hairsbreadth away from sanity.  I wondered if somehow my overactive imagination had created some awful lie, questioned my own memories, and feared that the only way to find peace in my soul would be to meet the past event head on.  This very thought was utterly terrifying, but it was the only light in a tunnel of darkness I’d gotten lost in.

Over Thanksgiving Break I wrote a letter; hands shaking, heart racing, stomach sick.  I thought I might have been going crazy, considered just forgetting the whole thing and leaving it behind, but into the mail it went, off into oblivion it seemed and all I could do was wait.  Wait and pray. 

Then the letter came.

I was almost as terrified of receiving it as being ignored, but the words on the page, confirmation of my memories, were actually freeing.  An apology followed, a humble request for forgiveness, and my heart wanted to harden. 

“…this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”

I had a right to hate this person.  I had a right to let them suffer without forgiveness.  I had a right to cut him off.  But this was all just another one of the lies I’d chosen to believe; a lie that hurt me as much as it hurt the one I was choosing not to forgive; a lie that offended One Who has forgiven me more than I will ever have to forgive.  This truth, the truth that the Holy God I offended not only forgave my sin but poured His very own blood out for it softened my heart.  It was a slow process, like thick ice melting as spring comes, but this love and truth eventually gave me the strength to pour out forgiveness myself. 

It was only then that I really started to heal, really stopping feeling the effects of the wrong done to me years and years ago.  The poison of withholding forgiveness had hurt me more than the initial sin.  I had exacerbated the problem, choosing to ignore it, poisoning myself all the while thinking I was actually protecting myself.  Thankfully, God did not leave me there.  He shined a spotlight in my eyes so bright I couldn’t ignore it.  He reminded me with loving words what He did for me, what I’ve been forgiven.  It wasn’t by shaking a finger at me that God won me over; it was with open, loving arms.

The hurt isn’t gone and never will be in this life, but I can say that since God gave me the strength to forgive I have healed significantly.  Moreover, I learned that it is not my right to withhold forgiveness, that I am commanded to give it freely as I have been forgiven myself.  God does this for my own good and for His glory.  My prayer is that I will continue to remember this, and always be willing to forgive.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:32

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