Today was a good day. The different techniques I'm using to regain my health are starting to take effect in significant ways. I am thankful that I seem to be on the path to healing. It's been a long time coming.
Today I finished an amazing book on learning how to forgive, what forgiveness is and what it is NOT. Amazing stuff! Soul changing; life giving. God has been working on me for about a year on learning what it means to genuinely, completely forgive. As He has healed many emotional wounds from the past (far past) my heart has actually longed for... something I could not define. At times I wondered if forgiveness was the missing thing, but my self-response was, "Of course it's not. I've forgiven... I can talk about these things- somewhat; I've acknowledged these hard things; I don't wish bad on the perpetrators." That's forgiveness. Right? Then why do joy and peace seem fleeting, sometimes so far off that having them seems impossible? What else do I need to do? And I've left it there. And God continues to put me in situations that require me to forgive. Nothing as hard as when I was growing up, but hard all the same. Things that have made me seriously question why I even want to be a Christian.
And in these situations I feel like I'm being reprimanded because I need time to work through all of the feelings. I need to identify why I'm upset; what is at the root of my hurt... Is it rejection? Have I been caught in an attitude that doesn't please God? Regret? Anger? Have I been confronted with something in me that someone else just doesn't like but isn't sinful? I've been told I'm sometimes tactless in my honesty with others. Or is it something that I truly need to place at the feet of Christ. I have to understand what is in my heart, what God is telling me, where I might be wrong. And people just don't get it! My desire is to forgive, I don't want to be in bondage to unforgiveness. I feel that the pressure to immediately say, "I forgive you for hurting me" is almost a way of denying or excusing the other persons behavior. I think it is wrong to say something you don't mean!
But I also understand that sometimes I need to make a conscious choice - sometimes against all the screaming of my flesh - and do what I do not want to do. I also know that God knows my heart and that when I say the words, "I forgive you," He can take them and create what I need. Unforgiveness is a small, dark, room full of horrific, ugly, hateful things and the ONLY way to leave it is to open the door to forgiveness. By saying it, that door out of unforgiveness opens enough to give me the light I need to continue towards the doorway out. If I continue seeking to cleanse my heart from hurt feelings, I will eventually walk out the door of that horrible room... And I will be free.
In the book "Forgiveness ...the Ultimate Miracle" by Paul J. Meyer he outlines and defines what it means to forgive, how to walk yourself through forgiveness, what forgiveness is not and exhorts the reader to seek forgiveness at all costs. He implores us to believe that forgiving at any cost is worth it all. He shares some of the benefits of forgiveness in the following list:
Peace, joy, freedom, health, strength, self-control, power, gratefulness, restoration, growth, passion, money, a clean conscience, increased opportunity, hope, energy, sleep, advancement, time with family, contentment, communication with loved ones, a brighter future, a better relationship with God ...and creativity. I want you to experience the creativity God put in you and I truly believe that forgiveness is the key to unlocking that door. Meyer continues, "Forgiveness has an uncanny way of bringing incredible good out of incredibly bad situations. It's amazing, nothing less than a miracle. Whatever your situation, let forgiveness set you free."! This is another one of those books that confirms what I am learning in the Bible. Its message is allowing me to stand outside that dank room for the first time, I think. I have certainty that I now understand what it means to forgive, how it should look and feel in me and the fruit I will find in my lifewhen I'm obedint. Growing up, it was ingrained into my core that one does not forgive at any cost. When someone hurts you, oh, well... cut them off; they become dead, as if they never existed.
I am breaking that chain. I am teaching my children what I have learned and that a forgiving spirit is the only way to freedom and joy and happiness and... and... and... You get the picture, I hope. My new understanding is allowing me to understand and to be encouraged when I remember that the ultimate reason to forgive is because Jesus forgave and died for me. And our separation was far, far worse than the pain I've encountered. I want the people I know to experience Jesus in the way that I have. It is His forgiveness of me that frees me from condemnation, shame, guilt and so much more so that I can grow into the person He imagined and created me to be.
I am so excited about my life and my marriage in a way I've never experienced! God is on the verge of doing good things in me, for me and through me. And that realization makes me feel like a fool for the unforgiveness I held onto for so long! Take a chance, pick up (or order online) this book. I truly believe it will give you the tools to freedom.