As the praise music went forth, I stood with my hands raised high praising God. I attend the International House of Prayer (IHOP) services every now & then. Honestly, I don’t visit as much as I’d like. When I do, I love to bring my notebook, bible and my praise. With my eyes shut and my hands swaying back & forth I begin to think about how reverent the Savior is. How much He loves me and covers me. I often find myself in awe of God. He has placed and removed things in my life I thought I would be bound too forever.
Forgiveness is something that has not always come easily to me. When I was a child, I held grudges and don’t recall ever being told it was wrong not too. I was sensitive, so it wasn’t abnormal for me to have a grudge against everyone. You said this about me. You did that to me. You looked at me this way. I didn’t like her voice when she said this about my sister. I took the grudges, and I turned it into hate, anger, and resentment. I told myself I was misunderstood, and that people were just plain dumb or asleep to the perils of this world.
Over the years I have found that forgiving others can release a great deal of pain and resentment. There’s a quote that circled social media a while back that says, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison but expecting the other person to die.” Deep down I thought in not forgiving someone, treating them harshly or plain acting as if they didn’t exist that would in some way hurt them. When I was able to come face to face with my childhood abuser as an adult, I didn’t treat him harshly, but I acted as if he did not exist.
Years ago, I was faced with the reality that I needed to forgive my abuser. That in doing so I would be able to move on and unlock areas in my life where my growth had been stunted due to the hate, pain & confusion I held in my heart. As hard as it was, I began to think about what caused my abuser to be the way he was. I was sure he too was abused, and it spiraled from there. One day while praying in bed the need to forgive my abuser fell on my heart. I asked God to help me forgive, and I left it at that. I found myself over the next few years still forgiving the person when the thought of what he did to me popped in my head. Although I verbally said I forgave him the emotions tied to the situation didn’t go away immediately. I still found myself talking about it as if it was an area of my life I had let go of, but it was tied my identity. It contributed to molding me into the woman I had become.
One day as the worship went forth the voices of the current worship band at IHOP filled the sanctuary. I loved being in the presence of the Lord. I loved being able to worship with other Believers as we lifted our hands and praised God freely. One of the visitors praised danced in front of the stage. With my hands on my heart I begin to hear the Lord deal with me on the unforgiveness of my abuser. Yet, I had forgiven him. I’d done so years ago…or so I thought. I heard the Lord say that he too was His son. He loved this man. God loved the man who abused me. I want to see people, the way God see’s people and if that’s true, then I too must find it in my heart not to only forgive this man but love him. I cried as this was downloaded into my heart and began to pray for my abuser and praise God for the truth.
Forgiving people, situations, life occurrences, past hurts, failures, yourself is not an easy thing to do. It’s something you must desire. You must desire to want to be healed over wanting to sit in the pain you’re experiencing. I thought forgiveness was merely letting things go and acting as if it never happened, but I found out that to forgive is to acknowledge what happened but choose not to allow it to have a hold on you nor will you hold it over whoever may have offended you. Colossians 3:13 says “we are to bear one another and forgive one another and forgive as the Lord has forgiven us.” He also commands us in Matthew 22:39 to” love thy neighbor as we love ourselves.” That doesn’t just mean the people living to the left, right, above or below you but all and everyone. Sometimes my desire for obedience hasn’t quite caught up with my feelings, but I know that as I’m #DyingDaily, those areas in me that strip me of my identity rather than allow me to arise in who I was created to be is being purged. I ask God to seek my heart every day. Take out every ailment in me that has caused me to fear what He wants me to revere. Sweep up every corner of my heart that contains crumbs of experiences that work against my ability to bring glory to the Kingdom of God. I trust the Lord with my heart, my life, and my sanity. Although cliché statements aren’t my favorite thing, I genuinely believe that if I were brought to it, He will carry me through it. The best part is I never did and never will have to do it alone now that I know who kept me and keeps me. Just as He’s kept and keeps you.