Wednesday Wisdom 😊
Inspiration this week comes from the Gospels of Mark and Matthew:
Mark 11: 25 “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
Matthew 11: 28-30 “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'”
Can you think of a time when someone wronged you? And, how you felt after the interaction was over? Your mind just keeps replaying the scene over and over again, or maybe you create pretend scenarios where you get back at the other person with words or actions. Sometimes, your anger and hurt are so strong that your face turns red, your hands may shake, or tears may be running down your face.
Or maybe you can think of a time where you made a mistake, and the resulting guilt just threatens to take over. Days, weeks, even months or years may go by and your mind still shifts back to the mistake that you made. And, the shame and regret creeps in. It ruins your self-esteem and eats away at any attempt to find peace. “I should have….” becomes your mantra as your mind replays your mistake over and over again.
I believe that God hard-wired us to be in relationship; both in a vertical relationship with Him, and a horizontal relationship with others. Last time, we talked about love and the two foundational commandments that we are given in the Bible: love God, love others as Jesus loves us. If love is the basis for all that is important, and we are asked to love as Jesus loves, the only way that we can be successful is to have a heart that is open to both receiving and giving forgiveness.
We all make mistakes, and those mistakes invariably hurt God and hurt others. Those mistakes separate us and drive us apart, thereby going directly against how God designed us – so they ultimately also hurt us. God’s mercies are new each day, and the gift of Jesus allows each of us access to the forgiveness that enables us to reconnect in relationship and ultimately find healing. We have to decide to accept and share this Grace, and let God heal us from our pain.
It is almost like we stand at a crossroads, and are able to decide which direction we’d like to take:
- We can remain in denial or self-blame
- We can choose bitterness and stubbornly hold onto the anger and pain
- We can intentionally move down the path of forgiveness in order to grieve, empathize, find peace, learn to trust again and reconnect in relationship
The third option seems so right and so easy, and yet it is often so very hard.
I could share a lot of stories from my life where my stubbornness kept me from seeking the peace found in forgiveness, but I think the most recent example is when I broke my leg. I remember getting so angry at my doctor because what he told me was going to happen at my first appointment was not at all my healing experience. I also remember getting very angry at myself – my own body – when it refused to heal. Finally, there was a piece of my heart that just hurt. I was haunted by the thought that either God didn’t love me or I wasn’t important enough for Him to heal.
Every day that I hurt, I got just a little bit angrier. One day, about 9 months post accident, I went to the doctor for a check up. When I asked him why my leg wasn’t healing, he looked at me and said “you have skinny ankles and high expectations”. That day was a turning point for me. My anger boiled over and later than night I beat my crutch so hard on the floor that I bent it. Bending my crutch didn’t fix my problems, but it did show me that I was in a very unhealthy mental place. It forced me to recognize that I was at a crossroads, and helped me to make the intentional choice to get “unstuck” and move into forgiveness.
It’s been more than three years since I made that choice. My leg still hurts, and it likely will never be the same, but my heart has moved through the grieving process. Somewhere along the way, I figured out that forgiveness was not about finding answers, rather it was about accepting my circumstances and knowing that God loves me and walks with me through it all. God doesn’t always choose to take away our pain, but I also don’t think that He wastes it either. When we open our hearts to forgive, our pain becomes a tool for personal growth as we allow Jesus to move through us and rebuild us. The healing process then holds the power of hope as we find strength and purpose in it 😊