Friday, February 18, 2011

Forgiveness: Introduction to a 3 Part Series

I have always struggled with forgiveness.
And no matter what anyone has ever told me, or what sermon I could listen to on the subject, or even how much I longed to "just let it go," I could not find the freedom to release my bitterness.

Because this has been such a long and frustrating battle for me, I want to be as candid as I can in hopes that someone else might be blessed from what God has finally allowed me to learn.

My bitterness has affected so many aspects of my life... from my relationships with others, to my relationship with God, and even to struggling with my own self-image [there is nothing attractive about a bitter woman].

The "issues" that I have fought to turn over ranged anywhere from petty elementary squabbles to more recent and painful wounds for which I both longed for and yet refused to allow healing.

To explain how frustrating this battle has been:
I was not blind to my sin.
I KNEW that I needed to forgive, and I tried my hardest to let the offenses go. I prayed over and over for a forgiving heart, crying out to God for the grace to follow His example. I would often go through the actions of forgiveness, but it was never honestly dealt with in my heart, so the problem would always resurface.

The funny thing is that I already knew what I needed to know to forgive. I knew that I was a sinner... I knew that God is holy [perfect, pure]... I knew that "while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." [Rom. 5:8], and that Jesus's sacrifice is why we can obtain forgiveness from Holy God- "without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness" [Heb. 9:22].

People told me, "Look at how much God has forgiven you. How can you not forgive someone's offense against you?"

It's embarrassing to admit, but it just didn't seem like that big of a deal in my head. I felt that my sin against God didn't amount to much compared to some of the offenses that I was refusing to forgive. I knew I was a sinner, but I didn't see the gravity of my sin from a godly perspective. For the record, I was aware of this disconnect, and I've been begging God to allow me to see my sinful self from His eyes for over a year. I've felt hopeless to overcome this stronghold for a long time, and I can't even begin to fathom God's timing, but I am so thankful that He finally removed the veil from my eyes last week.

[Image Source Unknown]

"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules." [Ezekiel 36:26-27]

While I know first hand that sometimes it just doesn't matter what people say since only God can change hearts, I want to share my testimony of what God taught me about forgiveness this week with the hopes that God will use it to bless someone else. God had a lot to teach me that morning, so I'm breaking my testimony into three parts that I will post over the next 3 days:

Forgiveness Part 1: I Am the Wicked Servant
Forgiveness Part 2: The Whiteboard Challenge
Forgiveness Part 3: The Debt Is Incalcuable


Julie said...

I say bring it on! I am usually not the type of person to harber bitterness. I'm pretty laid back but there is one person who I have always had trouble with. (actually a very close relative) Once I feel like I"m past a situtation, a new one pops up to take it's place. (with the same person) Is there a difference in the forgiveness aspect compared to the trusting afterwards? Do you know what I mean? In Luke we are commanded to forgive 70x7. I understand. You don't stop forgiving. But at what point do I remove myself from the situation entirely so as not expose myself (or my children) to the things this person does. If I desire to remove myself from that situation, am I not forgiving? Just some questions that I've been struggling with... Not necesarily asking you for an answer! :)

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I like it a lot better when you're not posting Jesusy stuff.

Sarah B. said...

Great post! Forgiveness can be such a struggle... I'm looking forward to your next posts!

Mindy said...

Thanks for the open honesty!

Jessica @ Barefoot by the Sea said...

This is such a beautiful and honest post Mandy. Thank you for sharing. It's difficut to forgive but you are being honest about that and that's such an important step.

(You are going to make one fabulous Mama, I'm telling you.)

Kim said...

for the record, i like your jesus-y and crafty stuff :)

aPearantly sew said...

This is a great post! I, too, struggle with forgiveness. I always have. It's something that I truly want God to change in me. I long for a soft, sincere, genuine and forgiving heart. I so look forward to reading your 3 part series! Oh, and I too like your "Jesus-y" posts :)

Adam and Wendy said...

I'm with Kim and aPearantly sew. :) I like your Jesus-y posts!

I'd have to say one of the hardest parts of forgiveness is forgiving someone who doesn't think they "need" it. Say someone hurt you, and they could care makes it harder to forgive!! BUT that doesn't make it less important. :) Thinking on that should make us want to be more like Jesus....can we even count the number of people He has forgiven that could care less?

I love it Mandy, and yes, you're going to be a fantastic Mama like Jessica said. :)

Beverly @ said...

Thank you so much for opening up and sharing this Mandy. I struggle with this too, especially in with one specific situation. I can't seem to let go of it.
And to be honest, despite the fact that I know I need to, I often don't want to. I know that sounds bad.
I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your series!

b. said...

i think even those who are not religious can benefit from this, it is hard to find forgiveness whatever your beliefs and it is something you should put an effort into learning how to do and you should reflect on. i know i find it hard to forgive (myself most of all) and even if i wont be referring to the bible, this post had prompted me to think about my issues and address them to become a better person.

thanks for the prompt mandy :) i think you are asking the questions a lot of women in their mid-20s need to ask as we grow up. good work :)


Em {Emerging Em} said...

I definitely struggle with forgiveness and bitterness as well! And I love your "Jesus-y" posts too! :)

Katie Baba Nielson said...

very proud of your honesty. i think that's pretty neat... and very hard to do. but also, a HUGE step toward healing :)