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.
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"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