For some reason, forgiveness is on my heart tonight. I haven't been struggling with forgiveness or experienced the need to forgive anyone in particular recently. However, I've learned when God puts something on my heart, there is usually a reason. And I should call this "Forgiveness - Part I" because I'm pretty sure this will result in three blogs on forgiveness. His plan not mine.
When I think of forgiveness, I imagine standing on the edge of a cliff with a bridge leading to the other side. On the other side of the bridge is an opportunity. A new adventure. A relationship. Freedom. Peace. You really can insert any opportunity on the other side of the bridge. You may not know all the details of the opportunity but you know it is different than where you are standing. The bridge between you and the other side is forgiveness.
When we hold tight to the wrongdoings against us, we are the only ones impacted. Our hearts grow cold and bitter or both. The person that has wronged us, is usually not affected by our unwillingness to forgive. We hold onto the bitterness and it negatively impacts us. And then we miss out on an opportunity. The opportunity may look a million different ways. Forgiving people often promotes restoring friendship; friendships you would have missed out on without walking the bridge of forgiveness. Or the opportunity to let go of hurt and bitterness and move on in life without restoring the relationship. In that case, living life without the heavy burden of bitterness is the opportunity. When we harbor hurt and pain caused by other people, we carry a burden that causes us to miss out on opportunities. And in the end, we lose out.
I am blessed to have one of the most forgiving friends in the world and though she lives far from Florida, she knows me better than anyone else on earth. In our friendship, I am so thankful we both are forgiving because we have had some knock-out, drag out fights (flashback to the Denver airport fight). We've exchanged hurtful words and mean girl attitudes. And yet, somehow we've forgiven each other and been able to grow as friends. If I held onto the hurt and anger once between us, I would have missed out on a dear, lifetime friend. And God has blessed me with her ability to forgive or again I would have missed out on an opportunity to have a friendship with this amazing woman. When we don't forgive others, we are the ones who lose out.
Now I understand forgiveness is REALLY hard sometimes. And just because you forgive and release the bitterness, hurt, pain, etc. doesn't mean you have to restore a friendship or relationship. I chose to forgive my ex-husband in order to let go of betrayal, hurt and pain with absolutely no intention of restoring the relationship. I had to forgive to let go of hurt and move on in new relationships. You can actually forgive and just walk the other way. And with forgiveness came a new, better relationship I would have missed out on! But I had to forgive to clear my own heart. Without forgiveness you can't move across the bridge.
I think one of the best examples of forgiveness in the Bible (except for the obvious one of God forgiving our sins through Jesus Christ) is when Joseph forgave his brothers. Joseph's brothers were downright evil to him; and they knew it. The plotted to kill him, deserted him in a pit and he ended up sold him into slavery. And yet Joseph forgave them and recognized God's work amongst the pain.
But Joseph told them (his brothers), "Don't be afraid of me. Am I God, to judge and punish you? As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. He brought me to the high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people. No, don't be afraid. Indeed, I myself will take care of you and your families." And he spoke very kindly to them, reassuring them.
Don't hold onto the pain, bitterness, hurt, resentment or whatever else is brewing inside your heart. Let it go (insert Frozen musical tune). Walk across the bridge of forgiveness into a new opportunity.
A cliff, a bridge and an opportunity,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.