Saturday, November 17, 2012

Angry....Forgiveness

"It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman." Proverbs 21:19

I've spent a lot of my life angry. Even now it is something I struggle with daily. I am a highly emotional person and for a long time I let my emotions control my life, (still working on this, but getting better). Emotions are confusing and as a result I would just get mad. It was easier than trying to figure out the 'why'-was it because I was disappointed? or frustrated? I kept everything bottled up because I didn't want my words to hurt someone else, I didn't know how to vocalize all that I felt-or even if I should. But everyone knows you can only keep things bottled up for a short time before it all starts boiling over. My boiling point sometimes resulted in me lashing out in anger, and sometimes it would manifest in tears, but regardless I was angry.

Oh, and I hate it! I try so hard to be a kind, loving, cheerful person... and even if that is what you see, I still spent/spend so much time angry.
And why? What's the point? It doesn't help anything, it doesn't fix anything...

"I can't believe what she said,
I can't believe what he did,
Oh, dont' they know its wrong?
Don't they know its wrong?"

I know that this anger, just like any other feeling or emotion, is a choice. So why would I choose this? The best conclusion I could come to is because it helps me feel safe and guarded. If I'm still angry then I won't make the mistake of letting myself get hurt in that way again right?

I started writing this with a heart full of bitterness and anger, ready to list out all the little things I was currently angry about... Now I sit here with a heart full of sadness, feeling like 'how can I fix this'?

"It's the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just to real
It takes everything you have just to say the word...
Forgiveness
Forgiveness
It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It's always anger's own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It's the whisper in your ear saying 'Set It Free"


Ah yes, forgiveness. Such a misunderstood word, (at least for me), which is why I was so happy to find this article from Mars Hill Church. (the italics are my own addition)

10 Things Forgiveness is Not
 
1. Forgiveness is not approving or diminishing sin.
It’s not saying, "Well, it’s okay. Nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes a mistake," or, "It’s not a really big deal. Worse things have happened." No, it is a big deal! It’s so big that God died for it. So don’t dishonor the cross of Jesus and approve or diminish something that required the death of God.

2. Forgiveness is not enabling sin.
 I see this frequently with wives who misunderstand submission. "Okay, the husband is the head of the home, he’s supposed to lovingly lead." Great. He’s supposed to lovingly lead by following Jesus, and if he’s not following Jesus, the wife shouldn’t follow him because her ultimate allegiance is to Jesus and the first job description of the wife is to be a helper. And sometimes husbands are foolish. They make stupid decisions financially. They make reckless decisions spiritually. They buck godly, spiritual authority trying to correct them. And in the name of forgiving them, the wife comes along and enables him. She just is complicit in his rebellion and sin and folly. You can forgive someone without enabling their sin, participating in it. You can have a friend or a family member who is an addict, for example, you can forgive them without enabling them. Forgiving is not enabling. Forgiving can even include confronting and rebuking, and sometimes it must.

3. Forgiveness is not denying a wrongdoing.
"It didn’t happen. I forgot all about it. I just moved on. I pretend like it never happened. I didn’t let it affect me." That’s not true. It’s not the denial of a wrongdoing. Forgiveness is not denying that you were sinned against. 

4. Forgiveness is not waiting for an apology.
Some of you say, "I will forgive them as soon as they say they’re sorry." I hate to break it to you, some people are never going to apologize. Some people are going to continue in their destructive, rebellious, and foolish life course. Some people will be stubborn and religious and self-righteous and they’ll never confess or admit. Some people will move away, you’ll never speak with them again. Some people will die before they articulate repentance. And so you forgive them before they apologize. 

5. Forgiveness is not forgetting.
This is one of the great Christian myths. "Well, we forgive and forget." No we don’t! You can’t forgive and forget. You can’t. You were raped, molested, abandoned, beaten, abused, cheated on, betrayed, lied about. "Forget it"? You can’t forget it. It’s impossible. And some will appeal to Bible books like Jeremiah, where it says that God will remember their sin no more. And they’ll say, "See? God doesn’t remember our sin." And let me tell you this, God does remember our sin. He’s omniscient, he’s all knowing, he forgets nothing, he knows everything. Right? It’s not like God’s in heaven going, "I forgot a whole bunch of things." He would cease to be God. What does it mean that God remembers their sin no more? It means that God chooses not to interact with us based upon what we’ve done, but instead interact with us based upon what Christ has done. It means that he chooses to see us as new creations and he chooses to work for a new future. It means that at the forefront of God’s thinking toward us is not all of the sin that we’ve committed, but all the work that Jesus has done for us and in us and, by grace, will do through us. But it’s not like God has no idea what you did yesterday. He forgets nothing. And I see this sometimes in counseling, where one person will sin against another person and they’ll say, "Well, you shouldn’t even remember that." It’s impossible. I had one situation recently. I looked at the husband, I was like, "You slept with her best friend. She’s not going to forget that ever. Now, she can choose not to interact with you in light of that. She could choose to forgive you. She can choose to not be stewing on that every minute of every day and seething. But she’s never going to forget that this happened because it was cataclysmic." 

6. Forgiveness is not ceasing to feel the pain.
Just because it hurts doesn’t mean you’ve failed to forgive. It still hurts. Some of you have had horrible things done to you. Horrible things done to you. With all sincerity, I’m sorry. And it would be so cruel to say, "Well, if you’ve forgiven them, it shouldn’t hurt anymore." Well, sure it does. See, we don’t hear in the Bible that all the tears are wiped from our eyes until the resurrection of the dead in the final unveiling of the kingdom. It means people are crying all the way to Jesus. It still hurts. It’s okay for it to bother you. 

7. Forgiveness is not a onetime event.
It’s not like you forgive someone and it’s over. Sometimes, they keep sinning, so you need to keep forgiving. Or sometimes you forgive them, but there are emotional moments where it feels fresh. There’s one woman that I know, her husband committed adultery on her. And he earnestly repented and she honestly forgave him and they have sought biblical counseling and they have worked it out. But she confesses there are times, sometimes even at church, where her husband is doing nothing wrong, and it’s been some years, that she’ll just see him talking to another woman, maybe even a mutual friend, and just the sight of him with another woman causes her to feel all of that betrayal again and it rises up in her soul. And she needs to forgive him again for what he did in the past. Sometimes forgiveness is something that is regularly required. 

8. Forgiveness is not neglecting justice.
You can forgive someone and call the police and have them arrested. You can forgive someone and testify against them in court. Romans 13 says to obey the government. They’d say, "I thought you forgave me." "I do. I forgive you. But you’ve committed a crime. You’ve broken the law. And so these are the consequences." If you’ve stolen, you need to pay it back. If you’ve lied, you need to go tell the truth. It’s not a neglecting of justice. You can forgive and pursue justice.

9. Forgiveness is not trusting.
I hear this all the time. "My dad molested me. He said he’s sorry. Can he babysit my kids?" Answer? No way. No way. "My boyfriend or husband hit me, but he said he’s sorry. Should we just pick up where we left off and keep going?" No way. See, trust is built slowly. It’s lost quickly. Trust is built slowly. Those of you, now hear this, I’m your pastor who loves you. Let me put an airbag around this. For those of you who are naive and gullible, trust is to be given slowly, lost quickly. Some of you give your whole heart away and never take it back. Give it away slowly and if someone sins against you grievously, trust has to be rebuilt over time. It’s not trusting. It’s not trusting. Some people can be trusted in time with fruit and keeping with repentance after they’ve gotten help. Other people should never be trusted because the risk is simply too high. This is particularly true with children who are vulnerable. We need to be exceedingly careful with who we trust. 

10. Forgiveness is not reconciliation.
It’s not that you’re friends and you hang out and everything’s okay. You’re close and it’s back to normal. Not at all. It takes one person to repent. It takes one person to forgive. It takes two people to reconcile. That’s why Paul says, "In as much as it is possible with you, seek to live at peace with all men." Here’s what he’s saying. Do your best, but you can’t be at peace with everyone. But if it doesn’t work out, make sure it’s their fault, not yours. Right? It takes two people to reconcile. This is where I’ve got a friend right now who’s in the midst of a divorce because she is acknowledging her own sin, her husband really is the problem, and she’s saying, "I love you, I forgive you. If you’ll meet with counselors, if you’ll submit to the authority in our church, I extend a hand to you and we can reconcile and save this marriage." He’s saying, "No. I don’t think I did anything wrong. I don’t think I need to listen to the pastor. I don’t need to meet with a counselor. I don’t need to listen to anyone. It’s your fault." There will be no reconciliation. Not with a man like that. Repentance takes one, forgiveness takes one, reconciliation takes two. 


So what I see from that is that forgiveness isn't as hard or scary as I previously thought. I thought I was doing something wrong because I would think back to a time where I truly did forgive someone for something, and yet here I was now angry about it again. "sometimes you forgive them, but there are emotional moments where it feels fresh...Sometimes forgiveness is something that is regularly required." This makes me feel so much better, because I know deep-down I don't want to be angry, and bitter, I want to be forgiving. & I know that by the Grace of God I can forgive those who hurt me, (including myself), as much as need be to keep my heart guarded from bitterness. Maybe the best guard is love...

"I tell you, her sins--and they are many--have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love." Luke 7:47

"Oh Father won't you forgive them,
They don't know what they've been doin'
Oh Father give me Grace to forgive them,
Cause I feel like the on losing...
I feel like I've been losing."


1 comment:

  1. Jordyn, Thank you so much for this post. I am so grateful for you sharing your thoughts. Just two weeks ago I came across the same(or very similar) article of what forgiveness is not. I have always felt like I was a very forgiving person, but after reading that I realized I have quite a bit to work on. I'm so glad that you posted this! I'd love to get together and talk about it. Along with it there was a continuation of what forgiveness is.
    You are so incredible. I so enjoy the times that I have gotten to spend with your family lately and feel of your love. You are such special person with so much to offer. Love you and thanks again for this post.

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