Sunday, April 14, 2013
Forgivness: My Story, My Song
The majority of my life I’ve lived demanding justice for being wronged by people. I wanted those who’ve wronged me to pay for what they did to me. The truth is, I was the only one paying. R. T. Kendall says, ‘Bitterness is the poison we drink hoping someone else dies.’ My unforgiveness, not the wrongs that had happened to me, was slowly draining life out of me. Rage, anger, resentment, and bitterness became my torturers and constant companions, preventing me from fully loving or allowing myself to be loved.
One day as I read Matthew 18:21-35, I felt compelled to look up the word torment. I found that it means grievous pain; to vex; to harass. In short, to torment means to experience the most amount of pain for the longest amount of time without killing someone. When you think about it, that sounds a lot like hell. As I reflected on that thought, my memory became overloaded with images of people and situations where I had been wronged, hurt, or offended. The pain and the betrayal as fresh with each memory as the day I experienced them. I started to do the good Christian thing and stuff down the negative emotions, and softly, I heard a voice say, “You know, Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. If you will endure this, there is joy on the other side. You can have mercy or you can have judgment, but you can’t have both. If you want mercy, you must extend mercy to those who have wronged you. If you want judgment, you will remain in torment.” Forgiveness would cost me but unforgiveness would kill me.
To forgive, I had to be honest about each incident that happened to me; how it made me feel, how I responded to it, what lies they caused me to believe and act out of because of the wounding that occurred. It wasn’t pretty to face each offense and not shrink back. All of my life I responded to life in a ‘fight or flight’ sort of way. I used anger to protect me when I was scared or I ran away and chose not to deal with issues at hand. But here, I felt compelled by the Lord to endure this moment of truth with the promise that joy was just on the other side of all of those painful feelings.
I realized something else in that moment, when we choose to not forgive we actually devalue the blood of Jesus. It’s like saying what He did on the cross wasn’t enough because we still want the people who wronged us to pay. I had been committing spiritual fraud. Jesus’ death satisfied every debt of sin. Yet, I was still trying to collect payment for past wounds and offenses. In realizing that Jesus’ death paid not only for the sins I committed but also those committed against me, I realized those people - the very ones I had been judging and wanting to see get what they deserved owed me nothing. They had already received what they deserved: mercy just as I had received mercy. James 2:13, Mercy triumphs judgment.
R. T. Kendall says, ‘Forgiveness is the medicine we give to someone else that gives us life.’ I chose to free every person that ever wronged me. I made a willful decision to say, “I forgive you for…(whatever action or violation they had committed against me). I release you and I bless you in Jesus’ name.”
Something incredible happened in my heart! I began to experience peace like I’d never felt before. I found myself genuinely happy. I found myself laughing and smiling. I found myself falling in love with Jesus. My home became full of joy and merriment. I found that in forgiving others, my heart began to sing. I was experiencing new levels of freedom. I began to love myself. I was able to love my kids, love others.
There’s a song in forgiveness. Find its melody in your life. Grab a hold of it. Let it blow across your heart and set you free.
©2012 Felicia Murrell