We’ve been through some tough times lately. Some people who we felt close to betrayed us. I know that seems like a harsh word, but that’s how I felt. People who we at one time considered some of our biggest fans, our friends, suddenly decided to start bad mouthing us. Well, I never heard about anything that was said about me personally, but I know they talked about my husband.
And the things they said. Oh, they were so unkind. Calling him arrogant. Accusing him of having a God complex. Of being a dictator who wanted things done his own way. Things so far from the truth that they could not have been more wrong.
And it made my blood boil. Really, really boil. At times, I wanted to go ring this person’s doorbell and kick them in the shins. *THAT* would give them something to talk about.
But the thing is – more than anything, I was hurt. Deep in my soul, these people who I trusted. Whom I looked up to even. For them to say these things. Things I looked at long and hard. Things I asked others about because I wanted to make sure there was no modicum of truth in them. I watched as my husband became defeated. Depressed even. It was an ugly, ugly time in our lives.
I never did ring the doorbell and kick them in the shins. I wanted to say something many, many times. But each time, God had me hold my tongue. I knew nothing good could come out of me being ugly back, so I was content to sit back and know that someday GOD would be their judge. Someday they would have to stand in front of God and give an account. I was going to let God vindicate me. And I would sit back and relish in the fact that God’s punishment for them would be far worse than anything I could bestow on them.
In May, we were at our denominational district council. It wasn’t really so much anything that was discussed at Council, but more that I had a LOT of time on my hands to sit and think and let my mind wander. During one business session, I was reading blogs and I don’t even really remember what it was about or who it was by. It was one of those wandering types of randomness that I so often encounter while online. But I remember reading Jesus words as he hung there on the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they know now what they do.” It was more a pondering moment in my heart than anything else. I definitely didn’t connect the two issues in my mind at that time.
On Tuesday night, we had an amazing service. I was thinking again of these people who had wronged us so many times. People I thought I had forgiven in my heart. I just couldn’t seem to move on from it though. I had forgiven, but I certainly wasn’t free from it all.
As I sat in that service that night, the very fact that they would be JUDGED because of something they did to hurt me and my family hit me like a ton of bricks. I literally remember feeling the realization slam into my chest like a ton of bricks. God was going to hold them accountable for their actions. LORD, HAVE MERCY! My spirit cried out within me. And I called out to God.
“Father, forgive them! They didn’t know what they were doing!!!”
And just like that – insert finger snap here – the floodgates of my soul opened and I heard the voice of God speak to me as clearly as I ever have before, “And that, daughter, is what forgiveness is all about!”
I’ve got a new perspective on forgiveness now. A new perspective on God’s love for me. For everyone. God doesn’t want to get even. He’s not out for vengeance. He’s in the business of love and mercy and forgiveness. And it’s only because He’s able to forgive that I’m able to be free!