I first read The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts a few years ago. It was heart breaking and beautifully honest. And it challenged me. One quote stood out to me and I couldn’t shake it.
When I first read this the “goodbye” God was impressing on me was a physical person. As much as I wanted to at the time, I couldn’t fix him, help him or change his heart. I had to choose to say “goodbye” and surrender him to Jesus to do the work. I had to accept that His answer to reconciliation was “no”.
These days, the “goodbye” is forgiveness. Can I be honest and tell you that this has been the furthest thing from my mind? Until yesterday. In His love and desire to see me walking in complete freedom, He impressed on my heart this question, “Have you forgiven Shawn?”. What?! It took me off guard. Forgive Shawn? How can I truly, completely forgive someone who has taken so much from me? What does that even look like? I want to live in complete wholeness and freedom, but how on earth do I possibly forgive such a monster?
While reading Elizabeth Smart’s memoir, yesterday, what she wrote about her captors stuck out to me, “Every life that they have ever touched, they did their best to destroy. But that is not for me to judge”. Such powerful words.
I could almost see Jesus’ kind and loving face as He reminded me of the Lord’s prayer, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” Matt. 6:12. Forgive here in Greek is “cry forgive forsake lay aside leave let (alone, be, go, have) omit put (send) away remit suffer yield up” (Strong’s Concordance). Forgive. As I was reading this verse, my heart sank.
I am supposed to forgive in the same manner that I am forgiven.
But I haven’t seen justice, here, for what he’s done to me! He whispers, “Vengeance is Mine”. But he stole so much from me that I will never get back. He answers, “I will repay” (Romans 12:19). I know that He will have justice in His way and time.
I am not naive to think that forgiveness is easy. I am human and weak, on a good day. But in His love, He is asking me to forgive (set aside, yield up, leave) in obedience and for my good. If I’m honest, I’m not sure what this looks like. And right now, it seems harder than just holding on to it. But I do know I don’t want to be a useless vessel, filled with bitterness, anger and worry. I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit and the fruit that comes from that filling.
Forgiveness to me, right now, is a daily surrendering of my pain, fear and anger. It’s a crying out when anxiety grips my heart. It’s forsaking the “feelings”. It’s letting go of the plans I had for my life. It’s sending away the bitterness. It’s laying all the suffering and pain at His feet. It’s a yielding to the will of my omniscient, omnipotent Father.
I want to walk in complete healing and wholeness, no matter how painful that process may be. I won’t always look great doing it, but with His strength I will do it. I will forgive. Today and every day, I am thankful for his new mercy. (Lam. 3:22-23)
Father, I want to obey you and forgive, but honestly I am angry. I hurt still. But you know that. Your heart breaks when mine does. You see the pain. I trust you Lord to do this healing work. I don’t want to be the judge and jury. With tears in my eyes, I ask that you help me to forgive. To leave Shawn and the justice I desire to You. I can’t get back what he has taken, but I trust You with all the broken pieces. Heal and make beauty as only You can.