September 23, 2011

70 times 7

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.      1 Peter 4:8 

Behold, what manner of love hath the Father bestowed upon us. 1 John 3:1

God's been showing me something, and it's not been easy.
I asked for it though.
I blithely prayed one day, Teach me sumpthin', and God took me up on that request pretty dang quick.
Whereupon, I said, Um... wait a second. I take it all back. Maybe teach me something else, ok? I'm not really liking this thing called forgiveness. And I set my stubborn jaw.
So God sat very quietly with His hands folded and the clock ticked loud and I looked around and said, Wow, see that sky today? Talk about blue. And I laughed nervously.
But God is patient. He waited for me. He has this way of doing that, this way of being gentle and taking my hand and standing still while I hem and haw.
And finally I said, Ok, I'm willing. But, Lord... I'm not sure where to start.

See, the thing is this: I thought I was forgiving and had nothing to learn. I'm easy going, passive for the most part. People can do their thing and I'm pretty much okay with whatever. Also, people are usually nice to me so what's to forgive?
Then God dug around and pulled up some old stuff that I've been pushing away and ignoring for years. If I did have to confront those things, I quick put a lid on it. Like an ostrich, I stuck my head in the sand and called it good. But then sometimes the lid would blow and it'd be a struggle to go out and find it in the top of a tree somewhere and shove it back over my simmering anger.

Child, out of sight, out of mind doesn't equal forgiveness. 

But, God! I've totally forgiven those things! Really! I'm super spiritual and don't even have to think about forgiveness. It just comes naturally.

And when you think of these people, speak of them... what comes out of your mouth?

Ummm... well... I guess... actually... *sigh* Loathing and contempt. That pretty much sums it up.

Forgiveness isn't just suppressing the hurt. It isn't turning a blind eye. It isn't saying you just won't care anymore. Forgiveness is turning around and facing the enemy head on, it's uprooting the slow burning, consuming anger, and it's allowing fervent charity to take its blossoming place. 

But they deserve my unforgiveness. They were wrong. I have the right.

This is the part where I set my stubborn jaw. I would hold onto to my right like a big, fat prize.
And this is where God reminded me of something He had shown me last year- His own forgiveness.
God's love language is gift giving. He gives and gives and gives and gives and gives. He never stops. He has this huge pile of presents for me and gives them to me all day long. And I'm super happy to accept those gifts. And once I realized how much He gives to me, I started looking around for ways to give back to Him.
And God showed me how forgiveness is a gift. His to me, yes. But also, mine to Him.
See, I looked at it this way, What the heck, I don't wanna forgive... it's like doing them a favor. I can't do this for them. I can't.
But I was looking at it all wrong.
It's not about them. It's about Him. Forgiving them is my gift for Him.
I had this gift in my hand, wrapped in yellow paper, so pretty, and there I stood before Him- holding the gift behind my back. Trying to give it to someone else, or keep it for myself, when the gift was His all along.
And when I finally got that point thru my thick cranium, I felt this aching overwhelming desire to give Him His gift. To finally, finally have something to give back to Him after all He's given me, something I knew He wanted and would take pleasure in.

I said, I really want You to have this. It's Yours. Unfortunately, it seems to be super glued to my hand. Not really sure what's going on here. You can have it if You can figure out a way to get it loose.

And He said, That happens. This isn't really a gift-in-day kind of thing. It's more like a 3 step process.

I was like, So... like alcoholics anonymous or something? What three steps?

So He gave me the three steps. And maybe He would give you a different three steps. I don't know how it works for everyone, I'm just telling you what He told me.

Love them. You need fervent charity. It's easy to forgive when one loves. That's how come I can forgive you everytime you walk away from me. Here's the three steps: Pray for them, be thankful for them, and be nice to them. That's all. You wait and see, it'll work My lovey.

And He told me a couple other things. Just because He could see I was a little worried.

Sometimes, you still have to keep a wary eye out. Forgiveness doesn't mean letting all your defenses down and inviting trouble in. Be wise. Know where to draw lines with those you're forgiving. It's different with different people. Breaking down walls and hard shells doesn't mean you can't keep your armour on. And, Sunny Jane?

Yes?

Remember you aren't standing alone.

I was happy at those words. I didn't want to be by myself in the middle of the dirt road watching the hordes in rows, as they steadily came to murder me in this battle. Because frankly, my dear, I'd run. But to have Him with me? Then I can stand, calm, easy, being okay, shoulder to shoulder.
And it's working, those three steps. I'm not there yet, but I can feel the unyielding unforgiveness seeping out.
I can't wait for the day when I can give and say, Here this is all Yours now.
And He'll say, I love it. It's the best present I've ever had.
Because on that day, the already bright sunshine will burst, and His already cup overflowing goodness will spill like crazy.

I love it. It's the best present I've ever had.
That's what I want to hear.