What is your mood as you wait – either to be able to forgive or to receive forgiveness? I’m asking because I’m reminded that God is always at work on behalf of His children. That means when you and I perceive that NOTHING is transpiring toward the righting of a conflict, God is in fact active and at work. If this is really true (it is) you and I might need to shift our perspective a little (or a lot). We need our perceptions to align with reality.
What I’m getting at is this – I don’t often wait particularly well, whether forgiveness needs to come from me or come to me. I wait suspiciously rather than confidently. I wait anxiously, not actively. I wait protected rather than open and exposed. Confident, active, open waiting is a waiting I participate in with the Lord. I’m actively in dialogue with the Lord, open to shifting thinking, or behavior, or both. I wait expectantly, not for a particular outcome, but because I’m confident God is at work. If He’s at work (He is), something good is happening… something important is happening. I want that to become important to me. So does God.
In the meantime, if I’m the one who cannot extend forgiveness, I have to be open to letting the Lord expose why I can’t, and even more terrifying, remain open to letting Him tend that area. That’s going to require my full cooperation. Yikes. And I have to come to terms with the fact that while I have been offended, however grossly, there is also something unhealthy in me that is keeping me from forgiving. I will have to shift my focus off of the offender while the Lord does some house cleaning in my soul. I’m going to have to understand that at the end of this “cleaning” I will be committing to extending forgiveness through the power of God the Spirit in me. Is this sobering sequence the reason I’m closed off? It may very well be. If it is, I know where I have to begin with the Lord. “Lord Jesus, Make me willing to open myself to You and this process.”
This sets a powerful precedent for how I posture my heart toward the person who has yet to forgive me. It humanizes them again. Empathy can replace bitterness because I have been where they are. I have experienced deep-healing-soul-work that has unlocked the door to forgiveness. Further, I can understand that the next right step for them might not be the step I want them to take. They might have many steps to take before the step of forgiveness is in front of them.
And here is where I really have to be a grown-up. Waiting well will mean that I will begin to pray for them – for their healing, for their best, for their wholeness. If my heart is ugly as I pray, then I will stop and ask the Lord to forgive me. I’ll ask Him to make my heart tender. And then I will get to praying again. I will entrust being forgiven to the Lord and spend energy championing that person to healing through prayer. If I cannot do that, I know where to begin. “Lord Jesus, remind me what You have done in me. Make me willing to love this person with the love of God, even as I wait.”
Wouldn’t you like to have back all the time and energy you’ve burned that was never going to produce anything but heartache and anxiety? I would. But then there’s grace- sweet grace that meets you and I right in this moment. Let’s choose to trust our all knowing, all loving, VERY active God with the conflicts yet to be resolved. And let’s keep our eyes peeled for the next lit step to plant our foot on.
See you on the road! – Anne
Remind them… to speak evil of no one,
to avoid quarreling, to be gentle,
and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
For we ourselves were once foolish,
disobedient, led astray,
slaves to various passions and pleasures,
passing our days in malice and envy,
hated by others and hating one another.
But when the goodness and loving kindness
of God our Savior appeared, He saved us…
Titus 3: 1-4