Doing the Right Thing at the Wrong Time. Or doing the Wrong Thing at the Right Time.
Oh, what a cosmic joke it is to hope and believe for all to align and stand amidst the Right Thing in the Right Time! God looked at us—an animal needing to eat, sleep, defecate, and procreate—and said, “Good, now become a god”.
He sent His Son to show us this horrible feat and left it up to us, listening to His Spirit, reading his Word, and arguing with one another, to find out what it could mean. To live, not only for Him, but like Him.
I have wrestled and wandered, and in the driven pursuit of health and freedom, I have frantically begged God to heal me, that I may move on quickly, with nothing in me, but Joy and Peace, and from those things: Purpose. Alas, it is not God holding me back from eternal health in my soul. It is myself. It is the thing that I would hold on to instead of releasing.
Forgiveness is foreign—meaning quite literally, that it is from God’s country and not our own.
Nothing in the animal kingdom forgives; betrayal is met with violence and abandonment. Only until after the wolf has been beaten into submission will it be allowed to fall in with the pack; only until the challenging bull elephant has left the parade will the rest of the family rest. And frankly, the submission of the wolf has little to do with honor, and more with waiting for the next opportunity. Forgiveness is not in us. It’s from the stars.
Haven’t we learned by now that we are trying to accomplish the impossible? Acquitting someone of all judgment for the felony they have created in our lives is damnable; every sin is worthy of death, no matter how great or small.
Our individual lives are strung together by offense after unfair wrongdoing, and yet we somehow learn to cope and coexist in this process of “that’s just how life is”.
And a misguided ideal, handed down by better men and women before us, has led us to some strange country of believing forgiveness is necessary for some, and unattainable in others. That it is required of little children—“forgive your brother”, “say sorry”, “hug it out”—and with others, it’s best to hold that bitterness and never forget, never forgive, never trust again.
Unfortunately, most of us are not treated to the revelation that this act—Forgiveness—is something no one was ever naturally supposed to do, much less able to do. Forgiveness is God’s identity, therefore it lies in the spiritual realm, outside of our day-to-day, brushing-our-teeth routine, on the other side of Time and Space, where Joy and Beauty have faces.
And so, with this deep-rooted ideal that we are “supposed” to forgive, coupled with the lack of understanding that we can’t do this without God’s presence, we try our best in life to “forgive and forget”, until the moment comes that we are truly betrayed, hurt or abused. And in that moment, we throw up our hands, committing ourselves to extreme bitterness and un-forgiveness—it’s not that we can’t forgive them, now it is that we wish we never met, or worse, that they didn’t exist, or that we ourselves had never been born.
Our childlike belief that forgiveness is something “we just do” catalyzes our bitterness and frustration when we realize we can’t do it. And we ignore our bitterness and hatred, trying not to look at it, until something or someone reminds of us it—pokes the wound with one simple word But to us, it feels like a screwdriver driven up our kidneys and twisted out the intestine.
Do they deserve forgiveness? Of course not! No one deserves forgiveness. What they deserve is death. Just like you and me.
Should we forgive? Of course! If for no other reason, then Christ forgave us.
When we understand that God’s perfect will for our lives involves us learning to forgive, even at its hardest, most unruly, damnable moments, we see that we, in fact, aren’t stuckin our lives because we can’t forgive; we are stuck because we won’t forgive.
Now, for the sake of the argument (and saying that which every good(?) teacher says, to cover every one of his or her political bases), it’s important to understand that most of us misconstrue the idea of what forgiveness is. We hear phrases like “forgive and forget”, and immediately think, “there is no way I could forgive that person, because I will never forget what they did to me.” But forgiveness is not bridging a relationship after blindly forgetting your hurt, and thus, making you susceptible to more torment or abuse—it is simply the act of letting go of someone’s throat. (That being said, many times, you and I are nothing more than bitter ants arguing over vomit in the lineup and who gets to swallow it first. Our “abuse” is small. Show me 100 men who have been abused, and I’ll show you 1 that has surrounded by 99 insecure-sycophants.)
It’s also important to note, and this I do fully believe in, that while the initial forgiveness of someone may be a simple statement and belief, the walking out of sin (and yes, refusing to forgive is sin) and into faith (just like any other) may take time, even years to accomplish fully. But if we continue to release our grip from around the neck, reminding ourselves, openly speaking, and thus hearing our forgiveness, we will see our bitterness disappear and our offense dissolve. The hurt may never go away, but we will be free of its bondage.
We cannot write people off in our lives, even due to betrayal. Jesus is our example here, in that those closest to him betrayed again him and again, and yet he embodied forgiveness, allowed them back into His life, and gave them great purpose. On the night of His death, Jesus was betrayed once by Judas and thrice by Peter. Judas was led by a demonic possession and greed that twisted his mind out of control and reason. Peter was led by a fear that caused him to doubt his faith and love in Jesus.
Oftentimes, we assume people’s wrongdoing toward us is because of some inveterate evil inside of them. Frankly, the chief proponent of someone’s selfish or sinful act is fear, rather than innate evil.
(Insecurity. What a god-forsaken thing! Fermenting in our dead souls from the fertilization of Pride and Arrogance.)
When people lie, it’s because they are afraid the truth will bring them punishment or lose them someone’s trust; when they steal, they are afraid they will never have enough; when they cheat, they are afraid they aren’t capable or talented enough to make it the honest way; when they are unfaithful to a spouse, it’s because they are afraid that spouse won’t love or satisfy them the way they need; when they intoxicate themselves, it’s from a fear they won’t find joy or satisfaction any other way; when they are proud, it’s because they fear they won’t matter without their own boasting. Sin is the product of fear. Fear comes from not knowing who God is and who we are in His sight.
Upon realizing that a person’s treachery has little in common with a sadistic and malevolent spirit, and more in common with an abandoned child, we find it easier to forgive. Stop holding someone’s offense toward you as a judge would and start viewing it as a cry for help.
Now, again, I’m not advocating we openly allow ourselves to be walked over, used and abused by any individual that so tries. What did Jesus do with Peter after his betrayal? He had breakfast with him. He restored his soul. He asked him again and again where his allegiance lied, and if he loved Him. And it wasn’t until many months after Peter’s conviction and repentance that Jesus began using him to do great and powerful things for the Church again.
So should we follow the example: Release the neck. Restore the relationship. Empower the individual. If they are unwelcoming to restore the relationship, then it waits in limbo until the day of growth and maturation. And when maturation comes, Security and Faith come with it, and with those things, Power.
Your season doesn’t determine your story! Regardless of where you find yourself today in your ability, sin, or un-forgiveness toward others, everything can change in an instant by you choosing to live free. Nothing holds you back from becoming that, except yourself.
We all are to blame; all of us have dirt on our faces and blood on our hands.
We all took part in nailing Jesus to the cross with our sins. And it’s not the accumulation of mankind’s sin that put Him on the cross; it was one sin, just as much as it was all of our sins.
Quite remarkably, God the Father looks at us differently. He looks past the imperfections and sees someone He can use to do great and mighty things with and change history. He looks at us like He looked at Peter, and sees a worthy and powerful apostle, while all the rest of his comrades only saw a fisherman with his foot in his mouth.
And so He forgives us, choosing to forget our offense, while using our past (both good and bad), to propel us toward His perfect plan for our lives.