“Where you are most human, most yourself, weakest, there Jesus lives.” ~ Henri Nouwen.
Every now and then, Hubby and I make a drive to San Francisco to scrunch ourselves elbow to elbow for fresh baked croissants at Tartine Bakery.
It’s one place I’ve found that brings me back to France, just for a moment.
One day, as I was balancing my pastry, standing up against a counter, I noticed the guy next to me was wearing a cool T-shirt (hubby was next to me).
The shirt pictured a guy unable to get to his heart in a vending machine. Love, like a Snicker’s Bar stuck in the twirly thingamajig, hung in the balance.
Learning to forgive has felt the same.
My honest efforts to forgive those who have hurt me sometimes fall short of reach.
In place of forgiveness, my soul would struggle with self-guilt. I’d pretend I was untouched by old wounds. I was fine.
I’ve been learning that forgiveness doesn’t come from a vending machine called prayer.
Forgiveness is a continuing reminder for us to pray — to grieve, to heal — each time our wounds ache.
Truth Be Told
Is forgiveness a one time act of conviction?
If I forgave, I wouldn’t be angry any more. I wouldn’t be so hurt.
Truth be told, all I really wanted was to forget.
The forgiveness God offers isn’t amnesia of the past.
Forgiveness frees us to be honest about what we’ve lost, so God can comfort us in the moment.
Forgiveness frees us to grieve.
A New Practice
When painful feelings surface from old wounds I honestly believe I forgave, I used to beat myself up for failing to forgive.
As I prayed and read the Bible to find God’s view on the matter, my soul was soothed.
Jesus was right there next to me, comfortable and at ease with my frailty, loving me.
The truth is that even though I have forgiven, it doesn’t mean I’m done grieving.
I began a new practice whenever old wounds felt fresh.
I used my sadness and anger as triggers to invite God into places I was still hiding my true feelings.
In turn, those moments have unearthed new levels of intimacy with Jesus. It’s kept me vulnerable and real with God and others.
If your soul is aching for some relief on forgiveness, I’d like to encourage you today:
Stay in those hard places and have a conversation with God about it.
Talk out loud as you take a walk alone outside.
Or write God a very long letter.
For the really tender places, I would spend some uninterrupted time with my head bowed in silence and turn my palms upward. I become a child ready to simply receive God’s grace and understanding.
To practice forgiveness the way Jesus calls us to, we are inviting God to enter into our pain — a place of faith.
Forgiveness, after all, was never meant to be robotic.
That’s why God gives us faith.
(After Jesus told the disciples forgiveness
needs to happen seven times seven times a day…)
“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith !”
The Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea ‘; and it would obey you.” Luke 17:5-7
What have you found in your journey to forgive?
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