“Where did that come from?” Tonight I was taking a few moments to read something that my husband had written when I saw a message online that had come from someone who had deeply hurt me last year. I had been in a very tender place due to the death of my father and this person (whom I had known all of my life) came and assumed something false about me and then proceeded to act upon the assumption in a very public way. In very “Kathi-like” fashion I tried to immediately process all of the emotions so that I could quickly forgive and move on. The problem was that my quick processing must have skipped the forgiveness part of the equation. I didn’t realize this until tonight when I saw this person’s name and their message that had made it appear as if this wounding never occurred.
How did I know that I hadn’t forgiven them? Because I shouted out at my poor husband, who was trying to fall asleep the word,
In that moment I realized that I was mad and hurt and had not forgiven them. I instantly wanted to lash out and send a very pointed message back to them. I am not a hot tempered person so I knew that this was a sure sign of something unresolved. Quickly the line from 1 Corinthians 13 came to mind, “Love does not keep a record of wrongs…”. I have not only kept a record of this wrong but from looking at my reaction I wondered if I had even tried to love this person or just merely chosen to forget them rather than forgive them.
Back to the days of “What would Jesus do?”! First, He would have forgiven so that He could forget the offense rather than forget the person. Second, He would not have wanted to lash out in selfish anger the way that I wanted to. How many times has He forgiven me for far worse offenses? More times than I can count. How many times has He loved me after I failed Him once again and yet He never brought up the previous failure? Every time! I thought because I had forgotten the that I had forgiven but forgetting the person is not forgiving the person. My forgiveness cannot be based upon their willingness to apologize, my forgiveness has to be based on the fact that God has asked me to love my neighbor as myself.
So, now I have an opportunity to free both of us. I can free them from the offense that I have carried (or in this case buried) and I can free myself from the hidden anger, which is most likely masking pain. Forgiveness can free us both. I will have to ask Jesus what this forgiveness is suppose to look like on the outside as well as on the inside. I wonder at times if my desire to quickly process and forgive is more of a quick escape from letting God go to the deeper places where the offense hit a tender wound. This time I will take the time needed to process and pray. I will remember to love the person as I forgive them.
Note to self…forgetting someone is not the same as forgiving someone!