I didn’t know what to do with the mess of attempted reconciliation going horribly awry.
This time, I had cared too much about the relationship to indulge in my usual self-protection. I will run into the roar, I had thought, instead of hiding under my bush and withering away. I might get mauled, but then it will all be well.
I ran, and was torn apart.
For months I struggled to forgive. I felt that I was not being accused of what I had done as much as for who I was. I have done plenty that was wrong, but how does a person who deeply loves Jesus, who is designed by God, repent of who they are?
How does a person forgive? I desperately wanted to. I prayed. But I couldn’t see a measurable difference.
Unable to shake the depression that long dogged me, I found a safe woman to talk to. As soon as I started talking, the pent-up grief welled up, and dripped onto my lap. I am trying my best to follow Jesus, to listen to the Holy Spirit. They don’t believe that I hear from God, and yet, I love them and see them as good people. I’m trying to restore the bond that we once had, but my efforts don’t work. It’s so confusing to me.
Through my gut-wrenching cry, I heard the woman’s gentle voice. “Have you, deep in your heart, forgiven your friends?”
The answer in my heart-of-hearts surprised me. Yes.
“You don’t have to trust them exactly the same way you did before,” she said, “to have truly forgiven them.”
And there was the splinter that was making my whole body hurt…if I could completely forgive, the relationship would be restored to what it once was.
I finally saw that forgiveness wasn’t going to fix everything, as I thought it should, and that I would have to accept the new reality without descending into self-condemnation. I saw that I was depending on myself to do things right, instead of depending on the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
The relationship I had is lost, I realized, as sadness overwhelmed me. Death of something precious is always hard. And yet, in the grief, I felt a clean wind of hope.
Hope in letting-go and accepting what is now. Hope in believing that someday I might be able to grow a new friendship that is different and stronger than what I clung to before. Hope in allowing the Holy Spirit to do the grunt work. Hope in knowing that regardless how the story turned out, Jesus would be with me, and He is a redeemer.
I felt the light of His love, and it was warmer and kinder than I had remembered.
I laid my burden down, and knew that it was well with my soul.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11: 28-29 (ESV)
What burden is weighing on your heart? What does forgiveness look like to you?