“Okay I forgive you, now lets go play mermaids.” That was the conversation between my four year old daughter Mikayla and my 6 year old daughter Maiah the other day. This happens about 15 times a day in our house if not more. Squabble after squabble – hurt feelings, stolen barbies, jealousy, demanding their way, dirty looks..and accusing one another of being everything from a “brat” to a “poop head”.
Yeah. But not much different from us adults. We do the same things.
We steal each others joy.
We rub one another the wrong way.
We get jealous.
We say mean things….knowingly or unknowningly.
We do mean things….
We scream…inwardly….we bruise…we scrape…
But how often do we heal?
How often do we repair… I mean honest repair.
We do great at pretending but truly mending…that is different. How often do we really forgive and move along playing mermaids? Its what we are called to do but…easier said than done. Well, if you are anything like me and most adults on the planet we don’t move along so easily even though we hope to. Not only do we not move along but we actually take about 19 steps backward, pretend and continue to bruise and be bruised… I love my kids, they teach me, they convict me and remind me of where I lack and they don’t even know it. Kids are honest. They tell each other when they have hurt feelings. “You hurt my feelings!” They tell you when they are mad “You are a poop head!” They tell you…they speak up, unreserved, without masks..they get it all out there in the open. Why? Because they haven’t yet learned to hide like we do. Somewhere between elementary and adulthood we lose the ability to be transparent and open with our needs and expectations and our ability to forgive easily. My kids are brutally honest…I wish I was more like them.
When adults are hurt or angry or offended most of us do one of two things 1) attack 2) retreat. Rarely do we openly say “listen, you hurt me, but I forgive you”…or better yet “I hurt YOU, forgive ME”. Rarely. This is why friendships end. This is why families don’t speak for 20 years. No one can really pinpoint the exact why…there are usually about 97 little whys that add up to the big why that leaves everyone acting a bit or in most of my experiences really weird and awkward. The big why that causes people to retreat, avoid and pretend. You can probably think of quite a few right now. Relationships that either ended or are strained. Something was said or forgotten…someone betrayed or rejected…an expectation wasnt met…something….big, little, petty, but something…something happened that created the divide. Something happened and the pain created the Grand Canyon between your hearts. I have places like this is my heart and I have people like this in my life.
I have a lack of forgiveness in my heart…I mean don’t get me wrong, I try but in my own feeble frail human efforts…it’s a struggle. I do try to forgive that person who I thought cared and they reminded me that they don’t. I do try to forgive that life event that scarred me….that disappointment or memory…I do try to forgive that break in trust or that aha moment that reminded me that I am not understood by someone I love. I do try to overlook, pick my battles, turn the other cheek, see things objectively but more importantly I really do try to forgive, I try…but I’m no good at it…apart from Christ. I wish I could forgive and move along playing mermaids like my daughters do but I don’t always do that. I say I forgive and I mean it at the time but it crops back up…that nagging…aching…sting…that reminder of that moment of hurt caused by another. I don’t always just forgive and move on… I might still be there outwardly but inwardly I’ve shut something off, I’ve made a sticky note on my heart that says “they hurt you” “they rejected you” “remember this?” “See they don’t love you” “they dont care” I silently move away inwardly…that wall creeps up…and I keep a little more of the real me from…being real.
But that isn’t what Jesus does to me. He doesn’t build up walls, shut me out, remove love from me just because I have been…well, human. He doesn’t stop loving me or withdraw because I screwed up again, lost faith, doubted Him, went my own way, tried to control, held my pride, clinched my fists, complained or hurt others. When my heart has gone wayward…He didn’t..No…He shepharded.. he lovingly guided me back to the fold. He forgave and forgives me…over and over without holding a grudge…without a talley list…without keeping score…without strings attached…He forgives, not because I deserve it, not because I earn it, not because its only half my fault…He. just. forgives. Period. He wipes it away and why? Because He loves…me…and That is what love does. That kind of Love forgives. That kind of love keeps no record. That kind of Love always hopes….And Always Forgives…always.
Oh my and how convicted I am. I am convicted because I dont in my natural frame easily forgive like that and also because I know I am just as difficult to love as anyone else….I have wounded others too. I am convicted because it is easier to look at the wounds that others have inflicted on me rather than viewing myself as one who does the same. I need to extend forgiveness as much to others imperfections as I need it extended to Me. I am further convicted when I think sometimes part of the reasons I don’t fully forgive…is it because I don’t want to let the person off the hook? Is it because by forgiving I am okaying the hurt…maybe condoning it? Is it because I don’t want to stop feeling sorry for myself? Yes..to all…but when I really look at it…it’s because I don’t fully love..ouch…yeah I don’t…but God does. In and of myself I just don’t possess the type of love that can do that alone in my own efforts. I want to, but in my fallen human nature…it’s impossible, I will always fall short…Through Christ though…all things are possible. Forgiveness is possible. Forgiveness has been made possible through what He did for me on the cross. He died to forgive and set me free from me and I must do the same. Now does this mean I forgive someone who is abusive or harmful and keep them in my life? No. We can still set healthy boundaries and forgive. Forgiveness not only sets the accused free but the victim. By forgiving we remove the burden of justice needing to be served off of our own shoulders and allow God to be God…Judge and jury. By forgiving we too are no longer in chains.
Forgiveness – Alone…impossible – through Jesus…possible.
Oh how I want to love like that…to love like breathing…to forgive like breathing…effortlessly…in Him though I can. So I continue to rely on His strength and not my own to do that which He has called me to do for that is what He has done for me – He has forgiven – Me.
Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Whoever they are, Forgive them…and live. 70 x 7…over and over…just like we are forgiven over and over…freely…fully. Once again my children have taught me…forgive and go play mermaids…
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.