In a world where everything is acceptable as long as it makes you happy, our vision can become clouded and it can become harder to see what is not only “right” for us to do but also what is best for us.
Let me preface this blog by saying, I am not talking about homosexuality so don’t get excited or in a tizzy. But if that’s not what I’m talking about, what am I talking about, you ask?
If someone hurts you, don’t you have a right to be bitter or angry or even hate them?
When we put it like that, it does sound silly, and a bit obvious, but most times, it isn’t that clear.
Here was my situation:
I got my heart broken. Neither of us were perfect, we both did things we shouldn’t have, but in the end, I got hurt pretty badly. He and I went from talking almost daily and basically being best friends, to not talking for eight months. In those eight months, any time his name came up in conversation, I found myself rolling my eyes or making a small snide comment. When people asked what had happened between the two of us, I played him as the villain and I was the poor little damsel in more distress than ever. But, I woke up, almost daily for months, and told the Lord that I had forgiven this guy. But as I moved through the stages of grief, I settled on anger. I had been wronged and I had a right to be angry about it.
Carrie Underwood tells me I should go smash his truck to pieces, right?
Miranda Lambert thinks I should go burn his house down!
Endless pop stars would tell me to go find someone better to flaunt in his face.
The list could go on and on and on.
But the point of all of those songs is that I have a right to anger and bitterness and hatred. Not only do I have a right, but it’s almost my duty as a woman. A guy hurts you and you better assert your feminist power all over the place, right!? Even in Christian circles we hear things like this all the time!
I was sitting one day, after talking to several pastors about how I realized I might possibly still have had some bitterness towards said guy, and I was just processing the entire thing. I found myself stunned by what was actually in my heart. (Sometimes I think we forget that we were wicked before Christ and He’s still sanctifying us.) I found myself thinking about how I deserved to be angry… and he deserved to pay somehow for how much he had hurt me.
And, honestly, all I meant by that was that he didn’t deserve my forgiveness. Somehow, in my heart, I decided that my bitterness was causing him some kind of pain. But that’s just the thing about bitterness- it typically only affects one person.. the bitter person!
As I realized my own thoughts that had been burried deep down in the basement of my heart, the small voice of the Spirit came to me in love and spoke to my heart, “Lia, you deserved the cross. You deserved hell. You deserved to pay for your sins. But Jesus paid for all of that for you. ”
The Spirit then reminded me of a quote that I once loved but had long since forgotten,
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” – C.S. Lewis
My sins nailed Jesus to the cross but I couldn’t forgive a boy, someone who once was a very good friend, for breaking my heart?
I felt an incredible sense of urgency and I called him as quickly as I could. I then left the world’s most awkward voicemail, sat shaking for a moment, and then my phone rang.
So what do you say to a guy you haven’t spoken to in so long? How do you start a conversation like this?
A very wise friend of mine, who is also my boss and pastor, Chris Marlin, told me that I needed to apologize to this guy as well as forgive him- I had harbored anger and bitterness for 8 months and it was sinful for me to do so. He advised that I start off the entire conversation by apologizing for those things and in that moment that was exactly what I wanted to do. (Although when he initially told me to do that, I basically through a little diva fit about how all I had done wrong was “care too much!” 😂 The Holy Spirit definitely gave Chris the grace not to throw something at me for being an entitled princess and me the grace to realize that I was in sin.)
So that’s exactly what I did and it was not at all easy but it did open up the conversation. He explained a lot of things to me and I asked him a lot of hard questions and stood firm on needing answers. In the end of it all, it went better than I ever had anticipated; he apologized for how he had hurt me.
It was like I was outside of time for a moment.
I let those words settle in my heart like the ground after an earthquake.
Took in a deep breath,
and I said what only the Holy Spirit could give me the grace to say and truly mean,
“I forgive you.”
It felt like I had been holding my breathe underwater for the last 8 months and I had finally come up for air. I could finally breathe again. I had no idea how much bitterness had been affecting me. I had no idea how much energy it had been draining from me.
There is F R E E D O M in forgiveness.
The cross says that loud and clear! To be like Christ, we have to be like Him in the way He forgives. Remember that one time He forgave the people literally nailing Him to the cross? They didn’t deserve that, but that’s the love of our Jesus.
No one deserved forgiveness from a holy and perfect God but Jesus chose to take what we did deserve and offer us TOTAL forgiveness and TOTAL freedom.
How can we not do the same for others?
So, if you’re where I was and you’re holding on to bitterness for dear life, I emplore you to forgive.
On the other side of bitterness and anger is freedom and peace.