I recently felt like I was to extend forgiveness to three men who greatly wronged me and the girls (and Clique) during the last four years of civil court hearings.
I’m not proud to admit that I had to be prompted by God, multiple times, because that means I previously resisted what I should have done sooner – as a follower of Christ.
It is extremely hard to discern how to fight injustice while remaining true to God’s Word, and not allowing hate creep in. Very, very hard.
These people misrepresented themselves, the truth, me, Morgan and Melody – among other horrible things – that I cannot, and frankly, do not even need to say here.
Honestly, I didn’t want to forgive them, but it became quite obvious as I wrote my blog post about Jonah, the vindictive prophet, that I must, before it changed me into something I’m not.
So, I sent a message to each one.
Well, I did get one text of, “I might be free on Thursday,” but nothing more.
I will probably never see these people again because my name is like the plague within the Shelby County Courthouse.
Once the light began to expose what had been hidden (sealed) with us last July, everyone recused themselves, attorneys scattered, and the case had to be reassigned to another county.
I can’t say I am surprised at their lack of response, but then again… I kind of was. I thought they would be relieved that I might stop writing letters to everyone in Montgomery about what happened, seeking justice and punishment as it applies to unethical behavior, or by not seeking punitive damages through a lawsuit. Or not going through with my favorite idea and writing a tell-all blog post, complete with photos, detailing the horror we have experienced at their hands.
Then again, maybe like when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, He just wanted to see if I would do it – if I would forgive. And mean it. Whether they responded or not. I did my part?
No matter how old we are, or how we try to serve the Lord, obedience is hard.
I say this not that I understand it, or even come close to mastering obedience, but to share my struggles and thoughts in case anyone else is entering 2018 with a spirit of unforgiveness.
One morning last year, I heard a middle schooler give a devotion before school and this is the verse she used:
Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. 1 John 3:15
Hmm… this wasn’t some flowery, easy devotion. Where did she even get this verse? Where was the typical Philippians 4:13 or Jeremiah 29:11?
I looked at my friend who sponsors the Bible study club with me, and she just smiled, knowing exactly what I was thinking.
I was one who might need to hear that hate is like committing murder in your heart.
Holy crap. I’m like a murderer.
This is when my heart tugging began – about how I could try to stand up for what is right – without actually wishing the ground would open up and swallow someone. Let’s be real. I thought it.
Can I say that I love Christ, and His kingdom, while there’s a separate compartment in my brain (my heart) wishing for one good street fight with a select few?
Ah, life. We are constantly being molded and refined by the Master. Our flesh continually betrays us, we renew our mind over and over, casting aside anything that is hindering us, only to be faced with the same demons that tried to trip us up before.
I’m ready to be rid of this crazy cycle and merry-go-round.
Before I close, while writing this over a week’s time, I thought of people who have been in a much harder place than me when it comes to forgiveness.
Think of those who suffered rape, physical abuse, kidnapping, or the families of a murder victim…and you hear how they go to the prison or say in court to the guilty party, “I forgive you.”
It always amazed me when I saw these stories, but I understand now that if they had harbored bitterness and hate toward that person forever, then it wasn’t just one life, or two lives, that were destroyed… each person allowing the black tendrils of unforgiveness to choke their peace and joy would have no life at all. You would always be living in The Upside Down.
When Jesus was beaten, mocked, tortured, scorned, lied about, falsely accused, receiving giant nails through His flesh, and hanging in agony as His Father turned His back on the very image of sin… He could have commanded myriads of heavenly hosts to completely annihilate every person who betrayed and hurt Him. He could have displayed His true power and had the satisfaction of proving He was right.
The Son of God, part of the Trinity, was there from the beginning, had the power of Almighty God at His bleeding fingertips, and He did not use it, because His sacrifice was part of a much bigger plan. He knew His suffering would be the only way to save us all.
My suffering is nothing compared to the cross, but there were times the pain and agony took my breath away. Like Jonah and Elijah, at times it made me want to give up. God sent provision to both of these prophets in their time of need, only one chose to resent the Lord for His decisions of mercy.
Everyone gets the option of grace. Even the most evil and vile people we know…the ones we joke about having a front seat on the Hell Express? Yep. Because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
We think a sin like murder is one of the worst, but if hating someone is like committing murder in your heart, then I would have been at the top of that list.
It may not seem fair in the midst of your pain that an enemy is still loved by God, but what if your child or spouse or best friend was considered an enemy to someone? Wouldn’t you want them to have an opportunity for repentance and redemption?
Yes, we must forgive.
Escape the stale, toxic air of The Upside Down and breathe in the crisp, clean taste of freedom.