The older and more mature I get, the stronger my desire is to grow in my spiritual life. I take nothing in my life for granted--including the good, the bad, and the ugly. I believe all things work for the greater good and trying to be rooted enough in my spirituality to step out on faith, to walk down this road less traveled by so I may be protected, loved, rewarded, and given rest for my good work.
But part of gaining the serenity and security from God I long for requires me to pour into my spirit and purge myself of negativity and distractions that will block my path. So, every day I try to find a sliver of time in my day for meditation. Often this peaceful ritual includes reading a daily devotional. Currently, I am reading Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Begins Each Morning. Now, I looooooove Joel yall!! I try to catch his sermons on TV whenever I can. I find him to be so positive and able to break down biblical principles in such a way that really speaks to me in a practical way because his messages serve as good guidelines for being a "good Christian" (if you're a believer) or "good person" (if you're a non-believer).
Anyway, lately Joel (by way of big G), has been speaking LIFE into me. The last 2 weeks my daily devotions have focused on FORGIVENESS! This focus started shortly after finding out a man I'd thought was single and interested in dating me due to our ummm, well, DATE, was in fact in a long-term relationship (womp!).** And though he has since apologized, and I accepted his apology, I couldn't help but bring it up every chance I got to any one who'd listen. So while I'm sitting here thinking I am so generous with my forgiveness of people who wrong me (even trifling negros who want their cake w/ butter cream frosting, fruit filling, personalized message on top, AND to eat it too pssshhh), but I still struggled with letting certain offenses go. I held onto them like keepsakes labeled "I went through all this drama and all I got was this stupid apology (o_O)." But, if I made amends, and I'm over it, why am I holding on to the apology keepsakes, allowing the hurt to still consume my thoughts and emotions? Well, over the course of a few days, an answer was revealed and repeated in some of the following messages:
Proverbs 14:10 "Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy." If you hold on to the hurts and pains of the past, they will poison you wherever you go and keep you from experiencing good, healthy relationships. you may think that other people are the problem, but examine your own heart. Quit mourning over something that's over and done.--JO
Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." ...If you will stay in an attitude of faith and victory, God has promised that He will turn those emotional wounds around. He'll use them to your advantage, and you will come out better than you would have had they not happened to you.--JO
Hebrews 12:14-15 "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." ...As long as a bitter internal root is growing, the problems will persist. You may be able to control your behavior or keep a good attitude for awhile, but you can't be free. You have to go deeper and get to the root to be able to deal with the problem overcome it, and truly begin to change--JO
Matthew 6:12 "Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us." If you have areas in your life where you are constantly struggling, trying to change but finding yourself unable to do so, ask God to show you what's keeping you from being free.--JO
Hebrews 10:22 "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." ... Don't let your heart get polluted. Be quick to forgive, and the joy of the Lord will burst forth within you like a fresh mountain spring.
The general, overlapping theme I got from the above is that forgiveness is about SELF, not anyone else. So often it seems we (myself definitely included) think we are doing those who wrong us a favor by being gracious enough to make amends. On some "you lucky I know Jesus because I'd be breaking my foot off in yo &#$" type forgiveness. We want other people to think we are the bigger person and above the situation by saying we forgive, but take all opportunities to "bring up old sh*t" or await those who trespassed against us to trespass again. We don't want anybody to think we're weak/soft enough to allow people to walk all over us. In our minds, we sometimes see this type of so-called forgiving behavior as a dominant and defensive stance, but really it takes authority and control away from us and places it in the hands (likely unbeknown) to the very people who wronged us. And that's just unproductive and foolish!
The very definition of forgive is to give up all claim on account of, or to cease to feel resentment against! The act of forgiving requires us to to take control... and then release. But we have to choose to be in the driver's seat and not be fall passenger to the very vehicle of hurt that tried to run us over. Essentially, the power of forgiveness is actually exerting the power to forgive. And as the Good Book says, this power will free us from baggage to make room for joy, love and happiness!!! Who doesn't want that?!
When I've made the choice to forgive and purge myself of ill feelings and emotional strife, I feel good about myself. And quite frankly, my well-being and sanity is what's most important. I owe it to myself to make sure I am in a good place and become better every day. I thank God everyday for these new revelations, otherwise I'd likely be confined to a ward in WPIC (pronounced "whip-ick") from having a mental breakdown of all the negative and destructive assaults that come my way. Besides, not only do I hate holding emotional baggage of those who wrong me, I hate to carry baggage of those I have wronged. What goes around (forgiving) comes around (being forgiven), right? It's a struggle and a challenge but one I must face.
Can I get a witness to the power of forgiveness? Do you think it's possible to truly forgive some one if you refuse to forget and move on? Are there any instances that aren't worth forgiving and forgetting? Do you struggle with forgiveness? Is there anything you want to purge and prune yourself of before the weekend festivities begin?
Speak now or forever hold your peace,
**Undoubtedly a case of poor decisions on his part. But I have sincerely forgiven him and I genuinely hope that he gets his life (and relationship) in order.