I did not mean to treat her differently. I did not mean to change how I saw her or thought of her. Yet, unconsciously, unintentionally, I did.
Hurt marks and scars.
It leaves the victim with wounds that must be faced.
And it was not just her actions. It was my pride and my stubbornness and my own sin.
And isn’t that the clincher?
Isn’t that the thing that makes me want to stand and point my finger hard at the one who has injured me? That my sin is standing there, mocking me?
Forgiveness has nothing to do with the person who has harmed me. It has everything to do with my own journey and walk with the Creator.
We went for a walk last night up the creek bed. Crawling over rocks and around waterfalls. It was marvelous and beautiful. The way the water swirled warm on my feet. The way our laughter bounced off the rock walls surrounding us.
At one point I stepped over the edge of a small waterfall, slipped and landed flat on my back. I lay there giggling until my husband pulled me to my feet.
It was a beautiful adventure. One where we lost our footing and fell into each other. Where we had to maneuver around waterfalls and crawl up slippery slopes. Where feet got stuck between rocks and trees we were leaning on gave way.
The interesting part, though, is that we were marveling the entire time at the beauty of God’s creation. Praising Him for the way He formed the river bottom, with rocks that look like pigs (seriously!) and layered walls and the melody of water.
And the pain we felt from slipping and falling and rocks digging into our feet… it never made us curse the rocks or the water. Because we weren’t wandering through the creek bed aimless and lost. We were walking confidently, taking a few hours from our day to enjoy God’s creation.
Life is all about having relationship with God.
About glorifying Him over all.
When we get lost, when we lose our focus, when we stop using our time and energy to glorify Him? That’s when forgiveness gets harder and harder. That’s when the hurt someone else inflicts, causes us to build walls and anger.
In the book God Calling, the writers say,
Fill your world with love and laughter. Never mind what anguish lies behind you. Let nothing that others do to you alter your treatment of them.
I still remember the first day I read those words, when I was wallowing in unforgiveness and hurt toward this friend. I had built up walls and allowed my focus to stay on the rocks that were tripping up my feet instead of the listening to the melody of the water.
I sat there, with the book open on my lap, and felt my heart squeeze. I had altered treatment. I kept her at arms length. Every time I looked at her, I allowed my mind to build the walls higher with memories of betrayal.
“How, God?” I whispered. How could I not change the way I treated her? It was a protective instinct. A guard from further pain.
In the end, the way was simple. I had to change my focus. When I was focused on glorifying God, the pain of slipping between the rocks was there, of course, but it did not change how I viewed my life:
I was too busy building a relationship with Christ
to worry about building walls of anger.
Has God taught you any lessons about forgiveness? Do share them!