“Jesus Wept” sculpture in Oklahoma City to memorialize the victims of the 1995 bombing

Why on earth is it so difficult to forgive those who have wronged us?

Why do we hold on to so much that will eventually poison our hearts and allow those who have hurt us to have the upper hand and not God?

Why is it so difficult for us to grasp the concept of grace and mercy?

God made us of the flesh and in His image – but not of His character.  Our pea-sized brains are so infinitesismal compared to God’s that we will never be able to fully-grasp the answers to some of these questions on this side of heaven.  This is the part in which we walk by faith, in which we are sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

We are sinful by nature.  We tend to naturally be self-centered.  We struggle with humility and we can squelch the dreams of others if we feel a threat in any way.

Yet knowing all of this, I still believe that most of us are inherently good.  I don’t believe we are inherently bad though at times we can certainly act as if we are.

In the midst of the “Conflict Festival 2010” I’ve recently been attending, I’m starting to understand that most of us have good intentions.  We don’t have negative objectives towards other people and we don’t often mean some of the words we say to come across as hurtful to other people.

In other words, communication is the root of all hurt.  Hurt is the root of all ill feelings towards someone else. And ill feelings towards someone else conjure a bitter and angry heart.

One that might forgive – except for “that one person”.

One that is hardened because they’ve been “done wrong”.

One that is closed because by golly, we are not going to be so vulnerable next time.

It is at this moment, at this crossroads, in which we have a choice to make.

Do we forgive and rely on what God tells us about forgiveness?  Or do we just let it fester and dry-up  like a piece of meat left in a boiling pot far too long?

According to Matthew 5:23-24, we are not even supposed to lay our gifts before God until we have forgiven : “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

At the same time, we are also not called to be doormats to our transgressor.  We don’t have to condone negative behavior for the sake of the gospel nor do we have to be their best friend.  In fact, God gives us a good scripture that I find myself repeating when I know I need to set a boundary with an unhealthy person who I have forgiven but need to hold at arm’s length – Proverbs 26:11.

“As a dog returns to his vomit, a fool repeats his folly.”

And yet, He goes even further by offering up words on how He would like us to treat those people who we have forgiven but were forced to set boundaries around so we were not a fool repeating our folly.

Romans 12:20 states, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

My grandmother, and in turn, my mother, has always said “Kill them with kindness.”

This is essentially what God is saying to do for the people we like the least.  Except I don’t think He wants us to really kill them since He does also tell us that “we shall not commit murder” as well.

On this Multitude Monday, during a season of giving thanks, my list of 1,000 things of gratitude continues.  I am so thankful:

171.  I have been forgiven by so many people who I have wronged but most importantly, by Him.

172.  I have a heart that has learned how to be forgiving restored by Him who has the power to make us as white as snow and wash us completely clean.

173.  I have a God who forgives me CONSTANTLY, whose love is always there, who is not short on grace or mercy.

174.  I have a husband who needs to forgive me a lot too and he does.  Whew.

175.  I have children who are fully-grasping the concept of grace because we talk about it so much.  We talk about it so much because I need it so much.

176.  Girlfriends who are just fun to be with, who don’t require deep discussions and can just “go with it.”

177.  I am missing my husband.  I’m thankful for this because it makes me realize how much I love that man. (He’s on a hunting trip.  I’m a deer widow.)

178.  The ability to flip a switch and have heat in my home.

179.  Quiet nights alone even though I miss him. (see 177).

180.  Rest.

May you have a day filled with grace – for yourself and others.  May you have the courage to set boundaries with those who are not healthy.  And may you feed your enemy and quench their thirst.

holy experience

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