|My Netflix binging co-hort and favorite girl ever|
Last night Rebecca and I were watching an episode from season six. The matriarch of the family is counseling her youngest daughter (who has been separated from her husband for a year). She says these words, “Marriage is really all about forgiveness.” Rebecca turned to me and asked, “Is that true?” I responded, “Yes. And sometimes it sucks.”
I’m not always good at forgiveness. I want to be. I want forgiveness to be easy, but it just isn’t. Letting go of hurt is really hard. Recently, God asked me to forgive a friend who has hurt me. My reaction was not great. I was praying and asking God how he wanted me to move forward with this relationship. Being vulnerable – which is such a big part of forgiveness - is not my favorite thing, and my reaction to God’s request was, “Oh crap!” Yes, I believe in being real with God. If it makes you feel better, I went on to say other more “prayerful” words. Mostly, I asked God to make me brave, because I learned early in life that being vulnerable invites pain. And I have perfected the art of moving on, so my plan was just to move away from this relationship, to move away from the hurt. But God was asking me not to do that. He was asking me to stay in relationship with my friend. I wasn’t as excited about this idea as God was, and if He wanted me to be vulnerable with this person who hurt me, He would need to be in it with me.
“Forgiving someone who hurts us requires humility, imagination, and courage. We need the kind of humility that arises out of a deep understanding of our sin and a redemptive imagination that honestly faces where a person is and longs for where he might be. When our hearts deeply admit that our own sin is, at core, no less heinous in its direction than our enemy’s and when we taste the restorative grace of God, we grow in courage to wisely plan ways of destroying anything that mars beauty in the souls of others.” Bold Love, by Dan Allender & Tremper Longman III
I’m an introverted person, but I’m also a highly sensitive person. This is super fun. Except when it’s not. Being highly sensitive means I’m intuitive and empathic, which makes me a great caregiver and really good at helping others. It also means I’m sensitive to bright light, loud noises and strong smells - kind of like a dog. . . Yet even with those amazing dog-like skills, being highly sensitive is not an easy way to navigate childhood and those super fun middle school and high school years. I cannot tell you how many times I heard, “You’re too sensitive.” I knew it wasn’t meant as a positive.
When God asked me to be vulnerable with my hurt and move back into relationship with my friend, I wrote these words in my prayer journal, "Jesus, you have done such big things in my life, it is ridiculous of me to focus on the little hurts. Pull me out of this way of being, of thinking. Help me sink into your love and goodness and soak you up."
When I hesitate to forgive it is because I have forgotten how much I have been forgiven. I forget the hugeness of what Christ has done for me. In me.
Being a follower of Jesus isn’t always easy. He asks hard things of us. He asks that I not be the center of my world. He asks that I let go of my selfish desires and let others go first. He asks that I forgive and not just one time. He asks that I forgive every single time someone hurts me. Following Jesus isn’t always easy, but it is good, because once I start following him for real and open the door to my heart, love floods in. Once I stop guarding my heart and holding myself back and let myself be open with others, even when I know I may get hurt, my life fills up with love - love that comes back to me.
“When we embrace the possibility of forgiveness, we open the door for healing possibilities we would not have otherwise. Choosing the possibility of forgiveness gives us new possibilities for our life.” Unconditional? The Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness, by Brian Zahnd
During that month long binge of Parenthood, I didn’t accomplish much around my house and my desk is a mess, but I learned a great deal about loving people, about forgiveness, about the importance of relationships. It’s a great show. I found myself writing down quotes and recently used one with a young friend who is having a hard, sad time with a family member.
Following Jesus means forgiving those who hurt us. There are no ifs, no ands, no buts in that equation. Just forgiveness. Following Jesus means forgiving those who hurt us. End of story.
“. . . for if Christianity isn’t about forgiveness, it’s about nothing at all. Whatever else may be said about Christian people, it must be said of us that we are a people who believe in the forgiveness of sins - we believe in the forgiveness of sins as surely as we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. . . to be an authentic follower of Christ we must embrace the centrality of forgiveness.” Unconditional? The Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness, by Brian Zahnd