Author // Sherei

What I'm listening to // Hillsong United's Empires

A while back a close friend of mine acted out of character, and did something that just straight up wounded my heart. It was a deep hurt, and one that I haven't readily gotten over. The shock waves of the pain reverberated for days; the kind of frustration and hurt that you wake up feeling nauseous about. My whole being was blue, and I just wasn't able to shake it for what felt like ages. 

The friend, a fellow believer in Jesus, did go out of the way to try to get back on good terms with me. No apologies were exchanged, but I could definitely tell they were trying hard to make sure we were on a good note. 

College sweetheart catastrophe

The last time I felt this way, I was in college, and my college sweetheart and I were in a major meltdown. I was totally restless in the middle of the night, and so went down to the lobby of my dorm around 3 am. Lo and behold a girl, a friend of mine, was checking my guy out of her dorm the middle of the night. I was furious with both of them, and within a few painful hours the relationship was over. My friend, the girl, was a follower of Jesus and a worship leader in my community, so the pain was magnified by my expectations of her to cool. In all of my angsty immaturity, I harbored intense hatred for her for a long time to come. I eventually moved away from my college town, and instead of dealing with the hatred in my heart, I just weasled out, believing that I would never see her again. 

I have seen her again. Even if I unfriend her through social medias, she pops up on a mutual friend's page. Or in a mutual friend's wedding. Despite hundreds of miles of distance, and 6 years out from that silly night, this girl keeps appearing in my life. Today she is a beautiful, incredible worship leader who, by every appearance, loves Jesus with all her heart. I believe it. It's become kind of a running joke in my life. Anytime the Lord wants to highlight a corner of my heart that needs freedom or healing from unforgiveness, her happy picture usually pops up somewhere.

I have begun to realize that I need a heart shift in how I view forgiveness, because apparently my current stance isn't quite the real thing: I still show some nasty occasional symptoms of unforgiveness, like bitterness, resentment and anger. So the question is, how do you forgive someone? Or, better yet, how do you forgive someone who hasn't said sorry, and frankly, doesn't deserve it?

Showing Symptoms

Given that the first offender in my story didn't happen quite as long ago, I definitely still have moments of feeling really bummed out about what happened. I'll be laughing and having a good time - then boom - intense feelings of loss, sadness and frustration will grip me in a moment and hold on longer than I'd like. 

I was processing one of these low moments with the Lord earlier this week, and was feeling genuinely frustrated. I didn't feel like I ran away this time. I wasn't that same college girl who just wrote off the wrongdoer. I felt like I had genuinely tried to forgive the wrongdoer. I had spoken to the wrongdoer, hugged them, made as much peace as could be made, and walked away with dignity in tact. I genuinely felt that I had forgiven that person, but set up healthy boundaries in my life to not have that person commit the same crime against my heart. 

Despite my every effort, I was still experiencing moments of deep sadness, and some bitterness. I was still replaying the events in my head, trying to figure out how things could have gone as bad as they did, and sometimes found myself cringing at the mention of them in conversation. I've heard it said about bitterness, but I believe it can be said about this more broadly: unforgiveness is like poison that we drink expecting the other person to die, but it ends up killing us.

We Can Let Go, Because He Won't

In desperation, I sought the Lord. My dialogue with God went something like this (*through His still small voice...not an audible experience here):

Sherei: I don't get it. I HAVE forgiven them, but that doesn't mean I need to be close with them again. Why do I still feel this way?

God: You haven't forgiven them.

Sherei: How DO you forgive someone? 

 God: You lay it at my feet.

Sherei: What does THAT mean? You're INVISIBLE. I can't see your feet. 

God: You keep holding onto it, and remembering it. You won't give it to me. If you'll give it to me, I'll remember it. You're allowed to let it go, and forget it, because I'll never forget it. I never forget those who have wronged my children. Unless the blood of Jesus covers that sin, those people will have to answer to ME. GOD. And trust me, nobody wants big Daddy God to get involved. Because I HATE when people mistreat my children, and I will make sure every wrongdoing is justly paid, down to the last hair. 

Sherei: So you just want me to...forget?

God: I want you to let me have it. If I have it, I won't forget it. You can relax, because I'll carry it. You can let it go, because I won't let it go. Plus, your friend who hurt you follows me, and you'd much rather I convict their heart than you. If I talk to them about it, real change will come. 

Sherei: Okay, you can have it. 

And just like that, I felt free. I felt permission to let it go. Forgiveness doesn't mean friendship. It doesn't mean sweeping things under the rug. It doesn't mean fake it till you make it. It means getting out of the way, so that God can take ownership over the pain, and allowing Him to carry it. It does mean letting it someone who will take care of it. 

lWe Have a Big, Daddy God

17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. 19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,

“I will take revenge;
    I will pay them back,”
    says the Lord. 

- Romans 12:17-19

When I was a child, probably my favorite thing was to get my big sister in trouble. I know right. Classic youngest child move. But the reality is, if my big sister were teasing me, and I tried to kick her in the shin or something to get back at her, she could just sit on me and totally crush me, or pants me, or demoralize me. I didn't stand a chance next to my stronger, smarter, faster, wittier big sister. BUT if I got dad in the mix, it was game over. If my dad saw someone mistreating his youngest, he would go beast mode. He would put my big sister in her place in about half a second, 10 times better than I ever could. The second I said "DAD..." the worry, fear,  and frustration was gone. I had let it go into his hands, and I KNEW my Dad would take care of whatever was happening. 

God is the same way, but better. We don't have to hold a grudge. We don't have to seek our own justice. We don't have to defend our own name. We don't have to seek vengeance. Vengeance is the Lord's, and He will pay it back. He will protect, defend, and silence the voice of every accuser. He's a good papa, and has no toleration of people picking on His own. Ever action will be accounted for. Every wrongdoing. At this point, I'm praying mercy over those who wrong me, because I know that Daddy God will never forget without some payment, either by them, or by Jesus on the cross. 

The Remarkable Result

That's the funny reaction to letting it go: mercy. My heart is now full of mercy; realizing that it'll be so much better for every wrongdoer to plead the blood of Jesus over that sin than to let Daddy God measure the wrongdoing and ask for a price of payment. 

My resolution? To forgive more fully. To let go, and recieve the freedom that comes from being a child of a Daddy God who has got me taken care of. To stop carrying the weight of something I can't fix, let God do His job, and let me do the job He gave me to do: love.