She handed me a pink notebook with the photocopies on healing past wounds. I looked forward to reading it. I thought surely with time and hindsight, these exercises would be easy. They weren’t. It was easy to write down the offenses committed against me. But then I was to record my sinful response. I didn’t understand. Was being hurt sinful? Was getting mad sinful? It didn’t make any sense. I closed the notebook and put it away for years.
What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Matthew 18:7a (NLT)
Thinking today on forgiveness. What does it look like? Is it the forced Sunday smile and cool tolerance in the presence of an offender? What does it feel like? Is it a heaviness of knowing and the sense of (self-)righteousness to intentionally not hold a fault against someone? Yes, I see you and I know you did this-and-that, but I’m bigger than that and I am going to forgive you because it’s godly.
This was not forgiveness, no matter how I tried to spin it.
In the shuffling and reshuffling of things over the past few months, I found the pink notebook. I didn’t open it. But I pulled out a piece of paper and began to write. I studied the hurts for clues and found the insecurity behind them. And when I was able to identify the bulls-eye target, I saw my sinful responses. It was the recognition of my vulnerability and the acknowledgment of my response that brought me to a place of humility, not blame. So many years, this eluded me.
I think of the parable of the unforgiving debtor. I think of the millions he was forgiven, and the thousands he couldn’t forgive and I wonder over why he couldn’t show the same mercy. Did he want to but didn’t know how?
Lord, thank you for your great mercy. I desperately want to forgive. Thank you for showing me my sinful responses, for isolating a lie I believed and replacing it with your word. Thank you for softening this heart, replacing the rock that it was, to see the brokenness in myself and recognize my only hope is you.
From the archives. Originally published July 8, 2011.