Bits of Forgiveness
Some have read or heard me tell this story about my friend who struggled to forgive her ex-husband and finally celebrated by burning one of his shirts with a blowtorch. What was she celebrating?
“I’ve gotten rid of a little more of the anger,” she said. “I’ve discovered that forgiveness doesn’t happen all at once. Maybe Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7 because we’d have to forgive some people every time we think about them. Every time I think of him, I forgive him a little more. I’ve finally forgiven him a certain amount — that’s why I celebrated” (Enjoying the Presence of God, p. 22).
I like her story because it shows how forgiveness is a process.
Part of that process involves imagining what forgiveness looks like in the rich, beautiful life lived in the Kingdom of God here and now. To figure this out, I gathered bits of wisdom about forgiveness from favorite authors and began praying with those ideas. I’m offering them to you (paraphrased as prayers) in case you need them. (If you wish, please pick the one that stands out to you and enter it on my Facebook Author page.)
- Life in Your kingdom involves living with full tenderness toward everyone I deal with. DW137
- My first priority is keeping my mind open to know Your will for me today. For Today 6/13
- Return, O my soul, to your rest for the Lord has dealt bountifully with thee. (Ps 116:7)
- (confession) Perhaps I have wanted this person to suffer—to feel really bad and see his failures, but . . . he is already suffering! DW267
- As a father pities his children, so You, O God, pity us. You know what we are made of and remember that we are dust. You never deal with us according to our sins, nor reward us in proportion to our wrongdoings (Ps. 103: 10–14). That is the wonderful, healing nature of The Kingdom Among Us. DW262
- It is not psychologically possible to really know Your pity for us and at the same time be hard-hearted toward others. It’s not enough not to condemn him (although I must stop that); I must have mercy. DW262
- People who are merciless, unable to pity others and receive pity, simply have a hard life of unsolvable problems. DW263
- Through forgiveness, all the bitterness, hatred and desire for revenge are drained out of the struggle . . . I am now able to feel genuine compassion. KB127
- Never ever give up making forgiveness and reconciliation one’s goal. If confrontation has to happen, it must always be done with forgiveness in mind not revenge. NTW 39
- I can drain my reservoir of anger (KB389) by no longer going over events and people I cannot change.
- Forgiveness is like the air in our lungs. There’s only room for us to inhale the next lungful [from God] when we’ve breathed out the previous one [to others]. When we insist on withholding forgiveness, we refuse to give the kiss of life that other person may desperately need. NTW 39-40
- Above all, trust the slow work of God. DeChardin poem, “Patient Trust”
May God speak to you through these ideas as I have been spoken to and had my hard heart softened many times. DW=Dallas Willard, Divine Conspiracy; NTW=Tom Wright, Matthew for Everyone Part 2; KB=Ken Bailey Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes
Grace and peace,
© Jan Johnson – For permission to reprint, Click Here