Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Road of Forgiveness

For me, the road to forgiveness has been a long one for the hurts in my life.  Each hurt has had a different path some were short and easy and others have been long and with lots of turns and twists.  I finally came to realize that forgiveness was not a light switch I just turn on and off. For me,it was a choice I had/have to choose everyday. For a long time I was in deep denial about resentments. One of my biggest weaknesses/strengths is I REMEMBER everything and I tend to hold onto hurts until they fester into resentments.  A few weeks ago the lesson at Celebrate Recovery was on the idea of forgiveness.  The speaker gave an illustration similar to this:

"The prison cell was locked and the keys securely hung on the jailers belt. Now, surely, the jailer could rest since he had each offender ‘put away’ for good. But as he trudged away from the cell and up the stairs to the living quarters, the jangling of keys on his waistband constantly reminded him that he was responsible for the ones he had imprisoned.. Would the prisoners try to escape? If the prisoners did escape, was not the jailer and his family in mortal danger of retaliation? Was he sure he had locked each cell tight? Did the prisoners have friends who might try to engineer a breakout? These and many other thoughts flooded the jailer’s mind. As he sank into his easy chair, he began to realize a truth: The one who holds the keys to the prison cell is more the prisoner than the one inside the cell.

Are you a jailer? Well, yes, if there are those you have not ‘forgiven’. You may ‘hold the keys’ but the burden of ‘keeping people locked up and where they belong’ is a tiring and taxing task. You spend a lot of time and energy making sure the people who have ‘done you wrong’— some so long ago you don’t remember why— stay locked up and punished for their crime. You’re quick to remind everyone of the ‘crimes’ done to you by these offenders every time someone mentions ‘parole’. Retaliation is a nerve-racking possibility that haunts you wherever you go. Ambush could be just around the next bend in the road. You thought ‘out of sight, out of mind’ but you often review mentally the faces of those you have grudges against. When you pass a member of the ‘prisoner’s family’ on the sidewalk, a knot draws up tightly in your stomach and your eyes cut quickly the opposite way as if to avoid reality… but they know you have the keys… and you know they know."
God has always pulled at my heart when it comes to forgiveness inching me more and more toward it and when I think I have fully forgiven He has given me opportunities to really test that idea.

Often when a speaker says something that strikes me I write it in my Bible. Here are some of the things I have learned:

"Forgiveness does not mean the endorsement of behavior, exemption from God's judgement, or restoration of trust." -Kent Allen

"The first and often only person to be healed by forgiveness is the person who does the forgiving. We set a prisoner free and then discover the prisoner we sent free is ourselves."-Lewis Smedes

"Unforgiving people are unforgiven" -Curt Niccum

"We are most like God when we forgive."-??

I have really struggled with forgiveness in certain areas of my life and honestly I do not want to forgive sometimes. SOOOO... my prayer tonight is


Lesson Learned: God is ALWAYS working on me in this area and just because I have traveled the road to forgiveness in a lot of areas each path is different.  I need to let God lead the way and quit waiting on "my justice" before I want to forgive.

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