When my sisters and I were selecting which “I’m over it” blog posts we would write, I got sulky and sullen. Everyone was enthusiastically claiming the fun topics and I remained silent.
I didn’t want to write about this. I didn’t. And yet I heard myself saying, “I’ll take unforgiveness.” Not very cheerfully. Inside, my soul was going, “Ugh.” Ugh, ugh, ugh.
I knew that God wanted to work on my heart, and sometimes that is painful. Ultimately it’s a beautiful and wonderful thing, but the process of getting there…
Can anyone say, “Ugh?”
Recognizing my unforgiveness
Here’s the deal. I’m “over” lots of things right now that have to do with faith. I’m over judgment. I’m over people proclaiming that they’re doing things in the name of Jesus—when what they’re doing looks nothing like the Jesus I know. I’m over people twisting the Word of God to protect themselves and alienate others. I’m over exclusion, hatred and division within churches. I’m angry at the Church (as in the whole body of Christ, the Church with a capital C) . I think we’ve messed up a lot of things and I’m afraid forgiving means settling for things staying the way they are. Giving them a free pass to keep this up. Giving up on change.
On top of that, I’m not sure how to forgive a collective group of nameless, faceless people. Because the Church didn’t do these things. Individual people did. Not to mention the fact that most of these things weren’t done to me.
Recognizing my God
There have been a few moments in my life when I believe I’ve heard from God, and this was one of them. I didn’t hear an audible voice, and the moment wasn’t monumental for anyone else but me. But in that instant, in the way I knew deep inside that this was a divine assignment, God did something remarkable. He told me it was time to forgive—and He managed to start that process inside me by revealing some truths.
- I can’t hold onto this delusion that I’m right with God when my mind is in turmoil.
- I can’t write this post and refuse to forgive the Church without being a hypocrite myself.
- I can’t declare that I want unity among believers when my own heart feels divided.
- I can’t claim to be a child of God when I’m not claiming Him or His people.
To tell you the truth, I don’t think my anger is misplaced. But I do believe that I have allowed it to be a wedge that has come between me and Jesus, the One I claim to love. Our faith, no matter how it might be portrayed in the media or described by those who don’t share our beliefs, is founded on love. Grace. Generosity.It is not about other people and how they live their beliefs. Genuine Christian faith is, always has been, and always shall be about Jesus. I lost sight of that. Click To Tweet
What the Bible says about forgiveness
Forgiveness is mentioned many times in the Bible, but Eph. 4:31-32 is the verse that brought me to my knees. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
In other words, in kinder and gentler language than I would use, God was saying “get over it.”
So I will—but not on my own power. I will do it with Him, through Him, and for Him. Because I’m over a lot of things, but I’m not over Jesus. Other than head over heels over Jesus. And that’s exactly where He wants me to be.
My issues may seem tame compared to the things you’ve experienced. Some of you may be holding onto unforgiveness, too—towards your ex, maybe, or someone else who hurt you. The lover who abused you—or left you. The family member who crossed physical or emotional boundaries. The coworker who betrayed you. The mother who didn’t love you. The dad who didn’t show up—or did but you wish he hadn’t. The ungrateful child who said spiteful things, or the boss who took advantage. The church leader who manipulated you or the community that turned against you.
What makes forgiving hard to swallow is the fact that the Bible doesn’t offer us any way to get out of it. No justifications for our stubborn refusals. No disclaimers—you only have to forgive someone who is truly sorry. Nope. It’s simple and straightforward: We forgive because we have been forgiven.We forgive because we have been forgiven. And then a divine exchange takes place—instead of being weighed down by negative emotions, we become unburdened and free. Click To Tweet
God is not asking us to give away something we haven’t already received. He’s simply asking us to take advantage of His limitless grace and let go of our unforgiveness—because it was never ours to hold onto.