Many years ago, I read this book by R.T. Kendall called Total Forgiveness. Here is a description of the book: "One of the core messages of the gospel is that of total forgiveness…not only that we can be totally forgiven by God, but also that we must, in turn, totally forgive others. Our culture is bound up in bitterness, resentment, and wallowing in wounds inflicted upon us by others, wounds that we all too easily accept and even cling to!" There is a quote (that I'll paraphrase) from the book that has always stayed with me. He said, there is nothing that anyone can do to me, say to me, etc. that can compare to what I have done to Jesus Christ. If you haven't figured it out by now, I am a hot mess. I am SO FAR from perfect and I don't have it all together (nor will I ever pretend to). I know that I have broken Jesus' heart more times then I can count with my actions, words, avoiding him, etc. Despite all of that, He loves me beyond reason and came to this earth to die for my sins so that I can spend eternity in Heaven some day.
Before you think..."Great! Ann is talking that Jesus mumbo-jumbo again!" First, that is who I am. Secondly, let's all get off our high horses and think about it this way...Not one of us (yes, I am included in this) can say that you have never gossiped, betrayed a confidence, hurt someone, etc. Can anyone of you say that every single one of your relationships are perfect and that you have never screwed up? I can't! Now, when you have done those things and you have apologized how have you wanted your apology to be received? Have you wanted grace to be extended to you? Well, if you have wanted grace extended to you, why can't you extend that grace to others?
I think that I know my friend's heart and I truly believe her apology to be sincere and I also believe that her intent was not malicious. It was a mistake. Can you say that you have never made a mistake. Ummmm...no! If you are acting like you've never screwed up something in a relationship then I'll just tell you...you are a big fat liar!!! Sorry, but let's be real.
My friend and I had a chance to FaceTime recently and to begin mending our relationship. It breaks my heart that she felt like she didn't deserve to be forgiven. She obviously has forgotten the dysfunctional mess that I am (we all are). I also told her that she has done her part. She came clean and repented. Groveling, begging for forgiveness, or continually feeling like you are walking on egg shells and having to ask for forgivness is not necessary. If people choose to not extend grace, that is on them. I've learned that holding onto your bitterness and unforgiveness only affects you.
Now I know that some of you have been hurt so much more then this little incident that I've described. Some of you have had physical or emotional abuse. I am DEFINITELY not an expert in that area, I do know that when you forgive, it does not mean that you have to go back like nothing ever happened. You may have to extend that grace but remove yourself from the relationship if it is toxic or dangerous. I have a relationship where so much damage was done. I have forgiven, but it does not mean that I open up my heart and welcome that person in like nothing ever happened. I will still be kind and treat that person with respect, but I don't know if I can let them in completely. One of my pastors did a sermon on forgivenss once and said "everytime you remember, FORGIVE!" It is a process and not an easy one. I do know that holding on to the bitterness will only hurt you. Here are God's thoughts on forgiving: