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"Many times they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me" (Ps 129:2).
“If you are struggling with the sin of someone who hurt you . . . it only means you are not ready to forgive. Some rush to forgive too quickly. You can’t forgive unless you have first told all the truth about your hurt.”
—M. Craig Barnes, Hustling God
I’m the mother of one teenage and two adult sons. This means unless there’s blood, fire, or vomit, I'm relatively unimpressed with routine bumps and bruises. I also have a seventeen-year-old niece, who I’m proud to say is very active. However, when she was younger, she was—how shall I say this?—whiny. Little bumps preceded big drama. My mother and sister would swoop to her side with the bunny-faced ice pack (aka Boo-Boo Bunny) and marvel at her capacity for human suffering.
In the absence of her medical entourage, our little darling did not attempt such dramatics with me unless she could answer yes to one of two questions: Are you bleeding? Does it hurt to walk? Should you find me insensitive, I'll elaborate. If she had answered yes to either question, I would have provided full medical attention, a colorful Band-Aid of her choice, and ice cream as she watched a Disney movie while lying in a cloud of pillows on my bed.
We all love her. We'd throw ourselves in front of a moving bus to protect her. Why the contrast in how we viewed her discomfort?
Here's my take on it: If earthly parents (some more than others) can discern between a legitimate wound and an excuse to whine, you better believe our heavenly Father can. But before we can answer the question “Am I wounded or merely whining over an offense?” Let's review the difference between the two. There is a difference.
- Wound—An injury, especially one in which the skin or another external surface is torn, pierced, cut, or otherwise broken. Or an injury to the feelings.
- Offense—The act of causing anger, resentment, displeasure, or affront. Or the state of being offended.
Offenses are associated with our attitudes and thoughts toward another’s behavior. Wounds occur when something from the outside painfully penetrates our bodies and/or emotions. It's the difference between being cut-off in traffic and run over by a car. If your heart has been “torn, pierced, cut, or otherwise broken,” take a deep breath. Your inability to forgive is most likely not rooted in spiritual immaturity or disobedience. Perhaps you simply haven’t healed enough to forgive.
Most resources on the topic of forgiveness are tailor-made for the offended—the whiners. Truthfully, you’re probably a whiner if you’re ready to spit nails over your lack of control over people who’ve only hurt your pride. If you can relate, I love you, now suck it up sister, and ask God to humble you under His mighty hand. My own stubborn pride is remedied when I commit to handwrite every Scripture that contains the words pride or humility. It’s amazing how fast my perspective changes. I’ve yet to complete this assignment.
But if you’re bleeding and you can’t walk . . . Oh, daughter of a more loving Father than we girls can imagine, He wants to scoop you up in His arms. He wants to heal you, proclaim liberty over the condemning thoughts which hold you captive, and release you from the prison of “I can’t forgive.” But you’ll have to pony up that glass slipper, that last shred of a time when you felt beautiful—before your true identity was stolen—and commune with the One who holds the other slipper. You can live your whole life with a faint memory of the ball, or receive royal status and live in the kingdom. The choice is yours.
So, how about it, Cinderella? If you're ready to receive full medical attention, then it’s time to stop asking the Great Physician to take the pain away while neglecting to tell Him where it hurts, why it hurts, and whether or not you self-medicate. If you had a broken leg you wouldn’t hobble to a doctor and expect Him to prescribe something for pain relief without first allowing him to set the broken bone so it can heal.
If you haven't read Forgiveness: The Heart of the Matter, now would be a good time. And then grab your journal.
Here's a list of the questions for reflection:
- Am I wounded or offended?
- If it turns out I'm merely offended and being a ginormous baby about my circumstances, am I willing to take a crack at Wendy's crazy writing assignment?
- Wounded? Am I willing to write God a letter about what happened, how I really feel about it, and how I take the edge off from one day to the next. (Anything from new shoes to Chardonnay.)
Key Principle: Own your feelings or your feelings will own you.
Coming Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014: What Happened to You Matters
- Hear what God has to say about minimizing a wound.
- Consider the four facets of a priceless jewel: Salvation. Healing. Confession. Forgiveness.
You are not alone,
 www.answer.com/topic/wound www.answer.com/topic/offense
Published on Friday, January 17, 2014 @ 9:07 AM CDT
If the word forgive causes your blood pressure to rise, relax. This isn’t another spiel about why you must forgive; a statement I do not make with ingratitude for the theologians who teach this Christian imperative. I appreciate them all and humbly acknowledge their sincere efforts to enlighten the likes of me. Me—a redeemed poster child for hopelessness.
For the record, I understand why I must forgive. Most often I want to forgive. (Occasionally I wrestle with unwillingness.) But that’s not why I write to you. I write to you because of all the times I’ve proclaimed forgiveness, mentally assented my feelings would catch up later, and then watched the months fly off the calendar while I was left with enough bitterness to choke an elephant.
Honestly, if you'd just made the unfortunate discovery that your husband was unfaithful, which actual book title would intrigue you? (A) Let It Go: Forgive So You Can Be Forgiven, or (B) So the Bastard Broke Your Heart, Now What? As you can imagine, these titles do not share the same section at Barnes and Noble. But I must confess. I found the secular title validating and mildly entertaining. (Call me human.)
I'm a practical girl. I'm all about offering practical steps that will guide you to "the heart of the matter". Then I leave you alone with Jesus, because only Christ Himself can heal a heart too broken to forgive and set free the captives of bitterness and despair.
But what is the heart of the matter? I’ve long suspected it has something to do with the piece of oneself that scatters to the wind when the heart splits open wide. But it was a scene in the 2010 movie Alice in Wonderland that convinced me.
Several years had passed since Alice’s last visit to Wonderland, and she struggled to remember who she was in the context of an environment she once loved. Try as she might, she couldn’t reconnect. Finally, exhausted, she inquired of the Mad Hatter, “What was I like back then?”
And he replied, “You were much more . . . muchier. You’ve lost your muchness.”
A brilliant description of why we despair. We long for a glimpse of ourselves before we tumbled down the rabbit hole of perpetual pain. The causes vary: Before the [abuse, betrayal, rejection, abandonment, addiction, disillusionment of church] we were much more ___________.
Regardless of what you’ve been through, you can get back to the woman God created you to be, or perhaps embrace her for the very first time. I don’t say this casually—I’m no stranger to the causes of despair. I’ve learned that most people cannot recite a one-size-fits-all forgiveness prayer and move forward as if they had never been wounded. There’s a time and place to mourn and even express our anger before God.
A long-time friend of mine recently lost her battle with cancer, leaving behind a loving husband and two precious little girls. I knew in my fragile heart that she was now face-to-face with Jesus (in a better place), but it would’ve been ill-timed for anyone to dole out that truth to me as I slumped in a puddle of tears. Likewise, we must be sensitive to the role timing plays in urging the brokenhearted to forgive. Attempting to forgive with an insincere heart forfeits the wonder of authentic grace.
Jesus commands us to forgive from our hearts (Matthew 18:35). The ability to forgive from the heart is the fruit of time spent healing in the care of Christ, our Healer.
If you’ve been deeply wounded and struggle to forgive, I’ve walked a million miles in your shoes. I do not ask you to forgive today. Instead, I invite you to journey alongside me and discover a deeper facet of God's unfailing love in the miracle of forgiveness.
Coming Friday, 1/17/2014: Wounded or Offended
- Discover the difference between a wound and an offense.
- Answer the question: Am I wounded or offended?
- Understand the role healing plays in forgiveness.
- Concede to yourself: Only Christ can restore my “muchness.”
Meanwhile, I encourage you to read over today's post a few times, and then journal your thoughts.
You're not alone,
Published on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 @ 1:13 PM CDT