When I Don’t Want to Forgive

Nothing-doing.  No way, no-how.

I admit, those were often my go-to words when I needed to forgive.  I know the process should be as easy and quick as 1-2-3, but there were times when I couldn’t even get to zero.

Maybe someone comes to mind for you when it comes to needing to forgive, and the discomfort or pain is as deep as days gone by. Have you struggled with the ease of forgiving in a quick and easy 1-2-3 step? Maybe, like me, you are someone counting to 100 in order to get there….only to arrive at a snail’s pace counting by single digits.

No matter, the act of forgiving can be tough, sometimes coupled with lingering anger that can surprise us when hurt has occurred in our seemingly  safe, Christian, trustworthy circles or bubbles where falling-outs (ideally) shouldn’t go unresolved longer than a Supreme court ruling would allow. We can be challenged in  “manning up” to initiate forgiveness and seek resolution–once our nerves stop rattling from being the one having to do so.

Perhaps you’re holding onto bitterness that resulted from an unresolved exchange, dialogue or circumstance that erupted into a parting of ways or break in connection.  “Now what?” you’re asking. Maybe you’ve already reached out and took the stand to be the “bigger person” or are hoping the other person will be the one to stand tall and initiate contact or an apology. On the other hand, maybe you’ve parked yourself in anger and resentment with no plans of pulling out from that space.

To be honest, for me, staying steamed felt better than cooling off.  With one person in particular, I felt justified in remaining mad. Afterall, I was wronged, and even when I tried to bring about resolution, I was met with disinterest. Why continue to make amends when that person won’t even take ownership let alone be willing to connect to discuss the matter so resolution can happen?  What’s the good in that?

Jesus.

Jesus is the GOOD in THAT.

As a result of that goodness, I’m not paying the price for my mishaps and mistakes nor having to suffer judgment (not necessarily consequences but judgment) I deserve today, the rest of my earthly days, and days thereafter–all because of that GOOD Jesus did by dying on the cross.

That’s THE way Jesus chose.

He didn’t choose anger, He chose forgiveness toward those who sinned against him.  “And Jesus said: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ ” (Luke 23:34) HIS way of responding to a battle is opposite from our natural tendency to either pull back or rage ahead. Jesus released and continues to release all trespasses committed against him and all the offenses we commit against Him and one another. That right action makes my inaction, willful, weak and wrong in comparison. Once I understood that, I had to make different choices around my not-so-forgiving attitude.

A forgiven sinner forgives others–a truth we hear in our Christian circles that can convict us to the core  because we’re on the hook in having to forgive, and that’s not always easy when we have been wronged or deeply hurt. It can be tough, yet, in order to experience full freedom and model Christ-centered behavior as moms and women, we have to give out out of obedience what we have accepted in gratitude.

Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness.

Jesus gave it to us as quickly as 1-2-3.  Shouldn’t I?

I have to tell myself that kinder feelings about the person with whom I am angry at, will  have to catch up (or not) as I step out into obedience to forgive and give hurt an opportunity to drown rather than stay afloat.  If I wait until I am in the mood to forgive or for my feelings to shift from anger to love before I act, then I am following myself, not the LORD. Truth is, I may be waiting for a long time. I can take the step to forgive, and Jesus can then help to get my feelings or perspective in order and change my outlook and heart, all of which are really secondary to the forgiving piece anyway.

“Jesus already forgave –why must I?” asks that immature child in my spirit.

For starters, we forgive because He forgave us. He’s our model because He is supreme, creator, God. We forgive so we can  live and benefit from the affects of forgiveness and be released from the power  that anger and resentment hold in our entire being which then trickles into our relationships. Bitterness breeds bitterness and that will be our fate when we keep it alive. I see how the effects can grow and cause more pain, and subsequently, create reactions that call for more forgiveness! It can be an endless cycle. Jesus loves us so much that He wants us to be free from those painful effects that keep us trapped and spinning in the same volatile direction.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live  at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

We forgive to eliminate having divisiveness in our relationships. Jesus died to deliver peace. If I am following my Lord and Savior, how can I act any differently? I am His child and that means irritation and anger really can’t take up permanent residence or I’d be a hypocrite. Letting the anger go, doesn’t mean it’s easy. THAT part, God has to help me with and that’s okay. He’s up for the job of healing my hurts and helping us grind out that hard, internal stuff that we struggle against.  The process might be lifelong, but I think as long as we are leaning on Him, we’ll get there under His guidance with a work being done that only He can accomplish.

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

God will deal with all people accordingly and hold each person accountable for their actions.  Let’s leave the judgment of peoples’ hurtful actions to God and the choice to move forward in forgiveness to us. God will equip and enable us to overcome the sorrow of hurt actions when we invite Him into our emotional mess that He can clean up and restore to a right and beautiful condition.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (Acts 1:8)

We receive the power to forgive others through Jesus and only Jesus. His power to do so is readily available when we call upon Him to depend on His strength to do that particular work. If it takes me till 100, that’s on me, as it probably means I am going through the process in my own strength, rather than His.

Thankfully, His forgiveness timeline is as short and sweet as 1-2-3.

Who might God be calling you to forgive this week?  With the Lord’s help, can you make the process be as quick as 1-2-3 and depend on Him in the process of moving through the process of forgiving?

 

 

Handling Nellie Olesons

Those of you might remember Nellie Oleson, the sassy, outspoken classmate of Laura Ingalls in the book and television series, Little House on the Prairie. She was ruthless, heartless, self righteous, lacked compassion and never hesitated to put down another. We’ve all had face to face tine with Nellies.

Talked with them.

Been in relationship with them.

Hurt by them.

Their names may not be Nellie, they may not have blonde hair nor the snootiness that went along with an ungrateful upper-class lifestyle,  but their spirit, demeanor and attributes might bear a close resemblance.

It’s one thing to deal with the pains from people in our own lives as grown adults, or be challenged in putting to rest the unwanted hurts that came from the Nellies of yesterday, but when it comes to helping our children handle the Nellie Olesons in their lives, how do we best encourage and direct them to be God-centered when dealing those difficult people?

Our teaching must first start with our own clean and solid foundation. Perhaps we need to ask, “What are my responses in dealing with difficult people? What are my children seeing and overhearing as they observe my reaction when it comes to dealing with the offenses from others? What am I carrying or what filter am I projecting a possible negative attitude through from my past?”

Ouch!

You mean FIRST take the plank out from my own eye before removing the speck from someone else’s? (Matthew 7:3-5)

Yes.

Do I have to?

Yes, mama.

God calls us to do that. First.

When we can clean up our personal grudges, bitterness, and hurts and release the Nellies from our lives into God’s hands, including the hurt and frustration or perhaps sin we have committed from those pains, we can better equip our children to take the same approach and action. Do we really want them to hang onto those hurts others have caused or allow the affects of painful acts from people to tear down their beautiful spirits and all that God has for them and created in them?

No.

But over time, that pain of rejection can tear down spirits and cause discouragement and despair. Time brings healing but it can also be the catalyst for a snowball of bitterness and resentment that leads to all sorts of negative voices that speak into our minds.  You don’t want your children to have that kind of echo playing nor the kind of life that has harbored anger from years gone by.

Neither does God.

If we have tension, anger, are reactive and angry, we may very well parent and coach our kids from the same foundation and our children will take our cues. If we haven’t released  our resentment, our instruction might very well be tainted with the emotional charge that comes from our personal pain. We may subtly be teaching our children that holding a grudge and hanging onto resentment is the way to react and the direction to go. Ultimately, their relationships could greatly suffer later in life, and their ability to resolve conflict, never attained.

So let’s move them and ourselves in another direction.

Easier said than done, I know.

But God enables us. His strength, not ours.

I had a few Nellie Olesons as a child who definitely left scars. I wish I had then, known a God who could help me process that pain and to show me who I truly was by His design. Better late than never, and thankfully, my children will have a different view of themselves other than the perspective of their own vision and the vision of others. As long as I point them to God, I pray that their identity and self esteem will be founded on who He is, not determined by someone else’s opinion.

How about you? If you take that past hurt or problem and process it with God, you may very well be surprised as to how He can empower you through those spots where you feel vulnerable, release you from victimhood and replenish you with His perspective on who you are and who He has called you to be. You are no less of a Godly person because someone mistreats you. Your identity is in His care…not the care of others. People, bosses, friends, colleagues didn’t design you. God did. How you handle that mistreatment may very well be make the difference between healing and suffering and taking in love while releasing hatred. You might teach someone about the person of God through yoru ability to forgive and you (and your child), just might be the light somone needs in their lives.

So now that we have you taken care, how about your children? Like I said, when you start with yourself, that’s the first great step because now you are a source of credibility in knowing and understanding their pain. The difference is, while being empathetic when your child shares with you his/her pain, you are going to take the high road in your speech and not react as much as it might be hard to resist.

How?

You are going to first, understand. When they start expressing their emotions, you will of course listen with empathy, compassion and understanding. “Tell me about that.” “That must have been really hard.” I would be so frustrated and angry, too!” Be real with them. They are humans. This is human, yucky stuff. Being a child of God does not mean we don’t experience emotions.

And then help move them forward.

You might:

Pray with your child about their feelings and ask God for His direction and counsel–together.

Offer to pray with your child for that person who has hurt them (a hard one but nonetheless that person needs the power of God in their lives, yes?) Your child’s prayers might be the best thing that ever happened to that Nellie.

Decide to read through God’s promises together as a reminder of who God is (He is “an ever present help in times of trouble,” for example, Psalm 46:1). In situations like these, we have to study the character of God and give Him the focus in our troubles.   In return, He gives us His promises of strength, power and wisdom. He gives us peace. God needs to receive just as much attention and focus from us if not more, than the Nellies in our lives. Afterall, He is worthy of our praise and focus. Nellie is not.

Read about God’s people who experienced suffering at the hand of others (age appropriate, of course.) There are people in scripture who are encouraging examples of how God used their pain for something greater and how He empowered them to overcome their hardships (for example, Joseph, Gideon, Moses, Mary, Jesus Himself and so many more who were ridiculed, hurt, ostracized or met with opposition from an unfriendly foe.) But God took care of them. He also took care of their enemies. He is the ultimate judge…and in His time, He will act justly and accordingly with all of us. Everyone gives an account. (Romans 14:10-12)

Pray and ask God to give you and your child insight and wisdom. A level-headed response and a pure heart are the ways of the Lord and ultimately, the ways that make YOU and more like HIM. And you are not a Nellie. (“Create in me a clean heart Oh Lord and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10)

Hopefully, our children will have more Lauras in their lives than Nellies, but when those Nellies do show up, they don’t have to tear down our souls. If they do, we need to ask God for His power and over our abilities and where we feel weak. He will equip us and strengthen us.

And that truth you can take to any prairie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “Quick to Listen” Call Out

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) What a great truth to start off our days embracing…God, may each mom reading be quick to listen to the people in her life, especially her children, slow to speak and slow to anger today. We know that you tell us, ‘in your anger, do not sin.’ Help us not to hurt, over-react agitate nor bring about discouragement in another, particularly our kids. Help us to have patience, self control and to not be led by our feelings but by your truths. Let your principles dictate our behavior and the instruction we are giving out to our children. Have a great day moms!