Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Forgiveness

The following post appeared on my own blog last week, and at Pilgrim David's suggestion I'm posting it here too. Forgiving this man has been a big struggle and a large weight to carry for me, so please pray for me as I try to make peace with it.

To err is human, to forgive divine- how very, very true! Forgiveness has certainly proved to be very hard for me lately.
I’ve been struggling for a while with trying to forgive someone for something that they did to me. In my life, many people have hurt me or done something bad to me. Some have asked for forgiveness and/or apologized, and others haven’t bothered to do either, but I’ve always managed to forgive them. Conversely, I’ve also been the one to mess up, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive forgiveness.
To make a very long story short, years ago a member of a church I used to attend was caught talking about me in a not-so-positive way. This person wasn’t just a church member, but an elder, and a well-respected one. I swam for my university swim team for two seasons, until an injury forced me to retire. During my first year away at school, I joined this church, but with a heavy competition schedule, I was away competing an average of three week-ends a month. Whenever I was able to, I attended the Sunday meeting. I couldn’t go to the “College and Careers” group because they met on a Friday night, and I had practice Friday night and then again at 5:30 am on Saturday mornings.
A group of people who know me (including some family members) met this particular elder at a conference, and when they heard which church he was from, they asked him if he knew me. This is when the man started on a long and rambling speech about how I was a lackluster Christian, that my attendance was shabby at best, that I hadn’t shown any willingness to socialize with the other people my age and that he really didn’t want to be bothered with someone like me, who would only semi-commit themselves to attending church. Apparently, he also made a face like he was sucking on lemon when my name was first mentioned. Keep in mind, this was coming from my grandmother, so I’m sure she was softening the blow.I never went back to that church (those who read my testimony last summer will remember that I didn’t go ANYWHERE for a while afterwards). About a year later, I saw this man in the grocery store, and I hid in the next aisle over until he left. To this day I’m so humiliated by what he said. It may sound immature to say that he hurt my feelings, but he did. I still feel tears welling up when I think about it. It frustrates me that he thought that about me, but what frustrates me the most is that he (or anyone else) never asked why I was hardly around. Now that I’m older, I can look back on the situation with better perspective than I could when I was eighteen and I realize now that I should have spoken to someone and explained my absence, and that I truly was doing the best I could. I guess hindsight really is 20/20.
The entire situation shook my faith. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but it really did shake me. I think I’ve done a good job so far of recovering, but for the past month it’s really been weighing on me. No matter how hard I try, I can’t forgive this person. It’s been YEARS, and I still feel so much anger when I think about it. I have a strong feeling the Lord has been putting this desire in my heart to forgive, but I just CAN’T. I want to, but I can’t- it still stings.
So, that’s what’s been happening with me this past month. I read Matthew 7:1-5 this week, and I think it serves as such a great reminder that we shouldn’t judge others.

Thanks to all the Pilgrim Pals who have already lefts comments on my blog, and who have offered their support and prayers!

6 comments:

susanwalkergirl said...

Dear Lauren...now you've hit upon a subject I'm well too familiar with. Praise God...I learn as I go...and with the Lord's help I've improved. I won't be telling you anything you don't already know...but when you hold on to that hurt and allow yourself to remain in unforgiveness you are hurting only yourself. That man has gone on and is oblivious to the hurt he caused.

I would recommend that you speak to him in person or via a letter. Be direct...but go in with zero expectations that he will be repentant. Lord willing he will be...but if not...low expectation on a response will help. Let him know that his gossiping about you was overheard and relayed to you and it was very hurtful. That he spoke out of ignorance with your situation. Acknowledge that it would have been good if you had shared with people why you didn't go to church as much as others...but if he had questions...he or someone else could have asked.

God hates gossip...he puts it up there with some of the sins which pretty big. It's very destructive.

May it also serve as a reminder to each of us that it's best to ask a person directly if you have a question...bring them before the Lord in prayer.

Secondly...two resources that have helped me greatly. One is a Charles Stanley CD series on forgiveness. You can order at InTouch.org. Also...you can listen on line or download for free to two messages that my Pastor gave on forgiveness. They were very powerful coming from dying man who had his priorities straight. Check out Kindred Community Church...and download those messages.

Lastly...one thing that Charles Stanley said that has stuck with me is "Can I remain in unforgiveness towards someone for whom Christ died and already forgiven?" When I struggle with unforgiveness...that is a healthy reminder to forgive.

Okay...one more last thing. Beth Moore's Fruit of the Spirit CD/DVD on Love.

Blessings dear one...and may the Healer set you free. You are free indeed and in Christ alone. Susan

passing-thru said...

Am praying Lauren -- for God to do what HE DOES BEST -- working in you both to will and to do of HIS GOOD PLEASURE --
Lord Bless the Pilgrims today , going out the door now -

Saija said...

i've found when "i can't" do something - God can ... if we live long enough, there will always be people who judge too quickly & harshly without knowing the facts (bible 101 - they may be baby christians, even tho' they've walked decades with the Lord) ... your desire to forgive this person is what will allow God to do the work in you ...

your story is a good lesson for us all ... not to judge someone else, only God knows the real circumstances - and the heart!

blessings on YOU ...

donna said...

You are adressing two issues here... one is your anger at this man for judging you and the second is your inability or unwillingness to forgive him....both contnue to hold you and will until God clearly reveals the importance of your heart in the matter...not the other mans....it is always God working in our hearts....which is what forgiveness truly is....and we must remember that saved people are both forgiven and forgiving...otherwise we have no proof of being born again of being regenerate man....

when I went to my pastor several years ago seeking counsel on how to forgive a pedophile....his question to me was "do you want to forgive him?" and I replied, (much to his shock and dismay).."I would prefer that he burn in hell"

He gave me a ton of scriptures to read...and I came away from the situation knowing that God forgave me and continues to forgive me everyday for my offenses, for my sins....and who am I to hold someone in that much contempt....

so just as it is not this man's right to judge you....it also is not your right to hold this against him...because by doing so you also judge him....

easier said than done, I know....but I encourage you to pray fervently for a change of heart....so that you can move on and heal....

by the way....I have, in my heart forgiven this man for his offense to my daughter....it was not easy, but my daughter is better for it....I am better for it....the Kingdom is better for it....and if this man who sits in jail can be reached by God,....then the children of this world....are safer and my Lord gets the glory.

I hope I havent been preachy here.

passing-thru said...

Wow -- some great advice from your friends in pals Lauren, some have been hurt like U and some even worse -- we all have had issues with forgiveness -- plus its a huge topic in the Bible -- I guess the CROSS pretty well sums it all up --- We are glad U are sharing and with us in pals -
Thanks to God , we have susanwalker, Terry , Donna , Claire, Jel, Julies , prayingsensfan, felisol, Arlene, Heather, plus more -- what is great is there are loads of experiences here in vessels of clay - praise God for mothers of Israel for His Word - for THE HOLY SPIRIT -- we are borne on the WIND of the THE HOLY SPIRIT --

hebrews 11:1 said...

Lauren Mary...
I am just so glad that you posted this over here...I have been very blessed and encouraged by the comments these kind Pals left for you! I hope you have been encouraged, too!

Lil Pilgrim Pal