The process of forgiveness reminds me of this verse in Ezekiel 36:26. It says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and will give you a heart of flesh.” The concept of forgivness is clearly displayed in this verse.
Forgiveness is me asking God to turn my heart of stone, a heart that wants to forever hate, hold something against, or avoid, into a heart of flesh, a compassionate and tender heart, a soft heart, for people who hurt me.
When we found out about the abuse; I felt as if I had recently been through an intense training course in Ohio on forgiveness. After my mind grasped what had happened, the gnawing idea settled in: I was going to have to forgive my abuser.
I couldn’t hold on to this type of hurt; it would destroy me. The issues and relationships with which I had struggled to practice forgiveness before, now seemed fairly small compared to this giant task of forgiving a close friend who had abused me.
At first, the thought of forgiving my abuser scared me half to death, and, it looked absolutely impossible. The video voyeurism consumed years of my life and was a deep betrayal. In the beginning, I couldn’t even look back on those years of my life with happiness.
I felt like my life looked like a piece of paper that had been scribbled on and thrown into the trash. The abuse had gone on for so long without my knowledge. I was confused, hurt, and left with a gaping open wounds. I didn’t really know where to start this seemingly unattainable process called forgivness. So, I cried out to God, and went back to Lamentations 3, the verses I had been praying every day for the past few years.
I prayed, “God please give me new mercies for my abuser. You have given me new mercies this morning. Please help me to forgive."
At first, I almost felt as I wrote those words, that I was lying. I knew part of me did not fully want to forgive, but on the flip side, I also knew the other part of me was willing to try and start somewhere.
God knew my heart in those early days, and had asked me to make baby steps toward forgiveness, going through the motions without the feelings at first. He wanted a heart of obedience from me; He wanted to see that I trusted Him with this deep hurt. He had asked me to write what the spirit inside of me yearned to do; not what was possible right now, but what I wanted Him to do through me.
This process was His way of helping me work out my feelings, and deal with my pain, learning how to choose to give it all back to Him daily.
As a culture, I feel sometimes we are deceived into thinking if we don’t talk or think about something, especially hard things, they will go away or we won’t have to deal with them. I know that sometimes, a season or so has to pass before we are ready to deal with hard and hurtful things, that’s grief, and that's ok, but God’s heart isn’t for us to have to stuff things down so deep it forces our soul to whither. God wants us to “deal” with hurt, issues, deep betrayals, because it’s in the dealing that He shows us how desperate we really are for Him, and it’s in the dealing that He changes us to look more like Him.
I knew no one but Jesus could really help me “deal.” He had to give me the power to forgive, and to keep going on the merry-go-round of forgiveness again and again with Him when my entitled hurt feelings returned.
(The "Merry-Go-Round of Forgiveness Part 3" coming soon.)
The "Merry-Go-Round of Forgivness Part 1" can be found below this post.