I always thought of myself as a pretty forgiving person... Until recently. As humans we are inclined to associate everything with feelings.. it is always a "heart matter". This way of thinking is untrue. In Jeremiah 17:9 it is stated: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? See God knows that left with our hearts alone, we are set up for failure. The only truth we can cling onto is the truth promised to us in scripture. Being Christ followers, we know that by following our hearts alone, we will be set up for defeat. Through our hearts is the very way Satan stakes his claim on our souls.
So this is my predicament: In my head I know that forgiveness is a choice. When we choose to forgive, we are saying "regardless of how I feel, I am moving on from this, I am never revisiting it again." so why is it so hard to feel that decision? For me, I do fine until I come in contact with that person. Out of sight out of mind. When I am not thinking about the situation, its easy! When I am presented with the person or the situation I am struggling to forgive, all the feelings of anger, betrayal and hurt come flooding back and I am at square one again. So if the business of forgiveness isn't a heart matter, how do I curb those feeling long enough to think logically about the situation and make the decision to forgive?
Recently, a friend of mine, who I considered a close friend, started to pull away from me. I didn't understand at the time why, and honestly, I still don't fully understand why it happened. Her way of handling conflict was very different from how I preferred to deal with it, so when I started to hear from other people that she didn't trust me, that she felt I pried into her life, that I was a bad influence, I was angry. Angry that she did not come to me and talk to me, and angry she didn't trust me, after all she was one of my "best friends". When we finally did talk about it, I felt like I couldn't defend myself because the first thing she said to me was, "the reason I didn't come to you about this earlier, was because you always get defensive". So the conversation ended up being a monologue verses a dialogue. She told me her feelings, and what I got out of the conversation, was that due to huge character flaws on my part, she was no longer interested in being my friend. She stated that she didn't feel I was honest and that I was different depending on who I was around so she couldn't trust me because she didn't know who I was. She felt that because I was dishonest, I was causing her to stumble in her walk with God. When she was around me, she felt herself being dishonest and gave me the example of two alcoholics trying to get better together and how its impossible to become a better person around someone who has similar struggles.
I was completely blown away by this and really hurt. when the conversation was done, I was able to get out a few of my feelings out. I was careful not to be defensive, but told her that I didn't feel those assumptions were fair. I will be the first to admit, I have struggled with being honest, its a challenge to be honest with other people when I wasn't honest with myself... However as my relationship with Christ grew closer, I became more confident in who I was and no longer felt the need to lie about who I was or what I have done in my life. I felt this was an area in my life God really convicted me to change, and I felt like I had made tremendous progress in this area. I didn't feel like she was telling me this out of love which is what God call us to do when holding a brother or sister in Christ accountable. At first I had a whatever attitude about it, but the more I thought on it and reflected on my character, I huge resentment towards her grew. I can say that I forgave her for the way she handled things, but I could not forgive her for the way her words made me feel about myself.
As I look back on the whole situation, I can see now that we had jumped into a friendship so fast, that the trust we had wasn't a genuine trust. Real trust takes time and it takes living life together and proving yourself to be trustworthy to that person. Along with that revelation came the understanding that each person viewed trust differently, What trust is and what it took to fully trust someone in your life. I now know, that I was careless with my heart in this friendship as I was in many more in my life. If I would have been more proactive at guarding my heart, I doubt the struggle to forgive would have been as great. I believe the reason I took this so hard is because it challenged my character, that is never something you enjoy doing, taking a personal inventory of yourself.
I decided to write down all of the feelings I have processed through in the last couple months in this situation to finally let myself forgive this person and also forgive myself for failing to realize that although my feelings were hurt, I'm also to blame for this spiraling out of control to the point that it got to. Also, to all the people directly affected by this situation, I am sorry for not giving everyone the benefit of doubt to handle thing the best way they know how... My way isn't always the right way. God, I thank you for showing each of us mercy everyday. You knew that by me having feelings of un-forgivess towards someone, I couldn't truly feel the love and mercy you offer all of us even when we don't deserve it. Thank you for making me realize that by showing people grace and forgiveness, I become more and more like you everyday.
"But if you fail to forgive others for their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."