How difficult it is for me to forgive someone who has hurt me. My heart has become as cold as stone and bitter towards her. It has been two years and I struggle with holding onto the hurts playing them over in my mind trying to redo it the past with the “if only I had…” or “I should have” or “I wish I would have…” which leaves me feeling powerless to change things, still angry, and in a cycle that has been detrimental to my mental well-being. I have even sometimes harbored hatred in my heart towards myself and her and then as a Christian realize that is sin in God’s heart. It has been an almost daily struggle, because as I job search, it reminds me of my experiences her. It makes it very hard to move forward.
Jesus commands us to forgive others for their sins and he will forgive us. But if we do not forgive anyone, then God will not forgive us. Matthew 6:14-15 Notice the forgive anyone. When I measure every sin or hurt against me and do not forgive then He will not forgive me. I also hold myself in bondage and Satan has gained a foothold in my soul.
I have walked with heavy steps these days, my shoulders slumped, my heart disengaged, and my soul is dying inside. I am not the cheerful person I used to be and I am easily impatient and cranky. I move with somberness and distrust of others. The walls have been stacked high.
I have vacillated back and forth between forgiving her and forgiving myself, but eventually it creeps back up again. As long as I continue to hold onto this hurt it will continue to fester and reflect on my countenance. Someone who did not know me said I looked burdened. I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was. It’s as if all the glue that was holding me together is peeling away leaving cracks in my shell. The puzzle pieces becoming astray leaving me feeling vulnerable. But is this a bad thing or perhaps God is working in my heart so I can move forward? Is He helping me to heal from this? Perhaps this is a time of restoration and redemption.
I attend Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL and at our Good Friday service they talked about what the priest (Aaron) was required to do to enter the Most Holy Place so he could pray on behalf of the Israelites for the forgiveness of their sins.
Then he (Aaron) is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat. Leviticus 16:7-10
They were showing a video of this whole process the priest had to do to enter the Most Holy Place so the Israelites to be forgiven of their sins, including cleansing himself and putting on garments of white. When they showed the last part of that passage where the goat was left behind I lost it. I love animals and the goat looked so lost. I felt it was wrong to leave the goat behind alone and forgotten. I wanted to reach out to the goat and bring him back into the fold. For what did he do? He was a goat who was chosen by lots to become the scapegoat for the sins of the Israelites. Which is worse to be the goat who dies for the sins of the Israelites or to be left alone in the wilderness? In my mind it is the scapegoat, because at least the other goat is not left alone.
Then came the reminder that unlike the goat, Jesus chose to die for our sins. Every step along the path towards the crucifixion was a choice. He chose to become the sacrifice and the scapegoat for our sins. Everything was a purposeful choice for him for He knew what the cross would bring for all people. He did it, because He loved us.
Two scriptures came to mind that evening when we returned home:
The first was “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 6:28-30
The second was “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
I am clinging to these two promises as I work on climbing out of the muck and mire of despondency to a new destination that God has planned for me. I do not want this to hinder me or prevent God from forgiving me. He has been gently guiding me during these past months prompting me through various means that I do have a purpose and a calling despite what this person said.
The scale must be tipped in the other direction to change the weight of my heart from heaviness to lightness and relieve the burden that is weighing me down. Hopefully, my steps will be lighter, I will stand tall, and live with grace in my heart towards myself and others. I want to reflect Christ so they can see Him in me.
I am grateful today for God giving me a new perspective. After our Easter service last night and a good night’s sleep, I feel refreshed and hopeful. I awoke with a song in my mind both yesterday and today. This hasn’t happened that I can recall in a long time. I think it’s God giving me a gift every morning that fits what he wants me to experience in that moment or that day reminding me of how faithful He is. How fitting that on Easter morning in 2017, I awoke feeling different than I have in the past months or even years. I have hope and thankfulness in my heart. I am thankful for a new day and his mercies toward me so I can extend that to other people even those who have hurt me. Thank you God for giving me new life and a hope for my future.
Here is the song I woke up with this morning: