What’s the worst thing anyone’s ever “done to you?” Or, the hardest circumstance you’ve ever had to grind your way out of? I’ll be really honest, life has not been all that hard on me. Sure, a few bumps and bruises along the way, several heartbreaks, but really, not anything compared to what some of my friends and family have been through. So, then, why do I struggle with forgiveness?
What I find rather interesting is that the few “big-ticket” items that I can recall are the things I’ve found easiest to forgive, move through and learn from. Looking back, I can even see God’s hand in many of those times and count my blessings for Him bringing me through the struggle. The biggest example came in a work setting. For no apparent reason, I was relieved of my duties on the job, just a week after returning from maternity leave. Honestly, at that moment, I felt like the rug had been pulled out from underneath my feet. But, God had been tugging at my heart for months ahead of this and He had brought people across my path who were on fire for Him and willing to talk to me. Those relationships opened the door to a whole new life for me. And, without that life-altering incident, I may not have realized how much I needed Him in my heart. Within weeks of being let go, I had a new job – one that required a little driving time. I found myself listening to Christian programming on the way. Sure enough, not long after starting the new job, I pulled off the side of the road on the way to work and prayed along with Chuck Swindoll, asking Jesus to become the Lord of my life. The dots were connected almost instantly. I HAD to have gone through that trial and come to a place where I knew there was more to this life. It took me a little while longer to forgive those who unceremoniously ousted me – there’s more to the story, but it really isn’t the point. But, once I let that go, I felt so free. The bondage of that situation was no longer holding me back.
So, why then, again I ask, do I struggle with the little things? A cross comment, an eye-roll from my 7-year-old, the “tone” of an email. It’s easy to let those things really drag me into a pit. The Scripture from Colossians really got a hold of me the past few days. It was part of a message in church, but then the theme of forgiveness has bubbled through several encounters over the last few days.
Tonight, I think I’m realizing that it’s a choice I’m making or not making in a given situation. I’m choosing to let Jesus lead the way or I’m not. When I do, I can see things in a whole different light. When I don’t, I stumble and fall flat on my face. I love how this verse is presented in The Message – it says, “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
As a woman, there are several “garments” I never leave the house without. Meditating on this Scripture with those words makes me think about it differently. Love is the garment I need to put on every day in order to see the world the way God sees it. And, God is Love. When I wrap myself in God and His love, I can hold on to that perspective and realize that for as much as He has forgiven me, I am to extend that forgiveness to others.