This week was just one of those weeks. And by “one of those weeks”, I mean, frustrating, disappointing and humbling. We’ve all been there. In fact, you may secretly be happy to read about my week simply because it makes you feel a little better about yours. I get it. We all need to be reminded we aren’t alone every now and again. I ain’t mad at ya.
The hardest part of the week, to be real, was simply that I got a little hurt. It happens. It doesn’t feel good, but it happens.
Getting hurt never feels good. That’s why it’s called, “getting hurt.” No one is in a hurry to get their heart broken, let alone their feelings hurt. No one voluntarily signs up to be misunderstood, taken advantage of, mistreated, rejected or betrayed. But sometimes, in life, it’s just unavoidable.
(I know I am sounding like quite the Debbie Downer at the moment, but please, hear me out. It gets better. Promise.)
We can’t always protect ourselves from the choices of others, and the impact those choices make in our lives. That’s the beauty and cruelty of free will. People are free to make choices. That’s a magnificent gift. But sometimes those choices hurt others. And that can turn the gift into what feels like a curse. We will get hurt, just like, sadly, we will hurt others. It’s a part of life in this fallen world we are travelling through. Life is just messy that way.
BUT just because life is messy, doesn’t mean our lives have to be a mess. Despite disappointments, we can sojourn through every season of life whole and healthy hearted, full of love and faith and hope.
(See, I told you it gets better!)
And according to Jesus, the remedy to our pain is not what one would expect. It certainly isn’t what the world would prescribe to medicate our misfortunes with. Despite what politics, pop culture and social media updates promise, we can’t dull the pain of rejection with increased popularity. We can’t minimize the effects of loss with more external gain. We can’t combat cruel conversations with our own criticizing comebacks. We can’t dismiss our disappointments with never-ending to-do-lists and overloaded schedules. We can’t silence accusers with accolades and accomplishments. We can’t sedate our sorrow through self-gratifying practices done in secret.
The solution to the pain problem humanity is faced with can never be found in more knowledge, control, power or denial. No one will ever have enough knowledge or wisdom to avoid pain. Jesus was all-knowing and all-powerful, and those closest to Him denied Him, betrayed Him and handed Him over to His death. Knowledge, even wisdom, as wonderful as it is can’t prevent heartbreak. Nor can power. It doesn’t matter how strong or in control we are; we will never be able to control how those we open our hearts to will treat us. And well, based on experience, I can tell you denial isn’t a great alternative either. We can act like we don’t care or feel, but it doesn’t change the fact that we will always feel. We can try to numb pain or escape pain or minimize pain, but we still feel it. Just because we ignore it, doesn’t mean it will go away.
There is only one thing that can keep our hearts healthy and vibrant in this life. And brace yourself because I’m about to drop an F-bomb… FORGIVENESS.
(See what I did, there? Edgy, right?)
Forgiveness and forgiveness alone keeps our hearts open to the work of the Holy Spirit. To be clear, forgiveness doesn’t protect us from heartache and heartbreak. Forgiveness offers no such empty promises. But only forgiveness can keep our hearts ready and malleable for the Holy Spirit to heal and restore. Forgiveness is the only way we will ever have any hope of keeping a soft, full and strong heart in response to the really not-so-fun things of life like disappointment and betrayal and rejection and loss.
If you treasure forgiveness; if you run to it quickly; if you give it away freely; if you choose to embrace it no matter how you feel, then you will always find yourself safe from the poisonous and cancerous affects of bitterness and offense. So forgive. Even when it is hard. Every time you find yourself hurting; please, choose to forgive.
The truth is we all need forgiving every now and again. I hope I can more and more be the type of person who doesn’t just like the idea of grace when I need it handed to me, but who gives it away freely even at the cost of my public pride or personal sense of justice.
So when you find yourself hurt, forgive. Don’t let your hearts grow hard and cold. There is so much love and joy yet to be experienced on the other side of your pain. Your heart will need to be soft and strong to experience all that love and joy and peace God has been stockpiling for your future. Keep your heart open. Keep your heart tender. Keep your heart strong. Forgive, and always, always let Jesus have the final say when it comes to the health of your soul.
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! 23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. 26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. 28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. 29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. 31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. 35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
-Matthew 18:21-35 NLT