Ever wonder why you just can’t forgive that person? That one. That group. You know who comes to mind. The one who caused such pain. Hurt. Deep, searing wounds.
You think you’ve forgiven them. You think you’ve moved on. But the trigger is so easily tripped and you face plant.
It’s right there. Just beneath the surface of a put-together life. Outwardly religious, inwardly rebellious.
Because somewhere buried in our subconscious, we think the rules don’t apply to us. The pain we know doesn’t fit the requirements of forgiveness. Not us. Not that person. Not our situation. Not this time.
But the wound you carry holds a power far beyond the hurt. It holds the power to grow a thick, gnarly root of bitterness in the fertile soil of our heart. And we tend and nurture that bitter root every time we withhold forgiveness, carry a grudge, gossip, stereotype, exclude others, and seek our own way.
Especially at the expense of another.
This root is so powerful that we can lash out at others who have nothing to do with our pain. They may simply remind us of something we fear. Something we know. Something we despise in ourselves.
We all know these people. We’ve all been in relationship with these people. We have all been…these people.
Every circumstance and trial in our lives gives us the opportunity to choose: Will we grow and become better through the trials of life, or will we allow them to make us bitter?
Resentful. Angry. Unforgiving. Cold.
Will we press into relationship or withdraw and isolate? Will we plant seeds of life or seeds of a bitter, critical spirit?
It’s human nature to bristle when we come face to face with an old wound. The thing I struggle most with the Bible is living it out in my daily life. The how-to. Because scripture doesn’t give us a how-to when it comes to the specific day-in and day-out of relationship. It doesn’t help us know the words to say when we run into the one who has caused us pain. What to do when we trip over ourselves and our selfishness. When we honestly just don’t know how to take a single step forward in a relationship that has dead-ended.
We don’t have a how-to.
But we do have this: love. Love one another. For love covers over a multitude of sins.
And I know that sounds trite and naive because I, too, have relationships that have stalled. Flatlined. Ones where there is no earthly way of moving forward. Where I just don’t know which way to go. But we must deliberately choose against bitterness. Fight. Against bitterness.
If we claim to have any faith at all, we must choose love, and that doesn’t mean relationship.
Love doesn’t mean we walk back in. It doesn’t mean we forget. It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen and we aren’t thankful that the journey brought us out. It means we continue to love, even from a distance if we must. We choose the best for them, for us, for this time. We refuse bitterness. We refuse to keep stirring. We become aware of our pain and we seek and find healing so we don’t throw our garbage on someone else. That in our honest pursuit of freedom and holiness, we don’t leave a wake of destruction in our path.
Because we’re prone to acts of emotional violence. The words we speak carry heavy weight. They have the power to destroy a spirit. A hope. A life. So many eyes are watching our moves, listening to our voice, and surveying the rhythm of our life.
I want to leave a legacy of love. Kindness, gentleness, and peace. Not one that lays down, because that is not love. Love is strong. It is powerful. Love sets healthy boundaries and grows exponentially the more you practice. It radiates light.
Let us be a people of love. A community of loving well. Offering grace when none is deserved, because undeserved grace is the truest and rarest grace of all. And we receive it each and every day of our lives.
Let love fill your cup. Let it run over into the relationships around you. Be the light you are so drawn to in others. When you don’t know how to move forward, choose love. When there seems to be no earthly way of moving on, choose love.