My chains are those of unforgiveness. Simply put I hold grudges and it has been a very trying journey for me to begin to break free. Logically, I know that freeing myself of the weight of unforgiveness is a good thing for me and would led to a greater emotional well being. But there’s a gap between knowing and doing. And it’s in that gap that I’ve turned to prayer.
When I cry out to God to heal my hardened heart the prayer is always the same. It’s always a plea to Him to give me a heart to love the unlovely. It’s a prayer for peace. For serenity. It’s a prayer to let go of the past and change the way way I see the future. It’s an overwhelming gratefulness that even though I’m broken in this area, He still loves me and pursues me. I pray for those that have hardened my heart and as I speak words out loud I call attention to God loving those that have hurt me as much as He does me.
I am capable of forgiveness. And I have forgiven many. I have seen my acts of forgiveness lead to restoration. It’s through those occasions that it’s even more clear to me that forgiveness is a process. And in that process that we are often led to more pain as we work through the initial hurt that was caused. For me, forgiveness is a daily struggle and a daily act.
Someone once told me that unforgiveness is the same as hatred. WOW. Hatred seems so harsh? I mean I don’t hate anyone. Unforgiveness and hatred. Though I continue to struggle with forgiving, this speaks to me. As I’ve begun to unpack this sentiment I’ve seen my actions change. The opposite of hate is love. And if unforgiveness is hatred, than it can only be flipped on its head by choosing to love. So that’s where I’ve been putting my energy. And you know what? It’s working.
I’ve begun to make peace with where I’m at and am hopeful like never before. I’ve begun to tell those that have hurt me how their actions make me feel without expectation that they’d “get it” or feel sorry. I think wishing and waiting for the apology was my hang up. Instead, I’ve begun to show love, even when they continue to hurt me, and these very acts are freeing. They are prayer put in motion. I still struggle, it’s still a very conscious thought to bring this to life, but it’s progress.
I know God has put me right where He needs me and trust my Maker’s art. This is my cross because it’s what He intended. The alternative is hatred. And He called me not to be filled with hate. He called me to love, as He did Peter.
Peter came to Jesus and asked “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or my sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times”. Matthew 18: 21-22