When Once is Not Enough

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

{Affiliate links used.}

The more I live the more I become convinced that it is the only way to live...to forgive. To not forgive is to grow bitter and ugly. It allows anger to eat away at your soul. But forgiveness is never easy and comes with a price. It costs much more than I ever imagined and takes more effort than I realized. Take the "70 x 7 rule", for example...

In Matthew 18, when Peter asks how many times he should forgive his brother and offers the "generous" number of seven, Christ comes back with an even bigger number: seventy times seven. I used to think that Christ was saying if your brother or sister offends you 490 times (and then some) forgive each of those times. I still think that is what Christ is saying. However, I have learned a deeper lesson about forgiveness through the numbers He gave. Sometimes forgiveness is not a one time event. Sometimes forgiveness has to be given over and over again for the same offense. As I have worked through the past few years of hurt that was never really dealt with by those that offended, I have learned that while my choice always has been to forgive my emotions have not always followed that path...

I was walking along one day, and she showed up. We ran into each other. I hadn't seen her in ages, but I knew what she had done. She had changed the whole course of my life with her judgments and critical words. I had forgiven her a long time ago, but the sight of her stirred up the pain. I have learned in these circumstances that I must once again reaffirm my decision to forgive. To let go of what she did. To realize that God will use it for our good and His glory. To give grace. So for the next few hours I worked on forgiving again. I had done this before. Who knows how many times. I had lost count. The actual number whether it was 49 or 490 didn't seem to matter. I needed to forgive. I needed to stand firm in my decision to not let bitterness creep in.

And so it goes...every time I hear of her, see her, think of her, I forgive her. Each time it gets easier. Each time the ugly feelings flee faster. When you practice anything you become better at it, but when you practice forgiveness you become better for it. It doesn't mean the relationship is healed. {That is reconciliation which is a totally different action.} It does mean that I can live in peace with what she did. I can look at the offense and see the good that came out of it. I can wish her well. I can pray for her without malice. I can live free of what was done to me.

Is there someone you need to practice 70 x 7 with? Do they continue to offend? Or maybe what they did was so grievous that you need to reaffirm you decision to forgive? Choose to forgive over and over again if you have to. Choose to leave them with God. Choose to not let their action dictate your life.

Need some help in forgiving? Check out these resources and posts:

Encountering the Healing Power of Forgiveness
Wounded by God's People: Discovering How God's Love Heals Our Hearts
Total Forgiveness
Overcoming Bitterness


Anonymous said...

I'm thankful for your blog! I'm in the midst of a situation with my husband who has betrayed and emotionally abused me. He has fake repentance so there really can be no reconciliation but I too try to forgive daily, hourly. A great book that was so affirming to me in naming what I was feeling was the emotionally destructive relationship by Leslie Vernick. There is one for marriages too. I am thankful for your ideas on focusing on the Lord and the hope we have because of Him. Thank you, you are a blessing!

Debbie P said...

Angie- I am so sorry you are going through this! Relational angst is such a hard thing to recover from. I have gone through betrayal and emotional abuse and it takes time to heal and forgive. I have read Leslie Vernick's book and thought it to be very helpful. Thank you for taking the time to comment and give me words of encouragement. I will be praying for you!