Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Forgiveness


     I'm not the same person, today that I was yesterday or even a few years ago. when I was in high school, I could be a bully or just a brat, and I'm not talking about a sausage. There were things that I did, was mean to people who didn't deserve it, or took things out on people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

     Now, when I am full of anxiety or worry, I wake up from nightmares about things that happened in my high school years. After a while, I just don't want to go to sleep because I know that I will dream of a certain person and it would just be awful. I have learned that when I talk to that person and apologize, that those dreams go away.

     A few weeks ago, I reconnected with someone that I grew up with. I was not very nice to him, or at least in my adult life, I feel that I wasn't very nice. I messaged him and I apologized. Can you guess what he said?

     He didn't say, "You're right, you should apologize. You were mean and hurtful." What he said, instead had me in tears. "I don't remember you being mean or a jerk. All I remember are fun times and the bad memories never come to mind. Grace and Peace to you, my friend."

     Years of worry and stress and hanging on to the past just disappeared. The weight that I was carrying was lifted from my shoulders and I knew that I was going to be ok. Just as I was forgiven, I was also able to forgive myself. The Bible says in Philippian's 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
I was so relieved to get forgiveness, but later that day, I was like the man who was forgiven, but couldn't forgive his servant. See, I had seen forgiveness from an old friend and then later that day, I had gotten on my child for something that he did and I can't even remember what it was.

Matthew 18:21-35
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[a]
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[b] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[c] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went of and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
    It was when my husband said, "Britt, do you think that you're overreacting that the realization had hit me. I was humbled and I asked my son for his forgiveness and that parable came to mind
    Forgiveness, it's more than saying sorry. We've been teaching my youngest that it's not enough to just say sorry. We have to stop the behavior that is requiring the forgiveness. He hasn't quite gotten it yet. Now, when he knows that he's in trouble he shouts out, "I'm sorry! Sorry means stop!" Well, yes, in a way, it does, but being sorry requires an effort to stop doing the offence. It means to repent because if you say sorry over and over again for the same thing, that sorry quickly loses its meaning. 
     In the same way, if you keep saying that your forgive someone, that means that you can't hold that thing over their head. It also means to forget- I mean, you can't always forget something, but if you truly forgive someone for something they did against you, you won't use that in future arguments. You won't bring it up from time to time or say, "I told you so" later. 
     When true apologies are made and true forgiveness is offered, burdens are lifted. I felt so light and happy after hearing from that friend. I had been so anxious about something that happened in the past, dwelling on the anger that I held then and how I transformed it into meanness or witchiness that I was reliving a nightmare over and over again. This friend didn't have to say the words, "I forgive you" for me to be freed. Just to hear that I didn't damage him or any of my other friends in offences that I remember being truly awful to only hear that they were very minor and the good that I did outweighed the bad, made me realize that I'm my biggest critic and enemy. That I am fear and anxiety. You see, I didn't need forgiveness from them, they didn't hold grudges. I needed forgiveness from myself. I needed to let the past go. I needed to remember that I'm not the same person that I used to be and that I can live in the present as a good, Christian woman. I can cast my burdens and fears and anxieties on the Lord for he cares for ME! 1 Peter 5:7
     If God can forgive us, then we should also allow us to forgive ourselves.


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