I haven’t written a blog in a while….obviously. I’ve had plenty of thoughts and ideas, but I have been running short on time.
Early February, I gave birth to our second daughter, and she is so beautiful and entertaining. But she came with a host of newborn ‘issues’ like extreme eczema and severe reflux (like soaking through your clothes until your underwear are wet kind of reflux). And to top it all off, she contracted a blood infection at the beginning of April that landed us in the Children’s Hospital for a full week, followed by numerous follow-ups with specialists and the whole nine. Moreover, our oldest daughter was tested for speech problems and started speech therapy while we are dealing with her behavioral problems too. Needless to say, I’ve been exhausted on many levels (I mean all of this happening before she is sleeping regularly through the night…smh). But along with exhaustion and being burnt out comes plenty of opportunities for offenses to take place.
Whether it is hurtful words, a complete breakdown in communication, perpetual misunderstanding, thinning patience, self-absorption, pity parties, icy silence, and all other random things that happen when you’re trudging on your last leg and have the perpetual temptations to just walk away to save yourself, there will always be something that happens that you can legitimately be offended by. You could probably never make it through a rough season of life without someone really doing something to you at exactly the worst moment ever, and you will be perfectly rational to be upset about it. However, through everything that has happened over the past few months (offenses included), my mind has come over and over again to the act of forgiveness.
Now, we know forgiveness is like the second section you cover in Christianity 101, and I’ve often heard of people saying things like “You just have to let it go for you. You’re holding yourself back the longer you hold on to it.” ….basically making forgiveness to be very self-serving and therapeutic. But while reading through the gospel of Luke to my daughter over breakfast, I came across the passage of the sinful woman being forgiven by Christ in Luke 7:36-50. Jesus tells this parable to emphasize the point, starting in verse 41:
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.”…”Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little”
Now, I’ve understood the debt that Jesus paid on our behalf to the Father, but this was the first time that I had considered forgiving others as a debt arrangement.
When you really forgive someone, you actually take the loss yourself. They cannot undo what they did, and sometimes they cannot fix what they did either. Your offense is real and justified because they have wronged you and some sort of retribution is in order. But whether or not they “pay” you back does not really matter. As Christians, we are called to forgive them anyway. Whatever the debt, we are called to bear the loss of it. They may or may not even acknowledge it, but we are commanded to clear their account and settle the debt, bearing the loss.
Now naturally that doesn’t set well with our sensibilities, and I had a couple of honest protest moments when I was thinking through all of this. But I know we’re called to forgive like this because we have a debt to our Father in heaven that is impossible to settle without the blood of Christ. Because He has forgiven us so much, we love Him all the more. And because we love Him that much, we obey His commands and forgive others. I mean, no matter how offended we are it doesn’t come close to the offenses God has borne by just us, by ourselves. And we can’t expect mercy from Him when we’re holding out refusing to expunge the records of what other people have done to us.
So, with everything that has gone on these past few months, the Lord has thankfully not wasted the time in pressing me down that road of sanctification. Truly, it was one of those lessons I would have loved to learn when everything is going fine, but noooooooooooo, I had to learn that one in the heat of the battle when temptations to do everything else but forgive were real thick. But the pleasant part of all of this is that I have learned to walk more humbly and ask for forgiveness when I know I haven’t been right. And I’ve learned that forgiveness isn’t about a mental and emotional release, but it’s about obedience sprung from a deepening love for the Lord who has (and continues to) forgive me completely. I pray we are all diligent to cancel the debts in our lives.