Here’s that serious post about the retreat (though I mean bacon can also be serious) I said I was going to write.
As I said, this was my second time going to a women’s retreat from my church. When I went last year, I really needed it. I had just found out that I didn’t get the job I had set my heart on hours before the retreat started and I was so incredibly down that I almost contemplated not going. But God, in his infinite wisdom, knew what I needed that night and I was so glad that I ended up going. When the topic for this year was announced, “Living With Unmet Desires”, I was like “SIGN ME UP NOW.”
There were so many topics that were shared that I may write several posts about them over the next couple of weeks. That’s what I love about going to these retreats, all the things I learn.
Right now the topic that is sticking to me the most was the session on forgiveness. Because I feel that is what God has been hitting at me the hardest. The speaker gave us this definition of forgiveness: “The relinquishment of my right for revenge against someone who has wronged me.” She spoke about how there are times when the person who has wronged us has no idea that we are struggling with forgiving them. That we will spend hours imagining scenarios where we confront them or have them come begging us to forgive them and we turn them away. And I realize that is something I am really struggling with right now. And I have been for a while.
I felt God speaking to me throughout the weekend that this is something that I need to do. And that it’s holding me back because I’m not letting it go. A paraphrase of something else that jumped out at me from the session: “Your deliverance is going to come through what you suffer through if you allow yourself to trust God fully through it.”
And therefore this is what I felt compelled to do after a lot of prayer over the past few days.
Dear Person who I need to forgive,
You may or may not ever read this. You also may or may not realize that I’m talking about you. There is also an even bigger chance that you may not realize that you hurt me (or maybe you do, and you just don’t care). But that’s ok. It actually doesn’t really matter if you do or not any of these things. Because when it all comes down to it, it’s between me and God and not really between me and you. I don’t really need to tell you to your face that you hurt me or that I even want to forgive you. I just need to actually do it.
A lot of things have been holding me back from doing it. Pride is probably the biggest one. I’ve been feeling that if I forgive you and let it go, it means that you “won”, that you got a free pass, and it won’t ever bother you. Meanwhile it left me hurting even when I tried not to let it. And I was afraid that I needed to be free from the hurt before I could forgive you and the hurt wasn’t going away to allow me to get to that point. To some people what you did probably wouldn’t be a big deal to them and they would just wave it off and move on. But for me, it reopened up wounds that weren’t completely healed yet and it exposed my vulnerability which left me raw and weak and angry. And even though I hid it all on the outside so no one could tell, on the inside there was a lot of emotional turmoil that left me feeling bitter and resentful towards you.
But I don’t want to hold on to that bitterness anymore. I don’t want it to keep building to where it eventually takes over and I forget about why I was even angry/hurt to begin with. It may not ever be in God’s plan for me to ever discuss this particular situation with you or even talk to you again. But I have to let this go. It may not be doing any harm other than to me right now, but if I continue to leave it as an untreated wound, it will grow and fester and becoming poisonous.
I prayed about this a lot today while driving. And I said to God, “This is something you have to help me with. This is something I’m going to struggle with. And I know that I’m going to need help because I will be tempted in the future to want to start feeling bitter and angry. But I don’t want to anymore. I want to be free from this. I don’t want to be trapped in this box anymore. I can’t do this on my own. I want to forgive. Help me do this.”
Then “Stronger” by Matthew West came on the radio
Maybe that’s the point
To reach the point of giving up
Cause when I’m finally
Finally at rock bottom
Well, that’s when I start looking up
And reaching out
…I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
I’d like to say that immediately everything was all better and I’ll be perfectly fine from now on whenever I see you or if you ever cross into my mind. But that’s probably not true and I’ll be lying. But I can say that, I do feel a lot better now. And with God’s help, I’ll let go and one day I’ll look back and even though I may never know why all this happened, I’ll understand that it was all part of his plan. And I’ll learn from it. And I’ll be ok.
I don’t need to justify why I did this. And for the record it’s not to just make myself feel better or to shame you or anything. You don’t even need to apologize for anything. I’m doing it because I know I need to forgive, as Jesus has done for me.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
So, person I need to forgive, I’ve forgiven you.