I am fortunate and blessed. I’ve both known and live in God’s peculiar protection. While difficult to understand, this protection is amazing. I’m incredibly grateful for this care. God kept me from things and delivered me out of things. I continue to this day residing in this powerful protection. Recently, I was engaged in a couple of conversations which opened up an old forgotten but familiar wound. As a leader, I have pretty thick skin – a prerequisite for ministry. But in this particular situation, I was frequently and intentionally injured by another. I never understood why, just accepted it. I attempted to let it roll off my back, tried to dismissed it, and just chose not to think about it. Most never even knew about the incidents as I intentionally didn’t talk about the events. As I look back, I’m not entirely sure that was healthy, but none the less it’s how I dealt with it.
In the couple of recent conversations, the sense the anguish, pain, and frustration that I once knew began to resurface. I didn’t expect that at all! While I thought the effects were long gone, this old wound bled again. It’s real, it hurts, and personally I don’t like it – the past or resurfaced pain. I had some decisions to make.
1. I chose forgiveness even though no one ever apologized. My ability to forgive is not apology dependent. I chose to forgive, remember (yes), and release the offender from the liability of their actions and words. I’m not sure this person will ever really understand the depth or implication of their actions. I choose not to hold the individual accountable. It’s not about forgetting, just forgiving. I don’t keep a score.
2. I chose care. I asked God for the ability to see the other person through eyes of compassion. Instead of wishing less than good, I choose to see them through eyes of care and concern. I see the insecurities, hurts, and needs of the offender. I chose compassion. This person is a victim in as much as they’ve learned somewhere along the way that injurious behavior is acceptable and appropriate.
3. I chose surrender. I chose to surrender the pain, the past, and the person to God. I can’t change the past, but I can give Him the future. I choose to surrender a future I’m unable to create, influence, and control. It’s God’s future and I’ll trust Him in it. I reside myself to God’s leadership and intervention.
4. I chose freedom. I chose not to be held captive or controlled by past events. The past binds; I choose to live a future in freedom. I choose not to go there again. I choose not to allow another person’s actions or words to control my feelings or thoughts – other than Christ.
Why do I share this? Because we all get injured in life. This is real faith and real life. Life and faith will intersect in your neighborhood. You may have been injured and will never hear an apology. You must do something with the thoughts and feelings. Even if you’ve forgotten them, they’ll resurface from time to time. The apology isn’t essential for the injured in order to grow and heal. Are you having a difficult time forgiving? Thought you already forgave? Do you need to remind yourself of the forgiveness you previously extended? Challenged by an old wound resurfacing? Something yet to be dealt with? Choose to forgive (again in some cases), care, surrender, and take hold of freedom. It all begins with a decision.