A few thoughts on being forgiving and being forgiven.
I’ve realized I’ve become someone who rarely gives people second chances. I can think of one current exemption, but for the most part, I don’t. I don’t like to be hurt by people. I don’t particularly appreciate being called names, even if it’s in jest. I don’t like passive aggression toward me via social media or otherwise by people. I don’t like the perpetual bully in my life that I can’t do anything about for the moment.
For someone who was always more forgiving than I should have been, to the point of doormat status, now I view it as an electrical shock to the system. And I only want to never allow the shock to happen again.
So I typically move toward avoiding those people at ALL costs. ALL COSTS. Regardless of our past together, regardless of any history, in my eyes, I am done. And normally, I’m very angry about it.
When you’ve spent a good portion of your life as a victim to every Tom, Dick, and doofus, once you realize that victim status no longer has to be your choice, then I think you tend to go too far in the other direction. It may be a worry that if you allow even an inch, you will lose control of the situation as a whole.
When I’m burned once by someone, either legitimately or perceived, I build a brick wall. A big one. And I want nothing to do with them.
Like all things, eventually, a great realization came over me today.
I don’t know what your mistakes are. But do you have one that you tend to repeat? And then you find yourself sitting there wondering why the hell you made the same mistake once again? I don’t mean to go all preachy preacher on you. But I know the Bible even addresses it. The book of Hebrews speaks of the “sin that so easily entangles us.” So I take that to mean that one thing that keeps showing up and can so easily conquer you.
So, today I had a little talk with God. I asked why do you always forgive me? I think it’s easy to want to beat ourselves up. I’m really good at that. It’s my go-to stance. Then I’ll work on telling myself all the reasons I don’t deserve anything better. And then it came to me. That clear voice of God. Who says, I love you unconditionally and will always give you better than you think you “deserve”. It’s forgiveness. And its grace. And that’s a concept that alludes me most all the time.
Now don’t get me wrong. I truly believe we experience natural consequences for our decisions. I think God allows that, but I also think He protects us from even ourselves at times. He gives us better than we deserve.
Then the second part of the whole lesson came. God is letting me know I need to do the same.
I can do that with the people who cut me off while driving. I can do that with my obnoxious neighbors who think it’s fun to have backyard parties right under my bedroom window at 3 am almost every single night. I’ve even been able to accomplish that with my parents.
But for those who are actively out to get me or hurt me. Or for those who I feel have betrayed me somehow, I wish for nothing more but for them to finally get what they deserve. Or what I think they deserve.
And that’s where the math never adds up. We can’t live our lives hoping we don’t get what we deserve, all the while wishing everyone else does.
With a few people, I’m not even sure where to begin with this lesson. Wanting to give back to them better than they give is going to be beyond difficult. I think it’s going to be one of those moment-by-moment things.
However, this is where God comes in again. He has the capability of removing our defects when we ask and when we allow it. And not wanting to forgive certain people is certainly a defect. I think all I can do is pray for the strength and grace to be changed.
One of the biggest things in the middle of all of it, and maybe it’s just how life is in general, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for all the times I’ve been forgiven and all the times I’ve been cut some slack. I’m grateful that it’s okay to be human at times and make mistakes and learn from them. And I’m thankful for a God who allows me to get it wrong a bazillion times before I finally get it right.
I’m just so grateful, and He never fails to give me better than I deserve.
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9