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What does it mean to love someone? I’m not talking about the mushy romantic love that Hollywood would have us believe is real life. Rather the day to day, through the drudge of life, “yes, you sometimes piss me off but I still choose to love you” kind of love. What does that look like? Are we capable of loving accurately, as God intended?

I went to a prayer meeting last Wednesday where pastors and ministry workers from all over the city gather together to pray and encourage one another. I prayed with an amazing man named Geoff. I asked for prayer for wisdom in how to love and heal certain relationships in my life. Geoff believes that we aren’t capable of loving accurately. We can’t. We might be able to come close. But to truly love another person, to be fully patient, kind, not easily angered, never giving up, we don’t have that in us. Only Christ can do that. Only Papa knows when to love someone by holding them and when to use “tough love”. Because we can’t see everything and we don’t know everything. There are multiple sides to every story, which is why I always hesitate to rush in and only believe one side.

In the Bible, we read of a woman who had committed many sexual sins with many different men. The Pharisees dragged her out in front of the crowd and the crowd was prepared to stone her. I always found it interesting that the man whom she must have been caught with was nowhere to be found. They didn’t care about her side. They only wanted to make an example of her, to cause Jesus to lose His good standing in the eyes of the people. Instead of rebuking her or stoning her or guilting her or demanding that she be punished more, Jesus simply said “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she replied. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

I have been in many circles and many settings where people are ostracized for their mistakes. The second that someone doesn’t fit into the box that a group has created, the second they screw up, the second they show that they are human, they are kicked out. There is no forgiveness. No mercy. No second chance. No “Today, I start”. People make mistakes. It’s a part of life. Our job, as Christians, is to walk beside them the best we can. Christ calls us to first love God and then to love others as we love ourselves. But I know too many people who call themselves Christians who only love as long as the other person meets their needs or fits their profile. Christ also called us to forgive our enemies. “What gain is there in loving those who love you?” Loving people whom you get along with, who love you, who you agree with most of the time, that’s easy. Loving the people who drive you crazy? Loving the people who you wish weren’t part of your group/church? Loving the people who hurt you? That is hard. It’s as hard as forgiving those people for the wrongs they commit against you.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” – Gandhi

I would argue that the same can be said for love. Loving people is hard. It’s a choice. It takes courage and strength. It takes a willingness to be hurt. It takes patience. But can we really call ourselves Christians if we aren’t willing to do this? If there is a fault that I could live with having, I would want people to say “She loves too much.”

Loving someone doesn’t mean you have to hang out with them all the time. There is such a thing as a toxic relationship and I do believe that some people need to be kept separated. I don’t go looking to spend time with the man who abused me. But I forgive him. And I don’t wish him ill. I try to pray that God blesses his life. It’s hard and I don’t always succeed. But I try. Because otherwise I have no business saying “Forgive us our tresspasses as we also forgive those who tresspass against us.” Because being a Christian doesn’t just mean “Oh, I get to go to heaven when I die and screw the rest of you!” Being a Christian means you are an image-bearer of Christ. He was crucified on a cross because he loved people who spit on him and hated him and whipped him and called him names. In light of that, does loving your ex sound quite so hard? Does loving the person who doesn’t quite fit into the mold that your church/group has formed sound like the biggest challenge? It’s still hard. But we are not alone. If we believe the Bible, then the Holy Spirit is alive and at work in each of us and that means that we have His help. “Be holy as I am holy.” Love as He loves. Forgive as He forgives. Because nothing can separate us from the love of our Papa. And if we are His children, we should strive to imitate Him.

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Listening: ‘I Never Loved You Anyway’ by The Corrs

Reading: For fun!!!! Hooray for being done with school!

Thinking: I need to back away from Scottish phrases.

How to Annoy Me: Put words in my mouth.

How to Charm Me: Help me find a costume and then do my hair and make-up for our Christmas party. *hugs Ro*

Quote of the Day: Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness. – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Listening: ‘Shattered’ by O.A.R.

Thinking: This is like watching WordPress go through puberty.

How to Annoy Me: Snow/sleet/rain for every friggin’ winter showcase…

How to Charm Me: Drive me to school, help with the floor, then drive all the way back to the high school to get my car.

Quote of the Day: When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive. – Alan Paton

Listening: ‘You Found Me’ by The Fray

Reading: “The Lil’ Hos Go Down” (Woo-hoo!)

Thinking: Wow, WordPress made quite a change!

How to Annoy Me: Keep recording and/or zooming when all I want is to take a damn picture!

How to Charm Me: Go on a trip with me to a place named Wiggles that serves fair food year round.

Quote of the Day: Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with the expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time. – Sara Paddison

Listening: ‘Disturbia’ by Rihanna (Aptly named. Freak-a-zoid music video!)

Reading: Still reading ‘Mercy’. I wish I had more time for pleasure reading! Stupid math…

Thinking: I’ve got the pattern, fabric, hooks and eyes, zipper, and ribbon. Now I just have to put it all together. Hmm….what could I possibly be making? 😀

How to Annoy Me: Bite my head off for a simple mistake. Yes, I screwed up. My. Bad.

How to Charm Me: Come help me haul the boxes from the church and insist on lifting the heavy stuff.

Quote of the Day: If you forgive people enough, you belong to them, and they to you, whether either person likes it or not – squatter’s rights of the heart. – James Hilton

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