For years I’ve been ‘stuck’ in a wound that would not go away. No amount of forgiveness brought the release I sought.
I talked through the situation with Abba – literally hundreds of times; yet could not get free of the matter.
I finally wrote it off as my ‘hard heart’ and lamented my lack of spiritual maturity.
This was a serious problem for me because I kept bumping into the same scenario everywhere I turned. That was painful, yet I see the gentle, patient hand of Father whose desire is for my wholeness.
After more than a decade of wrestling with my inability to forgive, yesterday my counselor and I discussed the issue for the umpteenth time. I’m thankful that God has given her great patience with me as well!
At long last, we found the key that unlocked the shackles of my unforgiveness.
It was a small thing, a simple thing, yet every bit as important as every other step in the process, as I learned yesterday. Perhaps that’s why I needed this lesson.
What did I learn?
“C’mon! Get on with it,” you say. “What’s the key?”
I had not forgiven myself.
Seriously? That’s all?
A long time ago I was offered a supervisory position. I believed myself unqualified for the job. I didn’t pray about it, just declined the offer. I would be in charge of many people. If I messed up, it could be costly.
However, I had a friend who demonstrated all the qualities I believed necessary to handle the position well.
Um, didn’t pray about that either.
At the next board meeting, I recommended my ‘qualified’ friend.
They agreed, and he was put into the position.
It didn’t take very long to realize that I’d judged this person by his outward appearance – and hadn’t given a second’s thought to his heart.
Lurking under the mask was a power-hungry, ambitious fellow who didn’t care if people were hurt by his actions or words.
Sadly, many were hurt. Many found positions elsewhere.
Then I became his target.
Perceived as a threat by my ‘friend’, he went out of his way to undermine and discredit me.
His efforts were quite effective, thus when I went to the assistant HR person to discuss the number of ‘casualties’, I was told, “We know he’s hurting people, but he gets things done. Who could we get to replace him?”
I got the same response from the head HR guy as well.
I became frantic, burdened. These were my friends who were being hurt. The more innocent ones were being led into dubious actions and attitudes.
Seated on my counselor’s couch, we hacked at the roots of my unforgiveness – again!
“What is it about this that you can’t let it go?” she asked.
We did a little exploration (again), and began to go through the forgiveness process as noted in my Be Selfish – Forgive.
We went through forgiving the person, asking God to forgive them, to forgive me, then ‘forgave’ God for not doing what I thought He should about the matter (!).
All of a sudden, her eyes lit up.
“Hey! Have you been blaming yourself for the outcome?”
I thought about it a minute, and it became crystal clear.
Here, at last, was the key!
I continued to hold myself solely responsible for what happened…
…Like I’d handed a loaded machine gun to a four-year-old in a mall, who was now mowing down everyone in sight.
That is not a good feeling.
“Yes I have. I was the one who recommended the guy in the first place.”
The minute I forgave myself, BAM! That choke chain around my neck hit the floor. It was the size one might use to restrain Godzilla!
The release and freedom I felt was instantaneous.
Yes, I recommended the guy for the position, but once he was installed the matter was out of my hands.
From that point on, he was the responsibility of our HR department. They saw what was going on – even acknowledged it, and they chose to do nothing.
The outcome was beyond my control, thus not my guilt to bear.
God longs for our wholeness. Jesus stated this when He introduced His ministry in Luke 4:18-19:
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.
He was content to revisit this issue with me until I finally realized that the one I needed to forgive was me!
You see, I matter to Him. What I think and believe about myself, yeah, that also matters.
Guess what? You matter to Him as well!
Forgive as you have been forgiven…
…and don’t forget Five!