Today I was thinking about forgiveness and how powerful it can be, both when given and received. Last night, I had a dream that Jared decided he didn't want to be married to me anymore. Because of my past, not because of Jared or anything he's ever done, this is a real fear of mine. I woke him up and asked if he was going to leave me. He quickly assured me it was just a dream and told me he was sorry...even if he only hurt me in a dream. Along with his tenderness and reassurance, I think the apology was helpful, too.
And not long ago, I was at our church membership class and pastor Beau Hughes talked to us about how the church is full of broken people who sin. He acknowledged that most of us had probably been hurt by the church at some point. Not to get into the divorce/remarriage debate, but I was deeply hurt by the church and some of its members during a time that was supposed to be joyful. As a divorced woman, I couldn't be married without scrutiny to the circumstances surrounding my divorce. I could date all I wanted, I could even be in a leader position, but as soon as I wanted to marry, my morals were put on the stand. Jared and I even lost our best friends over our marriage. Of course, others involved have their well-meaning side of the story, and I understand that the teachings surrounding divorce/remarriage are contraversial, heavy, and difficult. However, I was still hurt. Beau stood up and said "On behalf of all churches, I want to apologize for hurting you." Wow! The heaviness of my grudge lifted. My aching heart felt whole again. Beau was not involved in my pain (neither was The Village Church for that matter), but I was able to fully forgive at that point. I just needed to hear it: "I'm sorry."
In both of the above instances, someone who didn't owe me an apology offered me one on behalf of others. I was able to give forgiveness to the actual perpetrators through someone else's words. It kind of reminds me of the way we receive the ultimate forgiveness.
Here's the churchy part, and I don't like to flat-out evangalize much, but I can't help notice the similarity between my needing to forgive and my need for forgiveness. Just bare with me. Basically, we are all born sinners. God gave us life and we sort of shoved it in his face (self-check yourself with the 10 Commandments...you failed). So, he needed an apology. Jesus, God in the flesh, came to earth (think baby Jesus/Christmas story) and lived a blameless life, was crucified by men on the cross (think Mel Gibson in "The Passion"), and was ressurected (think Easter Sunday without the bunnies). Check out the first four books of The New Testament if you're wondering what I'm talking about; they are fairly easy reads. So Jesus's life was an offering of forgiveness to God on our behalf. And God accepted it. He said that was enough, and all we have to do (in short) is believe that our sins have been swept under the rug by Jesus through the actions listed above. Now, God seriously can look at us without that nagging feeling of knowing we "did him wrong." You know that feeling I'm talking about, right? When you see someone that hurt you and they haven't acknowledged or apologized, yet. You know. Well, he doesn't have it. Which makes him much more approachable to me. He's not judging me when I talk to him or thinking about that mean thing I said to Jared (what? did I admit that?), because he's not looking at my sin anymore.
Okay, to emphasize, I'm not asking you to say a prayer, blah, blah, blah. But, if this hit home with you...fantastic. Pray and ask God for some direction and clarity. I'll be glad to refer you to someone who's great at answering heavy questions, if you have any.
So, I'll leave you with this. Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn't. On behalf of whoever hurt you, I'm sorry; for whatever it is that you can't let go, I'm sorry. I hope you're weight will be lifted in your giving forgiveness.