Extending Grace that has Not Been Extended to You

i_forgive_youContinued from here.

The final piece of the challenge of trusting God amidst deep emotional pain is to keep doing things God’s way, even when you see no results whatever. This includes forgiving the people who judge you in your brokenness. Perhaps one of the most difficult of God’s commands is to forgive someone as he or she continues to inflict pain on you, and yet that is what Jesus did. While suffering and dying on the cross, he prayed for his enemies:

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” ~ Luke 23:32-34

When people judge you in your woundedness, they truly do not know what they are doing. They don’t understand the iron in your soul. They have no comprehension of the energy it is taking you simply to get out of bed in the morning and put forth even a mustard seed of faith that God will come through for you in your pain and brokenness. While it is natural to want to hate them – or at least resent them, choose to forgive them instead. Do this even as they continue to inflict pain on you, just as the soldiers continued to inflict pain on Jesus as he was dying on the cross. I know this is not easy, but it is the way through the pain.

This season of pain will eventually end, even though it feels eternal. The choices you make during this season of pain will determine the degree to which you are refined through this fire. Learn the lessons God is teaching you through this extremely painful season. Some lessons can only be learned through suffering, such as patience and perseverance. These lessons are leading you to maturity and completion and are the very tools God is using to lead you to a state of not lacking anything. You are already paying the cost, so learn the lesson. Let “I will trust you, Lord” become your battle cry – your lantern shining the way out of the pain. When you can see nothing but your own pain, make the decision to trust God, and you will find your way out.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace with a halo and angel’s wings saying, “I forgive you.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

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Setting Boundaries in Forgiveness

talk_to_the_handContinued from here.

As you repeatedly pray for the offender and meditate on scriptures that reinforce how God directs us to deal with offenders, God will heal the emotional pain from the offense(s). As the emotional pain heals, you will be in a better position to make decisions about whether or not to reconcile with the offender … or, in Sonja’s case, about whether to allow her child to continue a friendship with the offender.

As I shared previously, reconciliation is not a requirement of forgiveness. Forgiveness is about what is going on inside of you. What the other person does or does not do has no power over your own decision to forgive. If you love God, you will forgive your offender because God has told you to do so.

What most people don’t appreciate is that forgiveness is a gift to yourself, freeing you from emotional bondage to the offender. While forgiveness is hard, hating the offender is so much harder. I no longer think about those who have wronged me because I have forgiven them. Before I did, I thought about them all the time. I relived the pain over and over again. My offenders did something to me once, but in my unforgiveness, I relived that offense repeatedly. Forgiveness freed me from this dynamic.

When possible, I find it helpful to distance myself, at least for a time, from those who have offended me so I can focus on forgiving them. Each emotional wound tempts me to focus on myself and the offense, so strong emotional boundaries as well as physical ones, when possible, helps me maintain my focus on God while I work through the early stages of forgiveness. My need for space to redirect my focus from my pain to God has nothing to do with my ultimate decision about whether or not to reconcile. It simply provides me with a fertile ground for doing what God calls me to me do.

It’s much harder to forgive, particularly as new wounds are being inflicted, if you continue interacting with the offender. If the offender is someone you live or work with, it might help to take an out-of-town trip for a few days to put some distance between yourself and the offender. Spend that time in prayer and meditating on God’s word. You might even want to consider fasting. Give yourself the emotional space to shift gears from focusing on the offense to focusing your thoughts back onto God.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding up her hand and saying, “Talk to the hand.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]