Two incidents (one in Christina's journal and one in her final weeks) have challenged me over and over again. Someone had hurt Christina and, as her mom, I was feeling a bit protective. She walked out of her bedroom shortly after the incident and grabbed my hands. She expressed her hurt and anger and realized that she needed to go in a different direction. She said, "I don't want to make this all about me. I need to forgive right now and so do you. We cannot afford to carry this into these next weeks. We need freedom."
Oh, how I felt like we both deserved to beangry and unforgiving. And yet, I knew she was right. Carrying the offense one more minute was not going to be good for our hearts. Anger would lead to bitterness and bitterness prevents the joy of Jesus from filling us. And so, right then, we both forgave and then experienced the freedom of love. Love does not flow well through a bitter and angry heart. I cannot imagine how different the last weeks would have felt if we had exercised our "right" to be angry and bitter. How much of God's blessing would we have missed. Looking back, I would not want to trade the beauty of Christina's final weeks for our "right" to bitterness.
The other incident from Christina's journal also continues to instruct me. She processed so many of life's events in prayer--written out in her journal. She described an incident--the hurt--her effort to look like Jesus--to listen to Him carefully. After the incident, she wrote about what was so hurtful to her, why it hurt, and the questions she struggled with. But then her very next sentence surprised me and instructed me. "How do I move forward in love in this situation? What does love look like?"
She didn't ask how to get even or how long she could be sullen. She didn't move into a posture of despair or manipulation. Just--How do I love?
I have been thinking how different all of our relationships could look if we would forgive quickly and ask, "What does love look like in this situation?"
This is not easy. We live in a world that wants to claim our rights. We think that we will lose part of ourselves if we forgive too easily. God sees it differently.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
As we forgive and choose to love, we receive from GodHis peace, power, joy, and love. Quite a good trade off, I think.