I get angry so quickly lately. I am ashamed to admit that it’s been easier for me to snap at almost anyone (often, my husband) even with the smallest of things than to extend love and grace. My patience is shorter; I explode for no reason. I have been asking myself why — wondering what brought this on. I was never like this before. There just seems to be so much anger in my heart.
Today, I found the answer to my question.
I need to forgive.
As hard as it is for me to admit, I have to confront this truth about myself: I am unforgiving.
I struggle to forgive. I resist letting go of mistakes whether they were my own or not. I allow them to pile up in my heart believing I am giving justice to my hurts by refusing to move on. Somehow I have come to the conclusion that because I have been hurt, violated, and stepped on, I have all the right to hold on to the pain I feel. Ironically, I don’t like to be in pain. Yet I seem to find it easier to cling to it than to release it. Hanging on to my wounds required less of my strength than granting others what I so desperately need myself — forgiveness. I felt justified to not expel that strength because I am the “victim.”
While listening to the Sunday’s message at my church today, I felt the Holy Spirit’s gentle nudge showing me that my recent outbursts of anger is a byproduct of my unwillingness to forgive. I think I’ve arrived at a point where my soul could not take it anymore; it’s spewing it out in unwarranted irritability.
Now I have always known that God wants me to forgive. That’s Christianity 101. Except I shoved the truth of His word beneath stacks of “valid” reasons, I became oblivious to the fact that by withholding forgiveness from others I am resisting my own forgiveness from God.
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25)
Seasons of my walk with God appear to always have this overarching theme of matters that He is either trying to weed out of me or cultivate in my heart. I am convinced that for this period of my life the theme is this: breaking free. Breaking free from the bondages I have shackled myself with. Breaking free from the bitterness that has taken root in my soul. It is causing trouble to me and to the people I love.
Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. (Hebrews 12:15)
Bitterness is poison as my husband declared at the pulpit, and it is. It is a spiritual cancer that ravages souls. Ruins relationships. Consumes life. God even said that He blots out our transgressions for His own sake.
For His own sake. Because He knows how destructive bitterness is.
“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
And I will not remember your sins. (Isaiah 43:25)
At the end of the sermon, we prayed for God to show us who we needed to forgive. In a swift motion of thoughts, names and faces flooded my mind. He showed me many people from time past and present at different points in my life I have yet to forgive. People I thought I have already forgiven. Sadly, I only forgave them on the surface. The roots of bitterness from all these separate yet similar scenarios of me versus the world have persisted and lived on unnoticed. Now it is like a huge bundle of resentment, balled up and ready to throw itself out to anyone who comes near.
I thought to myself I have a lot of weeding out to do to take it totally out of my system. I felt defeated wondering how to begin. But God also showed me in that instant that all I had to do was forgive them.
Just. Forgive. Them.
Forgive them for my own sake before bitterness destroys all of me. Forgive them as He has forgiven me. Stretch out the grace He has so generously poured out on me to those who caused me suffering and pain. For my own sake. Allow His love to embrace me and those who have hurt me. For my own sake. Let His love and grace take the pain away, heal my wounds, and restore me. For my own sake.
For bitterness, as God so clearly showed me, is not a companion I want hanging around and attaching itself on me. For my own sake, He wants me to forgive and to let go.
Father, I prayed to You today for me to walk in Your strength. I prayed for You to take away the fears I hold in my heart. You answered that prayer. You helped me walked in Your strength and opened my eyes to my blindness. You gave me the strength to forgive. You also helped me realize that many of my fears were birthed out of my unwillingness to forgive. Because I have held on to resentments, my heart became weaker and more susceptible to the lies the enemy fed it. I have been bitter and ungrateful to Your immeasurable grace while living in anger and in fear. Thank You for the tender touch of reminder that I need not dwell in my hurts but that I can break free from them. Thank You for the sweet embrace of remembrance that I am forgiven and loved; I can stretch out my hand and my heart, forgive others, and love them in Your strength. In Jesus’ praiseworthy name! Amen.