What does it mean to walk in forgiveness. Does it mean never being angry or hurt? No, of course not. Walking in forgiveness is forgiving others as Christ forgave us. As it shows in our scripture today:
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Eph. 4:32)
I have a true story you are not going to believe today. I promise it is true ~ I know these are the facts ~ this story is about me and my friend.
Around 20 years ago I met the person who would for all intents and purposes, be my soul-mate friend. You know the kind of friend who knows you inside and out and loves you anyway. The kind of friend you can tell your deepest secrets too and vice versa. Our friendship was so strong that miles could not touch it. We talked weekly even over 1,000 miles apart. We planned four day weekends for our families to get together at least twice a year and as soon as we hugged it was if we had seen each other yesterday.
This friendship was destroyed by betrayal in the utmost form, within the blink of an eye. I went from loving this friend to never wanting to talk with them again. Never wanting to see them again. This was almost 10 years ago, back in 1999. After about a year, the Lord dealth with me to forgive this friend and what they had done to me. I called and talked to the friend and let them know that God had been dealing with me on forgiveness because, really forgiveness is for us. Unforgiveness is a weight we wear around our neck and it chokes the life out of us everytime that person comes to mind or we see their face or someone mentions their name. So, I forgave said frend and told them that while I forgave them, I did not want to be their friend. I did not want to maintain contact with them or hear from them. This forgiveness was for me and I walked away feeling like I had forgiven.
Flash forward to 2004, Brad and I are dating and one day my friend comes up. I guess I laughed at some memory and then became pretty sad and said "I miss my friend". With Brad's encouragement, I called said friend and told them, I love you and miss you and although I don't know if things can ever be the same, I want you in my life and I truly forgive you. There was a weight that just fell off of me during this moment. The friend and I started talking again and people around me were amazed that I was friends with them again. It wasn't what was in me, it was God in me trying to fix some things.
See, I came to realize that my friend did hurt me, yes. But I also came to realize I gave them occasion to do so. If I had been caring and aware and the friend I should have been, this hurt may never have taken place anyway. I left doors open for the hurt to happen and that was my responsibility. I remember just like it was yesterday, my friend invited me to come to their house, around 6 hours away. I was traveling to see some colorguard show that was in the vicinity so I thought, why not? Let's see how this goes. It was three am when I got there, tired and road weary, and I walked into what felt like home. We hugged and laughed and like always, it was as if we had seen each other the day before.
We are soul-mate friends once again. God can restore what the enemy means to harm us. This friend was at our wedding, we have been as a family to visit them and they have been here to visit us. There have been times when my friend has asked me if I would like them to revisit the hurt and try to get it out in the open and my honest answer has been, I don't really care anymore. Because I don't . . . while that hurt ran deep it did things for me that nothing else could do, it opened my eyes to who I was and what I wanted in life and gave me a determination that God wanted more for me than I desired for myself. Through those hurts God created Joy and Love and Compassion for others. I am thankful for my friend and every situation we have walked through.
My friend called me just this Saturday and is walking through some situations of their own. I told them it is so hard sometimes to feel like you are walkig your path alone but God knows where we are walking and He sees where our path leads so there is no reason to be discouraged, even though as humans, we can't help it sometimes.
I think of all that I would miss out on in our friendship if God had not taught me how to walk in forgiveness. Some people say it is stupid to forgive and move forward, that you are just asking to be hurt again. When we place our faith and our trust in God, we don't have to worry about being hurt by people, because God always holds us through every circumstance. Let God lead you to walking in forgiveness today. It's interesting, when we talk about forgiving like God forgave us, we sometimes forget that God doesn't even remember our sin. The following verses show how much God does when He forgives us:
- Isa 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
- Heb 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
- Heb 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
How can you do that if you feel like you can't forgive. It is so simple; Just tell the Lord you are tired of caring around someone elses junk. Ask Him to take that junk and put it away from you and that everytime hurt and unforgiveness rears its head, speak to it and tell it, Hey, I gave you to Jesus so go away! It takes time, but keep walking forward in love and God will give you the ability to have your heart healed and restored.