As I have pondered my questions from yesterday on forgiveness and have been wrestling with it today a few things have struck me. Now whether or not these things are true, grounded in some deep understanding of scripture or words…these are the things on my heart.
Can I forgive and still stand up and not accept a certain behavior or behaviors? I believe the simple answer is yes. BUT, it is hard to do. Growing up we were taught a distinct understanding of right and wrong. We knew that if we said a bad word, were mean to each other,disrespectful or didn’t do our chores there would be a consequence…usually in the form of a spanking or, in my case, often Tabasco sauce…Go figure. 🙂 I don’t think that was easy for my parents to do…to be the referee between so many of us. I can remember more than one instance where something happened and my parents forgave us kids for what we had done. I also remember a time, a very pivotal time in my life about age 14. We were attending a church and had been for some time at this point that was comprised primarily of other families similar to ours…homeschooling families that had the goal to raise sound, character filled and godly men and women. It was one of the first times I felt like I belonged somewhere other than home. It wasn’t because I was forced to go either…in our house it was expected we go to church and participate and while my parents taught the scripture and the way of Christ…we were all allowed to make our own decision on our beliefs. No…I felt like I belonged because there were other girls there that ‘got’ me. We were all sewing machine fanatics…yes, we made our own clothes, we all baked our own bread (multiple times a week in our case), we all were familiar with gardening and the tasks that come with it from the care to the canning, animals…especially gathering eggs and milking goats or cows was second nature, and there was an understanding of how to care for younger siblings. Here I wasn’t looked at as odd, unusual, or plain weird…no I was accepted for who I was. It was such an amazing thing. Little did I know or understand the underlining issues my parents were having. To this day I do not completely understand what happened or everything that led up to that fateful morning when I came downstairs and was told we were not going to church…something that NEVER happened. I remember getting a sick feeling a couple days later when one of the couples from the church showed up and us kids were told to go upstairs and not come down until called. The tears on my parents face only solidified the knots in my stomach when we descended a few hours later. We were told we were never going back and that we would probably never see or be able to talk to those people again. Now, understand that I am writing this from a child’s perspective. A perspective that is skewed in ideology, friendships and not having the big picture of what was happening. I do remember though being utterly devastated. Crying tears upon tears for my friendships that were lost and a serious crush I was never going to see again. I anguished in the next months…what had happened…what was going to happen…why was mom crying all the time and was my world ever going to right itself? A few months later we…my siblings and I…were at a competition, sort of like a speech/music/science/math all rolled together. We could enter into different categories and then were judged and placed depending on how good we were. I was in the speech and piano. Anyway, I remember feeling the excitement and dread all rolled together the day of the competition but not because of what I was reciting that day but because my very best friend, in the whole world whom I hadn’t spoken to for four months was going to be there. I felt like Anne of green gables getting to meet her bosom friend, Diana….it was unbelievable. I remember walking into that gym looking everywhere for her and then I saw her and she saw me….we screamed and were in each others arms in seconds. There were so many tears that day, hugs, and promises to figure out how to talk no matter what. I never had blamed her for what had happened but I did blame her parents and the hosts of other adults that had been involved. That day she asked forgiveness for what had been done…even though neither of us really new and it was easy to forgive her. When we parted ways later that day I had a heart full of joy that quickly turned to sorrow and bitterness. In a matter of minutes I went from walking on air to hating everything around me and blaming every single person in that church…well the adults anyway. That anger grew and grew…it lasted months…even after many of the couples involved came to my parents and apologized. No one ever said sorry to me and owned up to the pain I had felt, the betrayal and the loneliness. It wasn’t until almost 2 years later at a revival of sorts that the teacher was talking about forgiveness and it hit me. I had to be able to forgive…even though I was wronged, my parents and family were wronged. The bitterness and anger I had inside was eating me alive…my attitude had changed towards people, toward friendships and towards the meeting of believers. So…I forgave…without being asked or apologized to, but…to this day I do not accept or agree with the treatment of my family. Over the years more information has come out and for me to say what happened was what God would have wanted…well that is foolish. It wasn’t in accordance to His scripture or resembling love at all.
I believe we can and have the ability to forgive but that we also have to stand for what is right, what is true and what is pure. Whether or not that translates into how another person treats you, the words they say, the names they may call you and the constant tearing down of who you are. I believe we can forgive when we don’t agree, when we know what is going on is wrong and that it may separate a friendship or relationship forever, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. We have to forgive, we have to give grace…why? Because the bitterness, the edges of evil, the discontent and grumbling heart can take hold if we do not. I do believe though…that just because we forgive doesn’t mean that all is repaired or forgotten. If a person does not ask for forgiveness there can be no repair made. Reconciliation can not happen and fences can not be mended. If a person or persons have done something that I need to forgive and can not see it themselves, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I can forgive but that doesn’t mean that I have to forget or act like nothing is wrong…but I CAN NOT let the seeds of anger take root…because that, my friend…leads to more problems.