I am a woman prone to hate and bitterness. It’s the truth. It’s not something I like about myself. I’ve tried and prayed to forgive and feel forgiveness. I’ve tried to banish those people from my thoughts; I’ve tried imposing a picture of the cross. I’ve tried to ball them up and throw them at the foot of the cross. I’ve done visualization. I’ve used just about every tool in my box. Last week I thought I should make a list of the people I hated. I was going to pray for them that they have blessed lives and I would forgive them. I played with the idea while I was driving and came up with way too many people. I was so embarrassed. I’ve been too busy to start writing the list. Now what?
I was super OCD today, and I mean it. I was meditating on the same bitter thought over and over again. I couldn’t get it out of my brain so I almost surrendered. Then, then answer came to me all at once. One of the reasons that these people upset me so is because I was thinking about the events over and over again. The issues had become epic. In my mind they had blown up. I blamed one woman for making the sound of laughter irritating to me. I blamed my parents for knocking me off kilter enough that I had to go in the hospital. I was angry at a woman for spreading the Gospel of Gary Ezzo. I was a woman obsessed.
But today, I thought this: What if they apologized? Could I picture them before me, saying sorry? I found that I could. I imagined them specifically asking for my forgiveness. In almost all of the situations I found it was easy to forgive them. The first offender offered her apology and my immediate response was, “Hey – no big deal.”
Some of these issues were immediately forgivable and I believe that they were never really that important. Others were bad news. My un-forgiveness had shaped my life. Sometimes I was letter a person rule over me because I was holding on to that tie. I’m sure that some of the people I saw as an enemy didn’t even remember my name. What got me to the point that I would let them do that?
I don’t know.
But picturing her before me, confessing their sins to me, freed me. She admitted she was wrong and should not have played the games she played and did the things she did. It was like untying a very tight knot. I didn’t have to hate her anymore. My body felt immediately light and I felt free.
I was wondering just how Biblical this is? Who am I to deserve such a confession? Aren’t my sins forgiven? How can I ever hold anything against each other?
James 5 says: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Even though the people’s confessions were not real, they made it possible for me to obey the second part of the first sentence. I was about to be healed and follow that commandment. For some of the people who I needed to forgive I hadn’t seen for over a decade. I don’t know how much they have changed or what they are doing now.
What I do know is that God has deemed them worthy of His death and His forgiveness. I am able to do that and be Christ to them in a small way. But what about “seeing” them instead of them approaching me in person? Does that make these confessions void?
The Bible says, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” It may be that these visions are a gift from God. He knows that I needed to have these visions to be well and that I was ready to do it. It’s only a good thing for me to hear these confessions and be able to be free to love them. Maybe they will even be healed – it will only benefit us.