I will lead the blind by ways they have not known. Is. 42:16a
6. Forgiveness is hard because ~ I’ve embraced a fake forgiveness.
Forgiveness is messy. No one looks forward to a season like that. It involves reviewing the hurt, asking God to show me how I internalized it, feeling anger, grieving a loss of some kind, and many other things not easy to navigate. I fear that if I start feeling angry or I grieve deeply, I’ll never be able to escape the cycle.
What’s the safe alternative? The one the church so often adopts. Their paradigm is this ~ A person goes forward during an invitation, they kneel at the altar, cry a few tears and tell God that they will forgive their offender. They get up and put on a face that says, “Now I’m finished. Been there ~ done that!” This brief encounter with the edges of forgiveness leads onlookers to believe that this person should be all better. In fact, others will expect it. When this person’s heart fails and hurts again, they will beat themselves up over being a failure of a Christian. And if they confess their struggles to another, they will probably hear sermons that stir up guilt.
What is the answer? To understand that forgiveness is not cerebral, nor is it momentary. The bigger the hurt, the longer the process, and the messier it is. I have to be careful not to surround myself with confidants who have the false expectations of an unbiblical kind of forgiveness. To be vulnerable to hardliners who diminish God-given emotions is a mistake. I don’t know what they would have done with Jesus when He modeled a very wide emotional spectrum. He was free to express joy and also free to grieve to the point of sweating drops of blood. We here in the western world have numbed out to the extremes that are healthy for us. We believe that to be stoic is to be holy.
If you are one who has walked the aisle, said the words, cried briefly, and then wondered why – with time – you didn’t feel much better, perhaps you have been the victim of poor teaching and unreasonable expectations. What should you do? Start over. Find a journey partner or prayer partner. Be yourself and acknowledge what you have been afraid to disclose to anyone, including yourself. God already knows it’s there and has been waiting for the exposure of what’s been hidden. Now is the season for refreshing.
There is a promise that goes with you so don’t fear. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. Isaiah 42:16
You are leading me into the dark, turning on the light. Amen