Ok, so...it's been a WHILE since I've put my thoughts onto "paper" via this blog. Frankly, there has been so much I have wanted and intended to share with you, including this truthful and heartfelt account of my experience, but for some reason I haven't been able to get myself to do so until now. This story is true, and it is kind of a lengthy read, but please read until the end. If you don't read it for yourself, read it to share with and help someone you know, who is battling with unforgiveness. Do it because you love them, and you want to let them know that forgiveness is not only God's way, it is the only real way to find peace and rest (as this song says).
I was just finishing up my cross-training treadmill workout today when the song "East to West," by Casting Crowns came on. I love this song, so much so that I've made it part of my "cool down" playlist. I know I've heard this song hundreds of times, and I know every word of it, but today, literally just 15 minutes ago I heard a brand new verse, one that until now I'd never heard before. Actually, it seemed like I'd never heard it before, but in reality it has always been in this song and I have heard it countless times before now. But today what I heard in the words of this verse spoke directly to me, to my heart, and to my biggest challenge since having my miscarriage-Forgiveness.
The verse goes like this:
"Here I am Lord and I'm drowning. In your sea of forgetfulness. The chains of yesterday surrond me. I yearn for peace and rest. I don't want to end up where you found me, and it echoes in my mind, keeps me awake tonight. I know you cast my sin as far as the east is from the west, and I stand before you now as though I've never sinned. Today I feel like I'm just one mistake away, from you leaving me this way. Jesus can you show me just how far the east is from the west? Cause I can't stand to see the man I've been come rising up in me again, in the arms of your mercy I find rest. Cause you know just how far the east is from the west, from one scarred hand to the other..."
The part that hit me like a ton of bricks, and sent me to my knees while I was still on my treadmill, tears pouring like falling rain, was this part:
..."I know you cast my sin as far as the east is from the west, and I stand before you now as though I've never sinned..."
WOW. I've read it in the Bible. My Husband reminds me often. I hear Joel Osteen say it. I KNOW IT. But, I have not been able really "get it" until now. God sent his only Son to die for our sins-for my sins, so that I can be set free. I am a sinner, and yet through mercy and my walk with Christ I am forgiven. That being said, I have failed to recognize the significance and importance of forgiving others. I have held hatred, anger, and resentment in my heart, and I have felt the pain of this every day. It is difficult to put this into words. To say that "this song" spoke to me is true, however what I know is that GOD spoke to me, through the words of this song today. "I stand before you now as though I'd never sinned."
Hearing these words I felt as if I'd been struck by lighting, and it took my breath away. I felt my heart stop beating for a split second, so much so that I grabbed at my chest. This is when I felt a explosion of emotion burst from within me. The realization that God could forgive mankind for our sins, including the persecution of his only son Jesus Christ, and yet I could not forgive others for things that only now I realize are trivial in comparison, well this realization was crushing. My Husband has asked me before, "if you died tomorrow and faced God in Heaven, how would you explain why you'd not fogiven this person, especially when He had forgiven you?" I never have been able to answer his question. But right here in the words of this song, "I stand before you now as though I'd never sinned." I come to the realization that if I did meet God I would have no answer for Him either, and if I have no answer for my actions, then my actions must be in vain.
People have said to me (in reference to my miscarriage, and my resentment and hostility towards certain people in my life), "you just need to get over it."
They were right, kind of. What I really needed to do is exactly what my Husband, my family, especially my Husband, and the Bible says. I need to FORGIVE. I've prayed and prayed and prayed some more, but I have still not been able to forgive. But why? I found the answer in this Bible verse:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
This says to me that forgiveness is not necessarily easy for us, and it is not automatic. Forgiveness is indeed a choice, but it may not be a choice that we make only once and then that's it, from here on out we are in a continuing state of forgiving everyone. Forgiveness takes effort and work, but is important that we do this work because God's word tells us we must. Matthew 6:14-16 says:
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. I've also learned that holding grudges will hinder prayers from being answered. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25
As I listened to the words of Casting Crowns "East to West," I began to pray yet again, but this time would be very different. This time I decided to trust God, and as I turned my feelings of anger, resentment, and hatred over to Him, I made the choice to FORGIVE. I trust Him to do the work in me that needs to be done in order to be set free of the pain of unforgiveness. The Bible says forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 I choose to obey God's word and forgive. By doing so I am choosing freedom. Freedom comes only when you release yourself, with the help of the Almighty, from the chains that bind you when your heart holds onto resentment.
There is an indescribable feeling that comes over one's soul when she forgives. It is unlike any other feeling. It is being set free from chains that hold you down and keep you from advancing in your life. It is an immediate and instantaneous release of the most dreadful spiritual and emotional, and even physical pain that has consumed your life for days on end. It is finally being able to smile again and mean it. I experienced this. I felt in that moment as if my body, my mind, my heart, and my soul had been cleansed, rejuvenated, and revived. All I could think of was "WHY did I not do this sooner?!"
As I continued to pray I thanked God for getting me through this. I asked Him to forgive me for not showing mercy and grace to others as He had shown to me. In forgiving someone else, I also forgave myself.