One thing that I have been wrestling with has been forgiving those of whom I had such high expectations after my husband went to heaven. I thought that certain ones would be rallying around me showing their care and concern because that is the right thing to do. I didn’t expect much – just a phone call to ask how I was doing and if I needed help with anything. But, that has not happened and it has been a source of deep hurt and anger.
Yesterday as I was reading for pleasure in Robin Jones Gunn’s book entitled Wildflowers, I was struck by something one of her characters related from the story of Lazarus in the second half of John chapter 11. After Jesus instructed that the stone be rolled away from Lazarus’ burial place, he told Lazarus’ sisters to “Unbind him, and let him go.’ The original word in Greek for ‘unbind’ is aphiemi which means to untie, to forgive, or to let go.
Aphiemi is used again in Luke 23:34 as Jesus is hanging on the cross and says, “Father, forgive them.” Or unbind them, untie them. “They don’t know what they’re doing.” Those words pierced my heart.
Robin’s character in the book goes on to say:
“When I was studying this, I felt as if the Lord was asking me to roll away the stone that I had put in front of this relationship. Just like Mary and Martha, I argued and told God that the whole relationship stinks because it’s been dead for so long. I knew I should simply obey God instead of argue with Him. So last night, in my heart, I rolled back that stone. I have forgiven my dad…..I want to untie him and let him go.”
I realized that I have had a stone rolled up tightly at the front of my heart keeping in those who have not done what I wanted them to do. In the process of keeping them all bound up, I realized that I’ve been keeping myself bound up in unforgiveness. I had a decision to make. Was I going to keep that stone there or roll it back and untie all those whom I’ve had bound up and in that process unloose myself? Or am I going to keep holding onto all of those hurts? Those people no doubt have no idea that they have hurt me so deeply. I have only been hurting myself by hanging onto these things for almost 2 years.
Last night I opened up my heart to the Lord naming those who have hurt me, telling Him how they had hurt me, and forgave them. Did I want to forgive them? Not really if the truth be told. You see, I felt like I have a reason to be angry at them. They have fallen short in my eyes and my husband would be so disappointed if he knew. But, I knew I had to do this for myself – not for them. Then I asked God to forgive me for holding all that anger in for so long.
I have no doubt that there will be times when those people will come up in my mind and I will feel that pain and anger again, but I know what I must do immediately in order to keep that stone rolled away from my heart.
Help me, Lord, because my disappointments are so great and it still hurts so deeply. Help me to recognize when I am allowing anger in again and give me the strength to forgive and keep on forgiving.
Candy, You are so right. Forgiveness is a deliberate, willful act, something we do especially when we don’t want to do it. Healing follows forgiveness. I think you are more vulnerable since your hurts are directly related to the loss of your husband and parents. The hurt and anger over those who were not there for you will recycle, but you will move more quickly through the necessary steps to forgive. Thank- you for your courage in sharing this; also for allowing us to see your pain and hurt of your losses. It is a privilege to share your burden. I know HE will place His blanket of comfort and mercy on you today. Jesus loves you and cares for you. Susan Pflum
Oh Candy, that was so real and honest, and such a good lesson for the rest of us who may struggle with that, too. Thank you for being you and sharing your life and your hurts and your healing process with us.
Although it’s so very hard to do, forgiveness can be one of the most freeing things that we can do. You no longer have to hold onto it but know that it’s resting in the Father’s hands for Him to take care of. You’re right, it will still pop into your mind but it hurts less and less each time.
Powerful reminder, Candy. Thanks for sharing that–and thanks for opening your heart.