Monday, August 13

where forgiveness comes from

I had a dream the other night that I did something horrible. Something so horrible that I didn't want my husband or my family finding out. Then, in the dream, I was on my knees begging my God to forgive me. "Please God, spare me one last time, don't let this ruin me and send me to hell. Please God, help me turn out of these old ways, please, God fix me." I was sobbing uncontrollably, and woke up with wet eyelashes. I can't describe the overwhelming thankfulness that came over me when I woke up, in my own bed, around 3:34 a.m., never having committed that awful crime.

I do this. I have extremely vivid, incredibly personal and real dreams, often. I dreamt once about a friend and her reuniting with an old friend, to wake up a day later and see that she had. I've had dreams about having babies and what I should name them. I've had dreams about people and they've called, out of the blue, the next day. I'll continue to call this intuition sometimes, God all the other times. I'm sure I was thinking about forgiveness before I went to sleep, because I was asked to lead a small group and discuss the aspects and feelings of forgiveness, but, still, this was a pretty powerful revelation I had in the wee hours of that night.

After waking up and realizing I was still in this cushy life of mine, I cried for a different reason instead. I hadn’t ever actually committed this crime before, but I can see how easy it would be to be deceived to do so. I haven't ever even thought about doing something like that, but I know hundreds probably have and do. I wasn't awakened by guilt or fear; I was awakened by incredible, indescribable love, instead.

You see, during my pleading and sobbing, there was an ever-constant and present voice that said, "It's alright, I forgive you. It's fine, my darling, I already have. Don't cry, it will all be okay. I've forgiven all of it, everything." I was awakened by the fact that God has seen it all--from the moment I spoke my first lie to today--He's been there at every crossing and has watched me make bad decision after bad decision. Yet, He has forgiven me every time, for all of it, for everything.

So how can I not forgive someone who has wronged me or hurt my feelings? How can I not look at another woman who has done wrong and throw my arms around her? How can I not extend mercy and grace to my neighbor, for I have seen firsthand the greatest mercy and grace there is?

What I have learned is that my ability to forgive someone who has hurt me does not come from my constant effort, my pleading prayers, or my deep desire to do so. It comes from the overflow that is God's forgiveness extended to me. I do not look you in the eye and say "I forgive you" because I am noble, because I am fearful of God. I look at you and say that because each and every time I have begged for forgiveness, He has replied, "No need to beg, sweetheart. It's already been done."

There is no crime too big for my God. There is not even a fake crime, committed in dreams, too silly, too much, for my God. Therefore, there is no crime you can commit against me that I cannot forgive. I never have to say its okay for you to behave like that or to treat another person that way. I don't even have to say that you don't deserve justice in this life, but I am able--you hear? able--to say that I forgive you.

Thankfully, I've got one great husband who is just the same. "I forgive you" is on his resume of traits and qualities. His ability to forgive is remarkable, something he could have only learned from knowing God and having God in his life. Today marks a pretty remarkable day for us: Hubby has got a new job and the blessings just keep coming! Turn after turn, they give him another piece of news that says to us, "I've forgiven you, and I've seen your struggle. Commit to My ways and receive the blessings I have in store for you."

He's a great, big God, full of forgiveness, grace, mercy, and blessings, and nothing is too hard, too difficult, too nasty, too disgusting for Him. This may be something you’ve heard, over and over again, but I promise you the moment you recognize His great forgiveness in your heart, you’ll start to understand where forgiveness comes from.

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