Day 3 • Getting Lost in His Forgiveness • Releasing Those Who’ve Hurt You
Focus your heart in worship by listening to this song:
Gain heart focus by praying Scripture out loud:
God, there are people who have hurt me. The result is bitterness, rage, anger, slander. I need to learn to be kind and compassionate and to forgive those who have hurt me just like you forgave me. But this is hard for me. Help me. You tell me that if someone hurts me seven times in one day, that I’m supposed to forgive him or her seven times in that same day. Today, I need you to help me to understand how this can be good.
Adapted from Ephesians 4:31,32; Luke 17:1-3)
Everyone leaves a legacy when they walk through our lives.
Some leave behind destruction, rubble, and dust. Some don’t leave even if you wish they would. Maybe they’re family and never will. The destruction seems to never end—and every time you clean up what they do, they make another mess. Every time you find healing, you find yourself again in the aftermath of their sin.
Boyfriends who use you to mop up their need…and then leave.
Best friends who really aren’t.
Parents who can’t.
Business partners who forget what the word partner means.
This is when God calls us to put on our big girl panties and act like him. To forgive. I should have warned you that today’s love feast may be a little difficult to digest, and it might even have a bad taste to it. But stick with me. There’s nourishment for your soul in this and it’s something God really wants you to taste of. He is really serious about forgiveness.
“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 heavenly Father will not forgive you.
(Matthew 6:14,15 NIV)
Forgiveness is not a feeling. You will never feel like forgiving your mom. Your roommate. Your brother. Your ex. It’s a choice. It’s saying, “I no longer expect you to behave differently and I no longer expect you to pay me back for what you took from me.” You’re releasing them from their prolonged stupidity and any debt it has created. In releasing them you declare: “I will not let this bitter root grow in me.” (Love that sentence. It’s from Sara Groves’s song Tornado)
Does this let them off the hook? In no way. The God of Angel Armies is always on your side. Instead of waiting for the person that hurt you to fix things, you’re trusting God to take care of it. It’s a transfer of trust. Betcha didn’t realize you were still fighting with all you got to trust that person who hurt you? How about you just call them what they are: crooked, without integrity, liar, cheater, broken, selfish. Yes, that’s part of forgiveness, too. You get to truthfully say what they have become in your life. (Not to their face, of course. KEEP READING!)
I don’t want to hyper-focus on any one kind of relationship, but the ones that seem to leave the longest legacy of woundedness are the “exes.” Especially if you were joined together sexually. So, can we focus on the guy that left you wounded for a paragraph or two?
There is a spiritual bond created between you and anyone you have sex with. Some call it “soul ties”. Others use words like “enmeshment.” It’s not just emotional, it’s physical. Chemicals like dopamine (released during the feel-good pleasure of sex) create an addiction between you and the person. Another chemical, oxytocin, bonds you to the person and creates a life-long sense of belonging. (God also uses this chemical to bond a mother to her child when she is breast-feeding.) Powerful stuff—this super glue of the brain.
The Apostle Paul warned us:
Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.” (I Corinthians 6:16)
Your body makes a promise to stay whether you do or not. So did his. Or hers. It will be a supernatural healing of your brain at the hand of the Great Physician that severs this tie and brings you peace. I’ve never seen him bring that healing unless the woman I was counseling first CHOSE forgiveness. And what I see then is miraculously beautiful. (I know a little something about this. I’ve lived in the beauty of it myself.)
It’s time to forgive.
2013 tested my resolved to live in God’s forgiveness towards others. No “exes” for me, but lots of relationships that went awry. So much destruction. But the survival of my spirit required that I act (as in right now and in real time) in kindness and compassion towards those who tried to turn pieces of my life to dust. I have to confess, that it wasn’t in me. I simply could not be kind… until I barfed out the hurt. Used the words. Called them what they were. This is an activity best done alone. Barfing on your ex, your needy best friend, your betrayer-for-a-roommate, or the partner who leaves you holding the debt is not advised. They don’t like it. It doesn’t help. And it gets real messy real fast.
But I have found that God can handle it. You can use the real words of harsh realty with him and trust him to sort it out. He knows what’s in your heart. You might as well say it to him. “Bring to him what is in you, not what should be.” (C.S. Lewis)
During this fast from media as we feast from God, you may feel the burn of the betrayal a little more deeply. There will be no false intimacy of “friends” you’ve never even met using up all the space to keep your heart distracted. The vacuum left by those who’ve hurt you swells. You feel it. Don’t be afraid of it. Let is be there so you can do the hard work of release.
My heart is clean. And ready to be kind.
And when I sing “God of Angel Armies” my spirit soars. I know the enemy wasn’t really my friend at all, but the Enemy of us all.
And I know Who wins.
A Note From Your Love
My beloved one Stephen was stoned. They hurled not only rocks, but lies at him. Those hurt the deepest. The lies. The response he chose was forgiveness. Even as the blood ran from his head, his last thoughts were to release his murderers. This is the kind of forgiveness to which I’m calling you. There may even be a time when I ask you to feed one who has hurt you. Or to give them a drink in their thirst. If there is a lesson learned or vengeance to be had, that’s my job. Yours is to be poised with your heart ready with a meal if ever I ask that of you. Let me take care of things until then.
(Based on Acts 7:59,60; Romans 12:20; Romans 12:19 )
Write Your Story
Today I want you to pick one person to whom you will write a letter of release. They will never see this letter. It’s purpose is for you to “get it out”. Call them a cheater, a liar, a betrayer. You can even call them things your mama told you never to call someone if it’s true. Just get it out. Then, begin to put your forgiveness into writing. “I choose to forgive you for leaving me when I needed you. I choose to forgive you for taking what was mine. I choose to forgive you…” Be specific and write until you don’t have anything else in there. Then, burn the letter. You’re done. The work may still take some forming in your heart, but the CHOICE to forgive has been made. You have released them.
If you have enjoyed this devo-style “feast” today, consider getting a copy of my latest release, “Get Lost: Your Guide To Finding True Love.” Included in the pages of the book is a ten-day Love Feast, and we offer a free on-line video talk show for groups to enjoy the feast together.