Spelt…For-GIVE-ness

“But she wished she had had the guts to go up to him and say hello.
Or possibly break his legs, she wasn’t sure which.”
― Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Played with Fire

Meme & Jeff at fair

So cute with his pretty blonde hair and blue eyes and me with the mom jeans.

When I was a single mom, I had a lot of pent-up anger. One, I had a lot of previous life choices and disappointing situations that left me questioning my purpose in this world. Two, I was frustrated with myself for getting pregnant, but now looking back realize it was a blessing. Three, I was mad at my son’s father for lying to me about not being married when in fact he was. Also, when the little guy was 18 months old, his father sued me for paternity and custody. He had decided he wanted to be a dad after all; however, didn’t have his wife’s buy-in. It was a long, drawn out, ugly mess. There were many days I struggled with the assault on my motherhood and personal choices. Thankfully, I had a friend who talked me out of my desire to do sinister things to him like running him over with my car. The anger turned into depression and it stuck to me like chewing gum on the bottom of my shoe for the next seventeen years. Even though I had accepted a life with Christ, gotten married and went onto have another child, the anger was always percolating inside, and particularly when I had to see him every other weekend and hear his verbal insults come out through the mouth of my child.

Anger is the Band-Aid I put on my hurt. It’s how I dealt with it. But anger only caused the hurt to not heal. As I struggled with it, I hadn’t considered forgiveness as an option to freedom. Up until that point, freedom looked something like a swarm of bees attacking him–daily, jail time for some imagined fraudulent act I hoped he’d committed, everything he owned being eaten by locusts, and these were just the kinder thoughts that traversed my bitter mind. But true forgiveness takes work—real work, every second of every day when those ugly thoughts try to wiggle their way back in, so they can start the movie in your mind all over again.

God is pretty clear on his position regarding forgiveness. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6:14 NIV) Ouch! I couldn’t imagine myself being penalized and having to go through eternity holding the grudge I hosted for so long and it was a struggle. It wasn’t until I heard an interesting message from a country preacher one Sunday while we were traveling. He said in order to start the act of forgiveness, you need to see yourself as a servant to that person. What?! No way! He couldn’t possibly expect me to serve someone who doesn’t even feel sorry or some semblance of guilt for the pain he inflicted on me. However, I knew the load of unforgiveness was a weight I didn’t wish to carry anymore. I understood him to say that unforgiveness hinders God’s ability to deal with the situation. Ah, that I understood.

forgivenessMy start to forgiveness began with forgiving myself and to stop beating myself up. Second, I had to literally wake up every day and envision myself serving him. The scenario I constructed in my head included he and his wife’s new baby. I saw myself taking care of the baby, feeding and changing messy diapers. Any time the thought of revenge tried to sneak in, I’d play my forgiveness video in my head. Sometimes when it was really strong, I had to see myself picking up dog poop in his yard. Gross, I know, but it works. It was weird, but one day while driving, a man caught my glance and it looked like my son’s father. I realized then that I hadn’t thought of him in weeks. How liberating!

Jesus gave us the ultimate example of servitude and calls us to the same. “And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44 ESV) Even at the cross, He was asking God to forgive those that put Him there. What an amazing example of love and sacrifice.

So where are you with forgiveness? Are you carrying the burden of anger and disappointment caused by one, two or more people in your life? I challenge you to replace your bitter video with one of servitude. The possibilities are endless. Consider the video of a good friend of mine whose ex-husband bought a sport fishing boat with their savings (while they were getting divorced). She had to see herself washing that boat inside and out. Eventually, the boat shrank in size and so too her anger. She’s enjoying freedom and so should you.

Until next time, stay chic

Vicki

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. –Lewis B. Smedes

Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got. –Robert Brault

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. –Mahatma Gandhi

2 Responses to “Spelt…For-GIVE-ness”

  • Hope Stewart says:

    Excellent article, dear cousin! I am in the process of doing a one-on-one study with a friend of mine on this same subject. The book is called, “Overcoming Emotions That Destroy” by Chip Ingram and Dr. Becca Johnson. I thought that I was doing this to “help” her through some rough times, not realizing that God had a reason for me “choosing” this book.
    Love you!

    • Vicki Hoyos says:

      That’s awesome and thanks so much. It’s amazing how God uses things to accomplish His good works. I’m sure your friend is being as blessed as much as you are. I’d love for you to do a write up of the book for our Book Club section when you’re done. I think others would find it equally helpful. Love you too and miss seeing you. -v

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