Barnacles on heart
Bitter years’ unforgiveness
Hurt that can’t be chipped away
God’s pure grace dissolves, absolves
I know how bitter unforgiveness can imprison the soul, encrust the heart. Every memory of betrayal, abuse, abandonment, deceit, theft, injustice can stir embers back to raging flames which consume peace and joy in daily life.
God’s position on forgiveness is clear: His Word says if I don’t forgive, He won’t forgive me. AND, He assures me that His grace through Christ is the provision, supply, for all that I—being weak—can’t fulfill, despite my desire to please Him. Not only that but, because He’s both merciful and a God of justice, He vows to vindicate me. And there’s more: Romans 8:28 promises believers that God will “work all things together for good”—“all” means every worst card of offense or loss that life and people have dealt us. He has everything covered.
I was 59 before I learned how freeing it was to forgive people who’d deeply wounded me throughout my life. Perusing a long list of names, I realized that with every remembrance, I’d effectively chained myself to each one of their cruel/ignorant words, deeds. Though I wanted to forgive, I couldn’t shake the intense pain and anger loose. I prayed for the feelings to be dispelled, but the weight of those chains held me down, kept me from living the Abundant Life Jesus died to give us. You know the image of Marley’s ghost, in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”? That’s what came to mind.
Forgiveness is not a “feeling”, it’s a decision. I’ve heard others say that to withhold forgiveness is like drinking the poison you’d like to pour down your enemy’s throat. How true; it becomes bitter bile, the taste which never leaves the tongue—every sentence I spoke was tinged with it, and it affected my health and relationships.
I confess that I didn’t gain victory in this area overnight, but the pursuit was well worthwhile and God is incredibly faithful. His love, patience, and willingness to help are incomprehensible and limitless. As Creator and Heavenly Father, He didn’t just toss us a book of difficult commandments and say, “good luck”. He provided a Savior, His Son Jesus—and His Holy Spirit’s power. Having surrendered my will to God’s, I lean into Him, trusting Him to assist me whenever I’m stuck. I persevere in studying His Word, and pray He’ll send teachers who speak my language. He obliges because He knows my heart belongs to Him.
Today, I thank and praise Him that I’m no longer imprisoned by unforgiveness. I believe that indeed, God continues to work everything together for my benefit. If a memory of wounding surfaces, I’m able to say, “Bless him/her, Lord. I’m grateful You’ve handled the whole matter on my behalf, that it needn’t impact me anymore”. Even if they’re no longer living, or not in my life (so I could bless them personally), it’s transformative, revitalizing to “bless those who’ve cursed you”. I never forget that I, too, have wronged others, and need forgiveness.
I encourage anyone who’s chained to unforgiveness to “be of good cheer”—your help, healing and freedom are waiting in God’s hands. He’s eager to cleanse the barnacles from your heart. “Ask” Him, and be blessed today♥ (scripture verses below)
©Sandal Teaberry, 2018 ~ All rights reserved.
“For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust” Psalm 103:14 New Living Translation (More verses re human weakness, God’s strength/power at end of list**)
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” Philippians 4:13 KJV
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” Luke 6:37 English Standard Version
“Forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” Col 3:13 NIV
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” Mark 11:25 NIV
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” Matt 5:44 King James Version
“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” Luke 6:28 ESV
“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them” Romans 12:14 New Living Translation
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” Romans 12:14 ESV
“The LORD will vindicate me; your love, LORD, endures forever” Psalm 138:8 New Internat’l Version
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28 NASB
*Italics and Bold added by this author.
**Weakness/Strength—2 Cor 12:9, Heb 4:15, Rom 5:6, 8:26; Psalm 31:34, 73:26; Joel 3:10, Isaiah 40:29, 2 Tim 1:7, Matt 26:41