Today’s blog grew around a short quip that I posted on Facebook years ago. I posted it on the Daily Christian Quote website as well. Since then, I have seen it reposted countless times across the Internet. It seemed to strike a chord, no pun intended. It appears that there a whole lot of God’s people who just can’t get past the stumbling block of unforgiveness.
One day, I will feel free to share with you certain portions of my life story. At present, I want to protect the hearts of some people who I love dearly and who are on a healing journey of their own. However, I can point you toward the two tools that I reach for the most as I continue the path toward wholeness and healing.
The first tool is forgiveness. Forgiveness of others and myself. Unforgiveness is like a scratch on an old record. The song never goes on to the end; it keeps the beautiful music yet to be released unheard, and all that resounds are the same old chords again and again and again. Unforgiveness is also like quicksand; it is impossible to move forward when you stand in unforgiveness for long. Targeted prayer with a trusted counselor, pastor, or trusted friend is often needed to pull you out of the miry sludge of chronic unforgiveness.
The second tool is letting go of unrealistic expectations toward others. As I release those around me from expectations I have placed on them to be something they simply do not have the ability to be, I find freedom from resentment and bitterness. The same holds true for obligations and responsibilities they refuse to fulfill. Although I might need to make some decisions of my own as a result of their choice, I can do so without a need to retaliate. Relational retaliation produces unhealthy enmeshments and codependency.
What is an unrealistic expectation? I define it as an expectation you have placed on another person that God would not put on an individual. Fidelity in marriage, honesty, respectful dialogue, these are all realistic expectations. Expecting someone to buy you the perfect gift for every special occasion or expecting someone to say exactly what you need to hear in exactly the way you think you need to hear it, these are unrealistic expectations. Clean freaks take note! If you find yourself searching through several Bible translations to prove that your expectation is reasonable to both God and man, then you are slipping down a dangerous slope toward deception. Jesus has strong words for those who step into self-righteous behaviours and thought patterns.
When you focus on the unconditional love, grace, and forgiveness God lavished on you when you were least deserving, you will find it easier to let go of false expectations. (Study Luke 7:36-48)
The pain of a forgotten birthday should lessen in the light of the Cross.
Sometimes, knowing the back story of the person who hurt you may help you to forgive them. Even though you may never hear it, there is usually a story of woundedness and a perceived need to self-protect oneself that motivate us to sin against others. That doesn’t excuse their behaviour and it does not excuse us from forgiving them.
As Christians, we are commanded to forgive. Your forgiveness may release captives from the chains that hold them to their story. Your forgiveness could clear a path for them to repent and walk toward a better life for themselves and the world around them. Your forgiveness might move them toward restitution. At the very least, your forgiveness sets you free to live your life without restraint.
Choose to forgive the first person that comes to mind as you read this article. The more your heart and soul resists that very notion, the more stuck you probably are. Ask God to come to your rescue and help you to become unstuck. It’s time to move on and hear the beautiful song God meant your life to be.
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
Until Next Week
2018 Katherine Walden
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