“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you” Lewis B. Smedes
When you hear something repeatedly, you think you have a good grasp of the concept. However, some things you have to learn for yourself, no one can teach them to you! I once heard someone say that forgiveness is for you, not for the other person. I also heard it said when you hold unforgiveness in your heart, it is like drinking a bottle of poison and hoping the other person will die. It made sense to me, but did not become a reality for me until this past week.
The other night I told our girls to do something the next morning when they woke up. We had somewhere to go the next morning and I knew we would be gone all day so I wanted them to get something done before we left the house. I woke up the next morning to find them on the couch watching television and the assignment I gave them undone. I asked them if they had forgotten what I said and they had not. They just chose not to do it. I reminded them of what I said and they got it done, but I was still upset because they did not do it when they woke up as I instructed them. I spoke to my husband about it and he told me to grace them because after all God graces me. That comment just made me even more furious about the situation.
The day progressed and we continued with our activities as planned. The girls were having a great time but I was not. I was still fuming. Instead of enjoying myself and talking with the other moms at the activity we were at, I sat with a frown on my face. The girls had forgotten all about what happened that morning, but I had not. I was still fuming. My husband’s words to grace them echoed in my head but I thought, I am not God and I do not get over stuff that easy. As the day continued, they smiled and I frowned!
On our way to the next activity for the day, KSBJ played in the background. I did not pay attention to what played on the radio until I heard these words:
“It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…
I thought, No, Lord, no! I’m mad and want them to be miserable for making me mad! The song continued….
“It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’
NO LORD, NO! THEY WERE WRONG! THEY JUST IGNORED WHAT I SAID! The song continued…
“It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you”
Then the words I heard about forgiveness echoed in my head. “Forgiveness is for you, not for the other person.” “When you hold unforgivness in your heart, it is like drinking a bottle of poison and hoping the other person will die.”
Okay Lord, I get it. I forgive them. In that moment the imprinted frown on my face and wrinkle in my forehead slowly went away. Instead of missing the beauty that was happening in the day, I could now enjoy myself.
Later that day, I spoke with our girls about forgiveness. I talked to them about how God forgives us and how we have to extend forgiveness to others even when we do not want to. I did not excuse them from the consequences of their disobedience, but wanted to use this as a teachable moment.
I would like to think I was a perfect child and never did anything wrong, but that is far from the truth. I have to extend forgiveness and grace to my children just as my mom extended it to me.
Are you a prisoner today? Are you drinking poison hoping the other person will die? Forgiveness is for you, not the other person. I encourage you to free yourself today! It is not always easy. Even as I write this, my husband just ticked me off. I can be miserable the rest of the night because of what he did, or I can forgive him and let God deal with him for his actions. Do I want to do it? Heck no! Was he wrong? Heck yes! Is it the right thing to do? Yes, and as I meditate on the words of this song and with God’s help I will do what feels like the impossible and forgive.
Whoever it is? Whatever it is? Let it go! There is freedom in FORGIVENESS! Ask God to help you to do what seems impossible – Forgive!
“Help me now to do the impossible
I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
View the story behind the song “Forgiveness” Part 1
View the story behind the song “Forgiveness” Part 2
Photo Credit: Personal Excellence