January 2, 2009
Just a Little Heart Cleaning
“If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come offer your sacrifice to God.”
Matthew 5:23-24 (NLT)
Yesterday I swept the mahogany dark wood floors in my house. I worked with so much energy it might have looked like I was a clean freak or, at the very least, industrious. I am neither of those things. In fact, I really didn’t even notice the dust bunnies flying through the air. I was hurt, trying to sweep away harsh words spoken the day before by a friend.
I had spent most of the morning mulling over the words from the day before, wondering why I didn’t say something. Wondering why she did. I finally put on some music, took out the broom, and asked God for His grace because mine didn’t seem to be big enough at the moment.
I’ve heard people throw out advice on forgiveness as if dispensing aspirin. They casually say things like, “Jesus forgave, why don’t you?” The reality is that you and I aren’t Jesus. It’s an uneven journey at best as we accept His grace and strive to learn from His example. The practice of living a forgiving lifestyle can be an ominous task. There is incredible freedom in living a life of mercy, but it’s not something that we just find along the way. It’s a purposeful intent to move beyond the burden and restrictions of bitterness, anger, rage, or unresolved emotions tied to a person or event.
Forgiveness is a bridge I thought I had crossed and yet here I was again. I had forgiven an abusive, dysfunctional childhood. I understand the joy and freedom that comes through forgiving others. So why was the small stuff tripping me up? Perhaps it is because I am still growing, a process that will never stop.
Jesus met a man who was paralyzed. His friends brought him to Jesus on a mat. The need was obvious, but instead of healing his legs Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9: 2 NLT) Isn’t it interesting that He addressed the issue of the man’s heart before attending to his physical body?
He hasn’t changed. He still sees my heart. I have forgiven - but I will continue to become a forgiver as I meet life’s challenges. To do that, I have to give myself a little grace, but also invite Him into the process.
Maybe you’re like I once was; dealing with the hurts of the past and forgiveness seems impossible. Forgiving doesn’t mean that abuse can continue or that what happened is okay. What it does mean is that you are ready to live life free of entanglements to the past.
Maybe you have grappled with the big issues and they no longer hold power over you, but the little stuff is the big stuff and you are tired of it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us”. As I talked with my Savior, He settled in and made Himself at home in the situation. Yesterday my house got cleaned, but so did my heart.
What happens when we are willing to forgive? It moves us one step closer to deep-seated faith marked by grace.
Dear Lord, Help me to forgive one person today. I lift up my heart. I won’t pretend that it doesn’t hurt, but I am willing to forgive. I’m not always big enough, but You are and I am grateful. I won’t forgive based on a person’s response, or even what is fair, but instead I will trust that You desire my heart to be free so that You can love in and through me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Sandpaper People: Dealing with the Ones Who Rub You the Wrong Way by Mary Southerland
The Woman I am Becoming by T. Suzanne Eller
Visit Suzie’s Blog
No matter whether it is a big or small issue, invite God into the situation today.
Think about unforgiveness as a wall. We build it around our heart to keep people from hurting us. What keeps you inside that wall?
What can we miss when we live in a fortress?
You don’t offer forgiveness to hear someone say they are sorry. It’s nice if it happens, but even if it doesn’t it’s foundational to wholeness - in you!
1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love does not demand its own way. [Love] is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” (NLT)
© 2009 by T.Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 02 January 2009.