Forgiveness Fridays: A Work in Progress

What about when forgiveness seems impossible? A mountain too high even to contemplate climbing? Today’s contribution comes from an unnamed friend who writes honestly and movingly. She knows that she is a work in progress – and yet she has hope for the way forward.

Sometimes I wonder why I find it so hard to forgive. Is God picking on me with all the bad and hard stuff? Maybe I exaggerate. I know many people are much worse off than I am; people with nothing, less than nothing, and I should be grateful.

Let me tell you a bit of my story. My grandmother was killed in Auschwitz, as well as my uncle, and aunt, and a cousin, and there’s another cousin about whom there is a mystery. I feel I shouldn’t complain, for whole families were wiped out that way, and I didn’t experience it myself.

But also, my mother died by suicide when I was a child. She spoke her last words to me, and they were not kind. My relationship with her was bad, really bad. It took me till my 60s to admit to myself that she was cruel to me. I’ve had to work on forgiving her.

I admit too that I’ve made some not so clever choices in my life. I rushed into marriage too young, to a non-Christian, and started a family very quickly. Then within that first week of our child’s life I was in a mental hospital with post-natal depression. Becoming a mother, I realise decades later, I flipped. The last thing I wanted was to be a mother as my mother had been towards me.

Being put into a mental hospital is horrid, I can tell you. I’ve been put in one three times, after which I came to think about myself as someone who is mentally ill. I’ve really struggled with that.

For 10 or so years I didn’t go to church. Looking back I wonder did God allow that, or even cause it that way. Brokenness is somewhere in the heart of the Gospel, yet my experience is that people even in church find brokenness hard to accept, for they’re uncomfortable with it. They seem to want to fix it. They seem to ask, ‘Why don’t you tow the party line and be healed?’

People can be very unkind and add to the hurt. Having experienced so much pain, I concluded I must be a bad person who sinned. But it’s God choice who he heals, and when, and in what way. To this day I struggle with depression and still carry the imposed thought, ‘If only you forgave you’d be set free; be healed.’

I know that perhaps it was not a wise choice to marry a non-Christian. I still hear the question, ‘Were you a Christian when you married him?’ The implications are, ‘You did wrong, you’ve only yourself to blame’. It’s difficult. Though the drive of his life, his motives, are completely different from mine, still I love him and want the best for him. I am told he is my spiritual sand-paper.

After all, I read, ‘Wives respect your husbands.’ I also read, ‘Do not separate what God has put together.’ Who is to say that my marriage is outside God’s plan? If others don’t know what to say they might do well to remain silent, because now I have even more things to forgive.

About 2 years ago things went very pear-shaped when everything fell apart around me, like a tsunami in my life. I even questioned God’s existence. I wanted to walk away from God. But I’ve come to know that ‘God’s arm is not too short’, and he cannot let me go. I belong to him.

It feels like I’m buried under a huge mountain of forgiving I have to deal with. Can I summon up enough faith to move this mountain and believe it will be moved? I just don’t know where to begin, for it feels like a daunting task. I know I should forgive and that God’s grace is sufficient.

Jesus tells us clearly the consequences if we do not forgive others their sins, and also the results when we do. However, on the cross Jesus gave responsibility of forgiving to his Father, even though quite evidently it was he who was being sinned against.

Through all of this, I know that God is at work in my life. Even though I still sometimes feel like the unforgiving servant I know there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. He is working his purpose out, in and through me. God has not finished with me. This is not the end of the story, and that gives me hope.

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