But one day, that beauty came crashing in around her. An irresponsible neighbor boy sent his baseball smashing through the window. All of the etch work and colored glass completely shattered. She dropped to her knees devastated by the damage.
Have you ever been hurt like that? It may not be a shattered window, but rather, a shattered heart. Someone's words or actions damaged you and made a big mess.
Who will clean the mess?
Who will fix the damage?
What if the damage can never be repaired?
How do you forgive?
The worst question of all. What if the person who did the damage doesn't care? or even worse than that...What if that person is glad for the damage in your life?
Do you forgive them? Should you forgive them?
Like anyone else, I have been hurt before. Many times. I'm a Christian, so of course I knew that I needed to forgive. And I did, or so I thought.
The Lord, the revealer of secrets (Phil 3:15) showed me that I was merely taking all of the debts that people owed me ~ the damages done through words or actions over the years ~ and put them on my husband. I figured he could pay their debts and I would get what I want. I was not forgiving anyone. I just transferred their debts to another account.
The problem with this was two fold. First, Mr. Santos didn't know he was responsible for the debts of every offense ever committed against me. How could he? I wasn't even aware of this habit of mine until recently. Second, he had his own offenses against me that needed to be paid.
On the outside, I looked good and even sounded good. But there was a root of bitterness growing beneath the surface. And it was going deeper and deeper with every passing day of unforgiveness.
Oh No! The boy dropped his mitt and ran to his neighbors house. The front door was ajar so he walked into the room and saw the woman on her knees. She was covering her face with her apron, crying.
The boy felt miserable. He immediately got the broom from the kitchen and started cleaning the damage while at the same time apologizing profusely. "I'll work hard to pay you ma'am, even if it takes my whole life!"
But she knew that he could never replace the window. It was an original piece of art. In the woman's opinion, it was irreplaceable and he could never make enough money to pay for it. However, the woman could see that the boy was clearly sorry for what he had done. She gently put her arm on his shoulder and said, "The damage is done, my boy. I forgive you. Go in peace."
He left relieved of his debt. But had she really forgiven? Had his debt been paid? Forgiveness means that you pay YOURSELF, the debt that is owed to you.
The woman never replaced her window. She could have put plain glass in its place. But that window was so precious to her. She just couldn't let it go. Instead, she left the jagged broken remnants in place and covered the hole with a big ugly piece of cardboard. It was a daily reminder of her loss. Occasionally, she would cry about it. Sometimes, she would slam her fist down hard because of it. Eventually, she got used to it and lived with it for years. Her life was forever changed. No longer did she have guests over for tea. No longer did the light shine into her room. No longer did she enjoy her home.
She lived a life of torment. That is what Jesus warns us of in the Parable of the unforgiving servant. And that is what happened to me. God, in His perfect judgement, turned me over to the tormentors.
I was always struggling with a bad temper. I was so often offended, so often provoked. If only he would... If only they would... If only I could have... But no. I never got what I wanted. Thankfulness was a great friend during these times. I would have days of peace here and there, but they became few and far between as the roots of bitterness went down deeper. One day, I realized that I was waking up provoked. It had become almost a constant state of being. Forgiveness was what I needed.
The Bible says that a root of bitterness defiles many (Hebrews 12:15) My children were suffering ~ especially my daughters ~ as I've seen them follow in my grumpy footsteps. My marriage was suffering. I was suffering, but it was their fault. That is how a bitter person thinks. She blames others for her shortcomings.
God had a wonderful promise for me. He wanted me to be rooted and grounded in LOVE. (Ephesians 3:17) He wanted me know the HEIGHT, the DEPTH, the WIDTH, the BREADTH of His love for me. He wanted me to be filled with the fullness of God, of HIMSELF. What an awesome gift. But I was unable to receive it.
In order for me to receive this wonderful gift all the bitter roots needed to be pulled up. He was going to chop down that ugly tree, pull up all its tangled mass of roots and in it's place there would be a deep pit. What would I plant in its place?
I had a choice. God never forces us to forgive. As his daughter (I have been born again) He would chastise me so that I may partake in his holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrews 12:11
Oh how I wanted that fruit of righteousness! Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
What would I plant? A still small voice speaks to my heart. "For whatsoever a man soweth that will he also reap." "And let us not grow weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
The woman with the window needed to forgive, not for the sake of the boy, but for her own sake. I needed to forgive, not for the sake of my offenders, but for my own sake.
God forgave me ~ for his own sake.
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Isaiah 43:25