I was in the grocery store carefully picking through packs of organic chicken legs. They were buy one get one free which made buying chicken that day a little like playing a card game such as Go Fish or Memory. It’s important to find a price match or it isn’t really a win. Wilson Phillips was singing Hold On (For One More Day) somewhere in the background completely oblivious to poultry-buying strategy. My brain was maxed out from using math and matching skills simultaneously, so I wasn’t paying attention to the lyrics of their song.
Then I heard the line, “Or are you comfortable with the pain?” I froze much like the shrink-wrapped chicken I was cataloging. I looked around trying to understand why this moment suddenly felt less mundane. Why a line from a song I have heard countless times stood out as significant.
Had I, the girl who carries a small pharmacy in my purse, somehow become comfortable with pain? It seemed like such a ridiculous notion amidst the Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, and pain analgesics that I carry in bulk like a Red Cross volunteer ready for war. Of course, everyone experiences physical and emotional pain on occasion but accepting it as the norm seems as defeatist as throwing your hand in Go Fish or not taking the free chicken in the buy one get one deal. Who does that?
In reality, I have done this more times than I care to admit by holding on to hurt as if it were the real prize. I have a finicky relationship with forgiveness. It sounds fun when Jesus does it. “Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool,” (Isaiah 1:18). It feels neither red nor white when I attempt it. Forgiveness feels black and scratchy like wool right before I break out into a splotchy rash.
Still, I know I need forgiveness in 1,000 different ways. Yet when it comes to giving it, I tend to keep my cards close to my vest. I don’t want to be hurt. I don’t want to be vulnerable. I don’t want to feel pain and I certainly don’t want to get comfortable with pain.
While I sometimes resist the mercy of forgiveness as a means of self-protection, I know eventually it ends up hurting me more. When we don’t embrace forgiveness, vulnerability, and new beginnings, we inevitably get comfortable with the grief of the wounds we harbor. We settle in with heaviness and hurt when God offers redemptive peace. “And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful,” (Colossians 3:15). By confronting our pain and giving it to God it can be transformed into genuine peace. This is the miracle of forgiveness.
Maybe it makes sense when we are playing cards or buying chicken to keep count of things, but when it comes to grievances, forgiveness is the perfect match for hurting hearts.
Read more: Heal What Has Broken
Hi friends~ Forgiveness is a work of mercy and it certainly takes work. It’s kind of funny to think of forgiveness as work when it can actually feel paralyzing. At least that’s how it feels for me when I am struggling with it. One of the things that helps me is just accepting how hard it is to forgive and deciding to do it anyway. I think then I am not as frustrated with the often slow and painful process. It’s a decision that sometimes we have to make over and over. Knowing that helps me to be a little gentler with myself. What helps you when you are struggling to forgive? (Please share, I can use all the tips I can get!) Be well and rejoice in knowing God’s forgiveness! ~ Love, Lara