Forgiveness: Or are you comfortable with the pain?

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






9 thoughts on “Forgiveness: Or are you comfortable with the pain?

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  • November 12, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    What helps me to forgive is that life is too short. It also helps me to remember that people have forgiven me for some of the things that I have done so at least I could pass it on and forgive someone else. The hard part is forgiving someone that isnt sorry or doesnt ask for your forgiveness. That takes more effort to forgive.

    • November 12, 2020 at 6:38 pm

      Good distinction to make, Alexa. Not everyone cares that they hurt us. And, yet, we need to forgive anyway. I like your attitude about life being too short. It’s like that question, will this matter in a year? It puts everything in perspective.

  • November 11, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    We all suffer injustice, judgment and pain. When my hurt is so deep, I stop, say the Our Father, “Forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us,” and give it to God. Sometimes I have to say it over and over again; but, after doing this for so many years, I find that, in time, God heals my hurt and pain. People and situations may not change, but moving forward with love and kindness (and boundaries) to those who have hurt us is, I believe, what God asks of us. I loved where you said forgiveness is hard but you choose to do it anyway. Thank you for sharing as that is something we all can do…we have a choice.

    • November 12, 2020 at 5:16 pm

      Thank you, Helen. I love the idea of stopping and saying the Our Father. What a great reminder of how he has forgiven us and requires us to forgive our neighbor. Yes, and boundaries are great too! I’m getting better at those and in some ways that helps eliminate resentment from starting in the first place!

  • November 10, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    You are so right and this. Pain is ultimately extremely hard to carry. Once we can except forgiveness and extend forgiveness, the lightness we feel in Christ is almost overwhelming. Would that we remember this every day.

    • November 10, 2020 at 5:03 pm

      Sharon – that’s a great thing to focus on. Even reading your words and thinking of the lightness we can feel instead of all the heavy heartache fills me with such hope. I am going to try to focus on that.

  • November 10, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    Lara, your gift of transforming the mundane to the EXTRAORDINARY is so desperately needed right now! Thank you.

    • November 10, 2020 at 5:02 pm

      Thank you, Ann! Your generous words mean so much to me 🙂

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