There's so much I could write on this topic. And, anyone who knew me before I was saved would be very amused at the topic of my first blog. But, it's been my greatest lesson. So, I'm going to start with talking about forgiving others.
I'm going to share a story with you. It had a tremendous impact on me when I heard it at our women's conference at church. Sheila Walsh spoke and blew me out of the water. She shared this story with us about her son. When he was a young boy, he came to her one day and asked her to make him a thermos of hot chocolate because he was running away and wanted to take it with him. She made him his hot chocolate as she watched him pack his backpack full of stuff for his journey. All he told her he was going north. He took his full backpack, hot chocolate and left.
She went up to the balcony outside her bedroom where she could see him walking. She watched for a while and had decided, if he got too far for her to see, she would simply run out and follow him. He got quite far when she saw him turn around and come back. So, as any spying mother would do, she ran downstairs and pretended to still be working in the kitchen when he walked back in.
Later that night, when Sheila was tucking her son into bed, she asked him how his day was, specifically, how his journey was. His response: "It was fine, I quite enjoyed it but, my backpack was just too heavy." Now, sitting at the conference, I was thinking this was such an endearing story about a little boy who ran away. Sheila is amazing at telling stories. She took it one incredible step further, though. She asked us to imagine the day we meet Jesus. We're standing at the throne and He is looking at us and asks: "Well, how did you enjoy your journey?" What if your response is: "It was fine, I quite enjoyed it but, my backpack was just too heavy." The visual alone was enough to bring every woman there to tears.
Can you imagine this? You've carried so much with you for so long that you've reached the end, exhausted. I think this speaks to most of us. We've all got our demons, parents who damage us, people who do wrong things to us, abusive mates, family members who sexually abuse us, friends who betray us. (I'm not the only one, right?) One by one, these all end up as rocks in our backpacks. It gets heavier and heavier. We start wearing the weight of it on our faces. We grow cold and hard, angry and hateful.
I used to have a motto: "I don't forgive and forget. And, if I do one, I don't do the other." I heard it on a show once and thought it was great. I put it into practice with many people in my life. I thought it protected me. What it was really doing was tearing me down. I was consumed by anger and hatred. I became hard and cold, angry and hateful.
Until one day I realized it was impacting my husband, my children, everyone around me. I decided to have a demon slaying mission. I locked myself up in my room with a pad, pen and my Bible. I prayed before I started that God would reveal to me everyone I needed to forgive. If I couldn't call them, I wrote them a letter. I had been held prisoner by this unforgiveness and anger for so many years. After two exhausting hours and so many tears I can't even number them, I was set free. One by one, I removed each rock from my backpack.
You see, forgiveness isn't about the other person. It's about you.
It's amazing how much easier it is to go through life with a lighter backpack. You stand taller, you smile more, you sleep better and you love more. You'd be surprised how many people you impact, too. Other people around you will start to see how free you are and they'll start to forgive, too.
After all, I'm a sinner and I'm forgiven. If Jesus can forgive me of my plethora of sins, who am I not to forgive others?
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." —Matthew 18:21-22
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. —Mark 11:25