Andrew bit the stew out of Julianna today. I mean he bit her HARD, right on the rear-end of all places. Naturally she screamed bloody murder and and cried heavily because he really hurt her. They had been playing along nicely all morning and then WHAM-O! He nailed her right out of the blue. He bit her so hard that it turned purple, for goodness sake.
Now this is where some of you may think that I am a terrible mother or whatever, but biting in this house (especially when you are 4 years old) is gonna get your heiny warmed. I gave him a stern reprimand about why we never-ever bite and then gave him a spanking. After a few minutes to think about it, he went in to his sister to tell her that he was sorry without my prompting.
But, because she was still nursing her stinging wound, she would have none of it and slammed the bedroom door in his face.
He walked out to find me and once he did he burst into tears. He was not angry, but genuinely hurt that she wouldn't accept his apologies. I told him that maybe she was having a hard time wanting to forgive him because he really hurt her. A few minutes after that, she came hobbling out only to see me holding a crying Andrew.
"Why is he crying?" she asked me.
"Because he hurt you and he wants to tell you that he is sorry, but you won't hear him" I told her.
"But, Momma, my bum is still hurting and that bruise is going to be there for a long time" she welled up again.
"Well, Julianna, what else do you want him to do?" I asked her. "He has already been punished, and he is trying to tell you that he is sorry, what is it going to take for you to forgive him?"
She sat and thought about it for a second as I watched different forms of torture playing out in her mind for her brother. I finally told her, "You know, Julianna, God wants you to forgive him. He can't take back what he did to you and the longer you withhold your forgiveness of him, the more you are going to be the one in sin." She accepted that and allowed her brother to apologize to her. They each hugged and moved on.
As I sat there, I was reminded of the times that God had to take me down that same path.
I have been on both sides of it, either as the offender who needs the release of being forgiven (don't we all?) or as the hurt one whose bruises will be there forever.
One thing that I know for sure, is that refusing to release the repentant offender winds up putting a wedge between you and God, and it is so not worth it.
God has this way of reminding us, when we harbor unforgiveness, just where we came from ourselves, along with all of the grace that we so desperately need on a daily basis. I don't mean condemnation, mind you, because that's the enemy's way of doing things, but rather, a gentle reminder that His only Son had to die for our sin just as much as He had to for the person who has hurt us.
I remember driving down the road one afternoon, deep in bitterness about a person who had hurt me so very badly. This person had asked me for my forgiveness, but the truth was, in my mind, this person hadn't paid for it enough to suit me. I ended up rehashing the facts with God: "But Father! Don't you remember when THIS happened?" "Or what about THAT?!"
As quickly as I can tell you, an image of this person's face on the body of Christ hanging on the cross flashed in my mind. "Was this enough payment for you, child?".... "Yes, of course, Father."
I broke that day. I released so much anger and hatred and bitterness. I cannot tell you the freedom that I felt when I finally let it go.
My prayer for you on this day, friend, is that if you are holding on tightly to a past hurt, and haven't allowed to love of God to flow through you for the offender, if you haven't truly released all of the dark and binding feelings toward that person, that you will just give it to God. Give it to Him so that you can relax and experience the fullness of His joy once again. You will be so glad that you did.