The Gift of Forgiveness

If you missed yesterday’s post about answered prayer, read it first because these go hand-in-hand. 

national arboretumI reach out from under the covers, careful not to let the cold air in and grab my phone. Still half asleep, I check the time: 7:30? I pull up my email, deleting promotional emails from Old Navy, DSW, ModCloth – I won’t even open them because I don’t need the temptation to spend more money. Then I stop – here’s an email from a friend I hadn’t spoken to in several months. She’s asking to reconnect with a phone date today.

That’s what I wanted, right? I was missing my friends from college and I wanted them to maintain those relationships as much as I did.

Unfortunately, there was a reason I hadn’t spoken to this friend for months. I was bitter about something she had done since we had last spoken. Except that I had chosen not to tell her that I was hurting – I just chose not to contact her.

I hate holding grudges and being bitter. But forgiveness? I was having a hard time grasping it.  About a month ago I was thinking about different grudges I was holding on to and how frustrated I was. I had even half-heartedly asked God to give me the grace to learn to forgive – even if I never got apologies.

But what if God withheld forgiveness from us?

So when I got her email, I inwardly groaned. I don’t want to deal with this today!  I didn’t reply to the email, and went to church. After experiencing answered prayer that morning, I realized that this was also an indirect answer to prayer.

I had prayed that 1) some of my friends would find our friendships worth pursuing, and 2) God would give me the grace to forgive. How could I say no or deny God’s work in that situation? I had no choice but to call her, to tell her that although I was hurt, I forgave her.

I’ll admit it – I wouldn’t have been able to do that without God’s grace. I knew that I should be gracious and forgive, but without an apology? The situation wasn’t my fault – why did I have to be the one to offer peace?

Today I’m thankful for this growth and learning experience. Not only was it an answer to (half-hearted) prayers, but it was just one step towards letting go of bitterness and living forgiveness.

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