My husband and I found ourselves wrapped up in a conflict with someone close to us. It started out small and became the kind of problem that keeps you up at night. Emotions wound tighter and tighter and we began to feel incredibly helpless. Soon I was finding myself having panic attacks, intense nightmares, and waking up unable to breathe.
We spoke to counselors, pastors, and couples that we admire. Most of them told us to stay the course and eventually things would work out. But it didn’t and it seemed like each time we tried to talk things out both sides were hurt more than before. Now the scars run deep and we feel like we’re just spinning our wheels. Through the entire process, we continued to ask ourselves what we were doing wrong and whether or not we could change the direction things were going.
The day after a stressful night of conversation, I talked to my very closest friend, asking for advice. After patiently listening, she told me “I’m not going to tell you that you have to forgive, but this reminds me of something I heard once.” She told me about someone using the first miracle to relate to dealing with problems. In that account of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding celebration, Mary went to Jesus and said, “they have no more wine” (John 2:3). Then she told her servants, “do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). She simply laid the problem before Jesus and obeyed whatever he asked. What a tone that situation set for the rest of Christs ministry and what an example of complete trust and obedience Mary exemplified.
Once I realized that I had been trying to fix the problem myself, I realized that I couldn’t. And once I realized that I couldn’t fix it, I realized that leaving the problems at Gods feet and obeying whatever he asked of me was the only way to fix things – even if it only “fixed” me. However believing is one thing, obeying ANYTHING he asks is a different story. The question in situations like these is always, “where does forgiveness end and ME begin?”
Psychologists will tell you to do what is best for you.
God will tell you to do what is best for the Kingdom.
Many times I have felt called to send them notes of love and encouragement. Despite knowing that it was the Holy Spirit prompting me, I have been ignoring it because it’s uncomfortable, it scares me, and it’s not the way I planned on things working out. It doesn’t seem like I should have to do something that makes me nervous. It makes me vulnerable, a place no one likes to intentionally put themselves, but it is in vulnerability that God shows his strength.
So then, if I decide to make the daily decision to forgive and to lay this down at Gods feet, is there ever a point where I can say no to something he asks of me because I just “can’t handle it?” I don’t believe so, because if I am truly putting it all in his control, then he will give me the strength to follow through. Thank goodness that I am offered the same grace God calls me to offer others. So when I do give in to myself instead of his calling, he forgives me – but he always pushes me forward, offering me another opportunity to do the right thing.
“Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear.” – Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, Invictus