3 Invitations From God on the Road to Forgiving Community Wounds
Sweet community in my living room. Fresh air to my heart.
True Body-of-Christ community is wonderful and life-giving. But if you’ve done this whole “life together” thing for very long, you know that it can also be one of our greatest sources of pain, because every community is made up of broken, messy, imperfect humans. And I don’t think we’ll ever do it exactly right or be free from all of the messiness. In community, opportunities to forgive and extend grace to our fellow humans are numerous. I’ve personally had more than a couple of devastating experiences within the context of church community. I know stories like mine are common. Past wounds from community that go unhealed or unforgiven create a filter in our hearts that skews the way we experience our current community situations. But God has some of His sweetest invitations for us hidden within these painful places, and within His subsequent challenge to us to forgive. As we intimately encounter our Father’s heart in the places of pain in our own heart, whether from the past or the present, we can begin to see situations, and every heart involved, from His perspective. It’s from that place of intimacy with Him that we can walk forward into true forgiveness. And simultaneously, into freedom and healing. Here are the 3 step-by-step invitations that I believe God lovingly extends to us as we walk through pain in the midst of doing life together with other believers: 1. He asks us to look away from our hurt and the ones who’ve done the hurting, and fix our eyes on Him. He is the One who is unchanging, even when our dearest relationships are shaken. He whispers to our hearts: Look to me. Take your eyes off of your circumstances, and let Me bring peace and stillness to your scarred heart. Trust Me. Meditate on My character, My faithfulness to your heart, My unconditional love for you. Find your identity in My heart toward you, and not in the words of those who’ve hurt your heart. My voice over you is the one that matters right now.
2. He calls to us to hold our hearts open before Him. To choose not to numb the pain by shutting our hearts down. To trust Him to be the healing balm that tenderly covers our hurting places.
We have a Father who deeply loves us and is passionately committed to our wholeness. We can rest in this truth. After community has hurt our heart, we may need to spend lots of time alone with Him for a season, pouring out our heart and our pain and our tears before Him. Raw, openhearted, honesty with God that flows out of a place of trust even in the face of great pain is one of the sweetest forms of worship to His heart.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” -Matthew 5:4
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” –Psalm 34:18
I believe there is a unique intimacy with God that comes in seasons like these when we allow ourselves simply to mourn before Him for a time. When we choose not to “shove” our raw emotions, but instead, to pour out our heart to a Father who is tenderly attentive to our every cry. These moments in my personal history have forever changed and deepened my walk with Jesus.
After a time, He takes our hand and leads us out of that season of acute pain and we begin to move forward with Him. Healing comes in stages.
3. He invites us to share in His heart, see with His perspective, and experience His compassion for those who’ve wounded our hearts.
This can be the toughest part: remembering that our battle isn’t against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), that it’s not ultimately people who are out to destroy our hearts – it’s the enemy. People are broken, hurting, and they hurt others out of the unhealed places in their own hearts. As difficult and painful as it may be to ask, seek God for His perspective on those who’ve hurt you. Ask Him for His heart of compassion for them. Ask Him for wisdom to know how best to love and bless them (Matthew 5:44). Knowing and experiencing His heart toward those who’ve sinned against you is another facet of the intimacy with Him into which He invites us as we walk toward healing.
Out of this place of experiencing the heart of God for those who’ve hurt our hearts, real, genuine, gut-level forgiveness can begin to happen inside of us. And our hearts can move toward freedom. When the pain has been deep, forgiveness usually comes gradually, in layers. It takes time. But it does come, as we surrender our hearts to His healing process within us. As we look at the offenses against us in light of the cross, in light of the scandelous, extravagant goodness of the Gospel. In light of all that we’ve been forgiven. He is so committed to walking this process out with us. Our hand wrapped in His… our heart wrapped in His. And the intimacy with Him that comes from sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings brings the deepest comfort, intimacy, and healing. This is not a “you’d-better-suck-it-up-and-choose-to-forgive” kind of forgiveness (though forgiveness IS a choice). This is forgiveness that’s motivated out of the secret place of intimacy, out of trust in the Father to cover and heal our wounds. It’s forgivness that comes as we move in close to His heart and experience His empowering grace. Let’s trust His committment to heal our hearts, friends, and walk forward into forgiveness together. This is the path to true freedom.
**Pulled this out of the archives and spruced it up for today. 🙂 Thanks for extending grace! Busy last week working on my new e-book, which is launched, FREE, and available for download when you subscribe to my monthly-ish newsletter here:
Stillness Manifesto is a call to rediscover the practice of stillness as a facet of our life in God. Experiencing Him in this way has radically changed my walk with Him, and I am so excited to share these truths, ideas, and non-instructions with you!
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