Wash, Rinse, Repeat … I discovered last week that forgiveness is a lot like shampooing. Well, let me restate that … forgiveness IS NOT as easy as but is a lot like shampooing. It’s a process. Anybody that says it’s easy is lying. Without Jesus in our heart, we (as human beings) DO NOT forgive easily. I had a lady in my office just last week because she was still hanging on to unforgiveness regarding an old relationship. I told her you can’t move on until you forgive her. “I HAVE FORGIVEN HER,” she said through gritted teeth. “BUT SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT TO ME.”
Hmmmm … doesn’t sound like forgiveness to me.
First of all, forgiveness doesn’t end in “BUT.” Second, if you grit your teeth at the sheer mention of the “forgiven’s name” chances are you haven’t really forgiven. I felt for the lady. I KNOW how hard forgiveness is. That’s when I realized it’s like shampoo. Wash, Rinse, Repeat, (and for me … repeat, repeat, repeat.)
I don’t know about you but for me it’s seldom a one-time deal. I have to do it over and over again. (Forgive, that is, not shampoo.) I usually start the process out of sheer obedience. I do it because I know it pleases God. It doesn’t please me. It doesn’t make me feel good. I don’t like it. It is absolutely contrary to my flesh. Often, my justification is that they don’t deserve it until they apologize. (That reeks of God, doesn’t it? No, THAT, my friend, is what my flesh looks like.)
Back to the process of forgiveness … and it’s not to be legalistic – I am a very simple person and I need things simple – this works for me:
(1) I envision leaving that person at the cross. (That’s one of the purposes of the cross – a place to leave our stuff.)
(2) I leave the circumstance at the cross. (That means I don’t have the right to rehearse it in my mind anymore.)
(3) I lay my “rights” at the cross. That includes my right to be right. The word is pretty clear that if we defend ourselves God will not defend us. And you can trust God to bring justice and defense. (Trust me, I have seen the Holy Spirit in retaliation before and it’s much more effective than anything I could ever do.)
(4) After all of that, I forgive myself. (Hence, wash, rinse, repeat.)
AND THEN … I wait for “the fruit” of my obedience. If I growl at the mention of the offender’s name, chances are, I am still carrying the offense. If I feel a knot (I often refer to it as a “high octane ping”) in my gut the next time I see them – that’s a good indication that I have more work to do.
I was just recently inquiring of God about how to deal with a circumstance I was going through in regard to forgiveness. I have done a lot of work but I was concerned how I would interact with this person, knowing that even though I have worked through much of the forgiveness, I need boundaries with them. I expressed to Him that I WILL NOT BE FAKE. I hate it when people act fake. I told Him I refuse to be fake, so how do I act when I’m around someone that I’m in process of forgiving but my heart is still hurt and I am still upset. He laughed. And then He said, “Don’t stay upset with anyone!” Duh … (There I go again: Wash, Rinse, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.)