I have been thinking about this whole issue of forgiveness this week, as we talk about “Let the Oppressed Go Free” in our Month of Dedication. For whatever reason, forgiveness isn’t one of the things that is generally a big hangup for me. If you apologize, I’ll pretty much forgive right away. It’s like I can’t help it, which is a good thing. I have other issues aplenty, but this isn’t usually one of them.

Except that one time.

I don’t want to give details too much because I don’t want to gossip, but basically at one point in my life, I had a recurring issue with someone in something that hit pretty close to home, and touched on an issue of my identity. I felt I was being treated differently, excluded from certain things, patronized, and that promises made were not being kept. It wasn’t an option to just avoid the person, but neither did I feel I could confront them. So instead, I seethed.

Normally when I feel there is a problem, I’ll just come right out and say it, and if I am confronted by someone else, I may be defensive, but usually I can see their side and talk it out and apologize. But in this case, there was no talking it out, and I didn’t know what to do with what I was feeling. I just vented to my ever-so-patient husband.

All the while, I didn’t realize that there was bitterness building up inside me, that made it increasingly difficult to work with and respect this person.

I don’t remember what the trigger was to finally working out this issue, but I do remember that it took some time of really honest self-examination to figure out what was really going on in my soul.

Do you know that when we have a problem with someone else, it is never just THEIR PROBLEM? If there is an interpersonal problem, it’s OUR problem, not yours or mine. In this case, there was an issue that I was a bit insecure about, but that was really important to me. I think some of my perception of the unfair treatment involved was actually there, but I think I blew the level of it out of proportion because I was LOOKING for the problem. I expected there to be a problem, because I didn’t fully have confidence in that area of my life. What it came down to, was that I had to own my feelings of rejection, and take them to God to get the acceptance that I needed. I needed God to reassure me in my identity, about the person He was calling me to be, and about the roles and relationships in my life. I needed to learn to forgive, even when no one was asking for forgiveness. Because if I didn’t forgive, the one who was feeling oppressed was just me. I gained absolutely nothing by holding a grudge, except the burden of bitterness.

In time, I was able to see that though I might be a bit jealous of the opportunities or “special favor” someone else seemed to be getting, that was just not God’s path for me, and I shouldn’t covet what blessings other received, but instead look to the blessings on MY path laid out by God.

Later, the person I had since forgiven actually admitted that THEY were a little intimidated of ME, which just kind of blew me away. Basically the confidence and force I tended to exert (even when I didn’t fully feel confident or forceful) made them at times feel like they couldn’t quite keep up.

We both had misunderstandings about each other, and neither of us had been fully honest. I never admitted to any hurt feelings, or even asked why they made certain decisions that affected (or excluded) me, and they never admitted to what they were feeling.

As it ended up, the relationship was a great blessing, and when we did part ways, it was full of healthy, good feelings, and thankfulness. Never did a confrontation take place. There was no need. All hurts were recognized as unintentional, and forgiven.

As we close out this second week of the Month of Dedication, I wonder, is there anything that you haven’t quite recognized in your life that is causing you bitterness?

Is there a place – maybe someplace there is a lot of hurt, so you just don’t want to sit down and examine those feelings?

Are there questions you haven’t asked, because you are afraid of what the answer might be?

And regardless of that relationship – which may not even exist anymore – is there something you need to forgive, simply to be able to move on?

I am praying for freedom for you.