A famous Christian (St. Augustine, from North Africa) once said, “Give me chastity, but not yet.” He wasn’t ready to live as God wanted him to, even though he knew what was right and his conscience was bothering him a bit.
The most recent ‘Forgiveness challenges’ have reminded me of Augustine’s dilemma, his sense of being at a junction in the road but unready to follow the correct path. With forgiveness, there are many moments of choice, where you can move toward forgiveness, or toward anger and bitterness. And even knowing that forgiveness is right, and that it will free you, doesn’t mean that you necessarily want to forgive at that point. You don’t feel ready to let go of the anger and hurt – perhaps because it makes you feel strong, or because that hurt has become such a part of your identity that you’re not sure what you’d do without it. So I found Mpho Tutu’s thoughts on this powerful (listen to that here).
My friend Heather Drew, a counselor who’s made several trips to Rwanda to partner with counselors there, has been sharing thoughts from her most recent trip earlier this summer (see her blog here). This one caught my eye, for obvious reasons:
One particular thing that I’m frustrated about at present has felt like an unending, unconquerable roadblock. And that’s when I realize that I’m letting this hurt, this pain, become a larger part of my story and identity than it should be. The larger, more important story is God’s, and the identity he gives me is more foundational. It tells me that I’m his child, ever in his hands. And as his child, his love for me gives me the ability to choose to forgive, in radical ways, as Rwanda Christians show me.
And if I do not feel emotionally ready to forgive at present, I can pray for God to soften my heart, and give me the strength to obey regardless.