I couldn’t believe it! It happened again!
They say, “You fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”
If this is true, then I was definitely to blame, because I honestly never expected it to happen again.
I thought the issue was resolved. My heart had healed. I’d prayed, forgiven, and moved on.
And then it happened again.
Same person---slightly different circumstances---but the same devastating, punched-in-the-gut, extreme confusion and pain. There was no denying it now---this was not going to be a one-time experience. Instead, this was a consistent pattern in the other person’s life.
I’ll be honest and admit that I had no idea what to do.
Do you walk away and end the relationship? (A seriously tempting option, but in this instance it wasn’t possible)
Do you confront them and demand they change? (At least I’d learned from years of experience that only God can change a heart---until He moves we’re powerless to MAKE someone act differently.)
Obviously, going forward I was going to have to be more careful. Put a little more thought into our interactions. Study up on wisdom and follow it’s advice.
But what was I supposed to do with my heart?
Because let’s be honest---when it comes to females, there’s the reasonable, rational side that knows the right thing to do and chooses to do it because we love Jesus---but there’s also the emotional side that screams, “THIS HURTS!!! I’M BLEEDING!!! MAKE IT STOP!!!”
What I’m learning in my own life is that it’s best to do nothing and hold off responding until I’ve taken the time to get alone with Jesus and address the emotional side. Once He’s helped me work through the pain, it’s usually A LOT easier to follow through and do the right thing---loving as Jesus loves, turning the other cheek and all of that stuff.
So off to my prayer closet I went (again).
Very simply I prayed, “What do I do with this situation? How many times do I have to forgive and to the right thing?”
(Well, you have to know that immediately I was reminded of the Scripture where Peter asked the exact same thing!)
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Okay, I know that seven times doesn’t SEEM like a lot---until you’re the one that’s being hurt over and over again. Then TWO or THREE times seems pretty generous. SEVEN times is downright benevolent!!!!
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
The Jews taught that a man was to forgive another three times, but not the fourth. Peter more than doubled this, so He was pretty much expecting Jesus to say, “Dude, that’s really generous of you going above and beyond the call of duty. I’m proud of you.”
Only that’s not what Jesus said.
Instead, He shocked Peter and all who listened when He said, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
This was radical forgiveness.
Of course, the meaning is, that we are not to limit our forgiveness to any fixed number of times. As often as a person sins against us, we are to forgive him. Even if he isn’t sorry and doesn’t ask forgiveness, we are still expected to forgive, love, and do the right thing.
Wow! Unlimited forgiveness! That’s the key to living a healthy, holy Christian life?
Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t end there, but He goes on to explain WHY His followers are called to live such a radical life.
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
We are called to forgive, because we are forgiven---not just once, not just three times, not even up to seven times---but we are offered unlimited forgiveness for every sin that we have ever committed against God.
Each time we ask Him to forgive us, He does, and He gives us the opportunity to change and learn to live differently.
As He did, He wants us to follow in His footsteps.
Again, and again, and again.
C.S. Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
So what do you do when it happens AGAIN????
The same thing you did before.
Go to God in prayer
Pour out your heart and address your pain.
Ask God to help you forgive and then choose to do it.
Pray blessings on the other person; return good for evil.
Then respond as Jesus would want you to.
Does this mean that you walk around blindly never taking precautions to protect yourself?
That would be unwise and God wants His daughters to be wise. Once you know someone struggles with a particular issue or has a pattern in their life that they refuse to overcome, you need to proceed with caution. Be smart. Be wise. Don’t trust blindly. Build healthy boundaries in the relationship.
But don’t confuse healthy boundaries with unforgiveness.
Healthy boundaries are choices that you make to proceed in a safer, healthier, more beneficial manner with the goal of living a peaceful life.
Unforgiveness is a matter of the heart that keeps you tied up in anger, bitterness, hate, and a desire for revenge. No person can ever truly life a healthy, joyful, Christian life of peace if they are consumed with unforgiveness.
If you want peace in your life, you have to choose to walk in peace.
Hence, you choose to forgive.
Again, and again, and again and again and again. For as many times as it takes for YOU to find freedom.
Then from a heart of forgiveness and submission to God’s word, you can start making wise choices that will establish healthy boundaries.
Once you make this choice, you will once again be back on the road to healing.
Dear Heavenly Father, Once again, You’ve seen what happened. You know that even in my attempt to do the right thing, another person’s choice has caused me pain. Lord, I ask that You would give me the strength to once again choose forgiveness because I know how many times You have forgiven me. As I choose to forgive, please help my heart to heal. Out of that healing, help me to make wise choices that will help me live a life of joy, peace, and healing. In Jesus’ name. Amen.