Every now and then I like to introduce people to my friend Blue.
Blue is a large lump of blue playdough I roll into a ball. No lumps, no cracks–just Blue in all his smooth roundness. Then we pass Blue around the group and invite people to insult Blue and tear off a chunk of dough. Poor Blue gets called stupid and ugly. People tell him no one likes him. A few people punch him or stomp on him. Blue shrinks piece by piece till he gets back to me, half his size and jagged edges all over.
So then we put Blue back together. One by one we tell Blue we’re sorry and pay him a compliment or two as we mash our torn pieces back on. Blue gets stitched back together as he makes his way around the circle, but it’s not the same. He’s whole–mostly. But he’s not a perfect ball anymore. Blue has lumps, craters and cracks. One side is bigger than the other. There are thumbprints and dents where all the handling has bruised the dough.
I feel like Blue some days. Life–people–they take chunks out of you. The job you loved and invested yourself in for years vanishes overnight. Friends stop returning calls. You and your husband keep tripping over the same sore spots you’ve navigated for years. That person has it out for you and takes their pound of flesh a bite at a time. Church seems like a safe space till you realize we Christians can gossip with the best of them. And like Blue, you’ve got some pieces missing.
We all do.
What we tend to do is sit there like lumps of dough, waiting for the people who hurt us to come put us back together. It doesn’t work. Sometimes it doesn’t work because they don’t care. Maybe they don’t see the wounded people in their wake; maybe they just don’t care who they’ve hurt. Either way, they aren’t coming back to bind us together again.
Sometimes people do try. They apologize, try to make restitution–and we should welcome that when it happens. But just like smushing playdough back on the ball, apologies can’t really make us whole again.
See, wholeness isn’t a people thing. Wholeness is a divine thing; it’s what God does in us when we let Jesus reach down into those hidden, jagged places and heal our sin-sick souls. We struggle sometimes with forgiveness because we’re still looking for the person who hurt us to come fix us and make it better. And they can’t.
Forgiveness requires us to change our perspective. We stop looking outward at the people who hurt us. We stop looking inward, gnawing at our pain. Instead, we learn to look up. Jesus is the great soul-healer. If we want to forgive, we need to look to Jesus to heal our pain and make us whole.
How do we do that? We ask. Loudly, softly, weeping, screaming–whatever it takes. Jesus, this happened. It hurts. This is how I feel. Will you come and make me whole?
And he does. It might look like Jesus showing us that he’s been with us all along. It might be God reminding us of who he is–Redeemer; Protector; Provider; Faithful Friend. It might be that the Spirit testifies to us of who we are: Child; Precious one; Redeemed; Chosen; Adopted; Gifted; Beloved. Forgiveness flows from knowing who God is and who we are to him.
Because when we know those two things, that’s when Jesus makes us whole.
This post is the second part in a 5 part series.
5 Steps of Forgiveness
- Acknowledge the pain.
- Invite Jesus in to heal.
- Ask God to help us see this situation and this person as he does.
- Relinquish our right to revenge and trust God to deal rightly.
- Pray blessings over the person who has hurt us.
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