In any circumstance that causes us pain, most of us have a natural response to get out of the situation as fast as possible. If I accidentally step on a mouse trap, I don't sit there and think of processing my feelings about it. I jump around like a fool and reach down to release my foot from the pain. I want my foot out of the trap as quickly as it stepped into it. It's an easy enough fix, but unfortunately, our relationships don't work that way. If a friend or loved one injures us emotionally in some way, we don't usually find ourselves waving goodbye never to deal with the person again. Admittedly, there are days when this looks like an appealing choice, but it certainly doesn't teach us much. I've found over the years that I'm often changed by the circumstances that cause me pain, and how I'm changed is usually a direct result of my own choices. In taking power back from the offender, I get to choose whether to be made better or worse by what happened. I choose to be made better.
It's the easiest thing in the world to stay mad, bitter, resentful, and unforgiving. Even as I write this, I'm feeling a mixture of each of those things. The real challenge, however, is to release them all and forgive, and it's some of the hardest work we will ever do. My new level of broken can form a foundation of bitterness or it can grow and be transformed into beauty and righteousness. Isaiah 61:3 tells us that God will give us "a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." Unfortunately, I can honestly say I don't have it in me to let go of the anger I feel. I don't sense a generosity of forgiveness welling up in me and I certainly don't long to make the other person's path easy. Part of me wants to cut ties and forget the relationship ever existed, but then what? The pain would still be there. Unlike the mouse trap that can be removed and tossed aside, I can't remove this pain; I must go through it. Fortunately, Psalm 28:7 assures me that I don't have to do any of it in my own weakened strength. "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me."
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