Lately, in the midst of so many conversations about relationships and restoration, I found myself caught up with this quote from King Lear.
I will have such revenges on you both, That all the world shall–I will do such things,– What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be The terrors of the earth. King Lear.
Why you might ask. Because in the midst of difficult circumstances unforgiveness gains a foothold. The inability to forgive or release another is a thought process of revenge. “They hurt me.” “You do not know what they did.” I agree. I may not know specifically but God does and He cares…about BOTH parties. The fuel of unforgiveness or revenge is centered in greed, fear, self-centeredness and pride. It is not about the situation as much as it is about “getting even” somehow, some way. Many might call it justice. But God has a New Covenant reality when it comes to justice or the meting out of judgment. James 2:13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. Romans 12:19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.I get the revenge thing. Before my salvation I was a revengeful person. I grew up in a dysfunctional family, fueled with drugs and alcohol, armed with anger and rage, I was considered to be dangerous if crossed. When I found the salvation the Lord had prepared for me, I found myself still wanting revenge, but would have called it justice and struggling with the Lord over how to be merciful.
I spent three and half years of my new Christianity believing for the restoration of a broken marriage. Adultery and money were my reasons for wanting justice. I worked hard. to no avail. But until that final bell on the marriage, I lived in a personal hell of sorts. Torn between wanting revenge and wanting my family back. God shaped my heart to be willing to forgive on all levels and then it was pulled from my hands.
I did not do it perfectly. When I would hear stories about boyfriends, monies and things that no longer were in my paradigm, I would go home and cry, or be angry, but the Lord always calmed my heart and drew out the poison.
One day I realized I did not think about things the same. Oh, emotional jolts were there, but my mind moved to forgiveness and not revenge. He is always about relationship and restoration. Over the years I have had a lot of opportunities to learn the heart of God when it came to forgiving someone. (In my book on Interrupted Process there is a section on just what God calls us to when “everyone turns against you.”)
What relationship will not have pain or discord from time to time? To believe there is no pain, no disagreement is naiveté and “Pollyanna thinking.” There are many thoughts from the Bible that talk about life, relationships and overcoming anger and rejection, but in the midst of it all it is the heart of the Father to embrace the parties and bring healing to each.
Too often our decision(s) to avoid the pain and the hurt disallow for healing and health to come. But God is love and love is PATIENT. He never gives up, never stops moving. The more I meditate and share on restoration and reconciliation the more I see goodness coming forth. Do not allow constriction or isolation to rule in your life. (Did you know you can be in a roomful of people and still be isolated?) Open your mind, your heart and your mouth to the Father. Allow the betrayals and hurts to be shared with the One who cares. (A problem shared is a problem halved.)
Why do I care so much? Because He cares SO MUCH! I see all the years that can be wasted by unforgiveness and the pains that continue to trickle forth. Some 30 plus years ago a wise woman said this to me, “unforgiveness is like an acid. It damages the vessel in which it is stored, and destroys the vessel on which it is poured.” I see the damage caused by not forgiving that which HE has forgiven.
For a relationship to be restored it often takes “somebody to be the big kid.” Is it you?