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No Turning Back

Brittney McCook

I felt as if knives were shooting through my chest. The feelings always came at the most inconvenient times. I had been betrayed by a friend I thought I could trust. What she said about me was not true, and she told other people information that wasn’t hers to share. The gossip and betrayal had a negative effect on another friendship that I cherished. Coming to a place where I was genuinely able to forgive took some time.

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One person’s choice to gossip and lie resulted in a break-up talk between my friend and me, a conversation that continued to race through my mind, each word piercing my heart like a dagger. As memories flooded my thoughts, I slid down the wall until I was curled up in a ball on the kitchen floor and tears came rushing out. Remembering the rejection, hurt, and confusion cut deep; but it was necessary if I wanted to accept what had happened and be able to forgive. Letting go, forgiving, and moving on was a process. It didn’t happen overnight.

 

What made forgiving so hard? My anger felt justified. I had every right to be angry. Did forgiving make what she did OK? She didn’t even care that she hurt me. I wanted some guarantee she wouldn’t do it again, but I had no guarantee.

Forgiveness is not pretending that nothing happened. It doesn’t mean that our actions have no consequences. It doesn’t require us to reestablish a relationship. Forgiveness is deciding that a person who hurt us doesn’t owe us anymore. It’s being willing to let go of the past.

 

Looking Back and Moving Forward

One night as I sat in bed, Genesis 19:26 (NIV) began playing in my mind like a broken record. The verse says that “Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” God used that verse to show me that I was still looking back and living in the past. What good was looking back when I couldn’t change the past, no matter how much I wanted to? If I didn’t forgive, I would, in a sense, turn into a pillar of salt. I would be frozen in time, unable to go back and unable to move forward.

The only thing we can control is whether or not we choose to forgive. We don’t forgive because someone deserves to be forgiven; we forgive because we have been forgiven. Forgiven people forgive. We are called to be obedient and to leave the consequences up to God. If we keep looking back at what we cannot change, we won’t be able to extend to others the same grace God has shown us through Jesus Christ.

 

DIG DEEPER

Studying scripture and writing down my thoughts has helped me to overcome my anger and to extend forgiveness. This weekend, take the time to read and meditate on Matthew 18:21–35, in which Jesus tells a parable about a servant who had been forgiven but who chose not to extend the same mercy. Write down your thoughts and reactions. How will you respond to Jesus’ challenge to forgive and to extend God’s grace to others?

Brittney McCook of Atlanta, Georgia, works for Jennifer Beckham Ministries and loves coffee, concerts, and I Love Lucy.

—from devozine (January/February 2014). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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