I told her, "You're gonna have to forgive him."
"No, I won't," she said. "I'll never forgive him for what he's done to me."
"But you're the one who'll be miserable then. You're the one that'll suffer." (Matt 18:21-35)
"I don't care," she told me. "I don't care what you tell me. I don't care what you say. I don't care what anybody says. He doesn't deserve it. EVER! Ever Ever Ever! Not after what he's done. He's never even said he's sorry. He's never even acted like he was. He doesn't even care! And then, he goes on about with his life, laughing, and having fun... He's never even given what he's done to me a second thought. How can he so not care??????"
I didn't have an answer for that.
I told her, "I don't know. I'm sorry. Some people don't. Some people wound and hurt and harm other people everywhere they go, and never seem to be sorry. But that's beside the point. Your issues are you, not him. And you are no more right in your wrong, than he is in the wrong that he did to you. Jesus didn't say forgive if they ask, or only forgive if they're truly sorry. He said to forgive simply because He says to forgive. It frees you. It releases you. He tells us to love our enemies, and to do good to those that hate you, and to pray for those that despitefully use you" (Matt 5:43-44). It's for your benefit. Your health. Your healing.
"Well, I don't care. I can't. I won't! I'll never forgive him."
"Then, I'm sorry. You'll be tortured by it you know.... until you do. It's the truth that sets us free... and in this equation God's given you the truth, the solution, to solve it. But He'll leave it up to you whether you do it or not."
That conversation took place almost 13 years ago, and she lived up to what she'd said. She didn't. She never forgave him. And she's become so embittered to it that she definitely has no plans to now. This is the conversation that we had yesterday:
"Hey, I haven't talked to you in awhile. How's it going in your world?" I asked when I saw her, but I already knew.
"What a stupid question. Everything that could go wrong has, while "you know who" nows lives in some big fancy house on some uppity street and has a condo on the beach and a house on the lake. He's still not sorry for nothing he did! He's living like it never even happened, and I've been sitting in a chair having therapy for the past 12 years. I'm taking drugs for anti-depression, drugs for my blood-pressure, and drugs to help me sleep. Sheesh, life's not fair! And after all he's done to me..............."
Suffice it to say, by her sound, the therapy didn't seem to be working.
She rambled on for a good 20 more minutes before I could get a word in edge-wise. It didn't do much good. She never even heard me. She had become mean in her madness. And she used to be so sweet!
How do I tell her that she chose the chains she'd wear when she wouldn't forgive an evil done to her way back then? We're told that a moment can change a lifetime, and it's true, that moment sure changed hers. She's been living in her prison of misery since... and blaming the whole world around her for it... when it's nobody's fault but her own.
Granted, she was wronged in the most horrific way. Horrible! Not fair! But the unforgiveness and then the bitterness that grew within her was what ruined her. It wasn't the incident that could do that to her, only the choices she made in how she chose to handle it. She's never been able to see that....... She used to be so pretty, but she let the poison eat her. She used to laugh a lot, but now a frown furrows her face............. She's grown accustom to her prison, I don't know that she'll ever leave it. She's got the keys that'll release her, but she refuses to use them.
So often we'll be miserable over a thing for the rest of our lives.... saying we won't forgive, because it hurts too much; when actually it hurts so much, because we won't forgive. God gives us the answer, and we simply won't believe Him. Sometimes we'll say we do, but we really just haven't a clue how to.
Let me tell you something I've learned. When God tells us to "renew our minds" (Rom 12:2) or "think on these things" (Phil 4:8) He knows what He's talking about. We've got to change our minds! We've got to change our thinking! He knows the power of control that takes place in our minds and what it can do to us. We're told in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 that, "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
We've GOT to take every thought that comes into our mind and to make it obedient to what Christ has said. For though thoughts will come that sets itself up against what God has taught to be true in your life, it's up to us to deal with it and make it to submit to what God has said. He's able to heal... but only if we let Him.
Let me sum it up for you.
We are to magnify our Lord and exalt His name only (Ps 34:3). But who (or what) is it that you spend your days and weeks and months and years magnifying in your thoughts? Who (or what) do you exalt, glorify, and give power to? Who (or what) is elevated to the highest place in your mind? Who (or what) do you talk about? Do you magnify your God? Or your hurt?
One gives freedom. The other imprisons.
We are warned that our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8-10). So. Will you simply lie down and let him? Are you letting the "lion" (lying!) devour you?
The 10th verse in that passage tells us, "And the God of all grace.. after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." GOD HIMSELF restores you! We will all suffer. But God Himself makes you strong! The question is: Will we allow Him to? Will we let Him? The answer lies within our ourselves.
(Ephesians 6:10-12) Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. A lot of our battle lies within our own selves. Don't blame your offender, like this girl did. Take a good look within. Who (or what) is it you're magnifying? So then, who is the god/God that you're really bowing down to, sacrificing to, serving?
I had a girl write to me asking me to pray for a girl that is stuck in a stronghold of self-mutilation. It made me sad, and I immediately thought of how easily it is to fall into it. If we don't deal with our stuff properly that's what so often happens to us in our strongholds. When we don't deal with our stuff there is an incredible power that takes control and it some how turns out in some sort of self-mutilation (in whatever form in happens to show up in), because eventually it has to take some form of outward manifestation.
I am NOT in anyway trying to insinuate that this girl is demon-possessed. But what my friend said to me about this girl reminded me of the man that we're told about in Matt 8:28-34; and Mark 5:1-5; and Luke 8:26-30 that Jesus crossed all the way to the other side of the lake just to get to in order to heal him.
- We're told that that the man had "not worn clothes" for a long time.
- He lived in the tombs because he had been driven by the demons to go to "solitary places."
- And that he cried out day and night while cutting himself with stones.
This is such a picture of us in our bondage of sin. Okay granted, different looks for different faces... yet still the same.
Take for example the girl that flaunts her body for attention, she wears shirts open and cut way down to there, showing what ought not to be seen; and her skirts barely cover what skirts were originally made for. She's another one (just like this man just mentioned in Scripture) that's "not worn clothes" for a long time.
And just as this guy lived in the tombs because the demons within him had driven him to solitary places, don't we do this very same thing in our bondage? Seclude ourselves alone? Feel so by ourselves? Push other people away? Want to be alone? But hate that we are? And we're greatly disappointed in the people that we've pushed away, because they don't do something to help us anyway?
We're basically living dead people, trying our best to live and find some sort of life in the tombs that we've found ourselves in.
It's like Cole in the movie Sixth Sensewhen he whispered to Dr. Malcolm Crowe, "I see dead people.... walking around like regular people.... They're everywhere. And they don't even know they're dead."
THAT'S US in our bondage! We're the dead-person walking around that doesn't even know that we're dead. OR we do? And we just don't know how to live it any differently anymore?
And then of course, there's the part that tells us that he cried out day and night while cutting himself with stones.
It may be cutting? It may be drinking? Or snorting? Or eating? Or slapping someone else around that in essense can be cutting yourself with stones by the stones that you're throwing stones at in order to cut someone else? Or mad? Or mean? Or a sulking depression?...
Our "cutting ourselves" to make ourselves hurt by watching the constant memory of the evil done to us, because it's become the favorite movie inside our minds.... so we pick at the wound, we peel back the scab, and we make sure that it is a constant bleed. Make sense to you? Or is it only to my weird way of thinking? We can be "cutting ourselves with stones" in a zillion different ways without literally doing it. It is our form of crying out day and night for help from somebody out there somewhere that will bother to take the time to notice and see and stop and help to fight the foe within us to help us where it seems that we can't help ourselves.
We've all had our chains of bondage. We've all tried to find life in our tombs. We've all felt lonely in our solitary places. We've all stripped and shown our nakedness in different sorts of ways. And we've all "cut" ourselves and caused harm to ourselves in some form or fashion - because the cries within us has to be vocalized in some way. Our cries might be displayed in all sorts of disguises... but nevertheless, the cries can't stay hidden in silence within us forever. They eventually scream out in one way or another.
The sweet thing about it is that in the story that's told there, that is all that Jesus did when He crossed the lake on that night; and then after healing the man of his demons, He crossed back to the side that He'd just left from. Jesus' whole purpose was to go there for him. And if you'll remember a furious storm came up to try to stop Him before He got there. So Him! So kind! So just what He would do! It's that 'He leaves the ninety-nine in search for the one that's lost' thing all over again. He lives to seek.. and seeks to give life! I WAS THE "ONE"! YOU WERE THE "ONE"! WE'RE ALL "ONES"! You know? And He'll cross the seas and the wind and the waves that thwart and fight against us... just to touch and to change us "ones".
Again, I'll make one more reference to the movie Sixth Sense. In the same scene that I referred to earlier, Cole is lying in his bed and Dr. Crowe is sitting beside him trying his best (but doing an awful job of it) to tell Cole a bedtime story when Cole interrupts him and then tells him to, "Tell me the story of why you're sad?"
Dr. Crowe asks, "You think I'm sad?"
The little boy nods his head.
Mr. Crowe asks, "Why do you think that?"
Cole's answer to him is, "Your eyes told me."
Then, Dr. Crowe does. He begins to tell some of his story and the thing that's made him sad.
In a few minutes, Cole interrupts again, and asks in the meekest whisper, "How does the story end?"
But Dr. Crowe didn't know, because his story wasn't finished yet.
When Cole was asked how he knew that Dr. Crowe was sad, he told him that his eyes told him. And our eyes tell us too. What are you focused on? What do your eyes see? What are you constantly seeing? What do your eyes tell? Where's your 'look' looking? What do you spend your days seeing, because it's what you're constantly thinking about?
Again, when Cole told the doctor his "secret", he said, " I see dead people... walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're dead. I see them all the time. They're everywhere."
Did you hear that??? "They only see what they want to see"!!!
What are you "seeing" that you've chosen to see? Might that be why so many of us are still so sad?
Unlike Dr. Crowe, we can know how our stories end! The enemy will send a "a furious storm" to come up against you too, when Jesus comes to save; but the enemy's plans has no hold on Him, He's perfectly able to save. Each of us can answer the "How does the story end?" for our own lives in how we responded to our Savior when He comes calling to rescue you from your tombs. There's not a stronghold that Jesus can't break, nor a tomb that He can't rescue you from.
My friend? The one that used to be so sweet? She could 'be sweet' again. She could be free! But first, she's got to change her look. She's got to quit seeing what she wants to see. She's got to start seeing Jesus and seeing as Jesus sees, or her story will have a sad end.
How about me? How about you? How will your story end?