The other day I was walking with God and processing my hurt over a friendship that has greatly faded under the intense rays of distance and neglect. It was some healthy, gut-level vulnerability as I expressed my frustration and disappointment and confessed my need to surrender – yet again – my emotions and unmet expectations at His feet. As I walked the mulched trails, I went back and forth between surrendering my feelings and wallowing in them a little longer. I muttered some indictment about actions speaking louder than words, blah, blah, blah.
After one pretty decent wallowing when I was finally quiet for a second, I sensed God asking me a question. I should have kept muttering like usual but I stopped to listen…
“So …. you are angry with this person for doing to you what you do to me?”
I could almost see the twinkle in God’s eye around the log in my own. It was said in complete love and grace, with a decent dose of smirk. (God and I speak smirk a lot.)
And He disarmed me. With His love. And His truth.
In a moment, frustration and judgment leaked out of my heart and spirit. Into the empty spaces left behind, seeped compassion and grace.
This is forgiveness. This is the changing of the heart that occurs when forgiveness is given and when forgiveness is received. It is the forgiveness that is only possible when we remember how we are forgiven and extend that forgiveness to our fellow misfits and sojourners.
Because He first forgave us, we forgive one another.
Because He first loved us, we love one another. “We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.” I John 4:19
“God is not merely, like the Prodigal Son’s father, on the way to us; he is there at the heart… God’s loving kindness is there ahead of us. Forgiveness is never a matter of persuading God of something but of discovering for myself that there is no distance to be crossed, except that longest journey to that which gives truth and reality to my very self.” – Rowan Williams
My walk in the woods was that longest journey. God’s loving kindness was, indeed, ahead of me.