I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness and reconciliation. I believe without any doubt in my mind that we were created to love and be loved with the deep, true love of Jesus. But when we get burned, hurt, or mistreated, we often do not want to act out in love toward the offender.
Today I had the opportunity to act in love toward someone who mistreated me greatly. On my way home from the gym, I saw a friend, or former friend [not too sure what we are] walking. Knowing full well that he would be walking home and remembering full well how bad this person hurt me just a few months earlier, I chose to drive past them. I was mad and still hurt. On my way home, my heart sank and I knew that in no way had I acted in love. You see, the love of Jesus is not just about loving those who like us or treat us well. A huge part of the love of Jesus is to love those who do not care about you at all, those that mistreat you, or those that have cut so deeply to your soul that you nearly [or already have] write them off.
Today was my day to decide what I was going to do. I intentionally drove past this person to avoid talking to them as to this day I have yet to receive an apology. But as I said, on my way home, my heart sank and I knew I was not loving that person and therefor not really loving God with my whole heart. I pulled into a parking lot and sat for a minute deciding whether to keep driving or turn around. I knew what was right but also knew what I wanted to do. Instead of following my pride- and hurt- I turned my car around, found this person, and drove them home. I thought surely if I show them love, the situation will get better and he won’t mistreat me again. The ride home seemed fine [by the way… “fine” is not a feeling or a description of a situation]. But there was the obvious elephant in the room of what happened between this person and I. Before we got to his house I told him how I felt. The conversation seemed to start off well and progress toward reconciliation only to find it completely plummet and I get hurt once again.
My point in telling you this story of my own personal frustration and struggle- and hurt- is that we all have a choice. We each have the same opportunity to love those who love us in return. We all have the same choice to love those who have hurt us deeply, cut us at our soul, offended us in some way, or done something else seemingly unforgivable. Whether you are a Christian or not, I challenge you to forgive those who have hurt you regardless of the offense. Unforgiveness is a poison for you and not the one it is directed toward. But I also challenge you to seek reconciliation- restoration for the broken relationship or friendship. Do what you can. It may work out. It may not. I can tell you from today that as inconvenient as it was to turn around to help this person, it mattered. As frustrating as it was to repeat the same hurt that happened just a few months ago, I tried. I definitely do not like the outcome or how this person, yet again, treated me, but I do believe that I did what I could.
Act in love…true Christly love. Always. No excuses. Regardless of how the person responds or the outcome of your behavior, it matters to your relationship to God. He forgave you and gives you a second [and third and fourth, etc.] chance. Don’t write people off. They may write you off, but do your best and honor God in your life, always.