Every step I take, I am reminded that I am getting older. My arch and forefoot have taken the hit over the years. All the years of pounding in athletics, standing for long periods and genetics have caused me to need treatment on my feet. Over the years, stitches, broken bones, pulled muscles, punctures, and surgeries – this body has experienced some pain. It heals slowly and in its own timing.
Pain caused by others is no different. It is naïve to think that a pastor doesn’t experience pain in relationships. I am not exempt from causing others pain through my words or actions. Conversely, people will do and say things that hurt. I consider my “pain threshold” to be pretty high. Yet, there are times when it just flat out hurts and it gets you. There are other times when you have expectations and things get personal really quick. It is easy to internalize pain and become a “victim.” If not dealt with head on, that hurt will begin to take root and your life will be impacted by it. Instead of healing the hurt, you enable it to grow. It could even grow into resentment, bitterness and isolation.
There is one word that is the catalyst for dealing with hurt…Forgiveness. Of course, I am a pastor; that should be my answer because it’s in the Bible. Yes, it is a great biblical principle. Yet, I say forgiveness for another reason…it works. I have seen time and again, that after all the rationalizing, thinking and processing, forgiveness is the step that begins the healing process. The following three areas of forgiveness are crucial to dealing with the roots.
This is the biggest source of pain and the most obvious place to start. Recently, I was challenged in my leadership style. We are all unique in our style – that is a good thing. Yet, the words still dug in and lingered for a while and I had to deal with them. I extracted the “gold” by learning that I could grow in my leadership. I saw ways they could grow too and was able to communicate that in a healthy way. Even with all that, the hurt lingered. I was away from Tampa and had a chance to get away from the “noise” of day-to-day life. I knelt down on my knees and spoke out loud that I choose to forgive them. Here is the kicker…I had forgiven them in my mind numerous times before that day. But, I didn’t forgive them in my heart. I was going through the motions. On that day, I resolved in my heart to do it “for real” and not go back. True forgiveness flowed and I could feel the hurt lift. Please realize that it doesn’t take away the consequences or actions following the incident. Forgiveness does allow you to move forward with a clear mind and heart.
This is one of the most intriguing areas of forgiveness that I see on a pretty regular basis. Tremendously gifted and talented people will be “stuck” or carrying extra baggage that cause them to minimize their ability to perform at a higher level. Many times, it is because of something in the past they haven’t dealt with yet. They allow the hurt to shape them instead of getting rid of it. I know I am going to make mistakes and blow it in situations. Guess what…so does God. If He is willing to forgive me, why should I continue to beat myself up and keep myself hostage to a situation? In those times, learn from your mistake and forgive yourself. Then, move on with confidence that if God isn’t going to remember it, you don’t have to either.
Yep, I expected a couple eyebrows to rise on this one. How could I hold God accountable for hurt in my life…He is God, after all? When God doesn’t meet my expectations, I get hurt that he didn’t do what I wanted. There have been some big things that I believed that God had put on my heart and they didn’t come to pass. I pray fervently that God will work mightily and nothing happens.
My son, Casey, was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of 18 months. It began a yearlong dialogue with God that brought our relationship to the most raw and real place ever. I poured my heart out asking God to heal him. During the whole time, I felt like God would end our conversations with this question – “Will you accept it if I leave him like he is?” It took a whole year of battling, pleading and stubbornness, but in the end, yielded by saying, “If you never change him, I will accept it.” Over the years, God has shown me so many tremendous insights about that part of our relationship. I truly believe that God has used all things including CP in Casey to develop him into the musician, worship leader and man he is today. It isn’t a liability to him; it is a catalyst for the calling God has on his life.
Here is the kicker…I recently was in a Freedom class at GFC. The biggest lesson I learned from the class – I never forgave God for the pain and hurt with that whole journey. I was able to experience a time of expressing my forgiveness toward God. The healing process since then has drawn me closer to him and given our relationship greater depth.
Are you in pain? Is there a hurt in your life that is causing you to “carry a backpack” or shape your life to accommodate it? Today is the day for forgiveness in your life. Let the healing and freedom begin to wash through you.
It’s time for the pain to stop.