I would have to say that in my life I have been through a lot of things that have given me the opportunity to learn hard but valuable lessons - more than most. By the grace of God I have come through all of those things not only physically alive but spiritually and emotionally. Rather than holding bitterness in my heart (well... for very long periods of time anyway) I have forgiven and moved on. I don't say these things to glorify myself. had it not been for the grace of God I believe I would be a very mean spirited, bitter, miserable person, but through his mercy and love he has given me the ability to walk in forgiveness daily.
Quite a bit of the things I have been through were inflicted by others... some were self inflicted, or at least partly. For those who know me, I mean really know me, you know my story and where I'm coming from on this. There are times in our lives when people wrong us, and at other times we are living in the consequences of our own sin... sometimes they are one in the same. I'm reminded of this on a daily basis.
So, in my "more than most" I have been given the opportunity to minister to many people who have been through similar circumstances. In return I am often blessed myself. Let it be said once again that what Satan means for harm God uses for good! In the midst of the storm it's hard to see the big picture, but not does he use those circumstance and those hurts to draw you closer to him and to shape adn mold you, but he also gives you area of ministry - an opportunity to share your faith and the love of Christ. Isn't that great? We must go thru the valleys to get to the mountain tops.
I really thought I was doing great in this area for a long time... I did hold it as a matter of pride. And sure as the sun rises I was blinded by my pride and I decieved myself into thinking that I deserved to hold onto some anger towards someone who hurt me very deeply. I'm being real here. I didn't want to let go of my anger and bitterness as if to say what this person did was ok. I went around telling myself that it was ok because I always did the right thing and spoke kindly despite the feelings in my heart... what a load of garbage! I carried around this anger that boiled up inside of me any time I thought about the person. I found myself again being prideful that I did the right thing even though this person didn't deserve it. It wasn't about doing the right thing because I had forgiven the person and let it go... it was like a tick mark to me of one more "good deed" stacked up against the all the things this person did to hurt me. That's a dangerous game.
Well, of course, as he often does, the Lord began speaking to me in themes... this one was on forgiveness. Oh how rotten! But Lord, can't I just hold on to this a little longer?! I have so much more to be angry about!!! Nope... no dice, he said. I had to take the high road. But on that road my burden has been much lighter. I gave all of the hurt over to him... and he is the defender and avenger of his people, so I can trust in him to bring everything to justice. Forgiveness is not something that happens over time, although time can sometimes dull the pain and make it easier to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice. It's a process you have to walk through... sometimes tiptoing.
I just thank my Heavenly Father that he chooses to forgive continually without condition because my Saviour, Jesus Christ, not only did more than most, loved more than most, and went thru more than most... he did more than any, loved more than any, and went thru more than any.