I’m a sucker for any movie where justice is duly served. Whether the plot involves the stereotypical high school social pariah exposing the Queen Bees of the school for their evil misdeeds or it’s a movie like the recently released “Non-stop”, where an air marshal has to convince the entire world that he’s not a terrorist. The emotion the actors portray as they receive retribution for the wrongs done against them always demonstrates a certain power to call forth spontaneous water spoutage from my tear ducts, but I’ll admit, it’s also comforting for me to watch the bad guy eat crow. I mean everyone knows: he had it coming.
I said something to Ray the other day about such kinds of movies and how they give us a non-biblical view of justice as we applaud those who do what God commands believers not to do, take matters of vengeance into their own hands (Rom. 12:19), but I was merely saying that to condemn modern society, not because I wanted to stop watching such movies or that I felt any sort of personal conviction. Of course God is always good about turning my hypocrisy on its head, so as I asked the Lord to show me the first step to inner healing last week, He took His handy dandy flashlight and shone it on that particular area of my heart.
(Now let me interject here that I have no prescribed method for this journey to inner healing. Some people reading this blog know a lot more about inner healing than I do and can boil it down to step one, step two, and so on. What I’m sharing is specific to my heart and the way I feel God is leading me to heal, so try not to take it as a formula or anything. If it speaks to you and your situation it does; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.)
Laying down my right to be right
Finally deciding to deal with pain from my past has been pretty overwhelming for me. It’s like peering into the deepest part of my soul and finding a huge mess of dark, dirty clutter. I don’t even know where to begin. There’s so much in there that I can’t tell root from tip, stronghold from foothold. I have a handout from a friend on inner healing, and I recently downloaded a book on forgiveness, but in light of my recent post How S’ambrosia is Getting Her Groove Back, I decided that the best way for me to tackle this issue was to just sit before the Lord for myself and ask Him directly. That’s as good a place to start as any, right?
So there I sat with my legs crossed, eyes closed, and palms open, asking the Lord to show me what to do. The answer came pretty quickly. “Lay down your right to be right.” This isn’t the root of my pain by any means, but it is a facet of pride that keeps me from being able to see the entirety of the situation as God does. Until I can see the situation as He does, I’ll never be able to have mercy and compassion towards the other person as He does. As I sat before the Lord, He began to show me how many times He’s tried to bring conviction to my heart, but I’ve shut Him out because I knew that I wasn’t the one at fault.
The mantras that nag me
“I wouldn’t be in this place if it wasn’t for them.”
“They did this to me, so they deserve that to happen to them.”
“They’re the ones acting ungodly right now, not me.”
These are just a few of the excuses that I’ve repeated to myself whenever that inward tug to extend grace to someone that has hurt me comes to my heart. Essentially, I get around it by maintaining that I’m right and they’re wrong. Holding on to this belief keeps me from being able to see how un-Christlike I am being in dealing with the matter. There may be some truth to what I chant to myself; the other person may have wounded me deeply by their actions, but as far as God is concerned, my refusal to forgive or extend grace to them is just as bad, because I’m setting up my heart for some major bitterness. Just like an open, untreated wound can invite all sorts of nasty bacteria, the way I allow my heart to remain untreated by Christ allows all strains of bitterness, anger, and contempt to take root.
What true forgiveness looks like
I’ve claimed that I’ve forgiven these people many times over, but I’ll know that true forgiveness has occurred when I can look or think upon them without wanting to see them suffer. True forgiveness is wanting the best for whomever once set themselves against you as your enemy. It’s not rejoicing in their calamity, but actively praying for the goodness of God to transform their lives just as much as you desire Him to transform yours. I never would have called myself bitter before, I just proclaimed myself as a victim who wanted, nay, needed justice to be served so the people could come groveling back to me and beg for forgiveness.
Yeah… how I didn’t realize that that attitude is the epitome of bitterness, I don’t know.
So this is the first step for me. I’m going to spend this week going through some of the most painful relationships I have, bring them to the Lord, and lay down my right to be right. All feelings of deserving an apology or vindication that mask themselves as justice are going to be brought before the feet of the beautiful and merciful judge Jesus Christ. If you’re going along this journey with me, I would encourage you to take this week to do the same. Like I said, this isn’t a step by step guide to inner healing. I honestly have no idea where this will even go next,but I hope the Lord uses this to speak to your heart as He is speaking to mine.