"Then Peter came up and said to him, 'Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?'" Matthew 18:21
The Lord got me again. Here I was doing my morning devotion, and I decided to pray for someone I'm no longer friends with. She popped in my mind as I was reading a devotion about praying for enemies and then letting God do the rest of the work. We were good friends at one point, but through a series of events, we ended our friendship horribly. I saw this friend (a woman who prayed with me, let me cry on her shoulders, and backed me up when I needed her) as an enemy. So, I thought I was doing my "Christian duty" of praying for her. As I began to pray that God places a desire in her heart to seek forgiveness from those she has hurt, the Lord chose that moment to flash through my head times I was guilty. Whoa! Wait a minute, there, Lord! Are you tell me that I need to ask her for forgiveness?! FLASH! There was the memory of me speaking to her in a way that a Christian shouldn't be speaking to someone else, especially another Christian (no, not cussing, just hurtful words). But! But! My mind wanted to justify to God why I was in the right. FLASH! Another memory of me talking about her behind her back. And another memory and another memory and another memory. Yes, the things she said and did were wrong, BUT my reaction to being hurt was not acceptable. And that was when the Lord gently reminded me of what I was praying before all these forgotten memories came flooding in: forgiveness.
I had no other way to contact her except through email. So I emailed her an apology. My first instinct was to justify my actions, but that was not asking for forgiveness, and that definitely was not going to get the forgiveness I was asking for. So I laid the blame right where it belonged: on my shoulders. And it was one of the hardest things I have had to do.
I think we all have a hard time asking for forgiveness. I mean really asking for forgiveness. Human instinct is to immediately want to justify our actions when someone calls us on the carpet. How about when it's GOD that is calling you out? He knows what you are really thinking. He knows your pain and suffering, but he also knows the pain and suffering you have caused others. If you call yourself a follower of Christ, then you MUST seek forgiveness. Not just from Him but from those you have harmed. One thing I keep reminding my children is the importance of sharing God's love with others. And if I cannot ask for forgiveness for the things I have said and done (or NOT said and NOT done), then I am missing out on an opportunity to experience the true love He has given.
And just as a side note: I have not heard anything back from this lady I have asked forgiveness from. She may not have read the email yet. She may not want to respond. She may not know how to respond. My reaction to her inaction should not be anything more than just prayer that she find it in her heart to forgive me.
Who do you need to ask forgiveness from today? And if someone has asked forgiveness from you, have you done it? Have you released them? Pray that God will give your heart peace and words to say to mend what is broken.