“It’s like drinking poison and hoping someone else will die”.
I don’t know who said that. But they hit the nail on the head.
It had been 2 years since our falling-out. By the way, “falling-out” is a strange term for hurting one another and ending a friendship. Neither of us really “fell” out of anything. We both made deliberate steps away from the other. So I guess “walking out” is more what we did. We walked out of one another’s lives.
Two years passed. To be honest, not a day passed that I hadn’t thought about the incident. I replayed it in my mind several times a day. I looked at it from every angle (minimizing, of course, the angles that made it look like my fault). I thought of all the things I wish I’d have said at the time. I’ll let you guess how many of those ideas included compassionate, gracious words. (Hint: Less than 1). I hate to admit this to you. This thing consumed my thought life for most of my waking hours. I’d done a great job justifying all my actions….especially the action I was currently taking, which was having nothing to do with my former friend. So essentially, I’d spent over 700 days re-living an experience and compounding my anger. She tried to reach out a couple times, and I would give some high-sounding, proud response that was meant to communicate that I was holier than she. And then I’d get even more angry.
I’m not proud of it. I wasn’t proud of it then. But I owe you the truth.
So this was the state of my heart and mind as I dove into Women’s Bible Study that fall. My group was meeting in the library at MCC, a place I’d not ever spent much time. Every Wednesday, we’d get together and pore over scripture, life, and that week’s lesson. And every Wednesday, during those lovely discussions, I’d glance up to see that book sitting proudly on the shelf.
Choosing Forgiveness was the title, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Week after week, I glanced up there and glanced away.
Yet another confession: I’d believed that going to Bible study would basically just make me feel better. You know…I just needed to be reminded that Jesus loves me and whatnot. I just needed to reaffirm my identity in Christ…right?
Pretty soon, our study turned to the subject of…you guessed it…forgiveness.
At that point, I was pretty miserable. I had actually tried really hard to stop focusing so much on this person and our “walking-out”. I’d memorized scripture. I was in the midst of memorizing all of John 1, and I’d recite and memorize more every single time I started thinking over the incident. As you can imagine, I was memorizing at an alarming rate.
During our discussion that day, I sort of confessed that I had an issue with forgiveness. I was miserable, and knew something had to change. I asked everyone in my group HOW to forgive someone. They were so sweet and kind to listen patiently as I complained and whined about how I’d tried “everything” and just couldn’t seem to let it go. They gave me great advice, but I didn’t hear an answer I liked.
I did, however, decide to check out that book. I did it rather grudgingly, because you know…I’d already tried everything. I just knew there couldn’t possibly be any new ideas in there that hadn’t occurred to me in 2 years. And you know - I was so holy and everything…what could this Nancy lady have to say to me that I didn’t already know? But hey…it was worth a shot. Again…I was still miserable.
A couple days after I checked out the book, I got pretty sick. I found myself with lots of time to sit and read. And sit and read, I did.
“Has the clock stopped in your life? Was there a moment when someone or something hurt you - and everything changed?
…Ever since, the story of your life has been to recapture your loss and seek your revenge, either through outright action or the withholding of love and affection.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Forgiveness
Yeah - it’s like she knew me…like she’d seen my thoughts those last 2 years. A better and less creepy explanation is that un-forgiveness is pretty common to the human experience.
That quote is from the introduction to the book, as is this one:
“There is life and health and a whole new world outside the dark, musty walls of hurt and disillusionment behind which you have barricaded your heart. God wants to give you the grace to move on…He wants to set you free.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Forgiveness
What a contrast, right? I was riveted. I finally wanted this freedom more than I wanted my anger or vengeance. That’s when things really began to change.
I want to be very clear about one thing here. This book did not change my life. God, through His word, changed my life. Nancy Leigh DeMoss helped me immensely by presenting scripture relevant to this issue in a way that helped me admit to my problem and address it Biblically. Reading this book was like going on a walk with a godly confidant. I committed to following through on all of her suggested activities. I took pages of notes. And I prayed that God would write His truth on my heart, that I would not forget it and find myself in this place again.
And do you know what else I did? I apologized to my former friend. For real. I made the choice to obey God and forgive her for her contribution to the “walking out”. I confessed my contribution and asked forgiveness for it. And in doing so, I walked out of the prison I’d built for myself two years prior. I stopped drinking the poison. And Satan lost a huge foothold in my life.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. You may not be struggling with un-forgiveness right now; but we humans hurt each other. We do it a lot. Chances are good that you and I will find ourselves in the place where bitterness and anger feel like friends. Choosing Forgiveness is a fantastic tool that will Biblically equip you for those days.
I’ll leave you with one more quote from the book:
“Forgiveness is not a method to be learned as much as a truth to be lived”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Forgiveness
I genuinely hope that you’ll find the freedom of living the truth of forgiveness through God’s grace…maybe with the help of Nancy’s book.
On Sundays, we have three options for Worship & Praise! Please join us:
- Outdoors at 8:30am in the MCC Parking Lot
- Indoors at 10:00am (due to limited seating, please register in advance)
- Via live-stream at 10:00am on Facebook
For the Indoor Worship & Praise:
We are looking forward to seeing you! As you sign up, request one ticket per family member! Make sure that you also check out our updated Guidelines for Gathering to Worship at MCC below before you come.
Outdoor Worship does not require registration
Please read the Guidelines for Gathering to Worship Together at MCC in its entirety so that you know what to expect when you come to our outdoor service. This will help you and those around you navigate a very new situation, hopefully in a way that is as seamless as possible. We believe that our unity will be expressed and strengthened as we serve one another in Christ this week so join us in extending grace to each other, amid our differing perspectives, and different views about how to live in this time.
“... submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
“Outdo one another in showing honor.”
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
Please know that we are making every effort for this gathering to be in full compliance with the protocols given by authorities. No single plan for our meeting will ever be the perfect solution in any one person’s eyes. We will all be making compromises. But as we defer to these guidelines set up by our elders and leadership, we will be serving our fellow believers, honoring Christ as best we can, and providing for a beautiful expression of worship to happen together.
Please stay home if any of the following apply to you:
- You are immunocompromised.
- You are feeling ill (running a fever, coughing, or showing other signs of sickness)
Please don’t put yourself or others at risk. Thank you for staying home and staying safe, because we love you!