My amazing husband has red hair. It has darkened to more of a brownish-red color over the years, but his beard has stayed wonderfully red. I remember when we were young and newly married, he wished his facial hair would cooperate better since he had a few spots that were pretty sparse, But time and testosterone have done the trick, and now it seems he could shave one day and wake up the next morning with a full beard! Every day he trims it up, and everyday we clean the area around the sink since it gets covered with hundreds of tiny red hairs. It needs much daily taming.
The beard-that-keeps-coming-back got me to thinking about forgiveness. Have you ever struggled with being hurt by someone? Sometimes people say or do things to us that wound very deeply. And sometimes the person is so close to us and the wound so painful that we have a difficult time letting go of the wrong done to us. Hurt is a lot like a beard in the sense that if we don't fight to get rid of it, it will grow and grow until we are completely tangled up in an out-of-control thing. It will become the first thing that people notice about us. It will take over our whole lives, tripping and distracting us from anything else.
We know that the Bible plainly states that we must forgive; there is no question about this. In Matthew 6, Jesus is teaching about prayer. Just after He teaches what we now call The Lord's Prayer, He says, "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." As Christians, we have all been forgiven so much by God, and must not withhold our forgiveness towards others. We cannot cling to HIs mercy in our own lives without pouring it out for others.
Still, there is something we all know to be true... actually forgiving someone is often very hard to do. It is like the beard. You get rid of that hurt one day, putting it at Jesus' feet, but then there it is again the next day. Lay that hurt and anger down, it pops back up; shave that bitterness off, it grows right back in.
Thankfully, here is where the beard analogy ends. My husband will keep on fighting to tame his red beard until we are old and it becomes a white beard. But there is hope in battling the temptation to hold on to unforgiveness. The way to shut out the darkness that so easily enters our hearts is simply to turn on the light. When you find yourself thinking, dwelling, and meditating on a hurt, stop. Rather than dwelling on the hurt, dwell instead on the love and truth of God. Lay the hurt down at Jesus' feet as many times as you find yourself holding it again.
Worship, fill your mind and heart with the goodness of the Lord, so there isn't any room for anger or bitterness. Remember how merciful God has been to us, and ask Him to help you extend the same mercy. Pray for the person who wronged you - truly pray for their wholeness and forgiveness in God's sight. One great day you will wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and realize that you are clean and that the hurt is gone for good. Jesus can truly help us forgive others as we have been forgiven, and He can help us to be free.
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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