Right there in Bible study I ask the stupid question.
I feel eyes turn to me, trying to hide their shock, but really, I want to know. And there is someone in this room that might be able to tell me.
I want to know how we are to live like Good Samaritans.
I mean, really…past being “nice Christians,” past the the Sunday school story we so quickly spout off and the back-pats we give ourselves for not being like *the Levite*…past the pithy little statements we give about loving others as ourselves, there still remains the question: how do we live generously and sacrificially towards those who dislike us, even despise us and despitefully use us?
We are women. Women are notorious for playing it safe, not taking risks. It doesn’t take many times of being burned before we decide we better look out for ourselves.
And I’ve been burned by those closest to me and I’ve been rejected and despised by my own people and left for dead in a dark room where they let him have his way with me.
And I learned I better self preserve and self protect and try to be reasonable and smart and look after my own security and safety and before you know it, aren’t I only loving myself?
But the Good Samaritan stayed up all night with a man who’d been taught to despise Samaritans. He allowed himself to be detoured on his journey… he set aside his own plans… he gave up his money and his provisions…he put himself out. And all for an “enemy” man he didn’t even know.
And everyone looks at me in silence after I ask the question and I feel like it just went over everyone’s head and am I the only one who wants to know how to stop self-protecting?
Some sins are cute and socially acceptable but this one of mine is the Big Bad Wolf: ugly and destructive and I’m asking my sisters for help.
I want to know how to live poured out when I’ve been so badly used up. I want to be the Good Samaritan. I’m ready to give myself for others, even to those who despitefully use me. I just need some guidance on how to disarm the self-preservation responses.
I need to get over myself.
The leader of the group, she says, “We’ll get to that,” and I nod okay and I wonder if that is a cop out answer because no one really knows the answer.
But God, He knows the answer I need and He meets me there in that place and He does something so amazing.
He tells me how. “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18
He tells me I am to forgive and that is how to overcome self-protection and He tells me I can forgive because He is Yahweh. Every need or want or expectation I have, He is sufficient for…and He’ll never let me down. “You can forgive others because I’m your All.”
Every time someone else let me down, He held me up.
Every time someone else used me, He filled me with His sustaining power.
Every time someone else rejected me and abandoned me, He never left me.
Every time someone else led me astray, He left the 99 safe in the fold and pursued me, the one lost, and brought me back.
And for the rest of my life, every time someone WRONGS me, He is there to give me abundant measure of RIGHT.
His right over-compensates for a life-time of wrongs.
“You can forgive because I AM. I Am all you need, my precious child.”
And the Truth and the Way and the Life flood my spirit and I know how to forgive.
I drive home from Bible Study and His word instructs me and there are some wounds that fester self-protection, some deep hurts buried long, and I know it is time to let them go, once and for all.
I AM and I have a ceremony, something real, something tangible, a stake in the ground. When hurt feelings and memories return, I will recall the day when the Lord and I specifically dealt with the wrongdoing and I will remember that this person is abdicated of their debt towards me.
The Lord and I have a Forgiveness Ceremony.
I go get the stack of index cards. On one card, I write Leviticus 19:18. On another card, I write the name of one who wronged me. Below the name, I write the wrongdoing.
I sit on the floor before God and I place the scripture card and the “debt” card side by side.
I read the scripture out loud and then I pray, “Lord, I no longer hold Tammy’s grievance against her. I forgive her for hurting me through rejection and abandonment. I forgive her for the shame and condemnation she has heaped upon me through the years, and I do so because You are Yahweh…You do not condemn and You do not abandon and You do not reject. Lord, I forgive Tammy because You meet all my needs for acceptance and belonging.”
Then I turn over the index card and re-write Tammy’s name on the back.
The card is now blank, the slate is wiped clean.
It is a choice to allow I AM to fill the hole and heal the hurt another has left on my soul. It only happens by letting go. Forgiving.
I move on to another name, another card and I forgive in the same way.
I experience freedom.
“Practice being a professional forgiver,” He tells me when we are done. A professional forgiver is one who forgives on the spot, totally, immediately, and uni-laterally.
Isn’t this the way to disarm self-protection, by total, immediate, uni-lateral forgiveness?
And I make a commitment to Him, to become a professional forgiver.
Like when I’m cut off in traffic, I practice being a professional forgiver.
When I’m overlooked by someone at church, I practice being a professional forgiver.
When husband uses the last of the butter I was saving for my special recipe and I have to run to the store at the last minute for more, I practice being a professional forgiver.
Using Ephesians 4:26 as my guide, I practice forgiveness every evening, prayerfully letting go of anger and hurts before the sun goes down.
For many years, I asked “how?” How do you truly forgive someone who has hurt you so deeply, when the pain is ongoing, the wrongs fresh? That one little scripture, that one little phrase has the fullness of “how.”
“I AM Yahweh.”
We can forgive because with God, we really aren’t out anything. He is I AM and He is ours, He’s given Himself to us fully and unconditionally. That means no matter what others do to us, we aren’t the worse off.
Actually, we’re the better.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all manner of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” Matthew 5: 11-12