Update on the “jerk” I’m forgiving!

Okay, you are NOT going to believe this.  Remember the last post where I documented the process of choosing to forgive someone who wronged my husband and me? As a sheer act of my will, each time “the jerk” has come to mind since that day, I’ve prayed that he would experience a taste of God’s grace… that, maybe for the first time ever, he would get an undeniable glimpse of God’s love for him.

Well… we learned yesterday that probably the very week I started praying for him, he nearly lost his life to an illness we didn’t know he was battling.  A friend of ours spoke to him this week and the guy told him that his organs had actually begun to shut down and he almost lost his life, but he is okay now.

I’ll admit that a tiny, evil part of me entertained the question, “Did this con-artist fabricate this ‘death bed’ story so all the people he has wronged might feel some shred of sympathy for him?”  But then I confessed my cynicism and reminded myself that the God to Whom I surrendered my anger and my desire for justice is the same God who parted the Red Sea and healed lepers, and has loved and redeemed more “jerks” than I’ll ever know (myself included).

The fact that this man is experiencing another chance at life might just mean that my prayers for him are being heard and answered with eerie accuracy.  So…bottom line… I’m going to keep praying for him.  This is powerful stuff.

Forgiving a Jerk.

I usually don’t have trouble forgiving people.  That’s what I thought, anyway.  This past weekend I was reminded of wounds someone inflicted on my husband and me over a year ago. Turns out, the situation has been eating at me a lot more than I realized.

One of my best qualities is the ability to see a problem (or person) from various points of view.  And one of my worst qualities is looking at a problem (or person) from every vantage point except my own, without acknowledging my own feelings. Correction. Without acknowledging my anger.

I can come up with dozens of other words to describe a negative emotions other than the “a” word.  I might be frustrated.  Or concerned.  I might even be sad, worried, disheartened, hurt, negatively impacted, misunderstood… on and on… But “angry” sounds like it’s my problem.

Well… newsflash.  It is my problem. (See why I don’t like owning this stuff?? It feels really bad!)

Thanks to a timely message last Sunday, I dared to look at my anger over this wrong-doing.  This jerk ripped us off.  Bad.  It was not inadvertent or an unfortunate parting of ways in which both parties could admit wrong.  This was a crooked person who did a crooked thing and my life was impacted in many ways because of it. I was most angry at what the situation did to my husband, who had already had a year filled with disappointments and abandonment on a number of fronts.  But make no mistake, I was mad for myself, too.

It was unforgivable. This fact, of course, meant I must forgive him. I just didn’t feel like it. What’s worse is…I know very well this jerk is not sorry. AT ALL. This is how he operates.  He will never ask forgiveness or make it right (apart from a genuine miracle).  He will certainly never know, or care, how his carelessness impacted me or the people I love.

I enjoy forgiving when a person is sorry. But when they don’t care, it takes an entirely different level of character to even think about forgiveness.

Be it ever-so-clear, I will never forget.  And I will not ever risk anything on this person’s word again.  I’ll never enter into a contractual agreement with him because he doesn’t honor contracts. But regardless of all of that, forgiveness must happen.

I wrote his name down.  Then, figuratively in my heart and actually in real-life, set his name down, walked away and never looked back.  I left him and all his wrongdoing in God’s hands. I even entrusted my anger about it to God.  I also walked away from my desire to reserve a little pocket of angst for the other people he hurt, and there were many.

It’s a process.  I’m not feeling any warmth toward this forgivee. Based on past experience, this may come in time. But as a matter of trust in a God who is both merciful and just, I really don’t want to take back the job of judge. This, by the way, isn’t a step I’m taking for the guy, but for myself and for God. It’s a burden He didn’t equip me to carry because He wants to bear it for me.

I’m trying to pray for the jerk.  By that, I mean I’m trying to pray something other than, “God, give him what he deserves.” I’m attempting to pray that God will reveal His love to this person who I’m quite sure has never experienced His redeeming love.

I’m not as trusting of people as I once was. Maybe that’s not all bad if it means my trust is placed more squarely on Christ alone.

There is something powerful about admitting, “Yes, I’m angry,” and choosing forgiveness anyway.  If you have someone like this in your life, believe me… a sense of release doesn’t come before the choice to forgive those who use us and hurt us, and pray for them.

The truth will set you free. And the truth is… forgiving a jerk is right, even if it goes against ever emotion you’ve got. And it probably will.

Forgive Us Our Cluelessness

crying-eyeIt’s interesting to look into the faces of strangers when I’m out in public and try to imagine what their deal is… where they’ve come from, the stories they could tell, the things they know how to do, the things they hope for… the things they’ve given up hoping for.   It’s like a puzzle.  Part of the picture is visible, like their smile or lack thereof, their eyes and whether or not they look into my face as I pass by.  

 

It can be overwhelming reading people because every time I dare to look, the reality of how much pain exists in our world hits like a ton of bricks!  It’s equally painful to realize how many hurting people honestly believe that no one cares or understands.

 

Though I can’t rescue people like I used to rescue baby rabbits or injured birds, there are so many times when I would just love to reach out to every person in my path who has been disappointed by life and give them a real, live dose of hope.  Not trite little pat answers or an “I’ll say a prayer for you.”  But more like, “The look on your face, I have worn, too… and if I could find my smile again, so can you!”

 

This freaks people out, by the way.  So I don’t recommend it.  That’s the reason I write.  If I can just capture some thoughts that are honest, transparent and offer glimpses of a Hope I have tested again and again… then, maybe, that sad lady from the Target parking lot will somehow have the chance to know someone cares that she seemed uneasy around her own husband.  Maybe at some point the sad-faced kid whose dad called him “stupid” in the checkout line will eventually, by some miracle, replace that untruth with a message from his Maker, who is convinced that he is a brilliant masterpiece.

 

Life isn’t always kind.  Sometimes we need to hear a different voice… one that helps balance the negatives with something true and good that we can hold onto. For everyone out there who is hurting, I want to say something on behalf of those who didn’t reach out to you and help you through whatever you’re facing.  Forgive us our cluelessness.  You are loved… we just haven’t figured out how to let you know it yet.

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