I've been wanting for some time to share this. It never ceases to amaze me how God works in unexpected ways and how perfect His timing is.
I was in the process of typing my 3-part series about my moving here and how God has been at work all along even though it wasn't clear to me at the time. As I was typing, I went into a little more detail than I should have regarding my ex, and I had to edit out a LOT of stuff. I realized then just how much bitterness I still felt towards him and that at some point I would have to forgive him. Trouble is, I really didn't want to let him off the hook for things he had done and is still doing, but I said a quick prayer asking God to forgive me and deliver me from my bitterness. I continued typing, then I cut that whole section out and saved it in another document. I thought I may want to write about it later - much, much later - y'know, after God has thoroughly dealt with me over it.
When I finally finished and posted the edited version, I turned off my computer to get ready for bed. While brushing my teeth, I felt a heaviness lift off me just as I bent over the sink. The weight didn't come from off my shoulders, it came from within, as if it were being extracted from beneath my ribs upwards (descriptive words fail me - WHOOSH, maybe? only not sudden) through the top of my head. Ordinarily, I might have attributed it to being bent over and having the blood rush to my head, but that wasn't it. And it wasn't a reaction to the toothpaste. And I don't use Listerine, so no, I wasn't gettin' a buzz on. This was something else. Something amazing. I looked up and wondered aloud "Did I just forgive him?" Then peace just welled up in me. Oh! (cue the lightbulb) I just thought of an analogy: It was like a transfusion - out with the bad blood, in with the good. Yeah. Just like that.
God would not forgive me until I had forgiven him. This was not something I could do on my own, but once I confessed my unforgiving spirit, He took over from there, and all I had to do was let. it. go.
I don't know why that blew my mind, but it did. I even "tested" myself the next day just to be sure I hadn't been imagining it. I thought of some of the things my ex has said and done to me, and I didn't feel any animosity towards him - couldn't even conjure it up. Holy remission, Batman, I have been delivered!
Later that night, I was talking it over with the Lord, wondering what had kept me from giving it to Him sooner. You'd like to know, wouldn't you? Why, if it's that easy, do we make it so hard? My own words convicted me. Years before, I had said to my Sunday School class, "Who am I to think that I have any right to hold a grudge against anyone? Has anyone crucified my only child on a cross? If God can forgive us that, shouldn't we be willing to forgive anyone anything?" Yeah, ouch.
God stands ready, willing, and able to forgive us if we just ask. However, in order to receive it, we have to accept it. That's right, ACCEPT it. You can't give to others what you don't have. Had I not accepted His forgiveness? Hadn't I been carrying around a load of guilt and shame to remind me how unworthy I was to bear His name? You betcha. I had been the problem, not my ex.
God had been waiting a long time for me to lay down that load. I didn't lay it down all at once, but little by little, with each assurance He gave, the burden grew lighter and lighter. The more I trusted Him, the more I entrusted to Him. I had been learning to accept His forgiveness, and in the process, I learned to forgive.
I didn't even see it coming.