The Truth About Forgiveness
*a guest post by Julie Arduini*
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. (Hebrews 12:15, NLT)
This winter I’ve enjoyed and been very stretched by the Bible study Joseph: The Study to Forgiveness by Melissa Spoelstra. I thought through numerous readings I knew everything there was to know about the handsome dreamer with the beautiful coat. I was sure I learned everything God had for me and that reading the book would help me connect with other online Bible study readers.
Boy, was I wrong.
I never considered how deep the anger and bitterness went when it came to Joseph’s brothers. I understood they’d had it with this kid. He was telling them dreams where in the end, they bowed to him. He had a beautiful coat from their father that no one else had. He was clearly favored, and they were definitely over it.
But to kill him? Isn’t that a bit much?
In the book I read that their anger was so white hot that they couldn’t see straight. It made them basically delusional. They couldn’t think correctly. They were going to do something with Joseph, and it was going to be bad.
And I remembered, I’ve been there.
The other person didn’t wear a colorful coat or interpret my dreams, but in their wound, they ambushed me with choices so hurtful I literally ached. Because this relationship hadn’t always been toxic, it felt like someone had died. I ran through the stages of grief, back and forth, in a matter of hours. Anger?
It was white hot, down to my toes, sweating out of me in the dead of winter.
Yep, I had a lot more in common with Joseph’s brothers than I thought.
The fury was so intense that I started my day re hashing it and kept it up all day long. I took that raw emotion with me to meetings. While I took care of my husband and kids. Drove errands. Served in ministry. Oh, and yes, worshipped in church. Imagine how authentic that was.
It got to the point where I was so bitter, literally sick about it, I couldn’t see straight.
And I have the scratched car to prove it.
I remember I left a meeting where I had a quick side chat with a friend who asked me about the situation. It was like pouring gas on flames. I was rehashing it enough on my own. To have the opportunity to dialogue with someone about it, I was over the top furious remembering the wound. I took it all with me in the car as I drove to the library. All I had to do was drop a book off in the drop. But in my state where I was so angry I couldn’t even see straight, there was a parked van that took most of the narrow drop off space. It was also located in a sharp angle with a guardrail.
I gripped that book as I tried to maneuver into the drop off lane. The entire time I thought about what happened. The grief. Shock. Hurt. Anger. Humiliation. Loss of relationship. And I couldn’t make the angle to the book drop off. But I scratched my car and got stuck. You know the movies when this happens and the person reverses the car and it makes it worse, but they are still stuck?
Yep, that happened.
When I got home and surveyed the damage, I could see clearly. I let my bitterness consume me and it marked up my new car. Once Joseph was spared his life but sold as a slave, the brothers got their vision back. And as I’m reading in the book, they realized how much they let their feelings control them with disastrous results.
Although I’m not finished with the book, I’m happy to say I’ve made great strides in the forgiveness department. A friend taught me years ago that forgiveness is “letting go of the fact that the other person didn’t meet your expectation.” Living out that definition, asking for prayer, and being in His word gave me the strength to forgive.
I pray if you can relate to Joseph’s brothers, if you are so bitter you can’t even see straight, get on your knees before you get in a car.
Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the upcoming re-release, ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as the sequel, ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past, set for a Spring release. She also shared her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities at JULIE ARDUINI: SURRENDER ISSUES AND CHOCOLATE and the weekly e mail. SUNDAY’S SURRENDER AND CHOCOLATE.
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Entrusted: Surrendering the Present
by Julie Arduini
Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl from Youngstown, Ohio, plows–literally–into Adirondack village, Speculator Falls, with a busted GPS and goals to make everyone in her new hometown love her as the new senior center director. Town councilman and grocer Ben Regan is as broken as the flower box Jenna demolished. He’s grieving loss and rejection and wants to shut down the center permanently before there’s too much change and further heartbreak. The two work on community projects and build a slow relationship, but the council needs to vote on the senior center’s future. Can Jenna show Ben both her and the center are worth trusting?
(This post was shared at Word of God Speak.)