I certainly didn’t realize I needed to do it. I wasn’t walking around thinking I was angry. But it was worth it.
I’m glad I did it. Forgiving, that is. I am grateful for the new angle on this key to invaluable freedom!
1. It’s freeing!!
This one is a welcome reminder. (#2 surprised me!)
Enemies of the Heart approached forgiving a bit differently for me. I had no idea how incredibly exhausting it would be to follow the tentacles of events, understand how they impacted me from multiple angles, and forgive from angles I didn’t realize I needed to forgive from. But I am reminded over and over that so much of the advantage of forgiveness is for us! The personal freedom and life it enables is truly such a gift. With the new angles that Enemies presented, I feel more free than ever from my ‘recent unpleasantness’!
I can’t really explain it. But every time I prayed,
Heavenly Father, _______ has taken ______ from me. I have held on to this debt long enough. I choose to cancel this debt. _______ doesn’t owe me anymore. Just as you forgave me, I forgive __________.
… and it was literally hundreds of times! … it was kind of weird – like a bit of emotional release that honestly, was exhausting!
In the short run that is. In the long run, oh – it’s so freeing!
Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. ~ 1 John 2:10
Do you love that? ‘Nothing in him to make him stumble’! Not few things. Nothing!! Don’t you love a guarantee like that? There is *nothing* in us to make us stumble… all by freeing ourselves to truly love our brother! (And then, of course, loving him!)
That’s worth the exhaustion. We get freedom. We know that there is nothing in us to make us stumble. We live in the light!
2. It empowered me.
This one was an unexpected conclusion for me:
I realized that I have given too much of myself in some relationships. I entrusted too much of myself to someone else. I was giving them responsibility or ownership for things for which they either weren’t accepting, didn’t understand their role to encompass, aren’t effective in doing, or whatever the reason may be! But the result was that I gave of myself in areas I shouldn’t have.
For example, I understand biblical manhood to encompass protecting. Our small group did a study on John Piper’s understanding of the role of men and women, and his definition of biblical manhood is this:
“At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.”
Fulfilling such roles gives glory to God. So I had the tendency to walk into a relationship – whether it be with a pastor or a small group leader or wherever a God-loving man was in charge – and entrust myself to their protection.
“At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.”
I love the concept. I love the model. And I acted on it. I entrusted myself to men to protect me.
But whether it be that they haven’t read Piper’s book : ), or they didn’t understand their role to encompass that, or they weren’t expecting to take that on… I don’t know. What I do know is this: I entrusted myself to the protection of some who weren’t taking on the role of protector.
The result was shocking. Sabotaged may be too strong of a word, but when I’m in a situation expecting to be protected and I’m not, I open myself up to all kinds of attacks – undefended attacks.
So as I was forgiving some whom I felt didn’t protect me – as I was saying,
“Lord, I forgive __________ for taking protection from me.” (or a feeling of being protected, or however you want to word it!)
I realized that I have a huge role in this. I gave myself to them to protect. But they didn’t take on the role of protector.
I need to be wiser.
I need to test a bit. Just because a godly man is in a leadership role doesn’t mean he’s going to take on the role of my protector. I need to test it and give of myself when I am confident he’s taking on that role.
Until then, I need to speak up for myself in attacking situations. I need to protect myself. I need to not let myself be sabotaged thinking that my leader will protect me.
Or rather, I need to trust God in doing this! And then I entrust that responsibility not to every man in a leadership role – but to, as John Piper says, worthy men – those who have the benevolent desire to protect me.
It’s a bit sad to acknowledge. But it’s empowering to embrace!
How ironic is that? Forgiving some for not protecting me gave me an empowering perspective. I love God’s economy!! : )
Wow! This is much longer than I expected! I love all the Lord has done. I’ll share the next two next time…
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a little addendum:
How do you come to the conclusion that men are supposed to protect?
This certainly doesn’t encompass the entirety of John Piper’s 482 exploration of the role of biblical manhood and womanhood, but in case you’re curious, here is an excerpt from his notes in chapter 1 explaining a bit about his conclusion on men’s protecting role:
The Biblical support for this is seen first in the texts like the ones cited above in note 15 (Deuteronomy 10:18 and Jeremiah 31:32). It is also implied in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Christ is here sacrificing himself to protect his wife, the church, from the ravages of sin and hell. Christ gives himself as the model for the husband in this regard because the husband is the man. This is not an arbitrary assignment. It is fitting because men were created for this. The “mystery” of marriage (Ephesians 5:32) is the truth that God designed male and female from the beginning to carry different responsibilities on the analogy of Christ and his church. The sense of responsibility to protect is there in man by virtue of this design of creation, not by virtue of the marriage covenant. Marriage makes the burden more personal and more intense, but it does not create it. Additional support for man’s primary responsibility to protect women is found in the Old Testament pattern of men, rather than women, being given the duty to go to war. And nature itself seems to teach this duty of protection by endowing men, by and large, with greater brute strength.
His reference to ‘the ones cited above in note 15’ refers to this:
Other evidences of the father’s special responsibility to provide for his family portray the husband and father as the protector too. For example, Deuteronomy 10:18, “[God] executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger giving him food and raiment.” In other words, when the natural protector and provider is not there God steps in to take his place for the orphan and widow. Jeremiah 31:32 points in this same direction. God says concerning Israel, “My covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.” How was he their husband? The context suggests that he was their husband in giving them protection at the sea and the provision in the wilderness.
Again, that’s not exhaustive, but it offers a bit of a taste for the perspective.