Realizing that unforgiveness had taken root in my life, I began reading R. T. Kendall’s book Total Forgiveness to try and find help. The same week I began reading the book, in my Bible reading one morning I meditated on Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus’ instructions on forgiveness. The Lord exhorts Peter that we are to not only forgive up to seven times but seventy-time seven. As I prayerfully read the passage, the Holy Spirit convicted me that I had unforgiveness in my life. I knew the Lord had his laser on me.
Two hours later, I received an email from a trusted, mature friend. The email read, “This morning in my quiet time I read Matthew 18. The Lord convicted me to tell you that you have unforgiveness in an area of your life.” There I was, like a deer in head lights. God, speaking loudly, had my attention.
For several months, the Lord had been uprooting unforgiveness that traced back to my family going through a horrible church split. The relationship I grieved more than any through the process was a lady who had been like a “second mom” to me for years. She was on one side of the split and my family the other.
Several years earlier I chose to distance myself from her and many of those relationships. This lady attempted to reach out to me once or twice four of five years ago but I continued to keep my distance. Then, slowly, I began praying for God to restore the relationship and change me. I still had so much hurt related to that church split and the ways that my family and others were treated. I began asking God to get me to the place in my heart where I could go back into the relationship with her.
Two years earlier I slowly began a letter to Beth – it took me about six months to write it. It was a kind attempt to explain why I had distanced myself, that I did not blame her, and that I had longed for the relationship to be restored. I mailed it the week of Christmas in 2004 with a gift. I had such a release sending that gift and trusting God to work. And I tried to leave it in His hands. I started “looking” and hoping for a response from her. Weeks turned into months. By the summer I assumed the relationship was over and I gave that up to the Lord again.
The weekend of my birthday in September I received a kind response letter from her. She said that she cried and cried upon receiving my letter and gift – a wooden angel. Her response as well was free from accusation or defense and expressed a longing for our lives to reunite. She invited me to please come see her.
We planned to go last fall sometime, but for various reasons, we just did not. Finally, one Monday morning, I sensed God tell me to go to Greenville to a Christian bookstore. I wanted to spend time with my son, so I went home, got him, and we hit the road. When I got on the interstate, the Holy Spirit came upon me and told me clearly to go see Beth now.
So, the two of us went straight there. That was amazing. It had been seven years since I had been at their house. This is a place I went to frequently as a child and teenager. I told my wife it was one of those moments when you feel like nothing has changed though years have passed. Yet at the same time there was the reality in my heart that so much has changed during the years – and much hurt.
She met me and my son at the door (she had never seen my children) with open arms and we all embraced. We enjoyed a wonderful visit. Of course we never talked about any of the reason we had “parted.” We enjoyed each other’s company. When we left she told me, “I have loved you since before you were born and I still love you.” It was a very sweet reunion.
Charles Stanley writes, “Whatever our pain or situation, we cannot afford to hold on to an unforgiving spirit. We must get involved in the process of releasing others from the debts we feel they owe us. If we keep our eyes on the One who forgave us, it will be a liberating force like nothing we’ve ever experienced.”