I’ve caught myself mumbling before…Have you?
At first I thought, nah… I don’t mumble to myself. Only crazy people mumble to themselves, right?
But have a few kids under your belt, and you’ll find yourself talking under your breath. “If I step on one more of those Legos!”
There’s a different sort of a mumble; a grumble which points to a lack of grace or forgiveness. It sounds a little less like the mumbles of motherhood and a little more like petty highschool gossip. “I can’t believe she said that!” They were a symptom of a lack of grace and forgiveness that can work its way deep in a woman’s soul and create misery out of a situation that shouldn’t be more than a slight nuisance. I knew to really stop the grumbles, I had to change why my heart wanted to grumble. I needed to forgive.
That’s the sixth and final tip in a set of ABC’s on setting boundaries. I kicked off the series when I wrote an article listing six ABC’s about drawing boundaries with difficult people in your life (you can see it here). Each article shares one of the “ouch” lessons I’ve learned over the years on setting boundaries–lessons that hurt badly as I experienced them. But when God was done with the lesson, His indelible truth stuck with me forever, helping me use His wisdom to create better, deeper relationships, even with some difficult people. Sometimes, I’ve even spotted where I’ve slipped and become the difficult person myself! Haven’t we all?
The F in the ABC’s is “Forgive! Really Forgive!”
It’s funny how forgiveness works. I can forgive some of the most awful offenses and never blink and eye. I can look at the person, laugh with them, and truly love them from my heart–as though the offense has never happened.
And then there are those offenses that just get your Achilles heal. Usually it’s a betrayal that, no matter how small or seemingly meaningless, cuts me to the core because I never expected someone so close to me to have such ill-will towards me. Or perhaps the ones that get me are the offenses that make no sense. A person seems to have it out for me–gossips about me or snubs me, and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what I’ve done to upset them!
Then the thinking comes… “maybe it was that time I said…” or “maybe she wanted me to invite her where when I went…” And the more I think about it, the crazier the thoughts get, until I finally come to the the conclusion that I’m being treated so terribly unfair that the very thought of the person gives me shivers.
So I announce to l myself– “I forgive her!”
I yell it out through the trees in my backyard. I look up to God in the Heavens and tell Him, “It’s done! I’m letting this go!”
…and then I mumble. “I just can’t believe…”
And then I stop, and pray. “God, please take this feeling away!”
And I smile and pray for her. And go about my business.
.. and grumble. Argh! Not again, I think!
You see, I hadn’t really forgiven her. True forgiveness means no more grumbling! It doesn’t have a but behind it. “I forgive her, but I never want to see her again. It means I can actually coexist in the same room and not let her offense make me nutty. I can love her–offenses and all.
I can’t tell you that I’m there in every case. But I’m learning to be forgetful of offenses. Label them. Don’t put up with them. Set boundaries to prevent them. But forget them.
In Matthew 18:23-35, Christ tells a parable of the wicked servant, who, after being forgiven his debts, turns around and demands payments from others for their tiny debts against him. When God forgives you, HE FORGIVES YOU! The debt you owe Him for your sin is gone. And He expects you to do the same for others– forgive. Really forgive. Completely utterly let go and forget, just as God completely utterly forgets our sins from our past. It’s the only way He can feel complete love for us.
And it’s the only way you can go foward in peace in love, without any ill will towards your offender. And…without any desire to mumble or grumble!
Lord, please help this sister with the very offense that’s causing her heart to stew in anger rather than be free with peace and joy. Release chains that bind her heart in through lack of forgiveness and help her look to You for the strength to do so. Amen.