I've never been popular. I guess you can call me the black sheep in my family, school and even church. My lack of conformity to unspoken rules has always made it hard for me to assimilate with the majority.
I often ask "Why?" in certain situations, and sometimes it gets me in trouble. For example, if someone asks me why I don't wear a dress to church, I will as politely as I can, ask why and where that is in scripture? Would Jesus love me less if I wore pants? I tend to share what I'm thinking and feeling and sometimes it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I'm trying to be more congenial in these situations, but it doesn't come naturally.
Being somewhat awkward and unyielding in nature has made me a target for mistreatment even among professing Christians. They often feel justified in their slights and disregard towards me. I've also been verbally trampled upon by a well known Christian leader in my community for sharing a concern of mine. In my confusion, sensitivity, and despair I withdrew, licked my wounds while bitterness would root in my heart defiling many.
Frankly I expect more from Christians. I would forgive with the condition in my mind hoping that the Holy Spirit in their growth in sanctification would show them their error, and they will ask me for their forgiveness. I would day dream there would be tears, hugs, and reconciliation, but it never happens. Month after month, year after year they continue to go along as if nothing ever happened, justified in their poor treatment towards a sister in Christ.
With all that said, let me get one thing straight, I'm not saying I'm a victim. I know that there is at least some responsibility on my part in every situation. I'm sure there are also plenty of people that I have wounded unaware. I hope I would do anything to help restore our relationship. My heart is deceitfully wicked and who can know it? I'm far from perfect.
I've been thinking, researching, and praying about forgiveness, and the Lord revealed something big to me. In this verse Jesus teaches Peter in the following passage:
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."
I've always thought the above verse meant the amount of sins to forgive and forgiveness is a one time deal. However, my heart would reveal there is still unforgiveness even after I thought I dealt with it. I noticed the word "sin" is singular. This is really important. I have to REPEATEDLY chose to forgive for even the same sin. Forgiveness is a process and seven times may not be enough. I may have to forgive that person hundreds of times out of obedience to the Lord until my heart is free from that burden.
I've experienced this with my parents. Before I was even saved I harbored a lot of anger and bitterness towards them. I'm not going in to details here because I still want to honor them, but forgiving them even as a Christian was a long process that took many years. I spent much time in confession to the Lord of my resentment. Eventually those painful memories that I held on to began to fade. The Lord set my heart free of the hurt that previously imprisoned me. It is true that if I forgive, I will eventually forget. I now have an amazing relationship with my mother and father.
Forgiveness is not easy for any of us. Forgiveness my require a lifetime of forgiving. It is so important to the Lord that I forgive and forgive again until the matter is completely settled in my heart. It is for my good because He loves me.