Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm a Christian. But I'm not God.

This isn't the usual, "not perfect, just forgiven" post. Although that is certainly true. Certainly. My flaws have definitely been staring me in the face lately. But this is not that post.

The message at church on Sunday was about forgiveness. Not just forgiveness, but forgiveness to righteousness.

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."  -- John 3:15-17

The idea being that when we accept Christ as our Saviour, we are forgiven of our sins, all of our sins, made as a new creature. Hence the term "born again".

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  -- II Corinthians 5:17

And that it isn't a one time deal, happening only at salvation, only for our past sins, but that it is a continuous exercise in grace, a continuous forgiveness of our sins. And should we be struggling with sin, we have only to come to the Father with a contrite heart, and He will forgive. And forget. Automatically. Gone. Our sins are gone. Instantly. We are covered with Christ. We are new. Again. A new start. Forgiven. And forgotten. A gift of new life.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."  -- Ephesians 2:8-9

Beautiful, isn't it?

And yet, I sat in church, and felt my body tensing up. I could feel the anger and resentment rising within me. And then the sadness.

Because somewhere in there, my mind wandered, not (shamefully) to my own sin as I should have, but to FireMan's. Not to his sins against God, mind you, but his "sins" against me.

I have never forgiven him for what he did last year.

Not for the one big thing. Not for the many little things before & since.

And I certainly have not forgotten.

And I sat in that sanctuary and told myself I needed to forgive him, that as a Christian I am called to be like Christ, and it's right there: God has already forgiven FireMan.

But I couldn't bring myself to do it.

And so I anguished in my seat, bouncing between sadness and anger, all mixed with resentment. Resentment towards FireMan for ever putting me in this position.

And yes, resentment towards God.

It doesn't seem fair. My heart is ripped out of my chest, I am open, gaping hole, bleeding. Wounded beyond belief. Pain beyond what I thought I could bear.

And since? Stabs and slices here & there. Gashes and punches to add cuts & bruises to an already ailing body.

Why should I bear so much pain for something I have not done, yet he gets immediate forgiveness with no sign of having to pay for his actions at all?

Well, because God is love. And God is perfect. And God is better than I am.

I wrestled with myself, and wrestled with God for much of the service. And then our pastor said something that clicked. Something about "God... in His perfection..."

And it clicked.

God can forgive instantly, because He's God. Because He is Perfect Love, and Perfect Grace, and Perfect Mercy. And the added bonus? Because He is omnicient.

I cannot forgive instantly, because I am human. I have love for FireMan, but it is not perfect. I have grace for FireMan's actions, but it is not perfect grace. I have shown FireMan mercy, but my mercy is not perfect.

And I certainly am not omnicient. Not even close.

Wait? Where does omnicience come in to this?

Because, for me, at least in this instance, I think knowing that FireMan is actually contrite is going to be the key to me forgiving him.

And, not being God and all, I can't know that instantly. FireMan can tell me that he is truly sorry, but I cannot know that until he proves it thru repeated actions, until he literally and actually changes his ways.

And that takes time.

One "I'm sorry" for a year of heartache does not cut it.

One great date (he's planning an awesome Valentine's night), while much appreciated and really is a huge step in the right direction, does not heal a year of deep wounds.

It takes time. There is debridement of dead tissue that needs to take place. Scar tissue that needs to be excised. Infection that needs to be treated and removed. Before we can even begin to think about repairing the actual wounds.

At least, for once, we both seem to be looking at the same chart.

This journey, this fight, to restore our marriage - I've learned a lot about myself. And I'm still learning. I know this forgiveness issue is an issue. My issue, not his. I know I have a lot of room for growth myself. A lot of room.

After all, I'm not perfect. Not even close.

But I am trying. And I believe that God knows my heart, and knows how hard I'm trying, knows my struggles, knows my heart.

And, being God, knows that I am not perfect, and understands that I will never be perfect, but I will strive to be better than I am. And, being God, extends His mercy to me, and is graciously patient with me as I work it all out.

And maybe one of the lessons I need to learn, is to maybe show those around me a little more grace and mercy. Including myself.

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