One of my favorite things about the yard of a former house was the garden adorned with large rocks and rose bushes. Though neglected, I knew I would discover beauty hidden underneath the cold, winter ground once spring came.
As the flower bed erupted in color, violets began weaving their way through irises, tulips and daffodils. I was elated with this flowering ground cover until they took over, spilling out into the yard. They moved like a curse, stealing the view of my beautiful flowers, soaking up water and choking out life. No matter how much I weeded, they multiplied. Each plant shoots off a root, forming it’s own grouping. To eradicate them you had to discover and remove each group. It was a daunting task.
Years later God reminded me of that garden with truths that opened my blind eyes. Unforgiveness is like the violets. Left hidden underground, it sprouts resentment and bitterness, weaving it’s way throughout my soul. It clouds my vision, distorts my perspective, and robs me of the most vital thing of life, love.
Holding out on forgiveness doesn’t affect my offender. It affects me. It’s not for them that I forgive, it is for me. If I don’t forgive I bear the weight of the offender’s actions, not them. Forgiveness frees my heart from the prison of pain that holds ME captive. As long as I hold the culprit in contempt, I keep myself in bondage. Until I forgive I cannot move forward in healing. That’s why God asks me to forgive. It’s for MY heart.
Forgiveness is spiritual warfare. It releases my imprisoned heart to freedom. When I release my offender, I don’t let them off the hook. I turn them over to God, trusting Him to be the one who judges justly. I Peter 2:23 says, when people hurled insults at Jesus He didn’t retaliate, but entrusted Himself to Him to judges justly. Unforgiveness is covert retaliation.
Like a clogged artery, unforgiveness blocks my heart from receiving and giving love. No one can live a vibrant life with their arteries clogged. Just as the violets blocked the beauty of the flowers, unforgiveness blocks the beauty of His love flowing in and out. Nothing can flow through blocked places.
Though forgiveness is one of the hardest things I will ever do, I do it because God asks me to, not because I feel like it. Who ever feels like forgiving? It all comes down to a choice. I make the choice because I want His life. In that choice, MY heart is released.
I’ve had some difficult moments of choosing forgiveness. I had been hurt and betrayed. I couldn’t go there on my own, it took an invitation from God. He lovingly beckoned me, “Come and let me touch you.” “Let’s let this go so you can grab hold of Me.” Each time He invited me to walk into the garden of my heart to forgive, His healing hands carried me.
He brought the roots to my attention showing me where they had been buried. It’s wasn’t my work, but His. When He wanted me to see a place of unforgiveness He brought it to surface. His revelation was an invitation to healing. The work was His, but the choice was mine. Would I dig where He showed me to dig, pulling up the roots allowing the soil of His Spirit to fill the empty space? The choice was immediate, but the healing was a process. It took time to heal. Part of the process was assessing the damage done to my life.
As He & I sat in my heart’s garden, He invited me to see the damage done to me. How did the offense cost me? What did I feel? What did I hear? What did I believe about myself? He waited for me to remember and discover. Then He pulled me aside to intimately whisper the truth. He told me what He thought about it all... and me. As He pulled out the pain, He poured in the healing.
It’s a profound mystery, pain and healing coexisting. As his healing poured in, spring came to my heart. No longer were there overbearing roots of unforgiveness. The fruit of His love had now spilled into those broken places, emanating the beauty of a heart set free.
What about the garden of your heart? Are there roots hiding underground? Have you assessed the damage done and heard His truth? Do you hear His invitation? It is for your freedom that He appeals to you. It is for love.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
Papa God, thank you for the sweet forgiveness that You have offered to us. May we in turn forgive others with that same forgiveness. Heal our hearts, O God, that we might live in love.
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©copyrighed 2008 by Julie L. Todd