Thursday, September 11, 2008

Digging out the roots

     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.

    Also posted at Internet Cafe:

©copyrighed 2008 by Julie L. Todd


Gretchen said... Reply to comment

Julie, this is so very true. Forgiveness is a choice. A free choice that He gives, that we may be closer to Him. Less of us, and more of Him. Not an easy choice to make, to be sure, but a simple one.

Beautifully written.

Leti said... Reply to comment

forgiveness...just when you think "I've taken out all the roots" wholla, there is more to be plucked out...thank you for sharing.

Amy said... Reply to comment

Julie, great post. Forgiveness is hard pill to swallow sometimes. I know when I do forgive, God gives such sweet peace and joy in my heart. Unforgiveness can rob you of so much. I love how you wove it together in your post. Blessings.

Cindy said... Reply to comment

Oh my, I've had my share of being rootbound and needing those roots dug up.
What a great post. So true and ultimately so freeing.
Blessings, Cindy

Laura said... Reply to comment

Once again, your words are so timely. I especially loved these words: "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."
Choosing forgiveness is not so easy sometimes. And it definitely is a process. Sometimes, old wounds rear ugly heads and places where I though I had gone through the process demand more work.
I love to hear His voice in your words, friend!

Amy said... Reply to comment

Wow, Julie, this is most definitely one of your best articles. It's what Christianity is all about...forgiving others so that we can love freely.

Your words resonate deeply in my heart. When I was a little girl I discovered my favorite scriptures:
Matthew 22:37-40..."Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself...'" Forgiveness is the first step to loving God and loving others. It is a message I will never get tired of hearing.

Thank you for the beautiful reminder of my need to weed the garden of my heart. It is a continual process.

I love you dearly!

Connie@Little Red Hearts From God said... Reply to comment

amen sister amen...

people just do not understand the power of unforgiveness..

i always say it's like throwing hot coal at someone.. but we get burned holding onto the burning coals.. yes?

thank you for such powerful words...

Becoming Me said... Reply to comment

Beautiful and true as always. Forgiveness is as beautiful as a rare breed of rose

Marsha said... Reply to comment

Julie, this is profoundly true. We are the one in prison if we don't forgive. It's best to forgive and turn the offender over to the hands of God so He can work freely in his heart.

I loved what you said about the mystery of pain and healing coexisting.

Thanks for sharing this.

Have a blessed weekend.

Paula said... Reply to comment

A wonderfully thought provoking and one which I referred to in my post that I wrote after reading yours! Thank you Julie, Paula :-)

Michelle Bentham said... Reply to comment

This is a great post, Julie. So true, such a vibrant word.

Hebrews 12:15 "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."

I always hang onto this word, because the passage goes on to say that with bitterness comes "fornication" and that to me means that it will turn my heart and my love away from God.

Thanks for a post full of depth and insight... But most of all thank you for your beautiful heart toward God.

Shanda said... Reply to comment

This post goes right along with a book I just finished: "The Shack" by William P. Young. Have you read it? I thought of you several times while reading it.
Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Tracy said... Reply to comment

Amen, Julie! What a powerful visual. Our former Pastor used to say harboring unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness is like drinking poison, but expecting the offender to die. "The work was his, but the choice is mine." What a powerful thought! (Think I need to print that to post on my fridge!) May I always chose forgiveness. I need only think of how the depths to which the Lord has forgiven me.


Tiffany Stuart said... Reply to comment

Can I jump for JOY on the blogosphere? I am jumping inside. My reply to this post is IT IS TRUE I know from personal experience! I've been to the garden of my heart with God and it's hard but oh so healing. I still go and tend to the weeds when He invites me to. When I allow God to reveal my unforgiveness and the pain, He replaces them with beauty and freedom and love. New seeds find their way to my heart and sprout and bloom!

GREAT, Julie, sing it!