Fighting for a Heart of Forgiveness
I never thought of myself as a fierce woman until I had kids. The depth and ferocity of my feelings, when I perceive something as a threat to my children, came as a surprise to me.
As a young mom, the first time I saw another little kid push over my daughter on a playground, I got a little glimpse into what kind of fierce woman I really am. That time, it was a mild enough incident. I picked my girl up, kissed her, and sent her back out to play…away from the other kid. But what I felt inside, the intensity, it shocked me! I had never felt like that before. And that was just a little thing. What would I do if my daughter’s happiness or her sense of security were actually threatened? I was afraid to find out.
Yet soon enough, I would.
Fun family holidays, doting grandparents, and lots of hands to make lighter work of parenting were all blessings I took for granted until my oldest was four. We had something very good.
And then we didn’t.
It’s an old yet painful story. It’s a story that has probably touched many of you.
It wasn’t my own marriage, but it was close family members- and it affected my own family, deeply. It was ugly- and like the first tipped domino, it set off a series of terrible events that continued for many more years.
The mama bear in me came out in full force. I had some fierce anger but nowhere to direct it.
Bitterness took hold of my heart.
Bitterness colored everything in my life like a thick layer of soot. When I would read my Bible, all I could see was how it applied to the people who hurt my family. I couldn’t see how it applied to me. I felt distant from God. My temper was short. The grievances I had constantly occupied my mind.
I was fighting something I couldn’t control and I punched about, ineffectually, in a blind rage. I was hurting myself and I was hurting my family. This was a sad irony, since it was my protectiveness, for them, which brought out this fight in me.
God made women with a capacity for some fierce strength. We can be fighters when we need to be. Yet this strength, if not properly directed, can also be dangerous.God made women with the capacity for some fierce strength. #fiercelyHis @dawnklinge Click To TweetWe can’t always control our circumstances- no matter how much we want to fight them. But there is something we CAN fight for. And it takes fierce strength. It’s a heart of forgiveness.
We NEED to FIGHT for forgiveness because bitterness destroys everything in its path.We NEED to FIGHT for forgiveness because bitterness destroys us. #fiercelyHis @dawnklinge Click To Tweet
And then, of course, there’s this….
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)
I didn’t want to be a bitter unforgiving person. I didn’t want this sin to hurt my relationship with God and I didn’t want it to hurt my family. I knew I would need to fight for a heart of forgiveness. So that’s what I decided to do, with the same intensity and fierceness that I had previously directed towards other people and unwelcome circumstances. I had to pray often. I had to change my thoughts, words, and actions. This was how I did my fighting.
Forgiveness isn’t a one time occurrence.
Sometimes, whatever it is that caused the hurt in the first place is ongoing. So forgiveness needs to happen again and again. During the time when I was fighting for forgiveness in my heart, I would sometimes think I had reached that point where I was “done”.
But then an unwelcome thought would come into my head and I would have to fight again to come to a place of forgiveness. Over time, taking those thoughts captive has become easier, but they haven’t disappeared entirely. I still have to forgive, once again, when they come back.
I had to learn that I wasn’t alone in this fight, either. I couldn’t do it alone.
In fact, it wasn’t me at all, but Christ in me that not only gave me the desire to forgive but the strength to fight for it.Christ gives us the strength to fight for forgiveness! #fiercelyHis @dawnklinge Click To Tweet
My strongest, fiercest, mama bear instincts are not enough on their own. That’s what the Gospel is all about. Jesus came and did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves when he came to earth and lived a perfect life, died on the cross, on our behalf, and rose again.
I can forgive because Christ forgave me.
I also had to learn what forgiveness was and was not. I learned that forgiveness is not denying the hurt or excusing the sin. It’s about killing the resentment in your heart that makes you want to hurt the other person and make them pay.
The real fight.
God made women with fierce, protective, mama bear instincts, for a reason. It’s sin that can confuse us, causing us to pick the wrong fights. I thought I needed to fight against some circumstances I couldn’t control- and when I saw that I couldn’t win, I became bitter. The rightful fight was against the sin in my own heart, the sin of bitterness. God was on my side in that fight. That’s why I won- and victory has been very sweet.
Dawn is a fighter. #fiercelyHis
Dawn Klinge is the author of Look To Jesus: How to Let Go of Worry and Trust God. She writes about Christian faith regularly at Above the Waves, drawing on her experience as wife and mom to two. She holds a degree in education from the University of Idaho. A pastor’s kid and a church girl her entire life, she’s still trying to figure out what it looks like to put her trust in Jesus. Dawn and her husband, Derek, live near Seattle, Washington. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
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