She sat alone, watching the early morning sun shine through the trees in the front yard. She was quiet. Her heart was grieving.
“God, how can I forgive her?” All the hurts that had been rotting over the years festered once again. The relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law had not been a good one the past thirty years. The mother-in-law had spent hours gossiping to her and even more hours gossiping about her, snide remarks were made just loud enough for the daughter-in-law to hear, and grudges (on both sides) had been kept for decades. In the beginning the daughter-in-law had been hurt by the older woman’s actions, but over the years, as the reputation for distrust and manipulation deepened, so did the anger. She was no longer hurt. She was angry. Her inwards would bristle at even the mention of the woman’s name. But more years passed and the anger grew and flourished with each new backhanded “compliment”. It bloomed into a dark complacency.
The daughter-in-law believed you could only truly forgive someone who was repentant. However, the mother-in-law, who long ago could justify each rude comment, was now lost in the world of Alzheimer’s. There would never be an apology now.
“God, if You truly want me to forgive her for the years of damage she caused, although she never repented, You must help me. I cannot do it on my own and it’s been so long that my heart has wrestled in hatred towards her. You must do it for me.”
She sat for a while longer – thinking, praying. Waiting.
“Help me, Jesus. Help me. I forgive her.”
It was that same morning that the phone call came. Her mother-in-law had died that morning, at home, apparently from a stroke. The old woman was now in a place of complete rest. Her mind was restored, her body rejuvenated and made new, and her eyes were fixed on the Jesus she had believed in all her flaw-filled life. There would be no more memories of all the wrongs done to her as a child and on. And despite all the people who kept a record of wrongs against her, she would now spend all eternity with the One who had died for those wrongs and kept no record against her. She would rest in peace with the Forgiver.
But there was still another… the daughter-in-law, standing in her living room, holding the phone to her ear, taking in the sad news. She sighed in deep gratitude that He, in His grace, had released her from her chains of bitterness that were rusted with wear and tear and time. She had forgiven, in His strength, before the news of her passing had been shared. And now the daughter’s soul, because of the Forgiver, would rest in peace, and love, as well.
“Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
Forgiving does not mean denying our pain nor does it mean staying in the pit dwelling on it. Let’s draw near to God together and find healing and hope. For more information on the Forgiveness Care Community starting on Tuesday, October 1st at 7:00pm, please contact Linda Massey at email@example.com. Space is limited