I've had a couple of those in my life that come to my mind. The first one was when my parents blackmailed me into my abortion when I was a teenager. I was really damaged by that for a long time. When I had my miscarriage a few years later after I got married it brought that wound bubbling to the surface and devastated me all over again.
But the Lord used my abortion to capture my heart. I learned about God's grace forgiveness and healing when I finally came to Him and repented for the sin, and allowed Him to restore and heal my heart. One of my parents eventually apologized to me for it, the other never did, but part of my healing process was forgiving them without the apology, and even the one who did come to me and express the regret (after Jacob was born) had already been forgiven in my heart long before that day.
If I am honest, I know it was easier to forgive my parents in that situation (click here to read more of my testimony, reading from the bottom back). It was easier because being on the receiving end of God's forgiveness was fresh. No matter what my parents had done to force the issue of abortion back then, the final responsibility was my own. I had to go to the Lord to ask of His forgiveness, and He had given it to me. And for that matter so had Neal, who I had deceived. I think to one who has been forgiven much, it can be easier to forgive.
I also think that sometimes, we forget how much we have been forgiven, and when someone wounds out souls, if we have forgotten, it is harder to forgive.
Back in 2006 my mom-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was a very difficult time for our family. I adored my mother-in-law, and my hubby can fit the description of "mama's boy" like no one else. He was, is and will always be crazy about his mom, and with good reason, she was the best. The pressure of her being sick and being 3,000 miles away caused a great deal of stress for my husband, I don't think he has ever been so scared in his life as when he faced the fear and possibility of losing his mama.
During that same season we were doing a MAJOR overhaul on our home. We were scraping ceilings and completely remodeling our kitchen and both our bathrooms. We re-did all our floors and painted every room in the house. It was super stressful. One day in the midst of it, we were down to a deadline on picking out the specifics for our back bathroom, and for the life of us, Neal and I could not agree on what we wanted to do with it. We were on a budget and were at one of those outlet places trying to pick out a vanity. It was super difficult because the space it had to fit in was a really unique size and I was to the point I was willing to do even the simple so long as we could just be done. Every time I had to make a decision I felt overwhelmed. Neal on the other hand didn't want to settle he wanted to do it right and on a particular day as we stood in the store looking at vanities, to be quite honest, everything just fell apart.
We pretty much blew up at each other right there in the middle of the store. We stormed out and got in his truck heading back home, and Neal drove like a crazy man on the freeway. It was like something had snapped inside of him. He drove fast moving in and out of lanes and all the while was yelling at me and pounding his fist on the dashboard. He really let me have it. It was awful.
When we got home I was angry, but totally reserved, which isn't actually like me. Our two youngest had been in the car with us, and it was the one time I felt like Neal had actually put our kids at risk. when we got to the house I got the kids out of the car and told him to leave. There had been lots of times he'd stomped out earlier in our marriage and I would beg him not to go. This was the first time I ever asked him to leave, and I think it may have scared him a little, because he refused to go. In my mind I remember thinking, "you will survive if he leaves. You won't like it, but you will survive." And up to that day I had always thought I would die if he ever left me. In a way, it was actually a healthy realization.
When we came inside the fight continued, escalated even. I shuffled the kids off out of the room and Neal and I continued. It was as though something snapped inside of him. He said things to me he had never said before, and the one that nearly devastated me, the one that wounded my soul was when he looked me straight in the eye and told me he didn't love me anymore, and not only that he wasn't sure he had ever loved me. I was blown away.
Eventually the storm calmed, things settled. The next morning he gave me a heartfelt apology. We hugged and cried together and he even shared with me that he was overwhelmed with fears about his mom. I hugged him and forgave him, but my heart was still badly wounded. For the next several weeks, every time I got in the shower I would collapse in tears. Our back bathroom still not remodeled I was having to use the bathtub shower in the front bath, and I would go in and take the shower and just kneel down and cry. I would cry until I couldn't cry anymore. I was overwhelmed with fear, that even though he had taken it back, something must have been there to enable him to have said such a thing to me. My heart was broken.
Not only would I spend shower time crying my eyes out, but at night after Neal and the kids went to bed I would sit up alone and read my bible, journal and cry even more.
On one particular night I was so heavy hearted I could hardly breathe. I was crying out to God. I wanted so much to be able to complete my forgiveness of Neal and get past the hurt, but I could not shake the hurt and pain. So I stood up and began to pray. I prayed in the spirit, I cried to God, I worshiped. Walking through my house I wandered into my kitchen.
It was completely torn apart. Neal and I had finished pulling off a huge wall's worth of bad 70's wood paneling a few days before. The wall bore a bad resemblance to Swiss cheese. We had pulled hundreds of nails out of the wall with the paneling, and it was a mess. I stood in the kitchen running my hand across the damaged wall.
As I stood looking at it I felt the Lord speak to my spirit. He said, "it's like an emotional hurt (a soul wound), an apology may remove the nail, but only I can fill the hole."
Only God can fill the hole. It was as though when Neal uttered those words to me, he had hammered a nail into my heart. With his apology and confession he had not meant the words he'd said, he removed the nail, the cause of my pain, but the mark he made remained. There was still a hole in my heart. And no matter how much he wanted to fix that hole, he didn't have the power.
God however is the Healer, not only of our physical sicknesses and injuries, but also the Healer of those wounds to our soul. Only by giving the Lord that hurt, was I able to come to the place where I was not only no longer devastated, but I was actually even able to become well again.
In and of ourselves our ability to forgive, to truly forgive, falls short. If we forget, or are unaware of God's grace, I believe it is even more difficult to forgive others for deep wounds they inflict upon us. But even when we extend that forgiveness, however far we are able, or however far He enables us to do so, the hurts must heal for us to truly move on.
There is no restitution of man sufficient enough to fill the hurt and void those wrongs create in our hearts and souls. The Lord however, not only can, but desires to fill those holes. He is the God who heals. He is the God who restores. He takes from us, the damage of life, and gives us instead life and hope. But we must let Him come.
If you make your way into my kitchen these days, you can't see a single sign of the holes I saw that night. It took time and effort. Every hole had to be filled. It was not fast work, it was meticulous and specific, but once every hole was filled the new paint was placed over it, and no damage was seen, only new beauty. I think that's how God works too. If we let him do His meticulous and specific work in our hearts and lives, He will restore the beauty He always intended for it in the first place.
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Aliens will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
Instead of their shame
my people will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
they will rejoice in their inheritance;
and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,
and everlasting joy will be theirs.