The last two weeks of our Bible study Becoming a Woman of Freedom, the study has really lived up to its word. I have felt myself moving into freedom in some really challenging areas in my life.
The last two weeks of study have been about Forgiveness and laying aside bitterness, and then Rest, laying aside busyness.
As I spent the week studying about forgiveness and and preparing for our meeting to discuss the chapter, God and I did a lot of talking about forgiveness and bitterness, and anger too. By the time the day came for our meeting, God had given me several word pictures to share with the ladies about what the Lord was speaking to me about.
I spent the week talking to the Lord about offenses. We've all experienced them, from both sides even. We have all been offended and we have all been offenders.
I spent several evenings that week with a ball full of yarn. Each night I slowly unwound the yarn, tying knots in it, one after another. By the end of the week I had pulled out about a third of the of the yarn and had it tangled and tied into a mess of knots. As I held it in my hands, I realized there really was no way to untangle it. Truth be told, knots were on top of knots and you couldn't even separate one from another. Each knot was so tight and some of them were so close together, there was just no way to rectify the problem.
By Monday afternoon, a few hours before our meeting, the Lord had spoken volumes to me about this ball of yarn. He showed me several things:
(1) The knots in the yarn represented offenses. Sometimes one offense leads to another. Offended people are easily offended.
(2) The tangle represented the bitterness. The knots took on a life of their own, and bitterness allowed them to get so twisted up, the yarn had become useless.
(3) He showed me that sometimes you have to just make a clean break and and try to salvage what remains.
He also showed me where this hands on example applied to a real situation in my own life.
I had someone special to me who I felt betrayed and abandoned by. I was hurt, I was offended. And what did start as one offense, him not being a good steward of friendship, my reaction to it caused that one offense to become the cause of several more, because a perceived offense is in fact an offense, because it is defined by the one who is offended. But like I said, offended people are easily offended.
As my bitterness developed, Something happened. I allowed myself to go from being the offended to the offender. Although I didn't start the damage to the friendship, I completely exacerbated it. Little knots that could possibly have become easily undone became a knotted mess because I was angry and eventually bitter. I became a knotted mess, our relationship became damaged and tangled, useless.
This revelation led to a phone exchange with my friend. I apologized for being so angry for so long. And his response was relief. I asked for forgiveness for my bitterness and what I received was grace. My friend seemed genuinely happy to hear from me, ready to forgive me, and willing to make a fresh start.
Truthfully, the relationship won't ever be what it was. When the "yarn" is cut, and all the knots are removed, the ball that remains isn't what it once was. There is a loss, however, there is also a restored potential for what remains of the yarn to become. Restoration begins, hope is renewed, and life can move forward with healthy potential.
When I "cut the yarn" on the phone that afternoon I told my friend he didn't have to be uncomfortable around me anymore. I confessed the sin of my bitterness both to him and to God. I really was willing to lay the knots aside- both the ones I tied and the ones he tied. I was willing to dispose of them, and let there be potential for new life and purpose for the rest of the "yarn". Even if nothing new is "knit" together, at least what remains is in good condition.
My husband had built a cross for our meeting that night. As I shared, I laid the knots down at the foot of the cross to show the other ladies at Bible study what God had spoken to me. One of the ladies said jokingly, "Don't pick it back up!" but she was right. Even after I had the conversation with my friend I felt the temptation to mull over the offenses again. When it crossed my mind I told the Lord, "Yes Lord, I know, I cut it off, and it's at your cross."
I may have to remind myself of that again a few times, but it will be worth it. Because now what remains can be knit together into something good and God might just get glory in it.