One of the themes of A Time to Rise by Nadine Brandes is forgiveness, and as part of The Rise Tour, I decided to write about it.
When I was little, I fought with Bro #2 (Luke–the sibling that’s closest to my age) a lot. We would get into actual fights replete with kicking, yelling, tackling, and all that jazz (I even bit him once—no, I’m not proud of it). We would get caught by Mom and one of us (sometimes both of us) got spanked, and if it was really bad, we got spanked again when Daddy got home. And then Mom would make us hug and make up.
Usually, it went thusly:
Me: *still sniffing from the spanking* “I-I-I’m sorry for [whatever it was I did], Luke. W-will you please forgive me?”
Luke: *still sniffing also* “I-t’s okay, Rosie. I forgive you. S-sorry for [whatever it was he did]. Will you please f-forgive me?”
Luke and me: *hug*
(Side note: Parents, please make your children do this. It taught us the importance of asking for forgiveness and accepting forgiveness. To this day, as adults, we do this when we fight, and it’s largely because we were taught that it’s important when we were young.)
Forgiveness. Honestly, it’s a simple concept: someone wrongs you, but you don’t hold it against them. However, in practice, it can be a struggle.
I’ve found that it’s still fairly easy to forgive when someone asks me to (though, honestly, I’m the one who has to ask for forgiveness most of the time). If Arielle (my sister) asks me to forgive her for being a little crabby or if Luke asks me to forgive him for being harsh, I can do it in a heartbeat. I can say “I forgive you”, and it’s over and done with. Even with the bigger fights we’ve had as adults, I can put it behind me almost instantly. But that’s when forgiveness is easy. That’s when my deep love for my siblings overrides my anger. That’s when the hurts heal faster.
I had a friendship slowly dissolve last year, and that was not easy to forgive. That hurt did not heal for a long time. I didn’t have many friends my age, and so when this girl came along and befriended me, I hung a lot (too much) on that relationship. I put a lot of heart into that friendship, and we were such good friends for a while. She’s the type of person who is so easy to trust and get comfortable with, and so I trusted her. It happened kind of slowly, but then I started to notice that she was forgetting me, making new friendships, better friendships. And then in six months, we weren’t communicating at all. Our friendship came and went within the space of two years. There was no big fight, there was no malicious intent or hurtful words. There was just… a loss of interest.
I spent the next six months letting hurt grow and fester into bitterness. I was angry at her for forgetting me. I would see pictures of her and her friends online and be filled with resentment. I spent more than one night crying and wondering what I could have done to keep her as my friend. I was so wrapped up in myself, in how hurt I was, in how angry I was, how much I wanted her to know how she wounded me.
I clung to my bitterness with both hands, but then the Holy Spirit started to convict me. “Forgive as I have forgiven you. I am your friend. I am your comforter. I am your God. I have forgiven you. Now, you forgive her.”
My grip began to falter, but I didn’t want to let it go. “But I want her to know that I’m angry. I want her to know about the pain she caused me.”
“Is it not enough that I know?”
And so it went for a few weeks. He would call me to rise to forgiveness, like He did on that cross, and I would give Him all the reasons why I wasn’t going to. He kept bringing up Matthew 6:14-15 and the parable of the unforgiving servant. And then I had the privilege of beta reading A Time to Rise at the beginning of the year. I learn best if I am shown something, not just told about it, and one of the things Nadine Brandes does best is show forgiveness at its worst and finest.
And the Holy Spirit kept at it. “Forgive as I have forgiven you.”
It took more time, but an essential step was actually saying out loud to God that I forgave her. I still battled the bitterness that ran deep for a few more months, but the Holy Spirit graciously drew it out of me when I asked Him to. The hurt is still there sometimes, and I get sad when I remember the 3:00 am talks I had with this girl, but it’s a pure sadness. It isn’t tainted with anger anymore. It isn’t shot through with hostility anymore.
I couldn’t heal until I forgave. I didn’t have “closure” until I forgave. I didn’t have complete joy until I forgave.
Forgiveness isn’t a feeling or a notion or something that just happens. Forgiveness is an action. You have to be intentional every time bitterness starts to bubble up again. You have to obey the command of Christ, rise up, and forgive.
My friendship with that girl and how it ended was the big, hard thing for me, but maybe you’re dealing with a messy break up or a spouse who doesn’t love you the way they should or a friend who’s betrayed your trust or a child who has wounded you. Maybe it’s something that happened yesterday. Maybe it’s something that you’ve been carrying around for months or decades.
You have to forgive them. You may not feel like it. It’s especially hard to forgive when they don’t know or recognize that they’ve wronged you, but you still are called by Christ forgive. If you forgive, your joy will be deeper, your walk with God will be stronger, and you will have a greater appreciation for what Christ did on the cross.
So, friends. Rise to forgiveness.
All the fun tour stuff:
The lovely author:
- Website: http://nadinebrandes.com
- Newsletter: http://nadinebrandes.com/my-newsletter
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/NadineBrandesAuthor
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/NadineBrandes
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/NadineBrandes
(I personally recommend the newsletter because it’s so much fun as well as checking out her Instagram because it’s mainly of books and so lovely to look at.)
Also, she can speak HTML, and so that’s just another amazing thing about her.
Guys. Do we even need to go here? Like, seriously, if you’ve followed Penprints for more than a week, you should have already read this series by now. In the event that you haven’t read the series (shame, shame), here are the beautiful covers to stare at and the buy links below to GO BUY THE SERIES.
A Time to Die
A Time to Speak
A Time to Rise
A Time to Party
And also you (yeah, you) should come to this awesome Facebook party because you can chat with Nadine and enter to win soooooooo many cool things.
And thus ends my post as part of The Rise Tour.
P.S. – you can expect a review of A Time to Rise sometime next week, but it’s taking a while to write because one does not simply write a review of the final installment of The Out of Time Series.