On Healing and Forgiveness

Sunday Quiet Badge.jpg

Last Sunday was a listless day for me. With no plans scheduled for the afternoon, it would normally feel like a blessed day of rest. Instead, I shuffled from one room to the next with feelings of apathy and impatience. I didn’t know why, but nothing — not books, not conversation, not rest, not Netflix — seemed to satisfy.

Have you ever had days like that?

I went to church that evening carrying a question mark with me, hoping an encounter with the stillness of our contemplative-style service and the receiving of the Eucharist would provide a meaningful reconnection to God and my heart. 

It did. 

But the most prominent moment came in the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Specifically, as I recited the line “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” I had to ask — as I always do — if what I said was true.

Had I indeed forgiven those who had trespassed against me? 

Often the saying of those words brings about the forgiveness my heart needs to offer. Petty squabbles or vain imaginings softly fall away, and the saying of the prayer becomes a place of reconciliation. 

But on this particular Sunday, I wasn’t sure what I said was true. There is a place of hurt in my heart that throbs unhealed. A relationship that for nearly 20 years has been one of the most important of my life suffered an unexpected breach about two years ago that sent the two of us reeling. 

We are still picking up the pieces. 

It’s been a difficult and painful journey, one that has at times included months and months of silence as we tended to the wounds and clarification and healing our own hearts needed and then came together for attempts at repair, only to find such attempts often felt like movements of taking one step forward then two steps back.

Last Sunday evening, I held the question: Can I forgive? 

As I drove home from the service, I made a stop at Walgreens to pick up a few items, and as I returned to my car and prepared to head toward home, I sat for a moment in that parking spot, car running, and realized: 

My heart is broken. What happened between us broke my heart. I am — still today — heartbroken.

It’s been nearly two years, and I’ve spent that time in very intentional formation as a result of this situation. I’ve sought to understand and be understood. I’ve worked on what constituted my part in what happened and to cooperate with the invitations toward growth God was presenting to me through it. 

Yet here I was, as though discovering it anew, realizing I still had so very far to go. The recognition of my broken heart took my formation process to a completely different level. 

How do you heal a broken heart? How do you begin to forgive?

These questions actually aren’t new to me. I’ve worked through long seasons of healing and forgiveness for experiences akin to a broken heart before. It took years for me to work through those instances, mainly because I was fumbling in the dark on my own without any signposts or guidance in the process, but I eventually got there and experienced blessed freedom and joy. I am thankful still today for what that work of healing and forgiveness brought about, even though that work was hard. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

And here’s what’s true: The main thing I learned through those experiences — and am learning again right now — is that the process of healing and forgiveness begins with God. 

It begins with bringing the broken pieces of our heart to God and letting him see and tend to us in the reality of that pain and brokenness. It doesn’t, first, have anything to do with the other person. It has everything to do with God being our heart’s healer and restorer first. 

And so that’s what I’m beginning now. I’m bringing the broken pieces of my heart to God. I’m going to spend time — however long it takes — curled up on his lap with those pieces held in my hand between us, showing him the broken pieces and letting him be with me and them as I ask him to heal and mend and repair and make all those pieces new.

Because of what I know of God, I know that he will do this. 

Are there ways in which you are in a place of needing to experience a similar healing? 

Much love,