Healing of the body is painful and can take what seems like forever. With doctors telling you step by step what to do or what not to do, it’s pretty straightforward. However, healing ones’ soul is a different beast. You can turn to friends, counselors and the Bible but trying to heal your soul and make it whole again doesn’t come with black and white instructions.
I thought that my soul was well cared for. I thought that I had things in order and the things that were questionable were stored away in nice neat little boxes that no one dared to open. But a lack of forgiveness haunted me. How can my soul be well when I can’t forgive? How can my faith be whole – when I can’t forgive?
Many years passed and I was able to act like things were fine, mostly. I don’t have an issue with forgiveness in general. I am fairly forgiving of most everything and to everyone. All but one, all but the acts of one and the pain caused by one. I couldn’t imagine what forgiveness would look like so I didn’t look. I pushed it down. Yet, all things bubble back to the surface.
My soul couldn’t contain the box I had stuffed the anger into and it turned black and began to fester and seep onto other parts. My temper would flare more easily. My words were sharper to those I loved. I prayed about these things—to help calm and control me. I was praying for the wrong thing.
The day isn’t important but the moment is. I was forced to have an encounter with the person whose forgiveness I held ransom in my soul. Face to face I could see time had not been kind to him. If I was suffering the effects from harboring anger and not forgiving, what must he be suffering knowing what he had done. Even if I never heard the words from him, even if there was never an admittance of guilt, I knew that he was aware of his sins. I lived by the saying, “God might forgive him but I never will!”
On that day I realized I had been praying for the wrong things in myself. I didn’t need to learn to control my tongue or how to be more patient with my loved ones. I needed to pray to God to help me forgive the person that I deemed unforgiveable. I needed to open that festering box of hate and pain and feel it all one last time. To cry and curse and pray. I needed to give all that ugly to God and realize that it wasn’t this person hurting my soul any longer. I had been uncaring for my soul by not letting go. I could have that wholeness and wellness back in my soul but I had to let the dark out and the light in.
Forgiving him didn’t mean that I forgot anything. It doesn’t happen like children on the playground where a quick I’m sorry means we are instantly best friends again. It means I forgive and let that pain and past go.
Pain and forgiveness aren’t the same for everyone. I didn’t give details of the wrongs and the injustices that I had locked down in that box because it wasn’t important for me to pass on the idea – the gift of forgiveness to you. In that day when I faced him, like many times before, the rage and bitterness in my soul bubbled to the surface. Like a pregnant mom feeling the urge to push, the overwhelming urge to forgive was given to me.
This time I accepted. I forgave the person. Instantly my soul sang and the box exploded and was replaced with wholeness and God’s love. I felt like a small child when your father gives you a pat on the back and says, “Good girl, you did it!”
I feel different now about forgiveness. I realized it was only hurting me to withhold it. I thought forgiveness would somehow be like saying it didn’t happen or that I was okay with what happened. I needed to remember that I can only forgive his flesh but God will deal with his soul.
Forgiveness was the key to soul care for me. Now I go to God and ask for help with forgiving instead of trying to think I can just ignore it.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27