At the start of this year I was led to consider certain relationships and strive to restore those that had fallen away…no matter the cost to me. At first, I was not willing to take on the task because it meant putting myself in a very vulnerable position, and I am not one to willingly jump in the line of fire alone. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realize that I would do what it took to forgive, repent, and seek to be forgiven for the sake of reclaiming relationships that still had value to me. It is a daunting task as I realize that the people (Christians) who once said they loved unconditionally, have strict conditions for forgiveness.
As I step into another year of marriage thinking about my vows, relationships, and the covenant of marriage in general, it is clear that we as a people have things slightly askew in our minds about loving and wanting to be loved. We are quick to say, “I love you unconditionally” without knowing fully what that word actually requires of us. Take a look at a concise definition: UNCONDITIONAL; Having no exceptions or restrictions. We toss that word into our vows and conversations as if doing so will prove the depth of our feelings, failing to realize that eventually, we will have to prove it. The test of our “unconditional” love comes the first time someone angers us, betrays us, or misrepresents us. That time might be just hours into the relationship, or it might be years down the road. When (not “if”) disappointment happens, our unconditional love instantly has qualifications. We pull out the disclaimer that was hidden in our hearts that says, “I will love you unconditionally; having no exceptions or restrictions…until you do or say anything that I deem to be wrong, hurtful, judgmental, critical, reckless or generally inappropriate.” That is where the contention, separation, and dissolution of relationships and marriages occur…in the disclaimer where the true feelings hide. And in the instances of reconciliation, forgiving is a troublesome task altogether.
Now let me say to you, forgiving can be difficult and is not necessarily a one time event. In some cases you must forgive and forgive again, “So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” Luke 17:3-5. As difficult as that may be, you must forgive. Stop telling the world how hurt you are and let go. Free yourself from the burden of rehearsing your hurt with people. As long as you are still talking about it, you are choosing the bondage of unforgiveness which makes loving and being loved more challenging. Don’t hold on to grudges or thoughts that say, “I will forgive them if…” There are no ‘ifs’, ‘ands’ or ‘buts’ in forgiveness, you either do, or you do not. Be quick to do it, and may the Lord, also forgive you.
In cases of abuse, violence or any criminal acts, walking away without looking back may be in everyone’s best interest, but if you have the opportunity to reconcile with good friends and family, take it and remember the words of Isaiah 43:18 that say, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” People will betray us, friends will disappoint us…spouses will anger us, children will embarrass us…we are human and we are imperfect, and it might take time to get over some things, but if you cannot find unconditional forgiveness for those you claimed to love unconditionally, you are saying your love for them was not a clean and complete love. You have admitted that the love you professed was an impure, inauthentic, disingenuous love that had a timeline and expiration date. Loving and forgiving unremittingly go hand in hand. Not everyone has a place in your life forever…some relationships change course after certain events, and that is okay, God means for some people to be in your lives for seasons, not always lifetimes, but the act of loving and forgiving should be unrestricted, habitual and eternal.
Relationships are becoming so disposable these days. One wrong move and the door is shut, locked and barricaded. But Zoe Love, (God’s everlasting kind of love) is an amazing, unadulterated love that is available all the time, to everyone. There is nothing we can do to make God turn his back on us. He forgives us with open arms, and a clean slate. That is an unconditional love with total, unconditional forgiveness. I pray the Lord gives you grace to love and forgive so readily and purely.
Thank you gracious and merciful God, for continuing to love and forgive us with no exceptions and no restrictions! Amen!
Be good, be careful, and be a blessing to someone today!
“Also, forgive yourself for past sins and hurts you have caused others. You can’t pay people back, so ask God to.” Joyce Meyer