Saturday, November 15, 2008

Forgiveness... "And then he put down the rock"

My friends back home love to tease me about my tendency to tell really, really long stories that build and build until I reach the ever-intense climax and end it with a depressingly short and disappointing end. I always feel like they have a very deep and meaningful point, but if you're just listening to the story for the plot, I suppose I can understand why you'd be disappointed. 

My friend Laurissa in particular loves to remind me of a story I told in front of my youth group. I love Shaun Groves and I listened to a Podcast of his where he told about a night in college when he felt like he hadn't forgiven someone and wanted to feel, physically, what his soul had been feeling by harboring unforgiveness for so long. So, he went outside got a rock. I think it was probably like 4 or 5 pounds... which isn't that big. So he went into his dorm room and took in in his hands and raised this rock above his head. And he stood there... and stood there... and stood there... for hours. 

I don't know if you've ever held your hands above your head (even without a rock) for very long, but I'd encourage you to try it and see how long you can hold your hands up there before your arms hurt and you begin to shake a little.

Anyway, poor Shaun was standing there, with this rock in the air, shaking, sweating, and concentrating ONLY on keeping the rock up in the air until something huge happened...

He put down the rock. 

Disappointing ending, I know, but if you really look at it, this story is just so deeply profound.

Sometimes we have a little grudge we hold onto (or sometimes it is a huge hurt), but as we hold onto it, just like the rock above his head, it turns into something much greater than it ever was in the first place. Your soul begins to shake, sweat, and it becomes the only thing you can even concentrate on. It seeps into every aspect of your life and it keeps coming back again and again. 

In my own life, I know I hated someone for the longest time. I thought I was fine and I was in God's presence and a good Christian. I knew I hadn't forgiven this person, but in my thoughts and prayer times it's almost as if I said to God, "No. You don't understand. This person has ruined my life. I'm going to have to carry scars for the rest of my life on my heart and soul because of this person. This person has hurt the people I love. I deserve to hate this person because that's the only way this person will know how much the actions this person made hurt me. No God. You don't understand this hurt and I need to hold on to this to feel safe." 

I just feel like God has to either laugh at us for saying that or maybe just feel so frustrated--maybe He even pities us. (I always wonder how God feels about my thoughts in life). 

And I suppose that sometimes we confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. We think if someone comes to us and admits their "evildoings" suddenly the "rock above our head" will disappear and THEN we can forgive someone. However, having held a rock above my head for far too long, I can't begin to tell you how wrong that is. I feel like I may never have "this person" come to me and admit and trespasses. In fact, I KNOW that won't happen. But after I forgave this person, I looked at him with new eyes. I'm fully aware of mistakes, past decisions, hurtful words, and a crooked heart, but once I forgave this person I couldn't help but look upon this person with a heart only filled with love. It was so strange. I no longer hated. I no longer hurt. It was ridiculously simple... I just put down the rock. And I could only feel the (metaphorical) blood rushing back into my fingers and marvel at the ability to use my hands for what they were created for, instead of holding onto that rock. 

Putting down the rock doesn't negate its existence, but it does free your soul.

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light." -Matthew 11:28



b said...

awesome post. there are a few rocks that i should put down...

Michaela said...

this was beautiful, nicole! thank you.