I recently read a quote from a book by John Ortberg...
In light of the last several years of my own personal journey, this feels like the most vivid and realistic picture of leadership I have heard yet.
After a friendship of many years someone very close to me, both personally and professionally, became disappointed with me. Disappointment grew into resentment and on to abandonment. The way he left was both painful and public.
I can't recall a time in my life when the voices of failure and disappointment have been so loud or felt more true. Wounded and confused, I found myself crouching in a corner licking my wounds and drawing a knife on anyone trying to get too close. But eventually the shock began to wear off and my pulse dropped back down to normal levels. It was at this point I began to struggle for an appropriate response.
My first impulse was embarrassment, accompanied by the internal scream "I'm a piece of s--- and this is all my fault".
But this quickly evolved to rage as the accusation made an about face. It became "He's the piece of s--- and this is all his fault!"
There are moments both emotions feel so true, but when I carry these natural responses through to their logical conclusion I see them producing nothing but rotten fruit: anger, isolation, fear of trusting someone again, and energy wasted on unending heated conversations (in my head).
If I cling to resentment I can easily picture myself five years from now, still angry, scared, and confused. To be honest to Forgive was about the 11th option I considered. It didn't feel sufficient for a wound this deep or this intentional. Unlike vengeance, forgiveness feels long and drawn out. Choosing to forgive will not be a single choice but instead a hundred daily submissions. And this is only the beginning of my problems with the F word.
How am I to treat him if we ever end up in the same room again?
How am I to speak to him (or about him) in the conversations inside my head? And in my heart?
Is it okay to feel 'better than him' in my heart?
He could hurt me again? What will I do then?
My biggest problem with forgiveness is that it requires I relinquish control of the situation.
Despite my issues with it Jesus commanded that anyone who would follow him would have to do it as well. Then he modeled it when He was betrayed and killed. He is my Master and so I have been obeying and trusting that his way is better than mine.
This is my obligation to Father and the narrow path to becoming more His Son.
Some time has gone by now but the wounds are still deep. It doesn't take much for the pain and anger to return in full force. When forgiving gets tough, God is right there, asking some big questions: “Who are you dwelling on more? Him or me?” and “Who can protect you? You? or me?”
As always Jesus leads us out of orphanhood and into sonship using questions like these.
I am not yet the man I want to be, which may be the most painful revelation from this whole incident. This "betrayal" has given me occasion to ponder a lifetime of my personal failings which tempt me to self loathing.
I am broken and needy and I have done my fair share of damage to others. These are the facts and they are not in dispute. My only rescue is God. I must ask God's forgiveness. And He commands I extend it to myself. This is the hardest task yet. Hard, but crucial.
I am discovering a treasure through this. God is making a generous offer in exchange for my pain...
Unlike most other hardships betrayal is deeply personal. Confusion, sickness, and pain are distributed to everyone without discrimination, but betrayal requires that it come from a trusted one, a brother.
In this recent pain I have found myself with only one to turn to who understands... Jesus. In Christ I have found a brother who also suffered betrayal and managed it with perfection. The invitation to “Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you” has provided me with a reservoir of strength from which to grow and go on. But fully embracing forgiveness is key.
We live in a broken world. We offend and we are offended. And even with intentional modifications and fortifications to our own behavior we are utterly without luck in every attempt to avoid being hurt by others.
No matter how hard the pill is to swallow, I always make out better doing what Jesus says.
In response to your own experience being hurt, have you found any option besides forgiveness that let's you leave the hurt behind and move on to joy again?
Jesus, come in to this place inside me where emotions get violent and deadly like a hurricane. Come into my anger and fear. Come into my past failures. I am overwhelmed by the instinct to deal with this problem on my own. I am compelled to protect myself, explain myself and clear up all misunderstanding. But it's too much for me. I need you. I invite you to take the hatred, resentment, betrayal and walk with me through it. I choose peace over strife. I choose forgiveness over resentment. I choose to love over retaliation. Thank you for your strength Jesus. I receive your presence right here beside me, helping me to forgive even as you continue to forgive me.
If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” -John 20:23
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. -Matt. 18:21
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” - Matt. 18:32-35