The very moment John Ray began to speak words of wisdom, and words about forgiveness, I felt the lump in my throat like an unwanted house guest that won’t quit knocking at the front door. Forgiveness. Forgiveness. It even has a pleasant ring just typing it. But it’s hard to think about.
Have you ever noticed that there will be weeks in a row where you have a specific problem, and that very Sunday John will talk about it? Because it’s happened to me more than one time. This time it was about a wound made many years ago, one that still haunts the branches of my family tree: my dad’s affair. When John began to talk about forgiveness, the topic of her surfaced. Her being the woman I used to hold so many grudges against, the mother of my half sister.
To truly move on and live the way God teaches us to, we must learn to forgive each other and let go of the past.
For so many years it was hard for me to even stand the thought of her. Forgive her? Ha! The thought. My tween brain couldn’t cope it; even the thought of forgiving her left a bitter taste in my mouth.
But here’s where life got interesting…I grew up. I matured. Can you imagine? I never thought I could do it. See, John talked about forgiveness in the hardest places. Letting go of those negative feelings and the grudges we hold against our enemies. Translated into the mind of Josie Lawson, it went like this:
John Ray: “Josie, I have a task.”
Me: “Okay, shoot.”
John Ray: “I need for you to go to Antarctica and grow the tallest, most healthy sunflower in a dark closet with no water and no sunlight.”
Like the story John used in church, Joseph and his psychedelic coat of many colors. Joseph was kind of obnoxious. And like John also pointed out, God usually chooses the underdogs of biblical times; the person no one ever thought could slay the giant. Joseph’s brothers went as far as to sell him as a slave, to be beaten and overworked. But God told Joseph to live in His way and by His word. After all the hell and turmoil his brothers put him though, he forgave them.
Dang. We could all use a few more Josephs in the world, couldn't we?
Like Joseph, I was put through a lot of crappy and unfortunate times in my life. Even though I wasn’t sold off as a slave or thrown down a well, I was hurt very badly at a young age. But unlike Joseph, I wasn’t big enough to realize just how human those mistakes were. I was too bitter and angry to let go of the past and forgive the person that I felt like was the absolute enemy. But I distinctly remember the feeling of freedom that came with forgiving her. It took me a while, but eventually I was able to forgive her and look at the positive things that came from those bad times.
Forgiveness can be a tough battle to overcome with yourself, but when you finally get a grip and learn to forgive and let go, it’s a release like no other. Forgiving is freedom, and it frees the hatred and the sadness like a weight lifted off your shoulders. We should all look after Joseph’s example. To truly move on and live the way God teaches us to, we must learn to forgive each other and let go of the past.
Listen for His voice in the darkest of times, and even then it won’t be impossible to grow a sunflower in Antarctica.
Josie Lawson loves music, movies and a really great beanie. At any given moment, she's probably thinking about french fries.