What’s in Forgiveness?

“Always forgive your enemies-nothing annoys them so much.”- Oscar Wilde

Forgiveness sucks. (By sucks I don’t mean it sucks in the figurative sense. I mean forgiveness is hard. It’s difficult, unpleasant, easier said than done, troublesome. But it’s absolutely necessary if you ever want to get anywhere with your life.)

I’ve grown up learning the importance of forgiveness. I’ve learned Bible verses and parables and all sorts of biblical knowledge about what forgiveness is and how to forgive. And to be honest, I’m still learning what it means to forgive.

I’ve always associated forgiveness with an apology. I’m sorry. I forgive you. But realistically, that’s not the way the world works. Apologies and forgiveness are not mutually exclusive.

APOLOGIES AND FORGIVENESS ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. Often times in life, you won’t get an apology (at least not a sincere one).

This is a concept I haven’t understood until recently. I’m extremely stubborn and maybe sometimes a bit prideful, so I never understood how I could be expected to forgive someone if they didn’t admit they were wrong.

I understand now.

You see, after I was sexually assaulted, I was extremely bitter. And then one day I wrote a blog post in which I “forgave them.” I thought that was it. I could finally let go of my past. I could finally be free. That tells you how much I know (which when compared to everything there is to know, is approximately nothing). And then I started to feel less bitter. I was still depressed, I still had random mental breakdowns, still freaked out anytime I was reminded or saw any of my attackers.

That is until two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, I saw one of them in Target. I didn’t freak out. I didn’t go into the bathroom and cry. I just kept walking. And that’s when I realized I never actually forgave them.

I said that I forgave them, but it was arbitrary and meaningless. I did it out of obligation and not necessitation. I didn’t need to forgive them, just like  I thought I didn’t need God.

Forgiveness is an active thing. There’s no such thing as passively forgiving somebody. Until you actually forgive with your heart, it’s void, empty.

So yesterday, I facebook messagd the guy I saw in Target two weeks ago, who by the way, was the one that caused my sexual assault. I sent only three words, I forgive you.

I doubt I’ll ever get an apology. An apology isn’t needed. I just need him to know he’s forgiven, because I don’t know where he is in his life, but maybe being forgiven will impact him in a way that hasn’t happened before.

And if it doesn’t, that’s ok. Because truly forgiven has impacted my life. Being truly forgiven by somebody who is truly perfect has impacted my life.

I don’t always deserve forgiveness. I’ve sinned. I’ve messed up. I have no idea what I’m doing half the time. God loves me anyway. God forgives me anyway.

So, yes, I forgave this guy, because I want to be more like Jesus. I also forgave myself. Because one time I tried to kill myself. I forgive myself for the scars I purposefully put on my skin. I forgive myself for all the hurt I caused myself. God tells us to love our enemies, and sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

I know I am.

I’ve forgiven. I’m finding healing. And I’ll always be living with Depression, but that’s ok. God loves me anyway. I’m forgiven anyway.

Our Father which art in Heaven.

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done

on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, bur deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.

Amen.

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I Press On

When I tell people I’m a Bible Quizzer, they give me a strange look. I know they’re imagining me sitting in a room, taking a test on a book about a guy who’s been dead and alive again for 2,000 years, and they’re probably imagining me to be crazier than I already am. So when I have the audacity to tell them “Bible Quizzing is a sport,” they have to bite their tongue and hold themselves back to keep from screaming “off with her head.”

And I want to tell them:

Life is a sport. You can play for the good guy or the bad guy. And I chose the good. And while your sport has you running around in circles chasing a ball, my sport has me learning how to think about a question, synthesize an answer, and respond in 20 seconds, which is faster than most people can say the alphabet backwards. And while you’re learning how to increase your time off the starting blocks, I’m learning how to sit on a chair just right, because I can’t be too heavy or too light. Because when the correct time is nigh, I need to flinch, have the fastest reaction time in getting my Gluteus Maximus off a ridiculously tiny rectangular pad, all so my light can shine next to number 1, which is really code for “I can jump faster than you.”

It’s like Physical Effort, “My Legs Are Sore”, Jeopardy.

And I was probably most likely not even close to nowhere near the best Quizzer ever, but I can still find my way around scripture, because I know where to find God. And I’ve quoted the book of Help Me, Jesus so many times that it’s verses are tattooed on my lips because I once forgot the name of the one who saved me when I couldn’t save myself.

So I may be able to tell you where a passage of scripture is found, and maybe if you’re lucky, I can even complete the verse. But probably not.

Because we all can’t win the Alpha and Omega Trophy, but we all can win people for the Alpha and Omega. And isn’t that what this about anyway? It’s more than just memorizing the location of words on a page in the precise order they are presented in order to hopefully answer some questions about who, what, where, when, why, how much God loves us. Because I know the answer to that question. It’s about taking what you’ve learned, applying it to your life, and using it over the long haul. It’s about planting the seed and watching the garden grow, which is incredibly cliché, I know, but if the shoe fits, wear it.
Trust me, competition is fun (because I’m the girl who flips the Monopoly Board), But winning isn’t everything.

And there’s something beautiful in this brother and sisterhood, close knit family. Because I wanted to quit so many times since the day I forgot how to get out of bed, but I kept coming back for more. Because I have this thirst that cannot be quenched by any water from this earth.

There is something inspiring in the faces of victory and the faces of defeat. And I want to be a part of inspiration. There’s something inspiring in the encouragement given after wins, losses, good tries, good quizzes. Everybody needs encouragement sometimes. There’s something powerful in the way opponents during a quiz become best friends after hands are shaken. Because when our world is shaken, we all need someone to lean on.

So even though last year I upgraded my ticket from “Quizzer” to “Coach,” I want to tell you this: no matter how many times you are beaten by the same team/ person over and over again, never give up. One day, you will be triumphant (even if that means sitting back and waiting until they move on to bigger and better divisions). The same is true with life.

So don’t you dare tell me Bible Quizzing is not a sport because it’s trained me for what lies ahead. It’s formed me into the person I am today. It’s taught me life is pretty much impossible without a great group of friends, and I have the best. It’s taught me that even though big groups make me uncomfortable, I can be myself and people will still love me.

So when I forget how to get out of bed, when my lips forget how to form a prayer, when I want to pack my bags and leave, I remember the scripture I have stored in my heart, and I remember you.

Yes, I am a Bible Quizzer. But I’m also a fighter. I’m a warrior, and I’m a runner.

Because every day I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.