30. To Forgive or to be forgiven, How is it demonstrated?
Long ago, a young Christian woman moved in with us because I had the space to rent. We drew up an agreement for a boarding fee, she paid the rent on time and all was well for a short time period. Yet we noted her frustration of having something of hers misplaced or put somewhere; i.e., loaf of bread that she placed on the kitchen table was moved to a side, for example. She didn't seem to realize or acknowledge there were two others who lived and needed space. When any concern arose she stopped communicating and then reacted aggressively by shouting, moping, playing loud music and having friends over any time of day and night. This behavior creates issues for others in the home. This situation was intensified by her late or reduced to absent rent. She was finally terminated and left suddenly (in the middle of the night) after threatening to trash our home.
How should I respond as a believer and a home owner to issues like this? What does or what should one do? My prayers were constant during this time. During her aggressive exit I apologized for any or all negatively perceived words or behavior (unintentional) of myself that could have offended her during her time of living in our home. We both were threatened inside our home and highly disturbed by her brash behavior.
A few years flew by. The same young lady, now appearing more together, approached me. She quickly spit out the word "I'm sorry" and covered her behavior with more blame, further excuses and accusations. Her wounding was apparent and not expressed.
Much learning occurred during this time. Her behavior was such that her apology was nullified by her actions and conduct. Yet it revealed a much deeper root of hurt within her. Prayers and seeking deeper understanding brought that forward. My understanding also increased as I realized I couldn't be a landlady, friend and a counsellor all at once.
What would Jesus have done? Jesus gave an the example by talking about a woman who was kissing His feet, covering them with perfume, wetting them with her tears and drying His feet with her hair. Luke 7:47 "Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little." But whoever has been forgiven little loves little... This means our forgiveness needs to be demonstrated in order for the sins to be fully forgiven - both by the one humbly asking for forgiveness or receiving forgiveness in a gracious, caring, merciful manner . Our behavior and our conduct needs to demonstrate forgiveness. This is where boundaries come in.
Regarding the experience, I accepted her apology and yet felt invalidated and further demeaned by accusations. Upon further reflection I realized I was the one needing growth and need to model His love and forgiveness. My grace and mercy needed to increase. I needed to go higher and model how Jesus behaved in each instance. I needed to learn to follow His examples and define my own boundaries in a clear way. Defining my boundaries allowed me to grow further. This was a demonstration of the quote on the last paragraph; whoever has been forgiven little loves little. Ouch!
If this writing affected you, please go back to the writing on boundaries and review what is required of you to model strength on either side of the spectrum. Resilience and strength are needed to both forgive or to be forgiven.
I earned wisdom-filled words from the verse quoted. What about you? If you would like to speak in a confidential manner, please connect through the main page. Bless your perseverance in reading through these blogs!