Mere Christianity: Willing to Try

I don’t think I’m alone in this, but let me express it anyway: I can’t stand bullies.

I mean, really, why do some people feel like the only way they can express themselves is to find the weakest, most defenseless person possible and making them feel worthless, empty, and shattered? And why is it that when others are being bullied, so many stand by oblivious, or worse, uncaring?

I’ve been the victim. I’ve also been the one who has stood by and been helpless to stop the abuse. And because of that, as an adult, I find myself being the fighter and the advocate. Sometimes, that’s to my own detriment. It’s caused me to lose friends and even, in one instance, to be physically attacked.

Whether I’m the victim or the advocate, there’s always one teeny thing that I forget.

It’s not my fight.

I love something my friend, Bonnie, told me a couple of years ago. In fact, this is at least the third time I’ve written about it. But here it is again, anyway:

It’s okay that nobody defended me, because He’s my defender. I don’t have to be hurt, because He hurts for me. And one day, they will have to stand before my Jesus and explain why they hurt me.

In this week’s chapter, CS Lewis addresses the subject of forgiveness. Clearly, this is something we all have experience with. It’s also something that many of us struggle with. It’s also the hinge pin of relationship with God. He loves us, regardless. He wants us, no matter what. But He only forgives us if we forgive others. Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door to forever.

Yeah. It’s THAT important.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, honestly, it’s something I can’t do. But in case you missed this before, let me reiterate:

It’s not my fight.

I have to be willing, yes. I have to try, yes. But when I’m willing and I try, it’s amazing what God does.

I was abused as a child. Have I forgiven my abuser? I’m working on it. Some days, I feel no anger towards him at all. Other days are harder.

I was mistreated by the leadership of a church I attended and worked at. Have I forgiven the church leaders that mistreated me? I’m working on it. (Although, honestly, this was harder to forgive than my childhood abuse, because I expected church leaders to love me and treat me like Christ would.)

But I’m willing to try. And that’s what it takes. Every day. Every time the feelings of hurt and anger return. I admit to God that I’m willing to try.

Here’s what Lewis says:

“In other words, something inside us, the feeling of resentment, the feeling that wants to get one’s own back, must be simply killed. I do not mean that anyone can decide this moment that he will never feel it anymore. That is not how things happen. That means that every time it bobs its head up, day after day, year after year, all our lives long, we must hit it on the head. It is hard work, but the attempt is not impossible.” (Lewis, 107-108)

It’s a process. A lifelong process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but that’s okay, because God doesn’t expect it to. He just expects us to be willing to try.

This post is part of the regularly-scheduled book discussion my friend, Jason, and I co-facilitate each Wednesday. We are currently discussing CS Lewis’ classic book, Mere Christianity. We invite you to come along whether you’ve done the reading or not. All comments are welcome. And if you’ve written a response to this chapter on your own blog, please feel free to link your post via the link widget below. Thanks for coming by! You are always welcome!

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  1. Forgiveness is a lifelong process. Given my own natural tendencies, I found this chapter to be encouraging. Forgiveness can be a stop at a time, starting witht he small things.

  2. may i keep God’s hammer in hand to attempt to hit resentment on the head.

  3. I am not the type to harbor a grudge. I am a peacemaker “normally” and am quick to forgive “most of the time”. I have found that when we forgive others, it frees us to move on. As long as we hold on to our grudge, we are bound by its chains and can possibly be destroyed by them.

    I am definitely not perfect in this and hope no one thinks I am… but I am striving to always forgive.

  4. It’s definitely a process and can be very hard work. I heard someone recently say that just like our salvation, forgiveness is by faith. When the devil comes to say, “see, you didn’t really forgive that person, you’re still angry” then we recognize that with the strength we had we let it go and we don’t have to take unforgiveness back. We walk and stay in forgiveness BY FAITH. I thought of that as I read your post. Good stuff, Sarah! Thanks.

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