I am tired of forgiving.
I wish there was a verse in the Bible that told me exactly how many times I have to forgive someone before I get a free pass, before I get to say enough is enough and you’re done here.
I have yet to find that section though. I’ve done a pretty exhaustive search too so I don’t think I’m missing it.
I am tired of forgiving.
My heart is broken, my spirit is weary, and my resolve is tired. I am in a season where turning the other cheek feels like punishment instead of grace. When do I get a break? When do I see the fruit? When do I get some peace?
I am also in a season of feeling sorry for myself, if you didn’t notice.
I would like to change the calendar. I would like a new season–a better one–please and thank you, but apparently no one checks with Mary Graham when it comes to the weather. I’m adding this to my list of complaints to take up with Jesus. Also on the list is my unwanted talent of gaining weight by looking at food and how many dumb drivers He created.
My quiet time this week has been in the book of 1 Kings. David is reaching the end of his life and he’s preparing for his death by getting his son, Solomon, ready to take over the throne. During this transition time, another of David’s sons, Adonijah, attempts a non-violent coup to become king instead. Adonijah is older than Solomon and upset he’s not next in line to be Israel’s king.
Adonijah gathers most of his brothers, important priests, and powerful army commanders and declares himself king. When Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba (Bathsheba of the bathing-on-the-roof-top-married-to-someone-other-than-the-king fame) hears of this situation, she visits King David to tell him of the mess and get assurance her son will be king.
David says he’s keeping his promise to Bathsheba and Solomon will be king. Then he crowns Solomon king in front of Israel so there is no confusion. When Adonijah’s followers hear this, they flee in fear of Solomon. Adonijah basically throws himself at King Solomon and asks for mercy. Solomon forgives him and then David dies.
Solomon is king, his dad is dead, and he could—without anyone stopping with him—have his brother punished for what he did. But he doesn’t. He shows Adonijah mercy and lets him continue to live his privileged life as a relative of the king. Solomon could have taught Adonijah a lesson, but instead he showed him grace when vengeance would have been easier.
I can tell you right now, I’m not doing what Solomon did. I am not full of grace or mercy, I am full of hurt and poison. I know my God is a God of consequences and revenge, but I want to be that too. I want to take over His job and dole out my own punishment so I can feel better.
(I’m actually doing this right now, and it’s making me feel the opposite of better, but, as anyone who has been around here for a minute knows, I am very slow at learning lessons.)
I sat in a counselor’s office a few weeks ago and the counselor said, “You know you have to forgive, right?” He said it gently and in love and with compassion, but he still asked it and I despised him for it.
“I KNOW,” I said through tears and rage. “I know I have to.”
I have to forgive so I can be forgiven. I selfishly only want to forgive someone else because I need the grace and mercy for myself, not for the other person. (I’ve written about this before, UGH.)
I am obviously a well-rounded, mature woman of Christ. His love is just oozing out of my pores at this point in my life.
I’m also not far enough away from this betrayal to talk about it calmly, with compassion, or with perspective. Understanding that has kept me quiet for a few weeks. OF COURSE THIS WOULD HAPPEN just as I was getting into a writing groove again. I’ve been aching and longing to write for about a month now after what felt like months of no desire and no words. Then I get sucker punched in the gut and the only words I have are nasty ones. I don’t want my blog to be full of nasty words. I don’t want to be full of nasty words, but HERE I AM.
So what am I doing while I’m waiting for the nasty to leave? Well, I’m glad you asked.
–I’m reading the Bible and then reading the Bible and then reading more of the Bible. Sometimes I have to read the same section over again because I got distracted by my nasty. Sometimes I have to read the same story over and over again because I need that lesson, that encouragement, or that prayer and everything inside me is nasty so I’m using someone else’s words to try and model un-nasty.
–I’m listening to worship music like it’s the only way to breath. Guys, I can’t sing. We’ve discussed this before. But it doesn’t stop me from singing, no way, no how. I’ve gotten really aggressive with my thumbs up-ing and thumps down-ing on my Pandora worship station and I feel like I’ve curated it enough that every song is just killing it for me. No Mercy Me and I Can Only Imagine. No Toby Mac because blah. Only songs that bring me to my knees or shut up the nasty thoughts and feelings (and sometimes, actions) I have brewing. I listen loud. I listen often. I listen while crying. I listen while dancing. Worshiping does a great job of reminding me who I am in the midst of hurt and confusion.
–I’m talking to people who let me be nasty and love me anyway. Being good with words is a double-edged sword. I can make you soar with a well-crafted sentence, but I can also use my powers for evil and destroy you swiftly. And when I’m angry, I know all the horrible things to say that will cut the deepest. Saying all these mean things to the person who hurt me would probably do some irreparable damage. I want to hurt people who hurt me, but I’m also aware of the long-game, and I know it’s not my best move. So talking through my anger with someone safe is doing it for me right now. It’s also doing it for the person who hurt me, but he/she probably doesn’t know it.
–The flip side of that is, I’m being very quiet. It’s weird to say I’m not normally quiet because I’m an introvert, but I am naturally loud. When people meet me for the first time, they don’t often label me an introvert because I can put on a good show. But really, I would like nothing more than to be at home, drinking some coffee or wine (depending on the time), and reading a book with my dog next to me. I can extrovert well but I don’t enjoy it. So when I say I’m being quiet, it’s odd to admit. I like to express all my thoughts and feelings and emotions as soon as they come to my little brain, but right now, I’m so confused and shaky and weary, I don’t even know what I’m thinking or feeling. So I’m being quiet. I think (OKAY, credit where credit is due: I know…) that’s a God thing and not a Mary thing though, so don’t get too impressed with my piety.
–I’m praying for a compassionate heart. I want to destroy people who hurt me. I want to shame people who lie and make bad choices and put my family members in danger. I want death and destruction and leprosy (is that still around? IT SHOULD BE.). Unfortunately, this is my heart and my desire, but not God’s. So I’m spending a lot of time begging for eyes to see the way God sees. I’m pleading for a soft heart to love flawed, broken people even when I don’t want to.
–I’m sitting in my mess. Now that I type out those words, it would seem I have soiled my britches and need someone to change me. That is not where I’m going here so easy, tiger. I said before this season is hard. I want to run from hard. I want to ignore hard. But that doesn’t make it go away, that just puts it off. So I’m settling in, asking for patience and lessons, and trusting God won’t leave me while I get lost, angry, and hopeless for a minute. I know it won’t last. I know there will be new seasons. I know there will eventually be less anger and more peace. So I’m resting in His promises and remembering He’s good even when I can’t see it directly in front of my face.
As I read my Bible, I’m finding solace in stories where forgiveness is given in hard circumstances. I find that encouraging while I search for my own forgiveness. I’m sure it was hard for Solomon to forgive his brother for trying to take his spot on the throne. Adonijah was deceitful, sneaky, and conniving. When Solomon turns the other cheek and wishes his brother well, I find hope for my nasty heart.
I meditated on Solomon and Adonijah’s story for about a day and a half after I read it. I knew God wanted me to hear forgiveness and mercy. I knew He was speaking to me through this story.
The next day, I picked back up in 1 Kings just as Solomon begins to establish his kingdom AND GUESS WHAT GUYS—Adonijah shows his face again, makes another dumb move (he asks to marry the young woman who cared for King David in his final days and Solomon see this as yet another sneaky move to usurp him), and so Solomon KILLS HIM.
So while I haven’t found the exact number of times you’re supposed to forgive someone before you get to stop, I did learn that after repeated betrayals, MURDER IS ACCEPTABLE.
See, the Bible is just full of hope for my nasty heart.
Amen and amen.