Monday, 31 August 2015

The blessing in saying you're sorry

I have been known to be more than a little judegemental of my friends. I'm ashamed to admit it but also oddly grateful as it reminds just how much I need God's grace. Like, seriously. 

I remember a pastor saying that if we ever knew what really goes through his mind we wouldn't want to be his friend. I imagine the same is true for all of us at times. It certainly applies to me. 

For a long time I judged one friend in particular. I held her up to a particular standard and made her feel condemned when she didn't meet it. She became a Christian a few years ago (hallelujah!) but has gone through dry periods, as we all do, and had to deal with family opposition to her new found faith.

As I learnt more about God I had this expectatinon that she should have learnt more too. She should know that lying to your parents is wrong, that you should go to church and spending time with God was more important than study.

Basically I was saying to her, "Why can't you be as righteous as me??" Praise God that I can laugh at myself now. It's completely ridiculous.

Many of you will be familiar with Jesus' parable about judging others in Matthew 7:

'Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.' (Matthew 7: 1-5, emphasis added)

And let me tell you, I had a whopping great plank in my eye. 

As a consequence of this we were drifting apart. It was quite painful and I judged her for that too, thinking she was being inconsiderate and didn't really care about me (hello Rejection Monster). 

So fabulous. 

The truth is my "holier-than-thou" nonsense had alientaed her and, understandably, it was harder for her to relate to me as I kept riding around on my horse Self-Righteousness (fun fact: she actually rides horses, unlike me). 

So what changed? 

To be honest I'm not entirely sure. For a while my parents had been calling me out on my judegemental attitudes, but I put up my defensive shields and hid behind my hurt. Eventually though God, through His Holy Spirit, led me to a place of repentance.

As we caught up for lunch one day she told me, somewhat defiantly, that she wasn't going to meet up with a mutual friend for a Bible study. I felt my usual disappointment and muttered something about understanding but hope she does it anyway, blah, blah, blah. By the way, nothing wrong with those statements but trust me when I tell you that my heart was not in the right place.

I decided to talk to her in greater depth about her decision towards the end of our lunch. I prayed
 silently that God would grant me wisdom and help me to be loving (at least part of me knew I was 
doing something wrong!). When it came time for that little chat I found an entirely different speech emerging from my mouth.

I talked about our friendship, that I cared about her and I knew she cared about me. I said that I still
wanted to be friends and how she felt was important to me. The upshot was that for the first time in a long time she was able to open up to me.

She explained that she often felt like she was disappointing me when she missed church, for example, and that made her feel bad. She felt like she couldn't really talk to me and it wasn't that she didn't care about me but that she didn't want to be judged, 

"I'm sorry." 

Those words mean so much. When we come before God and say "I'm sorry" we are entering into a place of forgiveness and ultimately greater freedom from sin. I was so blessed to be able to apologise to my friend and be forgiven. God is good!!!

What about you? Do you have any stories of forgiveness you'd like to share? 

Photo credit:
1. Image by QuotesEverlasting. Used under CC license
2. The Mote and The Beam by Domencio Fetti via Wikipedia. Public domain. 
3. Image by copyDude101. Used under CC license