Can there be a happy ending if everything doesn’t go well?
I think so.
My hubs and I went to see I Can Only Imagine this weekend. I loved the movie. I loved the story. And I love how God used Bart Millard’s trials to make him the man he is, and a blessing to so many with his music.
I even loved the tidy way the story comes together with a happy ending.
But the reconciliation in his story is not reality for many.
I left the theater asking, “What if your story doesn’t include a tidy reconciliation with your abuser?”
Must I still forgive?
Yep. Even if our abuser never acknowledges their wrongness. Even if they never repent. Even if they never ask our forgiveness.
Even if they never change.
This is hard stuff.
This is reality for many of us. Yes, I would like to shake my fist in the air and say, “I am justified in my anger, look what has been done to me!”
But this won’t move my story forward. It only clouds my chances of living a healthy and successful life.
Waiting to forgive or withholding forgiveness has spiritual ramifications for us.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
Withholding forgiveness can also be an indicator of our spiritual health.
This one is hard, but it may also be an indication of our spiritual maturity. Forgiveness should be our response to the grace that has been afforded us by Jesus. Read Matthew 18:21-25. This is the parable of the unforgiving servant. He was forgiven much by the master, but when the time came for him to forgive his fellow servant, he refuses. And the consequences for him are severe.
Forgiving others releases our ability to obey God and pray for others.
Finally, forgiving those who are unrepentant also opens up our heart to pray for them. If God does not desire that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance, spiritually, shouldn’t we desire this too for everyone?
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
I don’t know about you, but I find it pretty difficult to pray for someone I have bitterness towards, it makes me downright Weary by Wednesday.
Forgiving our unrepentant abuser doesn’t mean we have to let down all our defenses and boundaries and open ourselves up to more abuse. I have found the concept of forging out the best relationship I can, to help me the most.
Fortunately, most of us won’t end up in a physical prison if we don’t forgive our unrepentant abuser. But the shackles of anger and bitterness are real, and they hold us down and keep us back from living life with joy and peace. Our story may not make it to the big screen, and it may not be picture perfect, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a happy ending.
Do you have some shackles that need released? I’d be happy to pray or talk with you about how to get free. Send me a private message anytime.
Thanks for sharing your Wednesday with me.