Love is...Forgiveness by Vera LeRay Warner
I had been elected as president over a Christian women’s organization and I knew it was the will of God for my life. During the season, I learned some hard lessons, but looking back, I would not have changed one thing to ease the pain of rejection. The women were the absolute best to lead, but the authority figure that we all were accountable to turned out to be a force to be reckoned with! From the moment we heard that the previous leader was leaving, and the announcement was made for his replacement, I immediately began having alarm bells go off inside and did not know why. Everything that we were being told about him was stellar. He seemed, on the surface, to be someone whom God would use to make us more effective as a ministry. All the ladies were so excited. Have you ever tried to be joyous, just like everyone else when you felt totally otherwise? It was difficult, and I shared with one other lady how I was feeling, and she tried to convince me that everything would be alright.
The day finally came and there he was. And for the next few months I was completely ignored, and many times misunderstood. It became so obvious that the other ladies noticed it as well and encouraged me to report it. I prayed about it and prayed for he and his wife and finally reported him and it did no good. Never had I ever experienced rejection on this magnitude before in my entire life and it hurt! We would have a bake sale to raise money for the ministry and he would come out to check on us. He would speak and chat with each lady present but would ignore my very existence. It was as if I was not even there. I taught a bible study one evening and his wife was present. I did not know that I was being scrutinized and the next day the rejection would become even greater. My heart was broken. But what I did not realize was that God was using it to mature me.
I was eventually told that I reminded him of a charismatic minister he had encountered at a previous duty assignment. Why? God, this is so unfair! Soon after I went to the little church that my husband and I were pastoring, and I literally laid out on the altar. I cried, and I prayed, and I prayed, and I cried. Then suddenly I heard the gentle voice of the Father, “You need to forgive him.” I would love to share that I said, “Ok” but I didn’t. I was so angry and hurt. My answer was, “I don’t want to.” His comeback to me was, “Then neither can I forgive you.” The flood gate opened, and I wept and screamed! I knew He wouldn’t require it of me if it was not possible. But it sure seemed like it. I did not want to forgive a man who didn’t deserve it. He was wrong and mean and hateful and one who was supposed to love and take care of the ones entrusted to him. I hated him for what he was doing to me. And it was not imagined. Others saw it too and yet I was being asked to forgive him. Truth be told, I wanted to fight instead of forgiving!
It has been so many years and I appreciate that experience. It transformed my life. I am learning every day to forgive and forgive quickly. You see love in action is forgiveness. After I forgave him his actions towards me did not change but I did. I stopped trying to please him or appease him. My forgiveness did not mean that he deserved it, nor did it mean that it would change him. Love is forgiveness….