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Scroll down to find my art updates, Mother’s Day special story + auction! ⏰
Like honey gathering flies, I can gather a list of the people who have hurt me. We all have the stories of how some friend damaged us in a way that changed us forever. And some of us know we’d like to find ways to fix and heal, if not with that friend, then for future friendships. As Mother’s Day comes close, we all know friendship and forgiveness are linked in mothering and being mothered.
Most people have heard that healing requires forgiving. And while there’s some truth there, the very word “forgiveness” has been smashed. So let’s begin by refreshing “forgiveness” as a concept.
Forgiveness does not mean
- we forget the offense and just “let the past be the past.”
- we erase the hurt or the damage done to us.
- explaining, justifying, or condoning.
- a practice mostly meant for us and not the offender.
- going through a script to check off a spiritual practice.
I even can use religious maxims like, “God is the ultimate judge,” and “God will deal with it, I need to leave it in God’s hands,” or “God works all things out for good,” which, while true, are actually an easy way to avoid doing the work of forgiveness.
So what is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is cancelling a debt that someone owes you. This might be a relational or a financial debt. It might be huge or tiny. And canceling a debt cannot happen unless you know how much they owe.
Forgiveness is not truly forgiveness unless we know how we have been hurt. Too many people rush to forgive and never take time to notice what happened to them. That is why we cannot heal our relationships or friendships. We don’t even know what happened. We are too busy wiping the chalkboard clean. We fail to grieve so we fail to forgive.
I like the story of Jesus telling a man to turn the other cheek. As I understand this passage in Matthew 5:39 Jesus is recommending a counter-cultural way of responding to evil. Jesus is saying forgiveness is better than fighting, yelling, grudge-holding, or even forgetting. To turn the other cheek means you don’t ignore what happened, you don’t pretend you’re just fine or that it didn’t hurt (“I’m pretty tough, it take a lot more than THAT to hurt me”). You don’t say, “Well, God will judge you” and walk away. You admit the pain happened, and you engage it creatively, even stunningly.
I believe we all know how a turned cheek is a stunning response. It is an acknowledgement to literally face the pain. And we all want to have this big of a soul.
But you cannot engage evil in this way unless you know the depth to which you’ve been hurt. You have to know how big the mess of pain runs through you before you know how far forgiveness has to mop up. This month we will work on how to forgive and heal with those we love.
Read on to hear a real life story of forgiveness.
The Story behind the Auction
Twelve and a half years ago, a young woman came to Steamboat Springs, Colorado to film me for a DVD Bible study, Real Women, Real Faith. Soon after she invited Dale and I to counsel her and her husband who were hitting some rocky times in their new marriage. Years later, she faced her husband’s mental illness that strongly resembles schizophrenia. To protect her daughter’s suffering further, she separated, won rights to custody of their daughter, and divorced. This woman continues to undo the damage her husband caused in both herself and her daughter. She can do this because she knows the extent off the damage. I’ve been impressed how over the years she walks steadily with God, she works bravely to face her own issues through therapy, counseling, friendships, and even the loneliness. She has sustained a full time job to support herself and her daughter. She contributes deeply to society instead of leeching off of others or making excuses.
Last year, she lost her mom to cancer. Keep in mind, she still is giving her husband visiting rights (with supervision), continuing to face court costs to maintain child support. She refuses to berate or shame her husband to her daughter; she refuses to seal the dysfunction and bitterness into her daughter.
In an effort to support this real woman of faith during a particularly trying year, I have decided to offer these four (11 x 15″ unframed) paintings to you for auction. The proceeds will go to this brave mother and her daughter, both friends of mine.
I will donate 75% of the proceeds. Please join me in supporting a woman of integrity and enjoy some lovely art in your home.
This week also marks my blog’s one year anniversary. Celebrate with me by choosing a painting you love and bid away. Auction will close Friday the 13th at 9pm ET. Let’s honor my friend for facing the music. Let’s honor mothers everywhere who work to see the hurt in their lives and know how to forgive.
👉🏼 Instructions for auction at right (or below in mobile view) in Artist’s Note.
May your bids raise much goodness for my friend!
The Friendship Posts
Expecting Better Friendships: Friendship Fountain, Sorting Friendships and Downsizing Friendships
What is a Friend: Balloon Friends, Companions, It is Good You Exist
The Pace of Friendship: Walk with Me, Return the Volley, Trains and Rollercoasters
Growing Friendships: Friends and Flowers, Growing a Friendship, Weeding a Friendship
Healing a Friendship: Forgiveness, The Work of Healing, The Crucial Question