(The original post titled “What I Didn’t Know About Forgiveness” back in Aug 2017 experienced the unfortunate “shredder” that is the WordPress app glitch. It was frustrating, but a brilliant idea came…..)
31st December 2017 – 1st January 2018 // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
New year’s eve.
I was not out at some party somewhere. Instead, I was home, hoping to stay away from the crowds….and of all things to happen – a major bug on the WordPress app permanently deleted a post from August. It was the one titled “What I Didn’t Know About Forgiveness.” I spent the last half hour of 2017 and another hour of 2018 doing everything I could to retrieve it, to no avail.
I thought about the loss, the disheartenment to start over, the impossiblity to recreate it word-for-word. I did, after all, write that post in the heat of the moment when things were intense emotionally.
“There’s no way I can get back into that very same headspace,” I thought to myself.
Midnight came, and 2018 was ushered in. I was not celebrating, I was mourning about the incident….well, sorta. I hit the sack thinking about all the prophecies about what would 2018 look like for me and how the 2018 really began on my end, with this issue. It felt like a smack to the face but God in all His humour, gave me something to chew on.
“Let’s look back at what else I had done concerning forgiveness this year,” said the still small voice.
July 2017 // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I plonked on the bed after returning from what seemed like an excruciating hour of being questioned by some authority figures, mostly about the tragic premature exit from Greece a few months before. There were things I wanted to say, but held back because it would’ve been considered “too much information,” as the situation was complicated to begin with.
I was exhausted just by not being able to talk about the truth during the meeting.
But the tears that came weren’t because of that only.
I was feeling the weight of carrying that part of my story, whether shared with others or not. And what made the story difficult to carry was my struggle to forgive myself and the people involved.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to forgive, it was because pain has a way of making one unable, or find difficult, to forget.
August 2017 // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I went to church this particular Saturday evening, even though I had to leave before the sermon to attend my high school class’ 10-year reunion. I was not really excited about the class reunion for a variety of reasons, but it wasn’t the main thing weighing on my heart.
It was that I thought I knew enough about forgiveness, but I didn’t.
And I was about to meet a bunch of people who would remind me of many things, especially the not-so-great ones.
The communion emblems were passed and I held them tightly in my hands. So tight that I almost smashed the wafer and spilled the grape juice. “Would You show me what forgiveness looks like?” was the whisper of my lips but the loud cry of my heart. And I swallowed the wafer and chugged the juice.
(I was so lost in the moment that I had consumed the communion emblems before the cue. Oh well.)
I walked out of the church not too long later. I just didn’t think that I was going to walk into a series of events that would answer that prayer.
“Wei-Jan, you don’t have to have it all figured out now, but what you can do is choose to forgive today. You may have to start from scratch each new day, but you have the choice to make that day count.” – Mike Oman, September 2013.
One high school reunion.
One reunion of sorts with my former colleagues.
I looked at their faces, and the filmreel of memories began rolling.
I saw the times I had been treated unkindly, unfairly, and unlovingly.
But I also saw laughter, joy, and love.
I had a choice to make. And a choice I did make.
I made a choice to release the prisoners I had made of them and spoke life.
I made a choice to stand up and pour out love onto those people, knowing that I can choose to forgive despite not being able to forget the bad memories.
I made a choice to let Him take over, even if it means 7×70 times in a day. Life and beauty were prophesied and the prison walls came down.
The lessons didn’t end when the weekend was over. The very next day I would be challenged to walk out the truth of those lessons with a person I’d find most difficult to forgive. I made a choice, again.
(That choice made a friend go, “OH SNAAAP BRING ON THE CONVICTION!”)
I didn’t think that all these choices would set me up for what was coming up ahead.
October 2017 // Kampar, Perak, Malaysia
“Father, they’re swimming in their brokenness and with the amount of conflicts happening, I’m at my wits’ end,” I said to God as I prepared to go to bed. I was exhausted and mentally drained from all that was happening with the group I was leading.
“And what choice would you make this time?” He asked in return.
“I choose to forgive them. I release them to You.”
The next few days made history. The breakthrough came. The darkness left and light invaded. I thought that was the end. But the gentle voice spoke.
“No, you’re not stopping here, because I’m not. Go and embrace her.”
“But…I mean, things look good now. Do I really have to do that?”
“Can I do it later?”
With the quote, “Delayed obedience is disobedience” playing in my head, I looked up at the person that I had been speaking to God about. She had just been freed of a lot of pain and darkness the evening before, and she was relishing in this newfound freedom. It’s easy to think that my work was done then, but I went with that voice and approached her.
I opened my arms to hug her.
I hugged her.
I was still hugging her. Or more like she was still hugging me.
I wondered if it was time to let go, but this hug didn’t look like it was going to cease soon.
Then her tears started flowing as she repeated, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry…”
“I forgive you. You’re all good.”
Something in the atmosphere broke and she came undone. God had something bigger for her, as I was realising then. The rest surrounded us and our tears flowed. Tears of utter joy.
And the beautiful singing of these words marked that moment in history.
“Oleh darah Yesus, ku bebas dan hidupku menang,
By the blood of Jesus, we are free, we live victorious.”
1st January 2018 // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Looking back, I actually did learn more about forgiveness after I had that post published back in August. The loss became an opportunity to revisit this. God is certainly not done teaching.
So, this thing you’re reading now – it doesn’t really end here either. 😉