Dear girls, I sit by the side of the sea as I write these words this morning. Right outside my window stretches miles and miles of empty Oregon coast. Wild and inviting, desolate and breathtakingly beautiful.
I’m here with five friends. Women who’ve adopted me as sisters, taken me into their hearts and allowed me to be who I am without apology.
A rare gift— beauty inside and beauty out.
But before I go off and play for the day, I have a few more words about forgiveness that just won’t leave me alone. Words I’ve needed time and time again.
Words I need today.
Words I’ll need tomorrow too.
The words rolled off the pen of Paul as he paced his dank and lonely prison cell far from home. He’d been wronged— betrayed, wounded, deceived. Yet there he sat, using his last hours to scribble down every bit of wisdom that came to his heart for a group of people he loved.
Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God.
For it is written,
“I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it, says the LORD.”
Instead, do what the Scriptures say:
“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink,
And they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.”
Don’t let evil get the best of you ,but conquer evil by doing good.
And as I sit by the window overlooking the great heaving ocean, once again I remember my own need to forgive.
Because just yesterday an old wound got bumped and it still hurts a little today. And I find myself all grumbly and resentful and entitled and crotchety.
Here I am, ready for a day of delightful play with the best friends I’ve ever had in one of the most beautiful spots in the world… remembering and resenting.
And just as I was confessing this to the Father, I glanced outside. My eyes landed on something bobbing in the waves. I leaned forward to look. What is that?
My breath caught— a body? It was just about the right length… I leaned closer, watching. Oh! Just a log caught in the current… phew!
And that, my dear girls, is right when I heard His voice speaking just what I needed. Reminding me of a time long ago when I sat across from my mentor, Muriel Cook, and she told me a story. A story I want to pass on to you in the hopes that you will remember when the resentment keeps coming back to steal away your joy.
Forgiveness, Muriel explained to me, is like one of those huge driftwood logs that lie on the sands of the Oregon coast. You’ve done the hard work of forgiving, you’ve given it all over to God, and you’re resting just fine.
Then comes a wild Pacific storm. Or sometimes it’s just a high tide. And the currents catch hold of that load of driftwood log and pull it back into the sea. It floats and rolls (and looks eerily like a dead body to a woman with too much imagination for her own good).
And you feel like you haven’t really forgiven so well after all.
Isn’t that just how I feel this morning? Like maybe I haven’t forgiven, not really. Like I’m being tossed around again.
But then Muriel, in her ever-practical wisdom told me more.
You’ve just got to go out there and push that log back out to sea. And if it insists on rolling back in again, push it harder. Push it again. And again.
Because eventually, if you’ll just keep at it, that log will catch a current and be carried so far out to sea that you’ll never see it again. It will disappear into the vast ocean and you’ll barely remember what worried you so much for so long.
And you know what, girls, it works!
Whether the offense is one of those petty pinches that stings more than anything else, or a really big one that bruises and beats up your soul. If you push hard enough and long enough, it will eventually leave you alone.
The vast sea of God’s grace will just swallow it up so it cannot hurt you ever again.
And so here I sit, pushing my invisible log back out. Relieved to be rid of it. Again. Remembering what to do if it drifts back. Again.
And ready to spend the rest of the day free to embrace the beauty of this place and these people I love.
From my heart,
PS: Have you been confused by something you’d thought you’d forgiven but still feel resentment over? Can you tell us how you finally escaped it’s hold? Have you found a way to let go? Your stories are such an encouragement to all of us who want this way of the Cross.