I was praying. I was praying for someone who had hurt me and others where I worked before she resigned from her job during a difficult period where they were very much needed. She let us all down and caused some damage to the company too.
I was moved up to fill in for this woman and though it was a move up in responsibility, I had not coveted her job. I had not even thought that was the job God was leading me to do but when I was asked by my employer to step up and fill in for her, I agreed. I am loyal to my company. Now, instead of following her orders, I was the one in charge.
But even though, my former boss had caused some problems for our company, I thought I had my heart right towards her. After all, I was praying for her. I had not wanted the things that happened to occur.
But a funny thing happened one day when I was praying. It was almost like it was a dream--this communication between God and me and it was incredibly clear and real. A question was put into my mind. "If I restore this person to her old job and if I give her a new attitude and you have to serve under her again, will you do your job with the right heart?"
First of all, I KNEW God was speaking to my heart. But with this knowledge, the weight of the thought seemed to carry more with it than the question about what I would do. There seemed to be attached to that question a deep, gut feeling flooding my being that told me, she would definitely be restored to the position I now had.
Immediately, I was filled with dread and it literally sickened me to think it was going to happen.
But just a minute. Didn't God say, "If I restored her?" My heart grew heavier as I considered the implications of having to step down and once again being placed under the subjection of someone who had treated me and others very badly.
But didn't God say, "If "I" restored her?" That's different than her just being allowed to step back into her position. Why did He ask me that?
I believe what was happening in my mind was purely a God-thing. With hind-sight, I believe He had His reasons for doing what He did and I believe I understand some of it now but at the time, I felt with everything in me that God was trying to tell me something and that in that telling, He had given me the knowledge He was actually getting ready to restore her to the position she had misused and freely given up--the position I held now.
I realized then that even though I had prayed for her, I did not want her restored. It wasn't out of selfishness or about hanging on to the job although I have no doubt my pride was involved too (because if I learned anything about pride it is that it is involved in absolutely everything.) But with the deep understanding that was moving over me as though God were telling me something that was actually about to happen, my anger for the woman surfaced and I knew self-righteously, that I did not believe she deserved to be restored--even by God--and I did not want Him to do it.
Yes, I was still mad. She had no right to do what she did to the employer and employees and then leave our company hanging the way she did. She had no right to treat us that way and I had the right to be angry.
It wasn't until I had to answer God's question that I knew I was still angry.
I had been praying for her and for her family because it was the "right" thing to do. I knew what she had done had affected her family too and I didn't want them to suffer.
During this whole time, I thought my heart was "right." I thought I had forgiven.
It took that question from God--that cut-through-the-heart-of-the-matter question to reveal a root in me of something I needed to know about myself.
I had not forgiven her. I was still so angry that if God Himself restored her to the position, I did not want her there.
It was a mind-boggling moment and I knew what I had to do--what God was leading me to do after allowing me the revelation of the truth in my heart. I had to forgive. My stubbornness that held on to my right to be angry, my self-righteousness that allowed me to believe I walked in forgiveness when I was actually cradling it....finally broke. The tears came as I acknowledged to the All-Knowing that not only was I still holding a very big grudge--I was sheltering unforgiveness that I did not even know I had--sheltering it behind my own prayers.
I asked forgiveness and even now, a few weeks after the epiphany I believe God had to nudge me into having, I tear up at the memory.
And I am reminded of Jeremiah 17:9. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
My answer to that question is a firm: "God can and does." And with that revelation comes the knowledge that no matter what I have let taken root in my heart, God is able to dig it up and hold it in His hands for me to see.
So, my prayer today is this: God, please continue to show me the garden of my heart and what I plant there. Reveal to me roots that need to be uprooted and cause me to have good soil where forgiveness grows freely.
And that's the view from this catbird seat...