Just a Little Heart Cleaning
T. Suzanne Eller

“If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come offer your sacrifice to God.” Matthew 5:23-24 (NLT)

Yesterday I swept the mahogany dark wood floors in my house. I worked with so much energy it might have looked like I was a clean freak or, at the very least, industrious. I am neither of those things. In fact, I really didn’t even notice the dust bunnies flying through the air. I was hurt, trying to sweep away harsh words spoken the day before by a friend.

I had spent most of the morning mulling over the words from the day before, wondering why I didn’t say something. Wondering why she did. I finally put on some music, took out the broom, and asked God for His grace because mine didn’t seem to be big enough at the moment.

I’ve heard people throw out advice on forgiveness as if dispensing aspirin. They casually say things like, “Jesus forgave, why don’t you?” The reality is that you and I aren’t Jesus. It’s an uneven journey at best as we accept His grace and strive to learn from His example. The practice of living a forgiving lifestyle can be an ominous task. There is incredible freedom in living a life of mercy, but it’s not something that we just find along the way. It’s a purposeful intent to move beyond the burden and restrictions of bitterness, anger, rage, or unresolved emotions tied to a person or event.

Forgiveness is a bridge I thought I had crossed and yet here I was again. I had forgiven an abusive, dysfunctional childhood. I understand the joy and freedom that comes through forgiving others. So why was the small stuff tripping me up? Perhaps it is because I am still growing, a process that will never stop.

Jesus met a man who was paralyzed. His friends brought him to Jesus on a mat. The need was obvious, but instead of healing his legs Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9: 2 NLT) Isn’t it interesting that He addressed the issue of the man’s heart before attending to his physical body?

He hasn’t changed. He still sees my heart. I have forgiven - but I will continue to become a forgiver as I meet life’s challenges. To do that, I have to give myself a little grace, but also invite Him into the process.

Maybe you’re like I once was; dealing with the hurts of the past and forgiveness seems impossible. Forgiving doesn’t mean that abuse can continue or that what happened is okay. What it does mean is that you are ready to live life free of entanglements to the past.

Maybe you have grappled with the big issues and they no longer hold power over you, but the little stuff is the big stuff and you are tired of it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us”. As I talked with my Savior, He settled in and made Himself at home in the situation. Yesterday my house got cleaned, but so did my heart.

What happens when we are willing to forgive? It moves us one step closer to deep-seated faith marked by grace.

Dear Lord, Help me to forgive one person today. I lift up my heart. I won’t pretend that it doesn’t hurt, but I am willing to forgive. I’m not always big enough, but You are and I am grateful. I won’t forgive based on a person’s response, or even what is fair, but instead I will trust that You desire my heart to be free so that You can love in and through me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Sandpaper People: Dealing with the Ones Who Rub You the Wrong Way by Mary Southerland

The Woman I am Becoming by T. Suzanne Eller

Visit Suzie’s Blog

Application Steps:
No matter whether it is a big or small issue, invite God into the situation today.

Reflections:
Think about unforgiveness as a wall. We build it around our heart to keep people from hurting us. What keeps you inside that wall?

What can we miss when we live in a fortress?

You don’t offer forgiveness to hear someone say they are sorry. It’s nice if it happens, but even if it doesn’t it’s foundational to wholeness - in you!

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love does not demand its own way. [Love] is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” (NLT)

© 2009 by T.Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I praise God that He helps me to forgive and that I am learning to depend on His ability to help me to be a forgiving person.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't do "Just a little Heart Cleaning", because I need His help to sweep and dust my heart from all the filthiness hidden inside my heart--invisible to my naked eye.

Thank you for this reminder! I have been carrying some hurt with me ever since a dear friend of mine said some pretty hurtful things a month ago. I told her a forgave her, but obviously I truly haven't given the matter over to the Lord. The hurt is still there and I still think about it from time to time, especially when I want to talk to her but I don't because of the pain. Thank you for reminding where I need to lay this issue - before the throne of God and ask for His help.

Anonymous Suzie Eller said...

To anonymous, I also need his help to sweep and dust my heart. It's been a lifelong process. If you know my story (check it out at http://tsuzanneeller.com), you know that I didn't believe in God, and yet He transformed my life with his love, grace, mercy, correction, guidance... It's not about what I do, but what He does. Thanks for your comment!

Blogger Julie Brown said...

My husband and I have been seperated for 4 months and I just recently found out he is seeing someone else. We have 4 children...2 grown and twin boys (16) still at home with me.
When confronted he said he has no emotional feeling towards her, their just friends, and could I please FORGIVE him?!?!? I have forgiven him in the past for the same actions, I just don't know if i can do it again. I know Im suppose to, but i think this time it maybe impossible! I know nothings impossible with the Lord, but I don't even have the strength to ask for help anymore. Please pray for my family and for my stregthen. Thank you, Julie

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please pray for my husband and I. His family and I feel fairly certain he is in the early stages of Altzheimer's. He was in the hospital last year and a Neurologist saw him. She noticed his confusion and prescribed medication. His regular Dr. says he seems fine and doesn't think he needs anything. He did take the medication for a while and; unfortunately, I couldn't tell much diffefence. I think he needs to try some other medication, but he is convinced he doesn't need his "crazy" pills as he calls them. He is becoming more antisocial and says very hurtful things to me and to others. Most of his comments are addressed toward me. He rarely appologizes for things he says or does and always determines it's my fault for whatever he has done. He can be very cruel at times and it is hard for me to continue forgiving when he won't acknowledge he has said or done anything. Part of his actions are personality traits he has had for years; even before we met. This is a 2nd marriage for both of us. We have now been married 10 1/2 years. I want to keep my vows I made to him and most of all to the Lord. I know I need to forgive him and overlook a lot of what he says and does. I pray for a way to get him some help. He is convinced he doesn't need help; and therefore unwilling to seek any.

Blogger Lindsay said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful devotional! I definitely need God's help to forgive a close friend of mine who has hurt me. I no longer trust her. She has lied to me about some big things and been rather deceptive lately. Trust is something that takes time to rebuild, but I know that God will give me the help I need to truly forgive her, and if it is God's will for us to continue our friendship He will reveal that to me.

What I've learned is that people who are hurting hurt others. My friend is hurting badly, and unfortunately she can't seem to see beyond the end of her nose at this point. She seems unable to realize that the hurt she is causing others is making her own situation worse.

Please pray for both of us - that God would do a healing work in our hearts. Thanks and God bless you!

Anonymous Suzanne Eller said...

Forgiving isn't allowing evil to run rampant or allowing harm to continue. It's a process of letting go so that you can move forward and be all that God intended. If your husband has cheated in the past and has done again, then boundaries need to be in place -- not to punish him -- but to work toward a healthier relationship. Is there a counselor in your area that you can both see, a boundary that says we will both work toward a relationship that is stronger, trustworthy, and founded on true forgiveness and transformation, rather than just words. There is a wonderful book by Townsend and Cloud called Boundaries. I hope you will check it out at the library or online. I also talk about boundaries and forgiveness is The Mom I Want to Be. Thanks for asking such a great and honest question.

Anonymous Contessa Wilson said...

To Anonymous: Please pray for my husband and I. His family and I feel fairly certain he is in the early stages of Altzheimer's. ....

I will be praying for you and your family. You might check out a program online and on tv called Know the Cause...Doug Koffman is very insightful and helpful in helping to find natural cures or remidies for illnesses. You may look up Curcuimin and Sarrapeptase. It may take a few weeks before he feels or you see a difference but they should help.

Hope this helped.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

cleaning our hearts leaves that space open for a new blessing! It's harder to dothan say but worth it in the end...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been badly treated by my boss who I had a very close working relationship with. I am an executive in a big corporation

I have since been asked to leave my job for no good reason.

Whilst I feel like taking legal action against my compay the details are mirky and I would destroy a lot of people in the process.


Whilst i have offered to leave immediately, I am being made to serve my 3 months notice under unbearable circumstances. I am excluded from all meetings, My boss does not speak to me and he does not want anyone to speak to me. All instructions are received via e-mail.

Whilst I say I have forgiven him for everything, there are times I feel really angry about my situtation.

Please pray for me. I cry sometimes, I breakdown most of the times, but I am completly ignored, my husband, a co-worker and my mother have been a source of encouragement during this process but I think they are also tired of my constant crying. I really want to forgive and let go of my past, my present situation and move on, but I have to be in this bad situation for the next three months . I don't have a job right now but I have some prospects that I am looking to.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You for this advice,I also benifitted from seeing what other's had said they were dealing with! A close Friend of mine is dealing with Manic Depression,and lashes out with vicious actions and word's repeatedly,I will Pray for Her.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have twin grandaughters that just came to live with me. they are 14 yrs. old! I am passing this on to them to read because they are so hurt by their mothers decisions, i am so thankful for your words to encourage them in their struggle with forgiveness! Sometimes they have a high wall up! Thank you and may God richly bless you. Thank you, Vickie Cross

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