I watched across the table as my daughter became frustrated at losing game after game of Bingo. Her mouth drew into a firm line, lips pressed together. Her eyes were almost frantic as she waited for the number-letter combination to be called. As another player excitedly shouts "Bingo!" she slams her fists on the table and begins to cry. I, as discreetly as possible, escort her into another room intending to take her down a notch. What silliness to get so upset about a silly ol' bingo game!
As I march her away from the table, the Holy Spirit begins to whisper to my heart. Treat her with gentleness. Don't blow your top. Just encourage her. This is not normally my first response. I tend to have high expectations for behavior and get frustrated when the kids don't respond exactly the way I would.
Thankfully, it was a long march so I was able to actually listen to the Holy Spirit.
Why are you so frustrated, daughter of mine?
Everyone else is winning except me!
Can you play the game and enjoy the fun without worrying about winning?
I don't want to PLAY the game. I just wanna WIN!
My first thought was well, who doesn't want to win? The issue was more that she didn't want to endure the process of playing to get to the winning end. She wanted to cross her arms and blink her eyes Jeanie-style and end the game with a resounding yell of "Bingo!".
After thinking through this episode over several weeks, my mind began to see a connection between just wanting to win/go straight to the end with the act of continual forgiveness. Stay with me here - it's not really a stretch at all!
Most of us have been taught that forgiveness is a solitary, one-time event. I am wronged. I seek wisdom from God's word and godly counsel. I beseech the Lord for the ability and desire to forgive that person. There. The decision is made. All is forgiven.
I "win" by getting right to the point of forgiveness, right? Hardly.
Dr. Dan B. Allender states in his book Bold Love:
It seems that many experience one major moment when a transition takes place from holding on to bitterness to releasing the rage. This moment is often viewed as the point when forgiveness occurred; therefore, it is now finished and resolved. . . . it is naive to believe forgiving another for any one failure or for a lifetime of harm is entirely finished.. . . to forgive another is always an ongoing, deepening, quickening process, rather than a once-and-for-all event.
Forgiveness of a hurt or wrong is a daily surrendering to my All-Forgiving Father. It is a conscious decision, a never-ending commitment to allow the Lord to transform my sour, closed heart into fertile ground for reconciliation. It is a deliberate act on my part to ask God to open the door to the possibility of repentance and restoration.
The act of forgiveness can not be rushed, pushed through quickly and then checked off as if to say "completed, this task is finished". It is only through Jesus that I can even fathom enduring, persevering, striving through the process of forgiveness. Only through His grace, mercy, and endlessly flowing forgiveness can I bear the daily surrender of my hurts or pain.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7
Bingo lately? No, but my daughter and I have had lots of chats about the importance of the process of an event rather than just the outcome. She is learning to enjoy the game (of bingo, of school, of basketball) and looking forward to the end. And, she still wants to win.
Dr. Dan B. Allender and Dr.Tremper Longman III