Over the next weeks and months, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will be sharing reflections from our CBF field personnel serving around the world. These are stories of impact and outreach, Gospel-sharing and relationship building, long-term presence and abundant love.
The following is a reflection from CBF field personnel Brooke, who serves in Southeast Asia with her husband, Mike. You can learn more about their ministries and support their work at www.cbf.net/brookemike.
“What exactly is forgiveness?” one of the girls (young woman actually) in my group asked this week.
We are reading a book on messy relationships—not necessarily romantic relationships, but relationships with family and friends. This week’s topic was forgiveness. We decided to look it up.
According to greatergood.berkely.edu, it’s a “conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.” As we ate and talked, we told stories full of laughter and tears about forgiveness in our own lives,.
Let me give you a little background. This group started a couple of years ago with three young women and myself. These young women were best friends and leaders in our young adult ministry. However, it was very hard for them to share their true feelings with each other. They each had burdens that they would share privately with me, but they were not ready to share with one another. One of those young women has since moved to another country and a few other young women have joined our group. And, this week, we shared true feelings.
How refreshing it is to see a group of people who are willing to be open and real with one another!
We talked about the need to forgive people in our past. One young lady is still hurt by bullying that occurred in junior high school, over 15 years ago. As she spoke, you could see the pain that it still caused her. She wondered aloud if she should talk to these friends about the pain of her past. She wondered how she could forgive them if there’s a possibility that they don’t even know how badly she was hurt.
Another young lady related an argument she had with her father who does not share her faith. Neither one of them was willing to give or ask for forgiveness. However, as she later saw him standing alone in the backyard, it suddenly hit her that no one knows how long they will have with a loved one with them. She didn’t want to lose her father without asking for and giving forgiveness.
Another in the group shared how she had also been hurt by her father and how he had said some hurtful words to her. She didn’t know how to go about reconciling that relationship.
Another young woman talked about times in her past when she has had disagreements with her siblings and how it sometimes ends with their not speaking. She looks up to her brother as a father figure in her life and it is hard for her when their relationship is broken. She also related that she knows that when she is having a difficult time, her brother is the one who is there for her.
One woman spoke of a recent argument with a family member. She was not the one who needed to forgive, but she needed to ask for forgiveness.
This group of young women is working hard to become the women God wants them to be. This includes forgiving others and being willing to ask for forgiveness. Finding the strength to be vulnerable and transparent has taken time and commitment, but it’s paying off.