I was home for Thanksgiving weekend and enjoyed Sunday’s message at my old church. It reminded me of something I experienced back when I was a grad student at UGA.
One day, I had a disagreement with a professor about a grade. I was left with some less-than-positive feelings toward him, to put it mildly. I sat outside for a while that afternoon to raise a prayer for friends who had asked me to remember them. At the same time, I was trying to manage my thoughts and feelings related to the incident with the professor. I knew I would be the only one harmed if I decided to hold a grudge and become bitter. Thanks to a message my pastor once preached, I also knew I needed to go to God with the situation to get help resolving the offense I had taken. (Of course, this knowledge didn’t stop the crazy, emotional thoughts that were popping up in my head.)
I decided to begin reminding myself of the truth in order to replace the lies floating around in my mind. For example, talking to God, I thanked Him for the protection He has always given, and I thought about how faithfully He cares for me. This was totally contrary to the questions in my mind – questions like, “God, why didn’t you warn me in advance so I could’ve avoided this problem?” The fact is, He has never failed me.
When I got up to start walking back home, I did what I remembered hearing in my pastor’s sermon. I spoke to God in a candid way, saying, “God, I will not hold on to offense or hurt feelings from the experience with the professor.” I actually wasn’t finished saying what I thought I ought to express to Him about it all, but as I took the next steps there on the lawn, I could feel Him peeling the pain from my soul. My steps became slower as I tried to be sure about what I was feeling. The sensation of the hurt being lifted continued for a few more seconds, leaving me feeling as if the sun was breaking through gloomy clouds inside me. If anybody saw me, they probably laughed, wondering what was going on in my mind to produce the eyebrows-raised, “Is this really happening?” look on my face. I opened the door to my building feeling brand new.
In retrospect, the disagreement with the professor was an unpleasant experience, but I would never trade the subsequent encounter I had with God. When I told the Lord I wanted to let go of offense and hurt feelings, He surely took them from me.