When I came to the Lord I was filled with bitterness. A lot happened in my childhood and instead of feeling sorry for myself I forged on. For years I didn’t cry. My friends would always joke that I was a robot because they had never seen me even shed a tear. They’d be crying over a sappy movie and I’d be sitting not he couch stone faced, feeling no unction to cry. Maybe in my attempt to guard my heart I forgot how to… 

The walls around my heart were high at sixteen. I wasn’t letting anyone in, but then came a Jewish man who embodied joy and peace and love knocking on the walls of my fortress. Day by day He would come knocking and with each knock the stones around my heart would loosen. One day at the beginning of my Junior year I gave in. I gave my life to Jesus. I flung open the doors to my heart and let Him come in and clean house. Nothing was off limits. I trusted Him fully, even with my war torn heart. 

As I walked with Jesus He gently showed me areas I was bitter. He would point at a disgusting corner of my heart that I hadn’t swept in years and He’d ask if we could walk through and clean it up. Jesus took me to the darkest places of my past and helped me face the pain and trauma of those events head on. 

There were things that were hard for me to forgive because the majority of my pain I’d endured growing up wasn’t due to any poor decision I’d made but uncontrollable circumstances and choices others had made. I think it would have been easier for me to move past my pain if it had been my sin that caused it because I could acknowledge that Jesus’ blood covered that and move on. But I had to choose to see people and situations that devastated me at one time with the eyes of Jesus and that was so incredibly hard.

One day as I was spending some quiet time with Jesus I felt Him tell me to read John 13.

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”

I immediately noticed at the moment that Jesus washed the disciples’ feet Judas already had it in his heart to betray Jesus. Jesus knew this and still loved Judas to the end. He still knelt down, the King of kings, and chose to lower Himself to the lowliest of places at that time. He chose to honor and serve the one who was about to kill Him. 

Jesus knew that Judas had only mal intent in his heart towards Him yet Jesus still chose to love. In that moment I knew I was called to love despite what others had done to me. As a follower of Christ I’m called to look like Him. I’m called to love like Him and I’m called to forgive like Him. And let’s be honest if He could love me and choose me in my darkest, dirtiest place, I can love someone despite the pain they had caused me. 

I look back on the broken sixteen year old and I see how far Jesus has brought me. For years I was riddled with bitterness and now I rarely get offended or hurt. Now, because of Jesus, it is easier for me to forgive and to love others who hurt me. All I have to do is look at what Jesus did for me on the cross and forgiving others may still be a battle with our flesh and our heart, but it does make it simple.