I think I know the answer to that question. It’s probably a ‘No’ for most of you. But I’m guessing you have a pretty good idea of how you’d feel—scared! And what you’d do—run!
This is the third in our series on forgiveness. And you are probably asking yourself, ‘What does being chased by a bear have to do with forgiveness?’ In our January forgiveness post, we said forgiveness is a decision. If you missed that blog post, click here.
Forgiveness is a choice made apart from your emotions. Most people let their feelings dictate their choices. But your feelings aren’t necessarily true. And you may think that you’re being a hypocrite if your actions aren’t in line with your feelings. You say, “I don’t feel like forgiving that person!” Therefore, you believe if you forgive them, you’re not being true to yourself or true to them.
But here’s the truth. Emotions lag behind the truth. And being chased by a bear demonstrates this. So, here’s the story:
You see a bear, and he sees you. The bear thinks, ‘That looks like a tasty snack.’ He starts running towards you. What do you do? You turn and run from the bear as fast as you can. Now, you see a cabin and you make a beeline for it.
When you get to the cabin, you slam the door shut, slide the bar into place and lean against the door. Whew! The bear is outside. You are safe!!
However, what would your body be doing? Most likely you would be breathing hard, your heart would be racing, and you’d probably be sweating.
And how would you feel? You would probably still feel afraid, for a while. So, even though you are safe in the cabin and the bear can’t eat you, you don’t feel that way yet. Your head knows this is the truth. But your body is still reacting to your feelings of fear and anxiety about the bear. Eventually, your breathing and heart rate slow, and you calm down.
Let’s say you see the bear another day. Now that you know you can make it to the cabin, you won’t be as afraid. And each time you see the bear, you will feel less afraid because you know the truth. “I will be safe in the cabin.”
So, here’s the moral of the story. It’s important to realize that when you know the truth, it takes a while for your feelings to line up with the truth. The same is true of forgiveness. You know in your head that it is better for you to forgive than to hold a grudge. But you don’t feel that way. Once you make the decision to forgive, your feelings eventually will line up with your decision to forgive.
This story is in Lesson 4, “Why do I get so mad?” of our bible study, “Why? for single moms.” You can learn more about the bible study by clicking here. The study continues with giving the bear a name–Anxiety. And we give the cabin a name–God’s Truth. When you first encounter Anxiety, you go into panic mode. But as you get to the cabin of God’s Truth—the Truth of Who He is and what He thinks about you–you calm down.
Each time you see Anxiety, you know God’s Truth and you will panic less and for a shorter amount of time. SPIRITUALLY that means, you get to God’s Truth faster. This is our desire for each of you who truly want to live following the Spirit over living by your feelings–the flesh. Get a free download of Lesson-1, “Why can’t I find a good man?”