I run by it every day and can still hear our conversation about “the fence”. It has been replaced several times since we moved to our neighborhood in 2003.  My Mom and I used to take walks by this fence during her cancer journey and I still run by it every day.   It is in a beautiful part of our neighborhood and along my regular path.

One day while we were walking, we noticed a little leaf peering through one of the cracks in the wooden slats.  The next day, that leaf was a little bigger.  Before we knew it, there was a vine wrapping around one of the slats of the fence.  Every day that vine grew, to eventually take up almost the entire fence.  We literally watched the fence become taken over by what once started as a little leaf in a small crack, to the point it had to be torn down and re-built.

I remember a very specific conversation we were having one day while walking by that fence.  On this particular day the fence had been torn down and was being rebuilt.  Our conversation was about unforgiveness and anger.  I think Mom knew what would be ahead after she was gone, and she knew what I would face along the way.  I tucked these conversations in my heart and draw back on them every single day.

Unforgiveness and anger. We have all felt it at some point in our lives.  Whether it be hurt from a family member or a friend, trust betrayed, illness, situations and circumstances in our lives that leave us battling anger and questioning “why?”  It can all begin so benign, so small, and before you know it, it feels like it has taken over!  I have been there.  I can relate to that fence many times in my life.   A hurt, an offense, a difficult situation happening, and I let it fester.  I didn’t pull it up by the root, and let it go.  If those ivy vines had been pulled up from the roots, that fence would not have faced one rebuild after another.

I have had times in my own life where I was left heartbroken, hurting, and frustrated, only to peel the layers down to the root, and the root was anger.  I walked through a situation this year where I faced that anger head on. Hit me like a freight train! It began as something very hurtful that I walked through, and I didn’t let it go. My trust was shaken.  When trust is shaken, it is easy to take on that hurt in an even greater way without realizing the degree it is growing and festering.

I passed that fence one day while I was really struggling with this anger and hurt. I was actually wiping tears because my heart just felt broken. I couldn’t shake it!  It dawned on me at that moment, I had let the roots of anger and hurt grow deep, really deep, too deep!  I instantly recalled the conversation with my Mom on our walks by this fence.  God wanted that vine of anger….but he wanted roots and all.  That meant forgiving.  REALLY forgiving.  I may not forget the pain, but I could release the anger and let God work on the hurting part of my heart.  God could handle it much better than I could.  It hit me so hard that day…..it was time.  I needed to let go of this anger and hurt.  I was worn out.

I walked up to that fence, to the slat that had been broken by the vine, and I untwisted and pulled the vine up from the root.  As I pulled those roots up I just prayed out-loud….”Lord this is yours, any root of anger I am holding onto is yours. I forgive and I let go.  I need to be free from this!”  The passing runners must have thought I was nuts!  I untwisted that vine from the slat and pushed the slat back into place.  It was still a little shaky from where the vine had broken off parts of the wood, but it was free to go back to what it was supposed to do.  Be a fence!  I remember wiping many tears that day because of the freedom I felt of truly forgiving.  I forgave the ones who hurt me, and I even prayed for them.  And I pray for those people every single day to this day.  Do I still feel pangs of hurt every now and then?  Yes I do.  Some days it is a daily choice to walk in that forgiveness.  But the freedom in forgiveness takes over and that hurt lessens.  It is a process, but one very worth walking through. You will love what you become in the process……I promise!

Unforgiveness truly hurts the one carrying it, not the one who did the hurting.  Every time I am tempted to take on hurt, or offense, I remember that fence and remember that root pulled up from the ground.  I don’t want to end up like that fence, crushed to the point no repair.   I want to stay firm and planted in what God has for me and walk out my purpose.

When your heart holds onto anger, hurt, and grudges, you are not free to catch blessings.  And life is too short to miss out on those blessings!   I have talked with many who are struggling with deep hurts recently. The wounds are deep.  A pandemic can magnify those hurts and times of isolation can bring things to the surface.  I pray that as those hurts rise to the surface they can be released and healing can begin.  It is my prayer that those struggling today can walk in the true freedom that forgiveness brings.  May you be free to catch those blessings!  It’s time!

Ephesians 4:31,32. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“Holding a grudge doesn’t make you strong, it makes you bitter.  Forgiving doesn’t make you weak, it sets you free”