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Fish Hooks and Forgiveness

A number of years ago one of my closest friends hurt me deeply through a wrongful action. There was a rollercoaster of emotion, disappointment, confusion, betrayal, even grief at the loss of a friendship.

Over the months that followed I wrestled with feelings of fear at bumping into her or her family and struggling to know how to forgive and forget. 

Months turned into years and I thought I had moved on from the incident. In fact, the first day I actually saw her in person, I had woken up knowing in the pit of my stomach I was going to see her that day. Did not know how and where, but there was a peace over me like no other time.  I nearly felt a sense of relief that it was now behind me. It also reassured me that God had it all in hand. He had warned me and prepared me. 

However, during lockdown, the feeling of unfinished business began to creep up inside me again. It began haunting me in my dreams and unsettling me. I struggled to know how to let it go, once and for all, when there was evidently no remorse on her part. How do you forgive and forget when the guilty party does not appear affected or even care? Then out of the blue I heard that she had once again committed the same wrongful action somewhere else. I began reliving those early days. For the next week to ten days, she would appear very vividly, in my dreams. One evening after a week of uncomfortable nights, she popped up on social media, as someone I may know! How amusing? Someone I thought I knew?

The next day I met a good friend for a socially distant walk and long overdue catch up. We walked in the local forest park and stopped for a rest and a natter. That didn’t last long, as I sat on a discarded fishhook! My friend ended up extracting it from me! As I hobbled round the lake and we headed towards the car park, who should I walk straight in to, but my former friend and her sister. I don’t know how I managed it, but I was able to say hello and even be friendly. Wow… God is so good. It was only through Him that I was able to do this. 

I caught myself almost laughing as I walked away from our brief encounter. God had totally prepared the way for that meeting. My head and heart had been prepared in a way only He could do. I thought back over the days leading up to this moment and recognised that God had brought about this moment of healing. 

Did it change our relationship? No, we are still estranged. 

Do I live in fear of bumping into her again? No, I do not. 

Do I believe God helped me to bring about closure? Absolutely. 

Later that night when I was reading my devotions, it could not have been clearer: 

Have you ever been so hurt by something or someone that it keeps you up at night, tossing and turning, asking God to fix it? Maybe you have asked God to bring justice and avenge you. That’s what we see in Psalm 35. David was in the middle of turmoil and begged God to go to battle or contend for him. ….

At some point in our lives, we will find ourselves in a position where we may want God to avenge or vindicate us against others. Instead of seeking revenge or vindication, we would do well to remember that God has been faithful and has gone before us. We can trust in God’s good and hope and our salvation, in every circumstance and season of life. 

I was blown away. There have been so many times in my life when God has prepared me, unbeknownst to me, for the days and challenges ahead. God actually cares for me and what hurts and upsets me matters to Him. 

I decided to share my fishhook story with my Inspire fellowship band. I believe only with their encouragement and wisdom I have even managed to get to this point in my faith journey. One of my fellow band members suggested that maybe the fishhook was actually more symbolic than just a simple mishap:  

“ … sin and the enemy can get its hooks into us… sometimes we need others to help us unhook from our sin or help us to remove the hooks of others sin. Also, although seemingly small this can cause quite a bit of pain… if the hook was left in or would have caused more pain and could have got infected and been worse than it ever needed to be …. Similarly with sin….our own sin can be difficult to remove and if we leave it there it gets more painful. Others sin can also be like that fishhook … if we don’t forgive it’s like leaving the hook in and it gets painful and infected.” 

I praise God for allowing me to sit on a fishhook! And helping me to put my trust in Him so that He revealed His faithfulness to me in such a real way. I am praising God that the open wounds and that chapter of my life has been soothed and closed. I am praising God for my fellowship band and the wisdom and friendship we share across the miles (we are women in Ireland, England and the USA!) People have lost many things during lockdown, but I have gained a deeper relationship with God my Father. I have gained two incredibly special people in my life in my band, who help to guide, direct me and show me more of Him, and less of me. 

Tara has been connected with Inspire for a number of years and recently began meeting in an Inspire Fellowship Band  

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