It's so easy for a heart to be put in chains.
It only takes an unkind word, an unjust situation, an unfair accusation for a heart to go in bondage under the pain.
And it weighs.
It is heavier than a boulder inside your chest. The iron shackles surround it and threaten to drown it in grief.
The offender wraps the first few chains around it and we add the rest link by link.
When we refuse to forgive, when we feed the thoughts of revenge, when we verbally assault the wrongdoer in our minds, arguing for days with their memory, always winning: sometimes with reason, sometimes with ugly words, sometimes with righteous anger, but always winning.
Relishing the idea of a confrontation where we come out victorious, but forgetting that when a relationship is broken, nobody really walks away the winner. The real confrontation is rarely as we imagined. There is no penitence on the offender's part, no ready apology, no bowed brow or downcast eyes. There is defensiveness, and frustration, and truth flung back at us that we may not want to hear. It is often messy, always hurtful, and many times disappointing.
So how will this heart lose the chains of having been wounded that are pulling it deeper and deeper into darkness?
Only when we forgive the undeserving, the one who does not even think he requires mercy, the one who will never utter the words we long to hear. Only then. Only when we give the pain back to the One who suffered like no other and more unjustly than any other, for him to take and to exchange us for peace and mercy. Only then. Only when we let go of the desire to confront, the right to speak our piece, the need for an apology. Only then.
"Come to me, you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest," He said.
There is no heavier burden than un-forgiveness. There is no more wearisome life than the life of the offended.
"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light," He said.
There is no harder yoke than the yoke of self-righteousness. There is no stronger bondage than the bondage of anger. And there is no emptier existence than the existence of those who don't know how to unburden themselves of these shackles.
"I have come that they may have life to the fullest," He said.
When a heart is drowning in the pain resulting from living with others just as flawed and sinful as itself, grab onto Him who is Life himself and let Him pull you out of the mud of tears and the mire of shattered friendships, and set your feet right back onto the rock of his grace and forgiveness that will then flow out of you and onto others and...
Set you free.