As we gear up for Monday’s study, I will make you two promises.

Here’s the first. . .

I won’t have all the answers

If you have struggled in the past with formulaec answers (if you just do A + B, it will always = C). . .

If forgiveness has been tied up in a nice tidy Nike command that says, “Just Do It!”, and you’ve tried and it hasn’t worked. . .

Then you are the right place, because forgiving is messy and hard and freeing.

This past weekend I spent a day with my brother and his family. We stood in the hall and chatted and he said, “”What do you tell them? What do you say about forgiving?”

I took a deep breath. You see, my younger brother knows me. He doesn’t see me as Suzie the author, or Suzie the speaker.

He just sees me as Suz.

We have a shared history.

I answered. “I tell them that I’m not an expert. I’m just someone who has taken this journey, and I found that forgiving is the most challenging, most freeing decision I’ve ever made. . . but that’s it’s messy, and hard, and a lifetime journey.”

He smiled. “Good.”

And then he shared some of his most private moments in his own journey.

I hope one day he shares those stories with the world, because they are powerful, but they are not mine to tell.

But his stories were a reminder to me all over again that we need God in this process. . .  and it is often in the hardest, most painful moments of wrestling with this thing called forgiveness that God shows up.

One of the most impactful words my brother shared that day was, “. . . and then Suzie, I got up and started losing.”

“What do you mean?”

spring sunsetHe smiled through tears. “I started losing to my own human nature. I didn’t get to give in to those things or those feelings though I desperately wanted to. I didn’t get to pull out what happened to us in the past and use that with my loved ones. The more I lost, and even the harder that it was, the more that my loved ones gained, and the more that I saw Jesus in the hardest parts of losing.”

That’s not a formula. That’s far from a “Just Do It” mentality.

It’s God showing up in the harder moments of our faith.

I’ve thought about my brother’s words all weekend long.

Thank you, sweet brother. What a powerful way to put it. When we forgive we begin to lose.

So, no promise of quick fixes, but a hope of losing so that we might gain.

My first promise is that I won’t have all the answers.

And my second? I’ll make that to you on Monday as we begin our journey together.

I can’t wait to see you there.