Bear Trap

Are you ever tempted to hold a grudge?

Several years ago a friend's words at a party strongly upset me. Rattled, I left early and fumed the entire drive home. By the time I walked into our front door 30 minutes later, my anger was cranked to full-throttle. I stormed into our bathroom and proceeded to give my teeth a severe brushing.

When my husband innocently wandered in to the bathroom to ask how my evening had been, he hardly expected a toothpaste-flinging rant-fest. Ducking for cover, the look in his eyes told me I needed to simmer down--and pray--fast.

I gave myself several days to calm down, pray, and really think about what had happened. When I felt my attitude was finally right, I made what I hoped would be a conciliatory phone call to my friend. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, the issue remained unresolved. I felt trapped. I wanted to make things right, but in this situation it simply wasn't possible.

Romans 12:18 says, "If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." But what about when it's not possible? Then what?

As I prayed about the situation, God showed me a picture of a large, jagged-metal, jaw-shaped bear trap. Hunters hide bear traps beneath moss and leaves in a forest. The purpose of these dangerous traps is two-fold;

  • to inflict injury

  • to prevent the animal from moving forward
Holding a grudge and refusing to forgive is like getting caught in a bear trap. It's so easy to zero in on the pain of our wound instead of focusing on God, His will, and freedom. As long as the trap remains embedded in our flesh, we can't heal. And the enemy succeeds in chaining us to that place.

I forgave my friend that day, even though it wasn't easy. Who ever said forgiveness is easy?

But when we make the decision to forgive, God can begin healing our deepest, most painful hurts. Though it's not always possible to navigate around the traps that the enemy sets and hides in our lives, how quickly we’re released is always our choice.


Kelly said...

Amen Julie! Great post.

Anne Lang Bundy said...

I truly belive that forgiveness frees the one who offers it as much or more than it gives freedom to the one forgiven.

Great words, Julie! I like the bear-trap metaphor. However hard to get out of it, healing can't begin before we do so.

Terri Tiffany said...

Thank you for a great post. It is soooooo hard sometimes to forgive someone who has wronged us. I'll admit, I struggle with that today in a few situations.

achildoftheking said...

I like your comparison of the bear trap and holding grudges. It's so easy for our emotions to take control in situations that are uncomfortable. It is very difficult to forgive. With God's help, faith & trusting in Him all things are possible. Thanks for allowing God to use you to share this message.

Sonya Lee Thompson said...

Hi Julie,

This was an important post - thank you for being transparent!

I so appreciated your encouragement on my blog. Perhaps we will both be at the same writer's conf. one day.

God Bless,
Sonya Lee

Jody Hedlund said...

I wonder why it's so easy to focus on the pain and not let God free us from those traps and heal us? I think it takes courage to move out of the comfort zone of licking our wounds, don't you think? Sometimes it appears easier to wallow than to actually forgive and heal! Thanks for a thoughtful post!

Bridget said...

Thank you for this post! I so needed to hear it and let go of some hurts that keep haunting me in ministry. It was such a joy to meet you in person at She Speaks! I too am still unpacking all that God did and taught me. Hopefully this week I can get back on schedule..the kids started school today. Have a wonderful week.

KelliGirl said...

Oh, Julie, I think forgiveness is one of the hardest things to least for me. I can hold a grudge with the best of them. The best book I ever read on this topic was Philip Yancey's, What's so Amazing About Grace. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.

BTW, I wish you could have been with us at the Phila Conference. Maybe one day we'll get to the same conference!

How's your son?

Blessings and love,

Deb said...

I'm learning that forgiveness is a decision.

Not an emotion.

And God is so good about restoring relationships when we choose to forgive.

Sweet dreams.

Denise said...

Beautiful post....what an awesome visual. I hate how often I need to be reminded of the forgiveness thing:)


Ginny said...

Amen! Been there. It works, too. I have had to forgive so many times some really hurtfull things that happened to me. At the time I chose to forgive I almost resented it. But once you make that decision, it is miraculous how much peace you feel.
Bear trap is something I will remember!

Gwen Stewart said...

Isn't it the truth, Julie.

I find myself able to forgive individuals for almost everything but overt blasphemy.

I need to work to see NEED when I hear people defame my Lord. Though I never say anything, I tend to get mad and offended--obviously unproductive! I'm praying to be a better witness with an appropriate response when I hear His name blasphemed. (I'm not talking about a little slip of the tongue, but people who openly mock and laugh at Him.)

It doesn't help that such talk is common in our society. It seems that mocking Christ and Christians is totally PC, whereas defending all manner of ungodly practices is where it's at.


Susie said...

I have someone very close to me that has had the ultimate betrayal and is going to be working on this forgiveness thing for quite a while. Thankfully with God's help, forgiveness IS possible. Love this post and love your camparison. I've got a few things to let go of too.

Stephanie Faris said...

Wow. This is powerful. I believe in this quote: "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." --Lewis B. Smedes. We forgive not for the other person, but for our own happiness.

Cheryl Barker said...

Wonderful truth in this post, Julie. So thankful God gives us the grace and power to forgive in the most difficult circumstances...

Tonya said...

This is a great post. It does make it hard when you can't come to a resolution with someone. We just have to give it over to God and let him fight our battles for us. Thanks for sharing!

Christa said...
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