The school day was over, and the last of the kids were pushing through the double doors, racing into the freedom of the warm afternoon. My arms ached from lugging a heavy cardboard box down the hall from my classroom to the exit. Still holding onto to the box, I leaned against the wall where I was to wait for my mother to pick me up.
In grade school, eight or nine years old, I was horse-crazy and had begged to take my cherished collection of horses to school for “show and tell” that day. Probably against her better judgment, my mother had finally relented. Two of my favorite bronze horses were tucked inside the box, one posed for show, and the one I loved most, posed in full western regalia. That horse was a replica of how I wanted a horse of my own to look someday.
The minutes slid by in that quiet hallway like sand through my fingers. Mom was late and I was getting anxious. There were only the echoes of a few distant adult voices, and believing the horses would be safe for a few minutes, I lowered the weighty box to the floor and ran outside to look for her.
Neither our car nor Mom were anywhere in sight and I couldn’t leave my horses any longer. I tore back into the hallway, breathless.
I don’t remember tears or anger—only numb disbelief. I searched everywhere. I’m sure I must have asked a few people still in the building, but I was too shy to do more. Mom tried to help, but my horses were gone . . . forever gone.
The memory of that day had faded until one dark early morning many years later. Grown, married with two children, my husband was working a night shift. It was around 3:30 when I awoke, and vivid images began to unreel through my mind. I watched. I listened. And God spoke to my heart.
Until that morning, I hadn’t thought of my beautiful bronze horses as being stolen, or that there had even been a thief at all. I couldn’t think about what happened; it was too painful. I’d felt nothing except guilt, carelessness, self-blame, and horrible regret that I couldn’t change what happened.
The Lord walked with me back through the hurt and the memories, but then, into a challenge.
God showed me a new pain. The pain of another, the thief who’d stolen my horses.
I needed to forgive. My horses were gone because another stole them, and that “other” needed my forgiveness right now. Would I forgive?
I’d pushed my own pain away so long ago—I’d forgotten—but never forgiven. Could I?
The Lord had forgiven me, how could I not forgive?
And I forgave.
And I let go of my treasured collection.
But that was not the end of things, only a beginning. There was another memory.
I was in my teens. We were moving across the country. There had been no choice. Cindy, my beautiful chestnut mare, and the love of my young life, Stardust—my Dusty, a yearling filly, had to be sold. Again, I can’t remember anger or tears, only a massive, empty sadness, numbness and disbelief. I resigned myself to the unchangeable, and to relieve the pain, I could only turn away and forget.
“You have more to forgive.”
“Whom must I forgive, Lord?” But I knew the answer:
My father and my mother for the changes they chose—no—changes that they had to make.
And I forgave them.
Strange how unforgiveness, when it isn’t even merited, only creates a wound within the one who fails to forgive. Strange how you can go on through life never realizing that there is a deep need to forgive. Wondrous how God, in His love, reveals and heals within dimensions of your soul that you didn’t know existed.
But there was still more.
“Do you love them more than Me?
“My Cindy and Dusty, Lord?”
“Will you trust them to Me?”
This was the hardest of all. I still loved them. Yes, they were gone, but they were part of me. “I will bring them to You.”
And for long moments, I sat propped up against my pillows and let the burning tears come.
And, I let them go, able to miss and love them from the perspective of where I stood, and now stand.
“There is one more thing for you to do.”
I know what it is. He has lifted my bowed head and searched the depths of my soul.
“I . . . forgive . . . me, Lord.”
Held until His peace filled my spirit and infused every fiber of my being, I felt God’s reassuring arms around me.
“None of these things happened outside My will for your life.”
“I love nothing, no one, more than You, Lord.”
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15).
“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” (John 21:15a).
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
Deep healing happened in those moments that early morning.
Have you loved and lost and forgiven and let go?
You are God’s child, and greatly loved.
Please share your story.
All scripture is from the New King James Version of the Bible