I love acronyms. I suppose it’s the special education teacher in me or my love of efficiency that attracts me to them, but recently I’ve been challenged and convicted by an acronym in my quest to learn how to forgive.

When people I’m trying to forgive post something on social media or say or do something around me, I’ve noticed I subconsciously assign motives to their words and actions. I quickly decide that those who’ve hurt me (or who I just don’t like) are fake, arrogant, and blind to the plank in their eye. Of course, I didn’t realize I was doing this. In fact, I’ve been praying what I thought were genuine, caring, and loving prayers for my offenders.

But God, in His kindness, has been showing me a few things. He’s reminded me I don’t know anyone’s motives. I don’t know their heart, past hurts, or why they do what they do. Although I obviously know this on some level, when I’m going about my day and not thinking about what I’m thinking about, I’ve realized that in the name of protecting myself, I’ve failed to consider people who’ve hurt me, above myself. I’ve kept records of their wrongs.

I’ve not stopped to give them the BOD (Benefit Of the Doubt) I hope others will give me.

God’s been showing me when my main desire is to protect myself, I subconsciously demonize conversations I imagine they’re having and thoughts I assume they’re thinking. And in doing so I’ve completely disregarded their hurts, heart, and humanness.

I know nothing about anyone else’s heart or motives. I barely know why I have anger, self-esteem, and vanity issues. And although I know that and have had many epiphanies about this in the past – in my hurt and confusion, I’d forgotten. I’d allowed myself to continue to be offended, insulted, and hurt repeatedly, in my mind, because all I could think about was protecting myself and being understood. Even though I was praying, reading God’s Word, and asking the Lord how to forgive others, I was processing through everything out of my woundedness.

But how do we operate outside of our pain? How do we give others the BOD we want when we’re still licking our wounds? How do I remember I don’t know anyone’s heart or motivation? I keep praying, reading God’s Word, and asking the Lord how to forgive others. Then I keep listening, looking, and longing to be made aware of His answers. And He’s teaching me it’s difficult to talk and listen at the same time; hearing God outside our hurts involves being quiet and waiting.

The process of becoming more like the One who fully knows me and loves me, especially when I’ve been hurt– is slow and difficult. As always, it comes back to a long, hard look in the mirror. It comes back to waiting and listening instead of defending myself and demonizing others. As always, it comes back to being reminded time and time again of the grace, love, and BOD given me on the cross.