Staring at the bold number on the bottom line, I sank into my chair. Breath escaped me. My heart raced and I could feel my blood boiling. How did we let them take that much from us? How did we let so-called friends take advantage of our family and hurt us so deeply? How could we have been so stupid?
David and I looked at each other, absolutely heartsick and unwilling to believe it. We checked the numbers again… and again… and one more time, just to be sure. When the final figure persisted through every recalculation, the disbelief faded and the heavy, heavy weight of regret settled onto our shoulders.
Compounded with our regret was an overwhelming grief for the friendship we had lost. The illusion of our friendship had suddenly shattered just a few weeks before. In the context of our friendship, all the sacrifice had seemed so justified. Now that the friendship was clearly and undeniably over, the size of those numbers seemed outlandish and absurd. How had this happened? How had we not seen it?
We sent a short email with a spreadsheet and informed them that we expected to be repaid. We knew they had the funds available. A figure that size was certainly worth pursuing, especially since these people had left us with several large obligations that still needed to be paid. We were ready to fight for what was rightfully ours… so we did.
Over the next few weeks, we received a mere fraction of what was owed to us. Compared to the total, the amount paid was a pittance… but it was obvious our former friends did not intend to pay the rest.
We were faced with a major dilemma. We had enough evidence to take the matter to Small Claims Court… but should we?
We knew what we wanted to do. We had the evidence. It would be an easy win. There was still so much anger and sadness and turmoil over the damage that these people had wrought on our family. Surely, extracting the debt that was legitimately owed to us was fair and reasonable… right?
Yes, we knew what we wanted to do…
…and we knew what we needed to do…
…and they didn’t match. They didn’t match at all.
I could think of little else over the next few days. Near the end of the week, I knelt to pray over a completely unrelated matter. I was wrestling with a major business decision and I needed clarity. I needed peace. I needed answers. It didn’t take long before I realized I was not going to receive the answer I needed because I couldn’t stop mulling over the debt situation.
Suddenly, I felt the Spirit nudge me. It was as though God was speaking straight to my heart.
“Nicole, don’t you trust that I can repay you much better than they can? Let this go. Let it go. Trust me. Be at peace.”
I wish I could say it was an easy change. I wish I could tell you that I experienced an instant, mighty change of heart and frankly forgave it all. I wish I could tell you it was easy… but it wasn’t.
I trust my Heavenly Father…
…I know He is so, so good…
…I know these things. I know them…
It was so hard to look at the debts that still needed to be paid on their behalf and realize that letting go meant paying them on our own. Realistically, resolving the debt they’d left behind meant not knowing how we would afford wood for the winter or Christmas for the children. It meant four months of very cheap freezer dinners and lots of sacrifices.
Nevertheless, I could not deny the strong spiritual impression I had received… so even though we didn’t feel it in our hearts, we made peace with our friends, surrendered the belongings they had left in our care and closed the books on the whole debacle.
And we waited, trusting that eventually the Lord would make things right in His own time.
And oh, how He did!
The blessings began to appear within the week. These blessings came in the form of generous payment arrangements, lower-than-expected bills and more space in our budget. There were so many little miracles that helped us begin to feel more at ease with the difficult decision we’d made.
Over time, bigger and more significant blessings began to flow. Absolute angel friends stepped in, helping us fix our broken lawnmower and delivering all the wood we would need for the winter. These were big answers to big prayers and we were drop-to-our-knees thankful for each and every one.
But Heavenly Father wasn’t done yet. Not even close.
Yesterday, I received an unexpected call from the Department of Veterans Affairs. This was, in and of itself, a miracle since my cell phone usually doesn’t receive any calls at our valley home. However, that was perhaps the smallest miracle Heavenly Father had in store for us that day.
As I answered, the man explained that he was currently working on our appeal. This appeal has been pending with no progress for over two years! This lovely human being told me that our appeal would be decided within the week and he just had a few questions. I answered them enthusiastically, absolutely stunned that our long wait was over.
Within six hours, he called back to tell me that our appeal had been granted. GRANTED!
I was elated… I was shocked… and I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Heavenly Father had done this. Words cannot express the gratitude and the overwhelming emotion that overpowered me in that moment. The amount of backpay we’re anticipating is over TEN TIMES what our former friends owed us. It was as though the Spirit whispered, “See? I told you I could repay so much better than they.”
“Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” -Malachi 3:10
My friends, the best decisions of my life have always been the hardest. It’s the truly difficult decisions, not the easy ones, that lead us to the best opportunities. I can’t guarantee that you’ll receive a windfall after you forgive a debt… but I can guarantee that forgiveness is divine and that blessings always follow obedience.
God loves you.
God loves those who have wronged you.
And in the end, He makes everything right.