Day 1: Sweet Release
Tears. Air. Clenched fists. They all have one thing in common – when we don’t release them, we force ourselves to hurt. So it is with forgiveness.
Growing up has given us, in so many different ways, situations where we needed to decide whether to forgive or hold a grudge. Should you play again with your neighbor who broke your toy? Should you talk to the kid who bullied you in school? Should you smile at the girl who spread rumors of you? Should you let it rest that you parents won’t allow you to go to a party? Should you be okay with the first person who rejected your job application?
Pain is almost always intertwined with the concept of forgiveness. Once we receive pain, there arises a need to let it go. Some of us think that because we receive it, we need to give it too. We hold resentment, we desire to get even and sometimes we want to inflict it more that it was inflicted on us. We forget that we can let go of something and not give it.
“I can forgive the person but I cannot forget what was done to me.”
The frequency of hearing something can either lead to greater belief or greater disbelief. For me, this line rang more and more true each time I heard it. However the more I knew about Jesus, the more I learned that the line is self-defeating and that mentioning the second part of it means there is still some bitterness left. The forgiveness is believed to be there but every time we see the person, the anger and the hurt well up inside.
Forgiveness is not pretending that nothing happened. It did happen and what we need to remember is the lesson from it, not the pain that came with it. It is not tolerating the wrong, it is acknowledging it and that it can be made right.
Unforgiveness builds a wall between us and the person we don’t want to release forgiveness to. In reality and more often than not, unforgiveness hurts us more and affects us more than it does the person who did us wrong.
Tears. Air. Clenched fists. We can release them just as we can release forgiveness.
Forgiveness. We can release it just was it was released to us on the cross. Remember that Jesus, despite Judas betraying Him, still invited the traitor to the Upper Room for the Last Supper.
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Surely, if God forgave every ounce of our own wrong, both secret and known, then we can forgive the comparably few wrongs that others have done to us. -Doug Bender, Live Second