Monday, November 07, 2011

Forgiveness

I recently read this on a friend's blog where she was summarizing a sermon she had heard:


"Let's define forgiveness:
The decision to release a person from the obligation that resulted when they injured you.


When you hurt, shame, wound somebody, you've taken something from them - their comfort, dignity, etc. That creates a debt. Forgiveness is saying, "You don't owe me."


I have to admit...for me, the longer I've known someone, it is simultaneously easier and harder to forgive them than those I barely know at all. I know others who say it is WAY easier to forgive those they know, and very easy to judge and dislike and not forgive those they don't know. I guess I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt that they didn't really mean to say that/do that/make me feel that way. And, hopefully they didn't. I just know I can't live with being that angry all the time.

Which makes me wonder...why do I hold on to the little things that someone said to me or that thing they carelessly did or that way they made me feel...holding onto it for years and bringing it back up to myself when it's convenient and I'm frustrated anyway at them, and they just never treat me well and isn't that typical? It spirals and then I have to give it up again to God so I am not poisoned by the root of bitterness that has grown in my heart. Why do these little things stick with me? How can I learn to forgive those that I have known for so long - my mom, my dad, my brother, my husband, my friends? They have loved me so well, why would I want to remember the little things that shamed me, hurt my feelings, or offended me? Why is it so hard to let it go when they are the best people in my life?

Maybe the answer is because they are the best people in my life. I want their approval so badly, and I feel they should know me so well, that it is that much harder when we hurt each other, purposefully or unwittingly. They should know better....I should know them better than to be hurt. That makes it that much more important that I bring them and my relationship with them before my God so I can let the little things go and grow in grace and love alongside them.

"When you hurt, shame, wound somebody, you've taken something from them - their comfort, dignity, etc. That creates a debt. Forgiveness is saying, "You don't owe me."


Forgiveness is being the bigger person...releasing someone from oweing you something. This is NOT easy. God did not say it would be. He just said to do it. Americans live in a culture that tells us, "You deserve happiness/love/fairness/equality/etc." I say, says who? We sure don't deserve anything last time I checked. We are all the same miserable sinners but for the grace of a great God. Because of the great debt that God has forgiven me, I will choose to continually forgive the small debts others owe me. The demons of doubt, insecurity, fear, and resentment tend to bring these small offences up to me at opportune times, but it is never helpful and always destructive in my relationships where I choose to indulge their lies.

Forgiveness is not about them. It's about you.

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