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Friday, 25 March 2011

The curse of unforgiveness

We are currently doing a Lent study at church on Prayer, one session a week until Easter. It's been pretty thought-provoking so far. Last night's session was on The Lords Prayer, and the speaker particularly touched on the issue of unforgiveness. In the words of the Lords prayer:
'..Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us...'
apparently the original greek makes it more like 'as we have forgiven those...'ie: past tense. But the main point being that we need to forgive those who have wronged us. How can we approach God if we have unforgiveness in our hearts? If we want to be forgiven we need to forgive first.

Thing is, most of us would say, 'oh I don't have any unforgiveness stashed away'.'me? no I'm not an unforgiving type, I dont hold a grudge.'. you know how it goes... but the reality is often very different.  Unforgiveness breeds hate and bitterness, and that isn't a particularly Christian teaching, it's just common sense. I mean how often when we are wronged do we feel angry, or bitter towards that person. What if days or weeks later the issue is touched upon? are the feelings still there? It's so easy to build these things up into huge mountains.

But how hard is it to forgive? even when we really want to? last night a couple of examples were given of people who had forgiven others in absolutely awful circumstances, one where a child had been murdered but they forgave the killer. And yet when it comes to the simple, sometimes we fall at the first hurdle.

It was rather ironic then, that today an issue came up for me in a situation I thought had been dealt with long ago and I was instantly angry. In this issue I felt let down by someone, again, that I trusted. I had, I felt, given them an awful lot at a time when I would probably have been justified (although not in Gods eyes..) to be very angry with them. This situation now affects someone else who I don't want to be involved as they would feel bad. So the only solution is for me to back down (I will be out of pocket, it is financial...) and let her get on with it. again. I feel thoroughly wronged. I feel like I have a right be to be angry. She is in the wrong. I know she is. It's not fair.

BUT she is my oldest friend. I know she had her reasons for letting me down before. And I put on her things she wasn't prepared to give, emotionally I mean. I built her up to be perfect, when she isn't, she is human. So how much of this comes from me? I can't really afford to do this, but then actually that isn't the issue, if I'm doing the right thing I'm sure God will provide. The issue is that I thought I had forgiven her, I thought it was dealt with, but the truth is, it still grates. I still feel our friendship has been affected and I honestly don't know if it will ever be the same again. But forgiving does not mean forgetting. Our friendship may not be the same again. But I will not let this fester in me and become dark and bitter. So I forgive her. I am not even going to go into what I am forgiving her for, because that makes me ignore my part of it. So I just forgive her. I will forgive her tomorrow for the same thing if need be. and the day after, and next week. and the next time I feel let down by her. I will go on forgiving because I do not want to be eaten up by bitterness, because I know it is not all her fault, I have a part to play, and above all because I want a relationship with my Lord and I do not want anything getting in the way of that.


Nancy Wallace said...

Your story illustrates well that forgiveness is often a process, sometimes a repetitive process when old scars from past hurts are reopened, or when it is the same person we have to keep on forgiving. Peter asked the Lord how many times he should forgive his brother. The reply was 70 times 7 meaning go on beyond when you've lost count. Forgiveness can be hard. Thank God for the generosity he's giving you and your determination not to let things fester.

Suem said...

Hmmmm. I can be like this sometimes. I tend to close down if people hurt me. I wouldn't say I brood terribly, but I have severed ties with a few friends over the years. I wish I could keep going on in friendship with people if they let me down badly - but I've just found it brings more pain. It is probably a fault in me though!

Red said...

Thanks Nancy - yes I need to remember that, 70 times 7.
And thanks Sue. Yes its a hard one isn't it - do I accept that maybe our friendship is not going to last and accept it gracefully?
I don't think thats a 'fault' in you, it's just human nature isn't it - when someone is hurting us why would we want to spend time with them? Perhaps actually that is the wiser option, to let go, but with forgiveness too. Either way I think I have more forgiving to do yet!