Sunday, July 2, 2017

Forgive Them? Why Should I?

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Colossians 3:13

Recently, someone hurt me quite badly. It was personal and I couldn’t believe he’d said it. When I told him how upset I was and asked him not say it again, he laughed. Laughed! I was stunned. We’re part of the same ministry at church, for heaven’s sake!

For several months I avoided him, deliberately sitting on the other side of the room and avoiding eye contact with him. I spoke only one- or two-word answers when he said something. I decided that since I couldn’t trust him, I’d just steer clear of him. Forever.

But forever’s a long time. Finally, the tension became too much.  I knew I had to say something. I HATE confrontation, but the weight of my anger had worn me down. Had worn me out, really.
photo courtesy of pixabay

I talked to him in private, after our meeting one night.  I told him I’d been avoiding him because I was so angry.  He acted surprised. I reminded him of what he’d said, and that he’d laughed at me, which had really hurt.
He sat and listened, not saying anything.  He didn’t ask any questions or try to defend himself. He simply listened, which is exactly what I needed.

After a few minutes, he said, “I’m sorry, Ellen. I didn’t know.” He paused.  “You’ll never hear it again. Please forgive me.” 

It was hard for me to believe he really didn’t know he’d upset me, but I didn’t want to argue with him. I wanted to move past it so we could re-build a friendship.  I was too flustered and hurt to forgive him at the moment. I wanted to, but needed to process the evening.  It would just take a little time.

I let out a deep breath as I walked out of the room. It had gone better than I’d anticipated. More importantly though, God replaced my anger with calm afterward.  It was relief I hadn’t expected.

I was able to forgive him much sooner than I’d expected. Now I’m free of the anger that had bound me as if I were in a prison.

Forgiving someone doesn’t let someone off the hook for what they’ve done or said.  It isn’t for them at all. It’s for our sake.  Forgiving someone releases us from the shackles of anger and bitterness that can otherwise bind us and control our relationships.

That’s my experience. How about you?  What challenges have you run up against where you needed to forgive someone, or where you needed someone else’s forgiveness?  How did you handle it? What was the outcome? 

Or maybe you’re in the midst of something where you need to forgive someone. If so, I encourage you to dig deep and ask God to heal you so you can move toward that person, offer forgiveness, and rid yourself of that extra load you’re carrying.