Monday, April 13, 2009


The hardest thing for me to forgive is someone who needs to forgive me and won't.

I have been a Christian for approximately 39 years. I have read through the Bible three times, and am sort of working on the fourth. I teach Sunday school and Bible studies. And yet, I seem to be paralyzed in this area of life.

My family was very forgiving. My mom made a lot of mistakes, and so did I, but each day was a fresh new beginning. Often, apologies were not spoken, but grudges were never held. A new morning came with a new civility, kind words, open conversation, and the wordless communication that bygones would be bygones and we would move on.

I do not know if this is the best way to handle conflicts. I think a direct apology is a better route to take. But sometimes you can make a direct apology. You can say, "I was wrong. I'm sorry. I made a mistake and I hurt you. I am sorry. I promise I will never do that again." You can do that... and the person may continue to treat you with hostility. At such a point, you can't grow bitter and resentful, much as it seems impossible not to. But, neither, I think, should you grovel and snivel and do all manner of deeds to try to earn the person's favor. At a certain point, you have to leave it up to the other person to work things out with the Lord. At a certain point, it is no longer about your heart, but about the other person's heart, and you just have to let go.

The first time I was in a situation like this, I never imagined that the hurt feelings could be permanent. I had been hurt, and I was not gracious about it. I did not suck it up like a grown up lady; I let it be known that my feelings were hurt. The result was a condemnation of my character that has held through over 22 years. No apology, no forgiveness, just silent, everlasting condemnation with no end in sight. And yet, I have to forgive. I have to, or I will shrivel in my spirit and perish. It is a battle that seemingly will never end, this need I have to forgive in the face of condemnation. I throw myself on the mercy and grace of God, and still I fail more often than I succeed.

Now I've done it again. I allowed hurt feelings and stupid desperation to lead me to bad decisions and bad actions. I have tried to make things right. I have apologized, hung my head in shame, wept. And yet, I am facing bitterness, unforgiveness. I've already been through 22 years of this. I pray that this doesn't add another lifetime sentence to my penance on earth.

But even if it does, I pray that God will give me grace to forgive those who will not forgive me. If Jesus could forgive those who abused Him and hung Him on a cross to die, surely I can at least do this, with the power and strength of His Spirit living in me.

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

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