One of my favorite authors in his novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven states “Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from the inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.” I love this quote and every year when I read this novel with my students it allows us to have a great discussion as a class. It is amazing the insight kids have on this topic and every year I am amazed at the gravity of things children have had to forgive someone for.
This is an issue that I have had on my heart for awhile now. I was raised in a home where I was taught to forgive and not hold grudges. Dave was raised the same way. Now of course through the years I have struggled with this issue, as everyone does, but have tried so hard to soften my heart. When I was sick, I am so thankful I survived, but even more thankful that if I would have died no one would have regretted that we never repaired a feud we were having.
This is not a kudos to me, this has so much to do with the people I surround myself with, family values, my relationship with Dave and most importantly, my faith. That being said I am surrounded by people, young and old who are struggling with this issue.
There are of course events that happen in life that people deem unforgivable. I can’t imagine the murder of a child and the family forgiving the perpetrator the next day. But, we have all heard stories of families eventually forgiving the person so they could fully move on and begin recovery.
Notice I just compared that type of forgiveness to the petty type I will talk about here. People in our world are mad at people for easily resolved issues. If someone wronged you and you don’t forgive them, where are you going to place that anger? Of course, in your heart and that will cause bitterness.
Forgiveness is grace. I am not suggesting that you let people walk all over you, but I am suggesting that you do some inside investigation to determine if your feelings are because you feel like you were wronged. First of all, should you be giving yourself so much credit? Maybe the other person feels wronged too, but is filled with the ability to forgive and move on.
If you have bitterness in your heart and call yourself a Christ follower that is the direct opposite of what Jesus preached. Some people hold grudges because their families are holding grudges. Seriously? Life is too short and all that you are going to be left with is a whole bunch of regret. Imagine if one day your entire family is gone and there you will be standing all alone because you fought other people’s battles.
Relationships need to be repaired and restored. None of us are entitled enough to have that upper hand. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, how wronged you feel, or how strongly you feel about what was done to you. It has to do with living your life in a more peaceful manner.
If you cannot forgive you will NEVER again be whole and healed. Yes, you may have been wronged, but we all sin everyday and are forgiven everyday. Shouldn’t we practice this? You may never forget what someone did, but don’t you have the ability to change the way you look at it?
Here is how I try to self reflect. If the majority of my relationships fail over time with friends or family because of forgiveness issues, I better get a big giant mirror and look right in it. It very well may be me.
Maybe if we change our attitude, we will find joy despite the difficulty of the situation.