The most important word - part 2
Forgiveness comes with a cost. And with an admission. What are they? First, let's look at it the admission from a purely human standpoint -
If someone wrongs us, whatever that wrong may be, in order to forgive them we must admit that we were wronged. We must acknowledge our pain, our anger, and face the fact that we were hurt.
That may sound simple, especially if we are quick to feel. But sometimes we bury our feelings and mask our hurts and deny that anything is wrong. We lie to ourselves that what that person said or did wounded us. Been there?
I think this can be easiest when we are in a situation where we truly want to believe the best of someone or some situation. If we are loyal at heart, we might not recognize that someone is mistreating us. We might blindly continue a relationship that is one-sided not realizing that the feelings aren't reciprocated.
Or perhaps we set expectations of our significant friends and family that are too high for them to meet, and when they don't meet them, we tuck the hurt deep inside us. Could it be fear that keeps us from admitting the way we truly feel?
For if I admit that I am bitterly angry at someone for something, especially if that person is someone I love, I dare not cast blame or admit my anger. Christians shouldn't feel that way, right?
But this kind of denial can lead to depression. Christians can become masters at suppression, especially when it comes to being honest with God. If we dare lift the lid on the boiling resentment and hurt, we might say something, feel something, act in such a way that would prove we aren't perfect, aren't godly. And often we can't admit that even to ourselves.
So bitterness builds until deep down hate grows--toward ourselves, toward others, toward God, toward the church...the list is endless.
I remember many years ago (I think I was in my early teens) suffering some intense feelings that I didn't understand. I did a lot of soul searching and realized that if I wanted to be free of the hurt and bitterness, I needed to admit it. I needed to acknowledge the truth to God. He already knew how I felt, so why deny it?
So I wrote a letter to the people who had hurt me telling them exactly how I felt. (One side note--those hurts were not abusive or in any way huge deals--and in fact, the people in question had no idea the hurt in my heart.) But I did and it was affecting my spirit, my joy.
So after giving those feelings to the Lord, I wrote "I forgive you" all over the letter I'd written, front and back, and burned the paper. Those people did not need to know my hurt. They had not done anything intentional. You see even minor or imagined hurts matter to our hearts.
But forgiveness of any sort starts with truth. We have to stop lying to ourselves and to God. Because divine forgiveness is what we really need.
More on that to come.