When someone does you a good turn, it leaves you feeling warm inside. But when you’ve been delivered a nasty blow, or a series of them, you’re left feeling angry, hurt and vengeful. Especially if what happened was deliberate and caused by someone close—someone you would have preferred to love.
But it has happened and you’re feeling it. Now the question comes—to forgive, or not? The answer to this will have a great deal to do with the future happiness, or lack of it, of both parties.
Rights and wrongs
Most of us would think first of all about the rights and wrongs at issue. “What was done to me was totally wrong and unjust, so why should I forgive?” Now, it has long been a misunderstanding that forgiving means changing your mind and saying that what was wrong was really right or perhaps not so bad. It is not that at all. Nor does it mean making excuses for bad behavior.
Forgiving means letting go the grip one has on a past event. Not holding on to it and going over all its details again and again. It also involves facing our own part in what has become a bad relationship. Maybe we can’t claim complete innocence. In most cases we contribute something negative to a relationship.
Why should I?
“But then”, I can hear someone object, “the other party shows no sign of sorrow or of backing down, so why should I?” This is a stalemate and as such will remain if no effort is made to break it. The other person feels the same as you do and is making no approach for the same reasons.
If people who have hurt one another can sit together and speak honestly about their inner feelings, admitting guilt instead of laying blame, something can be achieved. All too often we entertain thoughts of malice and revenge. We think the worst of the other person and hope for their downfall. It’s hard to do, I know, but if we look for a positive outcome, a face to face meeting can produce it. With honesty and with care for each other, a way can be opened for mutual understanding and for steps of personal growth.
So the bad experiences of life can be stepping stones to something better.
This, or bitterness
But while those in conflict are unavailable, unyielding and unforgiving, bitterness can build into a life-long legacy, chewing a person up inside, doing more damage than the original offence.
If we would like another chapter in our lives, another fresh start; wouldn’t the people who have caused the hurt also want the same? With God’s help it can be done. When we do it, a fabulous secret can be discovered in the process. We can discover the amazing forgiveness God is offering us. It is amazing to have this forgiveness because we don’t deserve it in any way. Our offences are great in God’s eyes yet through the Lord Jesus Christ we can be fully pardoned.
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