Saturday, July 11, 2009

More thoughts on forgiveness

...forgive your brother from your heart.
Matthew 18:35

...you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
2 Corinthians 2:7
I did not want to get out of bed this morning, and it's my own fault :). I lowered the AC to about 65 degrees last night. Even though it's a hot July here in Texas, I love falling asleep under a pile of blankets (about 3). How do I survive a brutal summer with that habit? I lower the temperature in the apartment considerably. But I lowered it too much last night. So instead of jumping out of bed this morning, I nestled further into my cocoon of blankets and came up with an action plan.

This is all I came up with, it isn't very impressive: Run to the thermostat when the AC stops, the break between the cold blasts, then jump back into bed for just a few more minutes (or until it no longer hurts to think about leaving the cozy cocoon).

You know what I realized? I hate to admit it, but that's kind of how I am when it comes to giving and accepting apologies.

Don't forgive until you're ready, that's what most folks will tell you. When the tables are turned, the world will say you don't have to apologize to anyone. That last one sounds pretty good (until the guilt sets in). At that point you can choose denial or acceptance. But I know I'd rather stay under the covers a little longer. Saying I apologize or I forgive you can feel as uncomfortable as crawling out of bed when the room is freezing cold. But the day will go on whether or not you choose to leave the cocoon you're struggling to get out of.

Forgiveness is the basis of Christianity, both giving and receiving it. I've often heard it said that true freedom comes with knowing Christ. Knowing him means acknowledging our weaknesses as human beings and asking for forgiveness on a daily basis. But the bible also says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ; we're not supposed to dwell on the times we've failed (Romans 8:1). So it's easy to see how we can know freedom when God forgives us. We're no longer in bondage to our guilt or sin and we can easily move forward. But how can we be free if we also do not forgive? This is the other part of the deal.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14
God calls us to forgive and, like all commandments, God has our best interest in mind when he tells us to do it. Lack of forgiveness alters our ability to make the right choices. For instance, take the cycle of abuse. Abusers usually come from abusive homes, and if they fail to acknowledge that abuse as sin, and also forgive their abusers, the cycle will inevitably continue. The abused abusers won't see anything wrong with the way they were treated, and they will treat others the same way. OR they will see something wrong with it, but they'll hold on to the resentment and that will interfere with all of their relationships.

I don't know everything, I am just a twenty something year old who is still trying to figure it out one prayer at a time. But I am sure of one thing, every day I have to remind myself that I've been called to forgive anyone who's ever wronged me. When I'm reminded of something ugly, I really have to make a conscious effort. I tell myself that I have already forgiven the person and I should not let their past actions interfere with my present life. I take lots of baby steps. Choosing to forgive was just the first one. Even that took a small miracle because I couldn't do it on my own; I still don't know anyone who's done it alone.
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
Mark 11:25

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.
Colossians 3:13

3 comments:

Liss said...

It takes a strong person to forgive.

I can forgive but I rarely forget (except when it come to losing my car keys).

Once I have forgiven, I generally tread with caution from then on. As I believe we give out our trust instantaneously but when someone breaks our trust it is extremely hard to repair the damage even after forgiveness.

Tracy said...

Forgiveness can be a hard thing...it takes time to cultivate and easier letting go. And it is hard to forget wrong done to us, or even wrongs we have done--to ourselves or others. You said it so well, "choosing to forgive..." for forgiveness is a choice we make, like much else. It doesn't happen automatically. When we open and and soften our hearts a bit and let the seeds of forgiveness be sown, but good can happen! Totally forgetting may take longer... but the healing begins when we change our minds. :o) Lovely, thoughtful post, Sophie ((HUGS))

Sophie A. said...

Thank you both for your comments on this post :).

Liss, yes it can be very tough to forget. I think that, like forgiveness, is also a difficult choice to make.

Tracy, I couldn't agree more with this, "the healing begins when we change our minds." Well said :)!

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