What exactly is forgiveness? Do we know? We like the idea of forgiving because somewhere we know that we want to be forgiven ourselves. However, I have come to conclude that forgiveness is completely counterintuitive. I am writing on this because it seems to be acting as a recurring theme for me right now. I have been around some unforgiving people; I have seen it on television; I have reflected and seen it in myself.
In premarital counseling, our pastor told my husband and myself that if (when) one of us wrongs the other and we choose to forgive, that the subject must never be brought up again. It is forgiven. It is gone. And I know that I would want him to not hold my daily mistakes against me. Yet, I find myself frustrated with something he does and I don't WANT to let it go. Please don't misinterpret this as marriage troubles. This is just common stuff from living with another person. I do just as many things as he does that I could do better not to do, but I know there are just little things I want to "fix" every now and then.
Ephesians 4:32 is one of many famous verses discussing this topic saying "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other." And there are numerous other verses that say "forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another." Because that is what binds people together in love and unity. Unforgiveness divides people and only creates a hardened and bitter heart.
I can't really explain why I am writing on this right now except to say that I am finding myself frustrated with unforgiveness. In fact, it is to the point that not forgiving somebody to me seems like an uglier and greater offense than the original wrong that was done. It is as if we are trying to be even and in doing so we turn ourselves into something useless. What good are we to others if we are just going to be angry? I cannot produce much when my heart is harboring bitterness and anger. Because then I am only worrying about myself and how I feel.
There are numerous things that I could find to be angry about every day. On Monday, there was traffic backed up so far that it took me 30 minutes to go 3 miles. I was annoyed to say the least. I especially get upset when I get treated in a way that I feel I don't deserve. I could be completely nice and caring toward somebody and yet they throw back insults at me. Or they don't reciprocate the same things to me that I would like to receive in return for kindness. What is that, though? That is anger and bitterness. None of that is needed. It is like allowing weeds to grow in a flower garden. Why let it happen? It will choke out the abundance of crop that there is.
But forgiveness is counterintuitive as I said before. At least, I believe that true forgiveness is. It requires vulnerability and humility. It demands forgetting about yourself. We feel that if we put ourselves in that position we will be hurt. If I just let go, it will be like a boomerang and whatever I let go of will come back and hit me in full force. Okay? So, what if it does? Will that be worse than the anger and resentment that the heart is suffering from?
I have to literally lay my life down in order to truly forgive. The thing is that there is something so freeing about forgiveness when it does occur. We become stronger through forgiveness than through bitterness. We empower others to feel encouraged. Our lives are a fertile ground that can be harvested to help others...not a weed patch overgrown with our own frustrations.