I had planned on blogging about “choices” today. To remind all of us that we have a choice in everything we do and say. Everything requires a choice, even our attitudes. We choose to be happy, angry, and patient. Every day we choose what to wear, what to eat. Our days, weeks – our life – are made up of choices. Before I began writing, I realized that this is information that everyone already knows.
I was looking through my folder of blog topics and saw an entry on a calendar that I keep on my desk at work:
“Forgive and forget. Refusing to forgive fosters anger and
resentment, which makes your own life miserable. Let go
and put your energy into something positive so that you
can be happier. Who can you forgive today?”
Even the secular world “gets it.” If you don’t forgive the person who hurt you, forget the hurt and move forward, you will become bitter and the bitterness will eventually develop into resentment. Someone once said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” In other words, the unforgiveness you hold in your heart towards the other person is hurting you far more than the person who hurt you.
What does this have to do with choices? Everything! We choose to forgive or not to forgive. And yet, as Christians, do we really have that choice? Not if we want God to forgive us according to Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Unforgiveness in our heart puts a wedge between us and God. It robs us of the intimate relationship with God that our heart so strongly desires. It interferes with our worship, our prayer time and our Bible study-if we even do those things because unforgiveness will give us a guilty conscience so we will eventually stop worshiping, praying and studying.
Not only does our unforgiveness affect our relationship with God, but it also affects our relationship with others. The anger that we harbor in our hearts, the bitterness and resentment that develop will roll over onto our spouses, our children, our co-workers and people we come into contact with that we don’t even know. Think about it – when you snapped at the woman working the register at the grocery store, who were you angry at?
The obvious solution to this problem is, of course, to forgive the person who hurt you. But that’s not always easy. Sometimes the wound is so deep that forgiveness is not easy or immediate. I heard a teaching on this exact point many years ago by a dear friend of mine. She shared that when she found it hard to forgive, she would ask God to help her “to be willing to be willing to forgive.” In other words at that point she was not willing to forgive and was asking God to help her just to be willing to be willing to forgive. After praying that for a period of time, she was able to pray “help me to be willing to forgive.” Again, after praying that for a while, she prayed “help me to forgive” until she could honestly say “I forgive.” I don’t know that you will find that method in the Bible, and yet the Bible does say that God looks on our heart. He knows that we are not able to forgive on our own, that we are not even willing to forgive at times. So why not pray honestly and ask him to help you be willing to be willing to forgive? It’s not like He doesn’t already know that you are not able to forgive at that time. And speaking of time, this is obviously a process. It will take time. It took me two years to forgive my ex-husband when he left me and our children. But once I did, the healing I needed began to manifest itself almost immediately.
Are you willing to be willing to forgive? Who can you forgive today?