There’s a person in my life who makes me feel like I’m on a constant roller coaster.
I never know where I stand with her. Sometimes I think we’re friends and then she’ll let me know in no uncertain terms that we are not. Followed shortly by a bought of close “friendship.” Followed by me finding myself in the dog house. Followed by her friendship. Dog house. Friendship. Dog house. Vicious cycle.
I find the entire thing very difficult to bear, especially because I’m the innocent bystander. This person holds a grudge like I have never seen in my life, and has often complained to me about the wrongs done to her by others– wrongs she’s stated that she will never, ever forgive.
This person is a born-again, God fearing, Bible believing Christian. Who refuses to forgive.
I’m certain I’m on her list of “unforgivables” for at least one thing or two, and I don’t even know what I’ve done.
I’ve been reading through the book Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow and its brilliance has blinded me.
In the chapter on forgiveness, she points out that unforgiveness breeds the seeds of bitterness. She goes on to say that those who refuse to forgive will suffer, as per the parable Jesus told in Matthew 18:23-35 about the man who refused to forgive the debtor as the king forgave him, and he was sent to the torture chamber.
If we refuse to forgive, we will suffer the torture of our own bitterness, eating us up inside, destroying us from the inside out. Jesus told us so.
As I read through this chapter, I thought of my friend. But I also came to realize that I needed to forgive. I need to make sure I’ve forgiven her for all of the times she’s hurt me with the pendulum swings of her emotions and unforgiveness.
But I have to go beyond making the choice to forgive (and yes it is a choice, because we don’t often want to).
Linda poses this question in her book– what have you done to show that you’ve forgiven?
This question hit me square in the chest. It’s one thing to forgive someone within yourself. It’s an entirely other thing to make the choice to show, through action, that you’ve forgiven.
And this forgiveness should apply to everyone– your spouse, friends, family members, acquaintances, neighbors…
Some people think, “I’ll forgive, but I’m going to cut that person out of my life.”
But what of the example of Christ? How many times did the disciples disappoint him? When they fell asleep in the garden when he needed them. When he was betrayed. When they acted out of fear. Etc., etc., etc.
But Jesus always forgave. And beyond that, he showed them love. He didn’t cut the people who had wronged him from his life–just the opposite. Jesus reached out to those who had wronged him and chose to show love through his actions.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:9-10,14,18
This is what we are commanded to do.
Go beyond the forgiveness. Make a conscious choice to forgive, over and over and over with the same person if necessary, and make a choice to deliberately and intentionally show love through action.
This is how we grow in Christ, and this is how we truly mirror him and reflect the spirit within us.
Share with me: Can you think of a time when someone forgave you and went beyond the forgiveness to show you love?
4 responses to “Going Beyond Forgiveness”
My husband always forgives and goes out of his way to show me he means it. I’m so glad he’s a forgiving man or else…I’d be more than divorced, I’d be buried in the woods somewhere. 🙂 True story, though.
It’s an easy one to answer, but hard and humbling, even ten years later. This is a long comment, for which I don’t apologize.
I divorced my wife in 2003. It was a horrible, cruel thing to do, and while some of the excuses I might care to trot out have some legitimacy, after the passage of time I leave them in the barn. The ultimate responsibility was mine.
It did not take me long to realize that I had done something dreadful, and I entered therapy immediately.
Seven months after the divorce, my wife said, “I think I want my husband back.” We remarried in 2004.
Her parents were tougher. They would have preferred that sink into a deep crevasse somewhere in Antarctica…for awhile.
And then, they, too, decided to forgive. The past was truly buried, and the dance went on as if it had never been interrupted.
Did I deserve forgiveness? No. Absolutely not.
But my wife and her parents (and the rest of her family) gave it anyway, as if forgiveness could wash away the bitter tears.
Wow. What a beautiful example! Thanks so much for sharing, Andrew!
I love this. I am So glad I came across your page.