for many, forgiveness seems like an impossible task. the hurt is too deep. the behavior remains unchanged. the damage continues. the memories have permanent scars. the desire to forgive is present, but the will just won’t cooperate.
if this is your journey, i’m sorry. you know what the lack of forgiveness is doing to you and to your relationships. but keep at it. talk to someone. get wise counsel. read good books. listen to stories of people who have overcome. keep talking. keep feeling. trust god. grow deeper. don’t give up. as long as you are still pursuing forgiveness, you are on the right path.
you are not who i am concerned about.
there’s another group of people who trouble me: people who think, or even say, they have forgiven… but really haven’t.
(if you don’t remember the definition of forgiveness we are working with, go back and read monday’s post...)
here are some characteristics of people who are in the death grip of an unforgiving heart:
you remember past wrongs. you file them neatly in your memory bank. you don’t necessarily think about them all the time, but you can dial them up a moment’s notice.
you continue to let those past wrongs define the person. you bring them up. you don’t let the person move on. you don’t really make room for them to change, because you have drawn permanent conclusions.
you continue to punish the person by assuming they are no different. you judge them by past wrongs. the slate has never been cleared. they have never really had a chance to start over with you.
their margin for error continues to get smaller and smaller. because they have committed heinous crimes in the past (in your opinion), you give them less and less room for failure.
because you have never truly forgiven, their past wrong continues to grow. truth is compromised. the “sins” of the past get exaggerated in the retelling of the stories.
you make current assumptions based on past behavior…making you subject to wrong conclusions…i.e., “if they did it before, they’ll do it again”.
your lack of forgiveness makes you both judge and jury. you’ve made the decision…you’ve given your verdict…you are the one to pass judgment…and even give the sentence.
it makes you a hypocrite. focusing on the wrongs of another keeps you from seeing your own wrongs properly. you would never accept someone treating you this way, if you truly recognized what you were doing.
it’s easy for others to see your lack of forgiveness, even though you don’t. it does not endear people to you. they see and hear what you continue to say about others…and wonder if you will cast the same judgment on them. they simply won’t want to be around you.
it sabotages friendship. people want forgiveness. people need grace. people want to know they will be given second chances. people want and need friends who stand by them and stay committed…and who won’t continue to bring up the past.
bitterness grows. ulcers develop. blind spots increase. vision narrows.
you get the picture.
when will you be ready to treat others the way you want to be treated? when will you forgive as god has forgiven you?
*disclaimer: these observations are not for people dealing with habitual offenders…people who constantly make the same mistakes and same poor choices again and again…those who callously inflict pain on those they interact with. the act of forgiveness in those cases is still needed, but is extremely complicated.
…and it requires more than a post by a dime-store counselor!
the padre’s biggest loser continues to rock on.
the results after week number three:
Team PADRE: 11 lbs lost… 51.6 total
Team MADRE: 15.6 lbs lost… 72.6 total
anybody want to join us? we have nine more weeks to go. have some weight loss fun (okay. i’m stretching the truth…). get some accountability. get some motivation. send me a comment or find me on facebook and we’ll get you signed up.