Peaceful Heart

Observing an interaction between family members got me thinking about how I might react in the same situation.  An honest evaluation revealed “miles of room for improvement.”

Everything I know about God and about being a good person in general tells me that grudges, resentments and judgments can tarnish a good life.  I know that negativity can sour happiness like milk left on the counter overnight.  But sometimes, principle makes it hard to loosen my grasp and accept that life isn’t fair; just because I strive to do the right thing doesn’t mean that the rest of the world will.

God’s love also tells me that others’ failure to play by the nice rules should have no bearing on me.  The wrongs done to me aren’t made right by digging in my heels.  The sting of finding out someone’s soul isn’t what I thought isn’t lessened by judging their actions and resenting their absence of apology, or grace to realize an apology should have been brought.

Family has a bond, but it’s not unbreakable.  Sometimes the ties depend on the ability to practice acceptance and ultimately embrace forgiveness.  Forgiveness includes the release of anger or resentment.  Until the bitterness dissipates, I know I’ve not reached the light of forgiveness.  Standing in the shadows is an empty place to be.

I am able to forgive a stranger’s or acquaintance’s transgression against me with little internal struggle.  When it comes to those I love, that step may as well be at the top of Mt. Everest.  The tattered mess of broken trust, hurt feelings, and disappointment leave me unable to find the path to forgiveness.

Jesus embraced those that society shunned.  Jesus forgave Peter, who betrayed him three times prior to his being led to the cross.  Jesus died on the cross for my sins, but he doesn’t harbor resentment that I’m not good enough to deserve it.  Instead, grace is extended and His gift is mine just by accepting it.

I’m praying for a peaceful heart that will extend the same grace to those who have the same human failings that I do.  I ask God to give me the strength to “let it go.”  I want to continue to love, even though life isn’t fair and it never will be.  I want to mean, “I forgive you” and feel the freedom of a peaceful heart.

~

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”  (Matthew 18:21-22)

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  (Matthew 6:12 – Lord’s Prayer)

~

Has there been anyone you haven’t been able to forgive?  What is the longest time you’ve held onto a hurt before forgiving?

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16 thoughts on “Peaceful Heart

  1. pattyabr November 26, 2011 / 10:41 AM

    I was just talking to my husband on our walk today about emotional pain and how to cope. I deal best with pain when I am able to separate myself from the source of the pain. The hard part with family is that sometimes you can’t physically separate yourself.. My parents are struggling with their own issues of aging and when I saw theteen August they took their frustrations out on me. I then chose not to visit them for awhile because I needed to heal. I did see them last weekend but my goal was to enjoy our time together and not get involved in their medical issues. It worked for me to set.my boundaries. We are all independent people who want to be heard, respected and loved for who we are.

    • jannatwrites November 27, 2011 / 9:43 PM

      Good point, Patty. It’s nearly impossible to get to acceptance and forgiveness when emotions are raw. I’m glad you were able to set boundaries and have an enjoyable visit with your parents. I hope it continues to work for you as you get used to the new dynamics in your relationship with your parents.

  2. Carl D'Agostino November 26, 2011 / 12:09 PM

    Everything you have written is true if one proclaims oneself a Christian. Forgiveness is required both as a directive from Jesus and as a psychological freedom from our contemptuousness and resentments. If God can forgive us through Christ who are we to deny others the same? That being said, there are several whose acts were so vile, treacherous and evil I cannot bring myself to forgive and cannot fathom how those can forgive who have endured such things. I have moved beyond planning revenge and am able to not allow the matters to fester, but that is the best I can do. I will not pray for the ability to do so as instructed either. I never did accept the doctrine that Jesus died for our sins. I must pay that price for mine. For me the lessons on the cross is that God understands our suffering and we must find solace in that.

    • jannatwrites November 27, 2011 / 9:48 PM

      I do admire the people who can forgive the perpetrators of horrible wrongs to them. It reassures that it is humanly possible and gives me strength to try harder. Thankfully, I have not been wronged so badly that I have not been able to forgive. Sure, there are some that took years to get there, but I got there eventually.

      I’m glad you have been able to move beyond revenge. That’s a step in the right direction, Carl…no use letting it eat you up from the inside out.

  3. nrhatch November 26, 2011 / 8:52 PM

    Here’s to holding on to our peaceful hearts no matter the chaos around us. _/!\_

  4. cuhome November 27, 2011 / 5:57 PM

    Congrats, JannaTWrites, I’ve submitted your name for the Liebster Blog Award! Check my blog, thoughtstomull.com, and note my post: Liebster Award Thank You! There you will find your name in the list of 5 nominated. I hope you keep writing, I’ve gotten so much enjoyment from reading your posts!!

    • jannatwrites November 27, 2011 / 9:52 PM

      Thanks for the support, Janet! I’m honored to be included in the list.

      I may not have the biggest blog in the world, but I’ve got the best readers, that’s for sure 🙂

  5. Debbie November 27, 2011 / 6:32 PM

    Janna, this is a truly thought-provoking post. I think it’s harder to forgive family for hurts because we expect them to know better which buttons of ours they shouldn’t push. When they violate that trust, we feel frustrated, hurt, and angry. When strangers do the same thing, we forgive them more readily because we rationalize, ‘How could they have known?’ Unfortunately, I have family members who have held onto grudges for YEARS. In fact, for some of them at least, it’s been so long that they can’t even pinpoint just what it was that started the rift!

    • jannatwrites November 27, 2011 / 9:56 PM

      That’s kind of funny that they can’t remember why they are mad, Debbie. Seems like it would be sign it’s time to bury the hatchet! I guess by that time, pride gets in the way and neither person wants to be the first to back down or apologize.

      Your reasoning as to why it’s easier to forgive strangers makes perfect sense.

  6. cuhome November 28, 2011 / 11:35 AM

    Those “wrongs” that go unforgiven, own us, become our jailors. With forgiveness, we release that perceived “wrong”, along with ourselves. If we dare to ask for forgiveness, we must be willing, first, to forgive.

    • jannatwrites November 28, 2011 / 11:06 PM

      You’re right, Janet. Forgiveness is a two-way street…of course we can’t expect forgiveness if we can’t find it in our hearts to give it.

  7. pattisj November 29, 2011 / 10:49 PM

    No one can hurt us like a loved one, and they tend to stick around, too. (the loved one) I guess that’s one way of growing us, because the sandpaper is always there, to smooth our rough edges. I carried a hurt for a long time over lies and betrayal of trust. Forgiveness has come for me, but I wouldn’t trust them any farther than I could toss them!

    • jannatwrites November 30, 2011 / 11:48 PM

      Sandpaper is a good way to describe the effect of others’ betrayals on us, Patti. It does make us grow, even though it is painful at the time.

      I’m glad you were able to forgive, but remember enough to not trust them again.

  8. Epizeuxis December 7, 2011 / 12:03 AM

    I totally agree with your point there.
    I can forgive some acquaintance so easily for even a huge error on their part, but for the closed ones, the breaking of trust, bond, friendship just shatters me.
    And its these things that I find the most difficult to come out of.
    Closed ones aren’t “close to me” so that they can take things for granted. Its because I expect the most from them.

    • jannatwrites December 7, 2011 / 10:11 PM

      It’s probably not fair, but I think it’s common to expect more from those we let into our inner circles. They have our trust and when they don’t treat it with care, it’s devastating.

      Thanks for stopping by, Epizeuxis!

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