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?