Forgiveness Is Hard
I used to be friends with someone years ago, who was a champion at holding grudges. If someone crossed her, offended her, or wronged her in any way, this former friend of mine would adopt a "scorched earth" mentality toward that person. They would cease to exist, as far as she was concerned.
No apologies. No attempts to make things right. No mercy.
The day finally came when I stepped over one of the many lines she'd created, and I found myself on the outs with her. There was no way back, no path to reconciliation. Our relationship just ended.
My life didn't change all that much because we were no longer friends. It had been a chore to be in relationship with her anyway--always walking on eggshells, measuring each conversation to ensure it didn't cause offense.
In the end, I believed I had done everything I could to make things right between us, and felt righteous and guilt-free.
But then I found myself feeling a perverse kind of pleasure when I heard stories of her failures and difficulties---how she got fired from her job, alienated family members and generally turned into a full-on emotional terrorist that no one wanted to be around.
I don't like that side of myself at all. But it's there, and it raises it's ugly head when I'm weak, angry and petty.
Forgiveness is hard.
Have you ever had a season in your life when you can't seem to dredge up any vestiges of human kindness or gentle feelings toward the handful of people in the world who have wronged you?
If we're all being honest, we experience those seasons of life more often than we'd like to admit. And for some of us, those seasons last a really, really long time. Just when you think you are over the hard feelings, the anger and the hurt---they rise up to the surface and take over.
One of my closest friends has a mantra that he repeats when he's struggling with challenging relationships. In light of the forgiveness he's received from God through Jesus, my friend asks, "What right do I have to be offended?"
I don't deserve the great grace and mercy that God has bestowed upon me--not by a long shot. And who am I to withhold grace and mercy to others, considering what I've been granted?
In her newest book Hallelujah Anyway, author Anne Lamott touches on this very thing when she writes: "But love reaches out and reaches out and reaches out. It is staggering that it is always giving me another chance, another day, over and over and over."
May you find forgiveness, grace and mercy in your heart even when your heart feels hard and broken. May you discover new depths of forgiveness even for those who have wounded you the most.
And may the the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.