Water Under The Bridge

I try not to get too preachy on this blog, and have rarely taken the opportunity to opine on personal matters, but I must from time to time.  Some things in my life have led me to confront what it truly means to forgive.  “I forgive you”, “it’s water under the bridge”, “don’t worry about it”, and other such acceptances of pleas for forgiveness are offered far too hastily to people who have wronged us, myself included.  We are all too quick to offer these verbal reprieves in order to quell the bitter or hostile feelings we hold, and it’s to the relationship’s detriment.

True forgiveness in my opinion, is one of the most difficult things to apply to someone who has wronged us.  It isn’t easy to let things go.  In fact, I have captured this white whale only once, which I will speak of later.  I think we desperately want the fractured relationship repaired and so we are willing to offer forgiveness before being ready ourselves.  Being ready doesn’t always require a lengthy amount of time, mind you.  But it does require the proper frame of mind and a sound understanding of what it means to forgive a wrong so that we aren’t holding on to it letting it interfere with our relationships.

We tend to hold grudges despite having forgiven someone, which causes more problems than it solves.  When this happens old issues are compounded onto new conflicts.  This actually serves to break down the relationship more than either party realizes.  The one holding the grudge is more upset about the present conflict because it’s not the only battle being fought.  The negative emotion is multiplied because true forgiveness has not been granted for past transgressions.  Now the transgressor is unfairly fighting an uphill battle.  Not only are they dealing with the new issue: unbeknownst to them, they are fighting other battles as well.  This isn’t fair — to anyone.

I had a close family member stay with my family for a short time.  Unknown to us, they were battling an addiction.  At one point, things were taken and sold.  It was a few years that I held a strong resentment toward this person, much longer than my wife.  I refused to allow them in my home, I refused to take part in spending time with them.  Their betrayal stayed fresh with me and was renewed each time I saw them or heard their name.

After some time, they were able to conquer their demon.  They had turned a complete 180°.  I gradually began to realize their renewed life was not a short-lived failed attempt as so many addicts experience.  It was — and has been — a true turn-around.  It was time for me to forgive, and I knew it.  However, I also knew myself.  I have a long memory for those who have wronged me, and this person had wronged me worse than anyone ever had.  It was no short time between when I knew forgiveness was right and when I finally had the discussion with them.  It was essential for me to know I was ready because it was important to me to genuinely offer real forgiveness.

When the time was right, I took them aside and revealed I wished to forgive them.  I made it very clear what I meant when I said I forgive.  It meant this will never be spoken of again; that I had truly let it go and no longer harbor any resentment. They needed to know they are welcome in my home, and are — in my eyes — completely restored to our family.  To let go of the resentment was the most difficult thing I have done, I think.  This was the first person I had forgiven in a real way.  I now have a greater appreciation for them and love them even more now than before this all took place.

Jesus taught that when another has wronged us and seeks forgiveness we are obliged to do so, and I agree.  I also believe it’s one of the most difficult things to do, to be able to let go of what someone has done wrong by us.  As with physical healing, emotional healing takes time — a long time.  Trying to use an injured limb before it has healed leads to re-injury.  Take the time to heal properly so you can forgive and have the relationship repaired rightly.  You will be stronger for it, and so will those around you.

Comments

  1. Have you worked up to forgiving me yet, Brother John?

    • That’s impossible Dan. You don’t even realize how it is that you make people so upset with you. In fact, every time someone tells you, you act as though you don’t know what they’re talking about, and pretend this is the first time you’re hearing about it.

  2. Impossible? I tend to think that with God, all things are possible. Not a topic for discussion here, but feel free to write me anytime to share your griefs with me so that we could get past this.

    For the sake of all of us poor sinners…

    For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, <B<your Father will not forgive your sins.

    ~Jesus

    • Dan Asked…

      Have you worked up to forgiving me yet

      John Responded…

      You don’t even realize how it is that you make people so upset with you. In fact, every time someone tells you, you act as though you don’t know what they’re talking about, and pretend this is the first time you’re hearing about it.

      Dan Proved John’s Point By Saying…

      …feel free to write me anytime to share your griefs with me so that we could get past this.

  3. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

    ~Jesus

    That’s a scary place for you to be, Brother John.

  4. Adding works to salvation I see.

  5. By the way, God doesn’t just sprinkle forgiveness on people willy nilly. He forgives those who repent and seek forgiveness. So I agree we are to forgive as God does. However, for their to be forgiveness extended, there must be repentance and seeking, something you haven’t done. In fact, you claim to not know what it is you’ve done. So, that’s where we are.

  6. The thing is, John, I am willing to repent if ever you show me what I’ve done wrong. If you’re saying I should repent, though, for the mere “sin” of disagreeing with you, then I don’t think you’ll find “disagreeing with John” in the Big List of Sins. If ever you can say, “Dan, when you say X, you sin because…” and back it up with something more than just opinion, I’ll be glad to repent.

    So, the difference appears to be that I stand ready to repent and forgive or be forgiven, while you appear unwilling to forgive or even try to talk it out. It’s the unwillingness to forgive that seems to be the problem, my brother. I’d tread lightly there, if I were you.

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