I’ve been thinking about forgiving people who don’t give one whit that they’ve wronged us. It’s a tough thing! I’ve learned, though, that forgiveness is crucial in the quest of holding joy in one’s heart. It may not be easy, but the premise is simple: Choosing forgiveness brings freedom for one’s self.
Years ago, I went to a family counselor for help with some anger management issues. I was struggling with rage, and it was destroying my marriage. I recognized that I was seriously overreacting to issues within our marriage, but my efforts at reigning in my poor behavior were borderline futile…which fed my frustration and feelings of worthlessness. It was pretty ugly.
Anyway, the counselor helped me realize that I had some significant baggage from unforgiveness. The bitterness I was harboring was poisoning my marriage, and it would be sure to seep into my relationships with the precious family we were starting. The frustrating thing was that I had been trying to forgive, and I thought I had, at times, been successful. I would feel so revived and hopeful for a short time…but then, upon the slightest provocation, the feelings of bitterness and resentment would creep back into my heart, and I would be right back where I began.
As I shared these feelings with this wise man, he said, “Trista, choosing to forgive is like passing a basketball. You may go days without having anyone throw you the ball, but then you might have that ball passed to you eight, ten, twelve times in one day. Regardless of how many times you find yourself holding that ball, it is your job to pass it off.”
I finally understood. Forgiving–even forgiving one person for one offense–must happen time and time again. Forgiveness is a repeated commitment to let go of the blechy-ness of anger, resentment, bitterness and keeping score. It is freedom.
“Harboring unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die! Unforgiveness poisons anyone who holds it, causing him to become bitter. And it is impossible to be bitter and get better at the same time!”
“I think the first step is to understand that forgiveness does not exonerate the perpetrator. Forgiveness liberates the victim. It’s a gift you give yourself.”