Sunday, October 28, 2007

Words to Live By: Forgiveness

for-give-ness, noun:
1. the act of pardoning, of overlooking an offense
2. the act of sending away a wrong or rejecting it
3. the state of being free from penalty
4. Biblical: the act of remitting sin
5. Personal: the compassion that erases the heart's memory of wrongs suffered.

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.
-Matthew 6:14-15

May I tell you why it seems to me a good thing for us to remember wrong that has been done us? That we may forgive it.
-Charles Dickens

Have you ever heard the term "technical forgiveness"? It's when you forgive the will and the mind, but your heart holds the offense and still demands its due. I've got news for you, it's not good enough for God. The New Testament has two main words for forgiveness, aphiemi "to send away", and apoluo "to release someone" or "to set someone free". When you hold someone in unforgiveness, it is as if you have put that person in prison. And until you forgive that person, he/she cannot be set free. Funny thing is, that person may not even know that you've put them in their own little prison. But the thing is, when yu hold anyone in prison, you are in prison as well.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
-Ephesians 4:32

Tonight has been very trying on my heart. I saw two people that I never thought I'd see again, and quite honestly would be perfectly fine never seeing again.

As silly now as it seems for what one person did to me a year ago, I was really hurt and bothered by it. But in my mind I had forgiven him sometime ago. You forgive because it's the right thing to do, right? And although I'd "forgiven" him, I cared to never have to be in the same room as him again. But tonight I arrived at a friend's house for dinner, before heading out for an activity, and low and behold there was this person on their couch. Nice, no warning, not! It's been a year, I can handle it. My thought was, I'll just ignore and pretend he's not here. That would work, except for the fact that he's entirely too funny to not ignore. I'd be the idiot not laughing at the funny guy because I was ignoring him. So that plan didn't work. As the evening went on things were going fine. Granted, we weren't actually talking one on one with each other, but we could be in the same conversation and play a game together. But we had kind of a mutual, unspoken understanding that things were cool. Phew! Made it over that hurdle...

And then another one came. Someone, who was a close very good friend, arrived. This someone that basically walked out of our group of friends with no explanation showed up. She came because she has recently been talking with a mutual friend. And once again, a warning would have been really nice. Completely out of the blue, I was walking into the living room from the kitchen and she was walking into the living room from the front door. I stopped, dead in my track, shocked really. And I'm sure she saw the shock on my face. I thought I'd never see her again, I think a lot of us thought that. But we said a quick uncomfortable hello was spoken and that was about it there. And it stayed uncomfortable the rest of the time. Quite honestly, I didn't want to be in the same room/area as her because I was (and still am) so hurt for how she abruptly ended our friendship. I just wanted to grab my keys and leave. But I couldn't, I knew I couldn't. What kind of message would that have sent? I stayed, I busied myself in the kitchen, I avoided.

But it was hard. This person was a best friend. How can I forgive someone for walking away? Not only walking away, but not giving any reason or even a goodbye. I was torn. I wanted to be mad. And I am mad. I'm mad that I wasn't given a warning. I'm mad that things are so strained. I'm mad that I have no idea what I did to piss her off. I'm mad that she never came to me to talk things out. I'm mad at myself for being so stubborn and I didn't chase my friend. I'm mad that people were so excited to see her after she disappeared 5 months ago. How can they forgive her so quickly, and I'm holding on so hard? I'm mad that I can't randomly call her up or send her a text message. And I'm mad because I want our friendship to be back to how it was before, but I don't know if I can ever trust her like I did.

My heart needs healing. And I need to be able to forgive, let go, and give it to God. I need to forgive her for the things that I'm upset about. But I also need to seek forgiveness for what I did or didn't do. But I horde, oh how I horde. And I bottle. I'm a good bottler of my feelings. All my feelings are safe in that bottle.

God, forgive me for the unforgiveness in my life. Help me to find compassion for the weakness of those people who have wronged me, and give me the grace to forgive them from my heart.

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