Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bitterness, Forgiveness, Decisions

Tulips, University of North Alabama
There are days when I’m a little mad at the world, and a lot mad at things closer to home. Something will remind me of past hurt, one I think I’ve forgiven and gotten past, but then there it is, reaching out to slap me, giving me a vivid reminder to forgive again. Forgiveness is rarely easy. I’d really rather hang on to my grudge, nurse it, nurture it, slowwwly letting it go back to the land of forgiveness. That only hurts me because the offender has no clue I am still dealing with the after-effects of their actions. 

Forgiveness is a tricky process, too. If you tell a person, “I forgive you,” their first response will normally be, “For what?” words that will sting like a slap in your face because while you struggled greatly in the battle of hurt vs forgiveness, you suddenly realize that the person who wounded you is oblivious to your pain and is living carefree and easy. You find yourself standing on the shore of unforgiveness with waves of bitterness lapping at your feet.

That’s when you get out of the sand
And back to the Rock.

If a person hasn’t asked for your forgiveness, they probably don’t think they need it. Sometimes, our desire to say, “I forgive you” is more of a need to remind them one last time that they hurt us than it is to absolve them of their transgression against us. When it backfires and you have to, again, pick up the pieces of your broken heart, readdress the anger, and push aside the resentment, it is then you finally begin to understand that forgiveness is a covenant between you and God, and that it is through His grace we are able to finally and completely let it go.

Forgiving and Forgetting
Forgiveness, I am sure you know, is for you, not for the person who hurt you, who is unconcerned with your hurt and who caused it. To forgive is a decision we have to make, and rarely is it an easy one. But unforgiveness breeds bitterness, and bitterness produces resentment, hostility, and anger. It also gives you wrinkles! Most of all, bitterness is a venomous root that grows around your heart, choking the joy and life out of you, and it alienates you from God.

Forgetting is a different matter altogether because we really don’t have much control over what we remember. Memories of bad experiences are scars left behind when someone hurts you, especially if that person is someone you love. As Christians, we work through the forgiving process, but the scar can still serve as a battle tactic the enemy of your soul will use to thwart your journey to joy, to God’s rest and peace. We may not always think about it, but the memory is there, and one day you see or hear something that reminds you of what happened, and a flood of feelings can make you feel as if you’re drowning. You have to make the decision to forgive all over again, and the quicker you do that, the better. It’s like quicksand…the further you sink, the harder it is to get back to solid ground. The moment you find yourself lingering on an uninvited memory, remind yourself you have already forgiven that transgression, and choose not to lug that baggage back to Square One.

Here's one that can be the toughest of them all…forgive yourself. Since this post is already over 600 words, I will cover forgiving myself in another post.

Final Thought:
Don’t let unforgiveness control you, and if you hang on to it, that is what it will do.
Make the choice to forgive so that you don’t end up back in The Pit.

Tulips, University of North Alabama

13 comments:

  1. I've heard people say almost in a bragging tone of voice,... "Oh I'll forgive but I'll never forget." You would do well if you forgot about it. Without forgetting can you truly forgive?

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    1. It's just my opinion, of course, but I think we can forgive even though we remember...mostly because we really cannot control what we remember, we can only control how long we think about it. I guess not thinking about it is part of the process of "letting it go." I would hope that, in time, not thinking about it would lead to forgetting it.

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    2. For me personally, I have to forget about it. If I don't I don't feel like a forgave them. Because if I remember whatever it is that I forgave, all of those old feelings come back. I guess what I'm saying is if I remember I'm still holding that grudge.

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    3. Yeah, that makes sense...I think it is a process for everybody, and probably different for everyone, too. For me, I think God would have to make me forget. I'm glad that you can do that, it sounds like the best way to go. lol

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  2. Such pretty tulips! In his book, The Purpose Drive Life, Rick Warren does emphasize the importance of forgiving people, but he also does mention that you don't have to forget what they did. They need to earn back your trust in them. Its a balancing act. Forgive, but remember to set boundaries perhaps so that same event doesn't cause there to be another thing that needs forgiveness down the road if it happens again. I do agree that unforgiveness can lead to bitterness and no one wants the ugly root of bitterness to take hold of their heart. Forgiving ourselves is a hard thing to do. I look forward to your thoughts about that.

    betty

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    1. Trust is a big thing, and when it's lost, it's often hard to regain...and there's a good reason for that. People who do you wrong often do it again. While we are instructed to forgive again and again, I don't believe Jesus means for us to put ourselves in the position to be hurt over and and over. We still treat those people respectfully, but I fully believe we do not have to mend relationships that are detrimental to us.

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  3. I have been asked "Why?" only once. And it was a person that would have to have been living under a rock to not know why. I was bewildered, but determined not to tell them. No way was I going to argue. To me, that would render the forgiveness null. This way, I was able to walk away whole.

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    1. Yeah, they know why. I don't normally tell people "I forgive you" unless I am asked for forgiveness. That's not to say I am not forgiving them...and sometimes forgiving them over and over.

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  4. Visiting you from Christian Blogging Community. Thank you for writing this post. Forgiveness is so difficult. I struggle with it too. It does seem like forgiveness is an ongoing commitment to loving someone who has hurt you. The Lord must work in our hearts to help us through the pain and difficulty, apart from Him it is impossible. It's true there are so many memory triggers that prompt the pain. Thank you for taking such an honest look at such a difficult subject. May your soul be refreshed in the hope we have in Jesus and His grace.

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  5. Forgiveness is hard. I find it's hardest to let comparatively unimportant things go--like an obnoxious doctor--than deep hurts when it comes to ruminating over them. You know, carrying on pretend conversations where I really let him have it. Sighhh. The truly painful things are, well, too painful to replay. I go straight to prayer...at least, when the crying subsides I do.

    Our pastor has been doing a series on mercy. It's been good for me, because with my temper, I've had to learn to practice mercy probably a bit more than the average person. :} No one realized, considering how forthright I tend to be, just how much I don't say and just how many internal "I forgive you; bless them, Lord" I do say. Over and over again. sighhhhh.

    Those chicks with that quiet and gentle nature so enjoyed by God don't know what a gift they have. I wonder how many were born with that temperament and how many grew it. I need to buy me some grow good fertilizer; yes, I do.

    Have a blessed Easter!

    Deb

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    1. I also find the smaller things the hardest to forgive! And yes, I have to say it over and over again, too! (And I find it harder to forgive someone who hurt my daughter than someone who hurt me.)

      That quiet and gentle nature isn't always what it seems...haha some of those chicks have a huge temper...maybe it just takes them longer to lose it!

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