It’s probably one of the least talked about issues that needs to be addressed in today’s culture. What is it? Unforgiveness. It has become so pervasive in our culture today that vengeance has become an accepted, if not exalted, emotional response instead.
Nearly every action movie you see today has the theme of ‘getting even’. The hero is the one who can make the villains pay the most. We are told from a young age that forgiveness is weak and passive. After all, if someone hurts me, then that gives me the ‘right’ to hurt them back.
I’ve always considered myself a person who can forgive others easily. Earlier in life, letting go of wrongs was something I found easy, especially if the other person apologized. As I’ve grown older, I find it more difficult to let go of things than it was before. That’s not to say I don’t, it’s just more of a process now that age and experience have taught me some harsh realities.
The one thing children often exude is the ability to forgive one another by simply saying, ‘I’m sorry…’. Adults, well, that’s another story. As we get older, we learn things like getting even, grudges, pride, and even hate. Our feelings are often the center of the choice to forgive or not to forgive, instead of our faith. The more the hurt, the less we can forgive.
I hear people who have difficulty forgiving others say, ‘but, you don’t know how much they hurt me…’ It’s something that, to them, seems greater than anyone could imagine, and over time, the pain of the initial offense has only grown.
So, what happens when we can’t ‘let go’ and forgive? I would dare say there are few other things in our lifetime that will be more destructive to us than unforgiveness, because, unforgiveness takes one offense and multiplies it into many others by repeating itself in our minds and hearts. It becomes like rust is to iron.
For example, take rust on a car, once it starts in a small spot, unless patched and cleaned quickly, the roots of it spread like a disease to other areas of the car, eventually covering all the metal. It then eats the car from within weakening it to the point it breaks down and is no longer able to support its own weight.
Unforgiveness is the same. It starts with a small offense, then spreads to other areas of our life until we are consumed with bitterness, leading to physical & emotional sickness, insomnia, substance abuse, and relationship problems.
While preparing to write tonight’s blog, I came across this great article titled, “14 Warning Signs That Unforgiveness is Eating You Alive”. Check it out. It’s a great list and spoke to me in my own life.
There is hope for us all to be free from the pains of the past that we can’t seem to let go of. At the center of that hope is found grace. Grace being the unwarranted, unearned, and undeserved forgiveness of another. And, the only place to find it, at least from my own faith and experience, is God’s love & grace in our own lives.
I know, without any doubt, I would be lost (rusted out from within), if it weren’t for the loving, unconditional love of God. When I was still lost in my ways, Jesus died for me taking my place on that cross of shame that I deserved.
It’s that truth which keeps me going every day. And because of that truth, that I’m able to forgive others for their wrongs as well; whether they ask for it or not. You see, the Bible clearly tells me that I must forgive others, or I can’t be given forgiveness.
So, every day, the first place I start is right there, on my knees with my hands raised, praying the Lord’s prayer. It only takes a minute, but it starts every day off on the right foot. It will keep that ‘rust’ from spreading in my life, and in yours.
I’ll leave you tonight with a copy of the Lord’s prayer below and encourage you to try starting your day out with it. Make a habit of getting to a quiet place (mine is our upstairs restroom where I kneel by the tub with my hands raised) where you can be alone with God. I know you won’t be sorry. Before long, that rust will be cleaned off and you’ll be feeling brand new again!...