In tonights Growth Group we did a study of Dietrich Bonhöffer, and we talked a bit about forgiveness. From this, I decided that I have some work to do on forgiveness.
From Bonhöffer we learned that "When God was merciful to us, we learned to be merciful with our brethren When we received forgiveness instead of judgement, we, too, were made ready to forgive our brethren. What God did to us, we then owed to others. The more we received, the more we were able to give."
First, a confession: I have been holding this anger against someone for two and a half years now, under the pretense that I'm waiting for an apology against something which, in all honesty, deserves one. But I've come to the realization that not only is that apology never going to come, but that I must find it in myself to forgive her regardless. So, Rachel, I understand that you were having a stressful day, and while that does not excuse poor behavior or ill-placed anger, it is forgivable. And I'm sorry for holding this against your character for so long when I should have let it go a long time ago. I forgive you.
Back to Bonhöffer. what I get from this now is that what we have, indeed, all we are, is what we received from God's Word in Jesus Christ. And that without Him, we would have no concept of forgiveness, mercy, and giving. He forgave all, He taught us forgiveness. He was Merciful to all, and taught us mercy. He gave all that He was and more, to teach us what it meant to give. Without God as an external force, and without each other, we can have no concept of these things. So now, the key is, I suppose, to forgive others, have mercy towards them, and give all that we can so that others may see His Grace through us.
That sounds like utter horseshit. But think about it- how did you learn to forgive? Not the silly "say you're sorry" that your mom makes you do and you know and they know that you don't mean it at all and you'd take that toy all over again if given the chance. Real forgiveness. When someone wronged you and you thought that this is it, the last straw, I'm done! but instead you forgave them? I can't think of the first time that happened in my life.
I can think of a few examples in the past few years when someone who is my friend, and a good friend, totally screwed me over. Like, again and again, without even acknowledgment. And I really had no choice but to forgive if I wanted to remain friends, which I very much did. It's been particularly difficult when someone knows you so well that they know exactly what to say to hurt you. But I think it's worse when things happen that the other person has no idea how hurtful they are being. Which is exactly when you just need to forgive without word. Simple forgiveness with no strings attached. What do you do when you want to forgive someone but it hurts to much or you're still upset? You forgive them anyway and the pain will be lifted.
That's a bloody lie. Your pain and hurt isn't automatically lifted. But it's a start. It's a lunching board off of which you can heal. I've forgiven people tonight, I may never tell them in person, but I know it in my heart and I can start the letting go.
We had some homework from Growth Group, and I may post some responses to that, probably not though.