a heart that forgives

if there is one thing i'm good at, it's holding a grudge. actually, i might even be considered a professional grudge holder. forgiveness, no matter who it is directed to, is something that just doesn't come easily to me. but over time i've learned a very important lesson, a lack of forgiveness can hurt a family.
as soon as someone hurts us, especially a family member, we rush off to barricade ourselves behind walls of bitterness and self-pity. we sure are quick to cling to a poor me attitude. we no longer think of ourselves as a husband, father, wife, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, brother or sister. no, we are now the victim of the family. and for some reason, we also feel we no longer are responsible for what we feel, what we say or what we do. we are now card carrying members of the poor-me-i'm-a-victim-feel-sorry-for-me club.

when we see others acting like this, we are quick to point out their bad attitude and bitterness. boy, do they ever have a chip on their shoulder. in ourselves, it doesn't seem half-as-bad. if questioned or confronted, we would be quick to defend our attitude and pull out our victim card to show them. of course this is exactly what others see in us. not just others, but the Lord sees it in us as well.

what does Jesus say about  holding a grudge?  He commands us to overlook sins and forgive those who hurt us.  He doesn't ask us to do that, the Lord commands us to do that.    

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32

one reason we resist forgiving is because we don't really fully understand what forgiveness is or how it works. we think we do, but we don't. most of us (myself included) think that if we forgive our offenders, they are off the hook.  or if we forgive them it shows weakness on our part.  once you learn the way of forgiveness, you won’t have to spend all those hours turning over the past, replaying the wrongs someone has done you, holding on to the pain as though it were your best friend.

so how do you ever forgive others, especially people in your family?  it's certainly not through magic or fairy dust.  although that would sure be an easy fix.  i wish forgiveness was as easy and pleasant as that.

first of all, remember that the person you are angry at and holding a grudge against is your family member. your relationship, before you were wronged, was based absolutely on love.  why is it different now?  take a moment and search your heart, you know that love is still there.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

secondly, don't be so sensitive. somebody said a bad word to you - so what. someone forgot to call you - big deal. we all need to be thicker-skinned. if you don't want others to make you walk on egg shells all the time, don't do it to them. relax. laugh about it. breathe into a paper bag. and then put on your big girl panties and get over it.

thirdly, think about your own sins.  are you without sin?  we are all sinners, every single one of us.  does God really see different levels of sins?  are some worse than others?  or do some just sting us more so than others? it's easy for us to sit back and absolutely be mortified at what others say about us...until we start recalling the things we've said about them.  surely i'm not the only one that has yelled at my kids because they inconvenienced me, been sarcastic and rolled my eyes at my husband and participated in gossip.  you know you've done the same thing, so cut others some slack.  don't be fussy about the little things...or the big things either.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 3:23

finally, think of your Savior. the best way to forgive others to remember that Jesus Christ forgives you. how could you think of Him and hold on to your grudge? you can't. period.

Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Matthew 7:1

out for now