Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive. C.S. Lewis
I found myself sitting beside a stranger on an airplane; however, our commonality in Christ provided instant connectivity. Beverages and pretzels came and went as our conversation continued. God’s incredible work in and through this individual and his church amazed me.
Sadly, though, the longer gentleman talked, the more a different storyline emerged. His focus shifted from God to people, and his attitude and tone became altered. His jaw tightened and his joy faded. Subtly, a shadow crept across his face; lines of hardness formed, and his radiant glow gave way to cloudiness.
Unforgiveness now stood as master over his once godly relationships. My seatmate felt wronged, and found himself unable to move forward. Simple miscommunications led to greater misunderstandings, which led to serious mistrust, which led to his service being marginalized.
I ached with this individual. How could this possibly happen? Emotional and spiritual agony controlled his very being. Where would his journey end? Furthermore, can you and I see ourselves mirrored in his situation?
Unforgiveness sits viciously on the sideline of our relationships, always waiting to jump in and sabotage.
Miscommunication or unfulfilled expectations are the common causes.
The paradox: Forgiveness operates at the core of our Christian faith - in our relationship with Christ, and in our eternal destiny. Somehow, though, forgiveness often fails to permeate our temporal human relationships. What you and I relish with Jesus, we readily withhold from others.
Disconnect exists between our belief and our behavior.
The patterns: Unforgiveness spans the globe, and is no respecter of persons, countries, cultures, ages, or genders. Unforgiveness is always painful, ugly, and destructive. Unforgiveness eats away at our soul. (I think of the open market in Thailand where people place their feet into a deep glass aquarium and allow fish to eat off the dead skin. Disgusting.) Unforgiveness always seeps out like a broken septic tank - it refuses to be contained. Unforgiveness targets relationships with people we love and work alongside.
For you, for me, for my seatmate, there is no middle ground. Either I forgive or I do not forgive. A holding pattern does not exist.
The pivot: Forgiveness is always the right option. Forgiveness is essential to a joyful, peaceful life. Forgiveness is a choice, a decision of the will. I rarely recall feeling my way to forgiveness. (Feelings may or may not cooperate.) Forgiveness rests on Jesus and moves forward with R.E.L.E.A.S.E.
So please: Before God, on your knees in the privacy of your own closet, declare the person and the matter released. If it helps, lift your open hands up to heaven and let it go. I came to set the prisoner free and suddenly discovered the prisoner was me.
Living with Eternal Intentionality: Do you stand at the crossroads in a relationship that needs the action of forgiveness? Travel light my pilgrim friend, and release the baggage with the decision to forgive.