“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:13-14, NIV
For several weeks I have been trying to write the story about a time in my life when I became keenly aware of an ugly truth which is my lack of forgiveness. Even now it is painful for me to admit publicly that this is something with which, as a Christian, I struggle. But, I’m taking the risk of thinking you may identify and find solace that you are not alone.
About sixteen years ago, several things in my life collided that revealed I have a problem forgiving others. According to worldly values, you may hear my story and agree with my grievances and validate the injustice done against me. You may have your own story to share leading us both to mutual commiseration. But, you and I would both be wrong.
My husband, Richard, one evening after I displayed my ranting and raving about someone who had hurt me deeply, said, “Sherry, you are not the same person I married!” Of course, my first reaction was to add him to my list of offenders, but quickly, I realized he spoke the truth.
That night I couldn’t sleep. Early in the morning, I got up to work on my Bible study lesson which turned out to address the topic of forgiveness. As a tender love letter of instruction, God revealed to me that forgiveness is not conditional on others saying they’re sorry. My heart broke and only I could change the scenario.
I wish, friend, I could tell you that in the years since this revelation I have never fought with un-forgiveness again, but this would be a lie. Why this demon still exists is not something for which I have an answer. But, God shows me every time it rears its’ ugly head that it is a weakness where I must “practice” the example of Jesus and forgive, regardless of how I feel. When learning something new or reinforcing something old, we have to practice.
The question is, will we practice forgiveness or un-forgiveness? The choice is ours, and with God’s help, we will make the right decision that leads to goodness and peace.