Monday, November 25, 2013

The work of forgiveness 5

Why did I need a step-by-step process before I could forgive?

I found that once I had gotten a place where I wanted to forgive someone, I was looking at a tangled-up ball of thread. There was what they had done, how I and others had been hurt, the ripple effects and collateral damage that had ensued, residual feelings of fondness I had towards them, how God was in the situation, my anger at the sin itself, and on and on and on.

I simply did not know how to look at this jumble of emotions, anger, judgment and love and just forgive.

I wanted to be fair. I did not want to leave something out. I wanted to bring God into it. I wanted to be honest. I wanted to acknowledge that I and others had been damaged. I wanted to show compassion. I did not want to let the person off the hook by pretending what they did was OK.

Just looking at the tangled ball of thread and trying to forgive the whole thing was not going to get me anywhere. I needed to untangle it. And the only way I knew how to do that was to go step by step, figure out what my expectations had been (one pile of threads), what specific actions had violated them (another pile), and why this had made me so angry (yet another pile). Only then could I move on to resting in God and moving towards forgiveness.

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