How do you respond when, on purpose or accidentally, someone offends you and hurts your feelings – badly? As a Christian I know what I have to do: forgive and forget. But as a woman with a rough upbringing that is easier said than done. I am angry! I want to be vindicated (because I am right, and they are wrong)! I want to give this person a ‘piece of my mind’, and let them know they have offended me (and it won’t be pretty).
They hurt my heart! That’s just not acceptable! They must suffer the consequences! I kept repeating these scenarios in my head, feeling full satisfaction as if though it was happening. I really wanted to cut this person off from my life forever, but this is not just any person; they are family.
I prayed to God to take my anger, disappointment, and resentment away. It didn’t happen like magic. He made me walk slowly through this one. I couldn’t enjoy church service because I was so frustrated. I asked my friends to pray for me and felt my heart soften. I looked around the congregation and saw familiar faces of people who I really love, and who love me. I am not alone.
Jesus asked me to forgive, not as a sign of weakness, but to save me from useless suffering. “Anger is like a rocking chair – so much energy wasted going nowhere.” I realized that offence had stolen my joy. Did they even know they had offended me? I bet they didn’t even recall the conversation today. I’m sure they had a wonderful day with their family, enjoying beautiful late summer weather, maybe time with friends, and Sunday lunch. Not me…
At home, after church, I had a heated discussion with my husband, desperately defending my point of view. His strong conviction (which I absolutely admire in him) is that family is everything. I have witnessed again and again when he has exercised this belief. And it always has a positive outcome. He encouraged me to let go, but I wasn’t ready to surrender. The wound was still raw. With a mental sigh, I decided to, at least, reconsider. I knew deep in my heart that he was right.
In the end, what would I achieve by cutting them off? Broken relationships and broken hearts. Is that what I am about? I had to take some time to realize I am loved by God who has forgiven my worst sins. I know even though it’s not easy it’s still right thing to do. So, I forgive – even though I don’t feel like it right now. In faith, I will not allow that offence to steal my joy, break my family, or drive a wedge in my relationships any longer. I choose forgiveness.