That’s a hard word to choke down. I wonder sometimes if we love our anger; if, somehow, our feelings of ‘injustice’ or ‘outrage’ isn’t really something we hold dear and precious and are loath to suspend.
The ‘cancel culture’ is unforgiveness writ large. It seems an unwritten agreement, “I cannot forgive you for having an opinion or attitude that is different than mine and because I will not forgive you, I’m going to get everyone I know to excoriate you, vilify you, ruin your every day life and take away your employment.” Twitter is full of those people. And I dare say, a good many of them are Christians. Or identify as Christian. Big difference between the two. I can call myself a teapot – that doesn’t make it true.
70 x 7. That’s a tall order. Peter asked Jesus how many times we should forgive and got a completely mind-shattering answer. Peter thought seven times was pushing it. I think Peter was considering times in a week. I’m fairly certain Jesus meant hourly if need be.
Whether the offense against you is verbal, physical, or emotional, you need to find forgiveness for your offender. Hanging on to your hurt or anger sickens you and has absolutely no effect on the offender. You can’t sleep and he sleeps fine. You can’t eat and he’s dining out. You mull it over and look at it under a microscope and shine a bright light on it while he forgot the damage the instant it was over, doesn’t think about it again, and moves along with his life.
We are called to forgive and Jesus, being the smartest guy ever, knew what holding on to anger and hurt feelings could do. One: He was the one nailed to the cross who said, Father forgive them for they know not what they do. He was the one who said love your neighbor as yourself and keep in mind, the whole world is your neighbor. He was the one who said forgive as you are forgiven. Two: withholding forgiveness has a physical and emotional cost; the impact on you. To serve God and protect your health, you must will to forgive the offender.
Resignation is not forgiveness. I can say, “I can’t deal with this situation anymore and I’m placing it at the foot of the cross”, but I haven’t practiced forgiveness. I’ve simply tried to lay the matter down somewhere that I don’t have to look at it. But that’s not what we’re called to do. You must find a way to say, “I don’t know why this has happened, but I am releasing these feelings in true forgiveness of the one who has harmed me. I can’t understand or know what prompted what happened but the offender is someone just like me, broken and fallen. I forgive him as Jesus has forgiven me – blot it out from memory as if it had never happened.”
I’m repeating myself but that is a tall order and hard to achieve. It is, however, the only common sense way to go about life. You are enriched and grow in strength and understanding. Whatever happens in the life of the offender, he no longer has a hold on you – you’ve forgiven him and have moved on with your life. It’s part of that peace so often spoken about in the Bible – the peace that passes all understanding. And, I am all for peace.