This blog records my transition from the Churches of Christ to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Forgiveness 3

i remember asking myself before, How do i forgive?  How do i just let this go?  i've honestly felt before like i wasn't in control of it, like i genuinely didn't know how to push the right buttons to get forgiveness to "work."  

What i realized is that i have to decide to forgive.  i have to make a very conscious decision about forgiveness.  It's not something that i just sit back and let happen or come about "naturally."  It doesn't work that way.  It's also easy to say i've forgiven even though i continue to do all sorts of things that manifest residual bitterness and hard-heartedness.  i need to be very clear in my own mind and heart about what i'm doing and saying when i commit to forgiveness.  

(1) I will not dwell on the incident.
(2) I will not bring up the incident again or use it against that person in the future.
(3) I will not talk about this incident to other people.
(4) I will not let this incident effect the level of genuine respect and kindness i show that person.

i know it's easy to read that list and instantly feel the need to object, "wait..i'm not sure about some of those on that list--surely that's too far, surely that just makes it too easy on the other person, surely that asks too much of me in getting over it." 

No, I need to stop and wait and ask myself: Is anything on that list any different than how God has forgiven me?  He has not let my sins stand between He and i.  He has not gone around advertising my sins to others.  He doesn't dwell on my sins or bring them up later to use them against me.  With Him, He forgives me totally.  That is the example He has set for me.  Am i somehow better or more important than God that i think i should be more restrictive or sparing in my forgiveness than He has been with me?

Paul says "forgive each other just as God in Christ forgave you." (Eph 4:31)  If God has gone that far and given that much of Himself to forgive me, then i need to forgive others just as utterly and totally.  i must commit to those items on the list.  And every day from here on out, i will have to put those things into practice.  It's not a one time event that cures all.  It's something i'll have to do every day.  And the process over time grows easier as my heart heals.

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