Thursday, March 19, 2009

Forgiveness

Before Max and I got married (the day before), my father insisted on at least one sit-down 'counseling' session. Let's just say that it was awkward. I think that if he had tried to talk to us about sex, you wouldn't know either of us at this point, we'd have simply melted into the chairs and ceased to exist. Fortunately, he didn't.

For those of you that don't know our story, Max and I met online. I flew to North Carolina to meet him in person in March of 1994 and then flew back to drive him and all of his possessions to Omaha in April of 1994. We got married within a week of him moving up here. My family and most of his family gathered at my dad's church in Iowa where Dad performed the ceremony.

Dad talked a little about money and how we should ensure open communication regarding that. Sure, that made sense. But, he really wanted to talk about forgiveness. I don't remember all that he said, but I do remember listening to Dad and realizing that he was very passionate about this topic. He told us that many times, forgiveness was even more important than love. When we weren't feeling very loving toward each other, we still had to know how to forgive each other. If we knew how to forgive, we would have a successful marriage.

Sometimes forgiveness takes a bit longer for me ... I've been known to hold out for days when I'm really angry about something. But, it always comes. I can't imagine holding a grudge against my husband for an exceedingly long time. He is a gift that God gave to me! I'm not messing with that.

But, what about relationships outside the family? Or extended family relationships? Friends, coworkers, peers, employees, etc. How do we respond when we feel justified in our anger or even our disdain for them?

I've eliminated a lot of people from my life over the years because of their terrible, terrible actions against me. I am completely justified in my behavior ... by human standards. In many cases, I felt it was easier to just move away from the situation or allow that person to drift away rather than work to mend the relationship.

Jesus was very clear about the fact that it makes it difficult for God to forgive us when we refuse to forgive others. (Matthew 6:15) Paul says that we are to forgive as the Lord forgave us. (Colossians 3:13)

What do holding a grudge and acting as a Christian have in common? Nothing!

Someone once described anger, bitterness, revenge, etc. as a malicious virus. The only problem is - those things are found inside you, they never eat up the person with whom you are angry. Destruction begins to happen within you.

I've spent many years dealing with things I handled badly in the past. I am nowhere near being done with this and every time I ask God about it, He clearly reminds me of another grudge or annoyance that I've been holding on to. Sometimes I get tired of it and ask Him to please just handle a few for me without my involvement. I suspect He chuckles.

Ask yourself what you are angry or annoyed about right now. Will your punishment, revenge, or whatever way you choose to handle that emotion actually achieve a positive, healthy outcome? Are you justifying your behavior because you feel wronged or feel that you need to protect something? And, since I don't think I've ever asked this question before (and I'll try to never do it again), what would Jesus do in your position? If you can answer that question honestly, I'll bet that forgiveness will be at the top of the list.

1 comment:

Dianna Schnabel said...

Great job Diane! I'm really glad you made the point that although we may seem justified by human standards, that doesn't excuse our unforgiveness. A lot of people don't understand how to apply that concept, especially to their marriages.