The freedom of forgiveness
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.... (Matthew 6:12).
I sometimes think that carrying a grudge can be likened to a very long hike with a pebble in one's boot.
The stone may actually be quite small (or not), and getting rid of it could seem a time-consuming nuisance in the moment. First I may wish to locate a suitable rock upon which to sit. Then it behooves me to extricate myself from my backpack. Removal of the footwear may take some effort, so all things considered I might be inclined to leave well enough alone, thinking I could just get used to this little stone in my boot; after all, it doesn't hurt that much.
So I trudge along for another few miles, hoping the pebble will rearrange itself, and I become accustomed to the discomfort - well, sort of. As I plod the rocky trail, I may find myself feeling a bit crabby, while the stone seems to grow larger and more abrasive with each step. Now I have the perfect opportunity to feel a little bit sorry for myself, while adding one more thing to my list of complaints. Soon, the pain I have chosen to endure becomes unbearable, and I'm quite inclined to treat people around me with the malice of my own unwillingness to have taken the time and trouble to remove the source of my discontent.
Left to fester, unforgiveness promises to escalate into chronic bitterness - sharper than a pebble, heavier than a boulder, the sores from which become more like gangrene of the heart that by now requires the surgical hand of the Great Physician for its transplanting.
Do I bear resentment toward someone who has done me wrong? Regardless of the cause, it's up to me to do the forgiveness work. I do it for me, not for the one(s) who have harmed me, remembering always that I shall be forgiven only as I forgive.
Perhaps the thorn of ill treatment was more like a razor-edged sword that pierced my heart, scathing me deeply. "...As we forgive those..." offers me the only real freedom from the pain of a broken past at the hands of others, or from the grudges I might accumulate as I journey along. I have harbored resentments and I have forgiven. I have truthfully known no sweeter freedom than that of a forgiving heart.
How much more pain will it take before I become willing to forgive?
Dear God, please grant me the willingness to forgive all those who have harmed me, no matter how deeply wounding their trespass. Amen.
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