Forgiving...and Still Working on Forgetting

Why is it so difficult to forgive? I know, this is not an original question. But still, it all sounds so easy when I utter the lines in the “Lord’s Prayer” every Sunday: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And don’t get me wrong, I am genuine when I say those words aloud; hypothetically speaking, I do forgive those who trespass against me. But it’s when I have to engage in actual forgiving, in real life, that I have a problem.

A while ago I was deeply offended by someone at work. I'd heard from another source (and what this other person’s intentions were in relaying this hurtful piece of information is curious as well) that this person had deemed a speech I wrote, “dumb” and “boring.” Ouch. I had worked a long time on that speech, and believe me, speech-writing is not my forte. I immediately felt shame and anger when I heard about this comment; my pride was wounded. I felt stupid.

I had a really hard time forgiving this person. I didn’t say hello when I passed this person in the hallway. I wouldn’t make eye contact. I was businesslike and professional, but not friendly. I thought bad thoughts. I had to bite my tongue to keep from making catty comments about this person, and sometimes I didn’t bite hard enough. I casually worked the story of my insult into as many conversations as possible, so that people would know how I'd been wronged. This went on for weeks.

Then I heard a sermon by one of the pastors at Southwood. It was Advent, and he talked about making each gift we give meaningful in some way. I took his advice to heart, and decided to write a card to each of my co-workers, describing in one or two lines what I appreciated or valued about each person. I admit, it took me about 20 minutes to think of something to write on my nemesis’ card; at first I could only think of bitter, evil comments to make – certainly nothing suitable for a Christmas greeting.

Finally I remembered that I loved this person’s laugh. Loud and boisterous, when I heard it, it often made me laugh, too. So that’s what I wrote. Later, after the cards had been exchanged and read, this person gave me a hug in the hallway and told me it was the nicest thing they had heard all week. I tell you what, at that moment forgiveness felt easy, it felt good.

I have wronged people I love far more grievously than my co-worker harmed me that day. And I have been forgiven, too. It just so happens that forgiveness is a lot easier to recite in a prayer than it is to enact in the everyday.

Anonymous –   – (August 11, 2009 at 6:52 PM)  

The Lord brought this verse to my mind a week or so ago when I was thinking about how hurt I was because someone has been talking behind my back in a negative way for several years.
It's in Ecclesiastes 7:21,22
Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you-for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others. (It's true I have, God forgive me and give me the strength to forgive others. You did great Michelle!

Michelle –   – (August 11, 2009 at 9:40 PM)  

Thanks for that wonderful and very true verse in Ecclesiastes. Michelle

krock  – (August 26, 2009 at 3:00 PM)  

I needed this one! I am slowly working on forgiving some long standing hurts and reconciling my part in them. When we realize that pain is usually inflicted on us and by us because of past hurts, it makes it easier to forgive (ourselves and others!). I am so enjoying your blog, Michelle!

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