After Jesus finishes telling the disciples that Lord’s prayer, He continues to teach them. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NRSV)
My church recites the Lord’s prayer every Sunday which has caused me to memorize the prayer. I find that the part where we pray that God forgives our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us is the most convicting part of the whole prayer. (If you are curious the second most convicting part for me is the part where we ask for our daily bread.) It is an understatement to say that I am not good at forgiving those who have wronged me. I have a stubborn streak that hangs on to past hurts like an iron fist. Have you ever heard the story about the squirrel who got trapped because he wouldn’t open his hand and let go of the fist of food that he had grabbed. That poor squirrel trapped in a simple trap by virtual of his refusal to let go of his handful of food is a good picture of my stubborn refusal to forgive others. (I suspect this story has no truth to it but works well for this illustration.) I have read that this is a weakness of the melancholy personality type. I don’t know how accurate personality types are but this personality type fits me quite well.
One Sunday morning, I woke up thinking about the topic of forgiveness. I knew that I should get out of bed in order to get ready for church but I was in the middle of trying to see if there was anyone in my life that I needed to forgive. (Please understand, forgiving someone is for my benefit not his/her benefit. Anger and resentment is like a poison, it just eats at me until it takes over my emotions and thoughts.) Since I am very sensitive, I can’t forgive people right away. I usually have to work towards that goal. I had to talk with my therapist about the pain that my childhood provoked when I remembered it repeatedly before I came to the ability to forgive my step-father. I am now working on reaching a point of forgiveness for my mom. I had felt like my mom liked my sister better than me. (My sister says that she didn’t like any of us.) While I don’t know if this is true in reality, I find that I need to work on letting go of the resentment that I feel towards my mom and my sister (through no fault of her own of course).
Questions to ponder:
1. Do you have trouble with forgiving others as I do? If so, I encourage you to work on discovering who you need to forgive.
2. Is there someone that you have asked for forgiveness from but they have refused to give it? Perhaps, they are struggling with forgiveness just like I am.
God, please help me to know who I need to forgive in my life. I know that You want me to forgive those people who have wronged me. But, there is still pain in my heart from those wrongs. Help me to work towards the goal of forgiving them. Reveal to me the next step in the process and continue to lead me as I work towards this goal. Thank You for being careful not to overwhelm me with a full revelations of my sinfulness. As you know, my sinfulness is ugly and dirty enough that I can only handle a small part of it at a time. Thank You for your ever loving patience as you walk me through this process. Amen.