MULLING OVER IT
Have you ever laid in bed at night or taken time out of your day to think about someone who has hurt you and what they’ve done? Do you review a situation over and over again in your mind? I think that many of us do this. We might think of how we could have responded differently, said something differently, or even wished we had walked away before saying something we might have regretted. I’ve even been known to royally tell someone off— after the fact and to myself when they’re not there to hear it, of course. I picked up the habit of talking a situation over out loud (whispering quietly of course) from my Mom. I remember hearing her go over situations to herself repeating what she would have or should have said as she thought it through. I love my Mom dearly and she’s an amazing woman, but that’s one habit that I picked up that I’m trying very hard to drop… and not pass on to another generation.
I’ve been sick for a few days and I’m having a hard time sleeping tonight. So, what did I find myself doing? Two nights ago, I was laying in bed going over, in my mind – not out loud, some situations that happened 7 years ago that I hadn’t thought about for a long time. I usually don’t come across unkind people. In fact, I can count on both hands (during my entire life) and personally name (meaning I know them well enough for them to hurt me) people who have deliberately been nasty, unkind, and/or arrogant. So, with much less than even 1% of everyone I know, you’d think I would have plenty of wonderful things to think about. But, not that night. Someone I know had, at the time, kept taking the things I said the wrong way and would respond in a nasty, arrogant way. He got angry at me for something I wasn’t even thinking, let alone actually saying. He never apologized and when I called him on how he had responded, he said not to shoot God’s messenger as if he was God’s personal messenger sent to tell me something nasty. Clearly, he didn’t think there was a need for apology. Has that ever happened to you? Something similar happened to me again several months ago with someone else. I’m sure that if it (a misunderstanding that perpetuates a problem) has happened to me, it’s happened to other people, too, so I wanted to write about it.
WHEN IT HURTS
Don’t you hate it when people misunderstand you? It hurts when they respond badly toward you based on their perspective of what you said and not on what you really said. It’s as if they’re determined to think/assume the worst of you instead of actually having a conversation with you to find out what you really meant or simply trying to think the best of you. And, if you’re like me, their unkind response and assumptions make you angry.
Well, I had enough of laying in bed rehashing all of that old stuff so I got up to wash dishes that hadn’t been washed while I was sleeping the day away. Sadly there is no dish fairy or genie who comes and does the dishes for me, even when I’m sick. As I was washing dishes, I asked myself why in the world I was bringing all that 7-year-old nonsense up again. I thought I was past that.
Do you want the answer? Even if my story might impact you? OK. Here is it…
LACK OF FORGIVENESS
I was bringing it up again because… I had never forgiven that person. I didn’t even realize it until now.
So, tonight I asked God to forgive me for my “unforgiving spirit” and to help me completely forgive that person in my heart.
Forgiveness isn’t only for the person being forgiven. In fact, sometimes it’s not for that person at all. He or she may not even be seeking forgiveness. Maybe they’re no longer living. Maybe they’ll never see life the way you see it and always look at you as if you’re the cracked clay pot and they’re the gold one. Maybe they’ll always be the kind of person who assumes the worst of you. That part doesn’t matter when it comes to forgiveness. I believe that forgiveness is primarily for the person doing the forgiving.
What does it mean to forgive? I looked it up in the dictionary for the purpose of writing the dictionary definition in my blog and there are a couple of definitions that apply specifically to forgiving an offense against you as opposed to forgiving a financial or other kind of obligation.
1. To grant pardon for or remission of an offense or debt, to absolve.
2. To cease to feel resentment against.
SO, WHAT DOES HANGING ONTO RESENTMENT DO TO US?
Last night, as I was thinking through this it was pretty clear that I still felt resentment against this person and that my experiences 7 years ago have made me look at him in a totally different way ever since. When others praised him or spoke highly of him all I could see was arrogance and a nasty manner. When he was trying to be pleasant in social situations, all I could see was hypocrisy. After all, he was always pleasant in public, but had been unkind to me in private. But, was my perspective reality? I don’t know. When I called him on his nasty arrogance I tried to explain what I had meant, that I hadn’t even thought what he said I meant, and then said something like, “I don’t believe I deserve what you said or how you said it.” His response: “Don’t shoot God’s messenger.” It was as if he felt that he had not only not misunderstood me but, also, that his manner was completely acceptable… labeling himself as God’s messenger. I do believe that my later perceptions of him came out of my hanging on to those offenses and letting resentment built up. Have you ever experienced that? Resentment can blind a person toward reality.
My goodness. I got to thinking about myself. What if I had a bad day and said something I shouldn’t have said. (I’ve done that before… on more than one occasion.) Will the person I spoke to think of me in light of that unkindness forever? I hope not because that’s not who I am in reality.
WHAT IS THE POINT?
Regardless of the situation, regardless of whether someone is intrinsically unkind and arrogant or sweet, but just had a bad day, forgiveness of offenses against you lays firmly on your own shoulders. There’s no point in going through life being resentful of others. You’re the only one who is harmed by hanging on to your resentment.
If you choose not to forgive and let it go, you’re letting that other person rent space in your head… and for what purpose?
Don’t waste any time thinking about it further. Forgive. Let it go. Experience freedom and peace about the situation.
Look for an upcoming post going further into forgiveness and why it’s so necessary.