When You Really Don't Want To
Weve all heard the saying, You have to forgive, but you dont have to forget. I wont refute that, but you have to agree that a lot of people use that excuse to never really forgive at all. Are you one of those people?
Lets rephrase it a little. You have to forgive and you have to forget the anger, the pain, the anxiety, and everything else that comes with someone sinning against you. But you dont have to make yourself a target (even though Jesus did). Sound a little more difficult? This is really the Christian way of life, and its going to be difficult. No one promised you would enjoy it.
So well start with the forgiveness. This is where you have the most control, because its an act of will. You have to decide to forgive, and then do it. Heres a short list of what this involves:
No more daydreaming about your perpetrators pain and suffering.
Stop thinking about the what if outcomes, and accept what happened.
Start praying for the person. Not for their punishment, not for them to see the light pray for their good and their soul. Say a simple Hail Mary, without meditating on the one youre praying for. Meditate on the words, and dedicate it to your perpetrator. Let God decide how to reward or punish them.
If you can do something nice for the person, do it without grumbling and without reminding them of what they did wrong.
Stop gossiping about them.
Every time you find yourself thinking about it, change the subject. Think about the starving kids in China, your financial problems, Baby Jesus anything.
Now that (believe it or not) is the easy part. Now it comes time to deal with the anger and pain. Sometimes its easy. But in cases of serious violation, or when someone hurts a loved one, the very idea sounds idiotic. And no, youll never completely let go, but you can completely try. And you can start by using some of the techniques listed above.
Youll probably have to take it further. Youll have to swallow those emotions. Bury them deep. Yes, Im going against what every therapist out there is preaching, but talking and sulking is no way to get over anything. Youve had your period of pity; its time to move on. When you feel the flame of anger building inside you, force it to the back of your mind, and let it die.Dont waste another second of your life stewing. Itll take practice, but every day is another chance.
Finally, theres that last part. This is where most of us have trouble. This is also where we have to weigh our duties, and choose whats most important. Here are a few questions to help you sort it out:
Does it involve someone under your protection? Im talking mainly to parents. Our children obviously come first, and were never obligated to put them in danger.
Does it involve a sexual violation? I dont have to go into this. If someone isnt treating your body like a Temple of Christ, then stay away from them.
Does it involve injury? The big question here is How much? A school boy shouldnt offer himself out to the wedgie bully, but a pop in the arm is usually more a matter of humiliation than personal injury. If your body is being harmed by someone, you have a right to stop them but again, Christ didnt. Also, consider how likely the person is to harm you again. If it was a one-time event, you should let go. On a side note: Repeated domestic violence has several victims, especially children. And track records show that very few offenders only strike once. If youre trying to figure out whether or not to leave such a situation, stoop thinking and get out.
Does it involve personal property? Whos property? If youre raising a family, you cant risk everything and ignore their needs. But ask yourself if the amount stolen or damaged property is worth the hassle of never trusting someone again.
Does it involve your good name? Hunker down and forget about it. The truth will set you free. Lies hurt the liar more than anyone else. If its the truth, then just be more careful of what you say but dont withhold something begrudgingly.