It’s as much for you
Many years ago I went to see a musician perform at a small venue in Edmonton. During the concert, he started talking about a relationship that he had with a friend that went sour. He spoke about being on the driveway of his farm with his dog, kicking a soccer ball, and having an argument with his friend. The argument ended with his friend driving away in anger. The two didn’t speak for ten years when one day the musician was back in the same driveway with the same soccer ball, and a different dog. So the friend, totally unannounced pulled up and got out of the car and the two talked for many hours, and patched up their differences.
I remember the musician when he finished the story said “I totally recommend reconciling your differences”. I remember this story because you could see the relief on the musicians face and in his voice, it was obvious that parching up the relationship, and forgiving his friend freed him, as much as it helps his friend. Over the years I am growing in the understanding that forgiving someone does as much for us as it does for the person that offended you. However as someone said to me the other day, “forgiveness is hard work”.
Forgiveness is perhaps one of the most disturbing and emotional experiences we will ever encounter in our lives. It may involve feelings of anger, revenge, resentment, hurt, hostility, sadness, bitterness, and retaliation. But it also involves reconciliation, compromise, contrition, repentance, and redemption. It is not just an intellectual activity; it is also spiritual.
When Peter asked Jesus “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” He replies, “I say to you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Jesus is saying to never stop with the process of forgiveness. You may have to forgive someone many times before you can go beyond saying the words, and truly feel it in your hear. And it may also be even longer before you can trust the other person again. But I can tell you for sure that you will be set free once you forgive, even if the other person never says they are sorry, the hurt you felt from that person will never hurt you again. The hardest part of forgiveness is often to simply take the first step, which is where we begin. We may have to take that first step many times before we move on to the second one, but it is possible with prayer and rely on the Lord for the strength, perseverance, and the patience that is required.
God bless you all
Deacon Dan MacDonald