I just can't forgive...
"Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two!" Dr. Seuss
In his best-selling book The Telling Room, Michael Paterniti shares a true story he heard when visiting his father's ancestral village in Sicily. Every day while he was in the village he saw a very old woman walking with her cane, struggling up a steep road to get to the local cemetery. It was said that at her tortoise pace, the walk from her home to the cemetery and back took about six hours out of her day.
What grief inspired her difficult daily walk? Was she driven by sorrow over a departed child or a deceased husband, the love of her life? No, the locals told Paterniti that she was driven by Astio, or bitter hatred. Her archenemy was buried in that cemetery. So, rain or shine, the old woman walked up the hill every day to her enemy's gravesite, just to spit on it one more time.
The Barna Group recently published stats regarding forgiveness, gathered from The Mercy Journey Report: Although most Christians recall a point at which they gave no-strings-attached forgiveness, some express reluctance in specific cases. Around one in four practicing Christians (23%) has a person in their life who “they just can’t forgive.” Some traits stand out among those who say they have trouble forgiving someone. Theologically, this group is more likely to agree that people go to heaven because of good deeds (39% vs. 21% of those who can’t think of someone they struggle to forgive). Less than half feel that, in light of their faith, mercy is something that often influences their words or actions (46% vs. 67%). Perhaps unsurprisingly, two-thirds of these Christians (66%) can also think of a circumstance in which they don’t want to forgive someone. But this group might be compelled to extend more forgiveness: Among practicing Christians who claim there is an individual in their lives they can’t forgive, more than one-quarter (28%) admits they wish they could do so.
One solution from the New Testament: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" Ephesians 4:32-5:2
Deep hurts done to us, grave sins require deep and thorough forgiveness. Paul's guidance:
1. develop personal kindness, being nice to people because God is kind
2. grow a heart that is more and more tender, rather than calloused and tough
3. focus on how Christ forgave you, then pass on the mercy you have received
4. decide to maintain a lifestyle of loving God and people well
5. remember that God's love for us required a difficult sacrifice, the blood/life of Jesus
6. choose to love, to sacrifice getting even, and through a kind, tender heart, forgive
Constantly giving my "grinch-heart" to Jesus, Perry Floyd