Monday, November 26, 2012

Fighting Back the Bitterness

I am pretty good at forgiving people.  I suppose you could say I've made an art of it.  I've learned to forgive some of the very worst things that human beings can do to one another, and I'm glad that I have.  God has been a most excellent teacher.  What I struggle with at times, like right now, is forgiving the everyday slights, the things that people do that are so thoughtless and unkind, and so often unintentional.

Sometimes I think these are actually more difficult to forgive because they tend to come from the people who ought to care the most about you.  You expect unkindness and hardheartedness from strangers.  You don't expect it from people who say they love you, or from family, or from people who claim to be your friends.  Yet this is where you so often find it, and I think this is why it is so difficult to forgive because it requires a day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute forgiving.  In other words, it requires work.

My husband and I went through a really tough year last year, and just when things started looking up again we had our legs kicked out from underneath us because we trusted someone who didn't deserve to be trusted. Now we're struggling to recover from that.  What keeps me going, the only thing really that keeps me going, is that I know that in everything that's being done to me, in every neglect, in every instance where someone looks down their nose at me or feels that I deserve what I'm getting, I know they are right. I know my sins of the past, and I know that I have done this to someone else at some point in my life.  I know, too, that if I am suffering for it now it is only a small portion of what I really deserve.  Thus, whatever I am going through right now is truly a gift, no matter how bitter a pill it may be to swallow.

Yet I am human, too.  It hurts when there are people who could help but won't. It hurts when there are people who call me friend to my face but don't care enough about me to even check in with me and find out what's going on in my life. It hurts when there are family members who only think of us when they want something from us.  It hurts when you feel like nobody cares, and I use this as my reminder of what it is like when I do these things to other people. I use this to remind me of all the times I could help someone else but won't, of all the times I call someone friend but don't even bother to pick up the phone to find out how they are, or when I contact other people only when I want something.

My weapon against the bitterness is Jesus.  I know that as often as I have had this happen to me, I have done this to him.  I know that He loved me anyway, so I refuse to surrender to the bitterness and give in to the anger. I refuse to let someone else's behavior define mine.  I know I have done at least as much to others as is being done to me, and if Christ can forgive me I can do no less for them.  Lord, forgive my weakness, and help me to love them as much as you have loved me.

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