Monday, January 9, 2012

Forgive AND Forget?


The first Sunday after Christmas our pastor gave a sermon on forgiveness. It was a refreshing twist for me, at a time when I’m usually thinking about all of the New Year’s resolutions I should be making. Some of Pastor Mike’s quotes and stories have stuck with me, which usually means what he said hit home. I sat in the pew not able to think of anyone in particular and focused on the sermon. Then the list came tumbling down on me as I remembered a number of people who had wronged my daughter. It was a dark time in her life due to these people who I had stuffed away in the back of my mind. I made myself look back on that time through God’s eyes. Because the way I had dealt with it made me bitter. A quote from Nelson Mandela summed it up perfectly,

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

But the really tough one was Mike’s definition of mercy. It was spot-on,

"Mercy is getting what you don’t deserve."

I was defensive at first, thinking of these people getting away with what they did, and then it turned around on me. Who am I not to forgive when I’m a sinner? That little voice went off in my head, which is what I ask the Holy Spirit to do when asking for guidance. But I don’t always want to listen.

On our way to church that Sunday we stopped at Starbucks. To my dismay, the woman in front of me was one of the people who mistreated my daughter. The saying that there are no coincidences with God went through my mind as I stood within inches of this person. I ironically told myself to let it go, forgive and forget, but it seemed cynical after hearing Mike’s sermon only minutes later. Mike talked about why it’s so hard to forgive. These heart-breakers should be punished, not forgiven. But Mike’s response to that was to let God take care of the consequences. Mahatma Gandhi said,

“The weak can’t forgive.”

But what about the emotional pain that we go through? What do we do with that constant reminder? It hurt tremendously when a chunk of windshield glass flew into my shoulder during a car accident. But the pain eventually went away, even though the scar is still there. We heal and hopefully move on. The scar is our badge of honor, for forgiving, even when someone didn’t earn it. Because that someone is also, me.

Mike asked us to make three columns:

-The name of the person to forgive
-What they did
-What you’re going to do

Question: What would your three columns look like?

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”
Corrie Ten Boom

5 comments:

Mike Messerli said...

Great post, Beth, thank you.

Beth Shriver said...

Hey, Pastor Mike! Thanks for stopping by, and for your inspiration for me to write this blog!

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

Forgiveness is required of us, per the Bible. God's Word says that we need to forgive, lest we, ourselves, be unforgiven. HOWEVER, we don't have to forget. We don't have to be stupid twice. If someone wrongs us, yes, we forgive and that's WAY easier said than done, I know. But we don't have allow the forgiven back into our lives -- especially if there's a chance they will hurt us again.

Jillian Kent said...

Thanks for this post, Beth. And thanks to Pastor Mike too. Forgiveness is so hard when we are so hurt. I can't help but wonder if you or the woman in line at Starbucks said anything to each other. It didn't sound like it. Did she see you? I harbored unforgiveness against my father who left my mom and my brother and I when I was about five. He died when I was 17 and that abandonment made it really hard to trust God. I was always wondering when and under what circumstances HE would abandon me. It took me a long time but I eventually did forgive my father, but I've always been left with one thought, "What if he hadn't left?" Can't help it, just wonder. But now even when I wonder I trust God.

Beth Shriver said...

Thanks for sharing, Jill. It sounds like you've worked through a lot of the pain through your relationship with God. Blessings! How does anyone get through life without HIM?