Thursday, September 15, 2011

Anger and Forgiveness

I've really wanted to write this post for a long time.  And although I started this post over a month ago, I didn't know how to write about or what to say.  I'm still not really sure what to say, but I'm just going to type and go with it because it is something I really want to talk about.

Note: I have never written about my faith before on this blog, but in this post I do.  If this makes you uncomfortable, I apologize.  However, I realize that it is a large part of my life and affects the way I think about things.  I'm not here to preach only to share my life.

So here goes.

Awhile ago I wrote a post about how some of Matt's friends broke into my apartment.  I was so angry and felt so justified in my anger.  I held onto that bitter attitude and grudge for a long time.  I sent nasty text messages, avoided talking to them when I saw them, stared daggers into their heart.  I am real mature I assure you, real mature.

I talked to Matt about how I just wanted an apology.  He told me that I needed to just get over it and move on because it more than likely wasn't going to happen.  I was mad-mad because I wasn't going to get my apology and because Matt was telling me the truth.  I wasn't ready to hear that.  I honestly knew that an apology wasn't likely.

The truth is, I wasn't ready to forgive yet, my heart was not in the right place.  If I did receive an apology, would I even be ready to forgive? The answer is probably not.  I would have held onto that grudge.
So I went on with my life still harboring that anger.  It was a fairly rare occasion for me to be around these people as they had all graduated from school and moved elsewhere so I was not forced to confront or avoid (confrontation is soooo not my style) for quite a while.  But last fall, one of those rare occasions happened-a wedding of one of Matt's fraternity brothers.  A wedding at which one of the object of my grudge would be. I went to the wedding and told myself to get over the entire situation, I needed to move on.  I didn't have to be buddy-buddy with this guy, but he was a friend and I needed to be courteous and stop acting like a b**ch.  I'll be honest here, I have good intentions but sometimes alcohol leads me astray.  And when a wedding reception provides an open bar, I've been known to put a few back.  I said something I shouldn't have.  The conversation went something like this.

A: Oh like that time you broke into my apartment.  What were you thinking then?
C: I didn't break into your apartment.  I was standing there thinking how bad of an idea it was and that I should stop it, but I didn't.
A: Well you could have apologized.
C: I sent you a card with an iTunes gift card.  It was even one of those singing cards.
A: Oh.

Did I mention this whole conversation took place at a table with a bunch of Matt's other friends?

I felt about 6 inches tall.

Who was I to hold onto this grudge?  I found myself apologizing for the nasty text messages and for being so bitter.  For so long, I had held on, feeling right, feeling like I deserved something.  But upon receiving that apology instead of feeling good, I realized how pathetic that was and I was taught a lesson.  I was so angry and relieved that I cried on the way home, the ugly cry.

After that whole situation, I realized that for a while, I felt like God had been encouraging me to let that anger go, to forgive.  And I wouldn't.

Then I read Who From Our Do, a post from Sarah at Life In the Parsonage, and in it she talked about forgiveness. This bullet point especially stuck out to me.
When someone hurts us, and we harbor unforgiveness, we often expect that person (and everyone else) to repay us for that debt.  But truthfully, they can never repay us.  No matter how much we try to collect from them, they can't give us back what was taken. *deep breath* Only God can bring restoration where something was taken away.
It was in my power to forgive.  God forgives us our sins, yet we fail to forgive others.  The Gospel reading last Sunday was Matthew 18: 21-35 The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant  Quite the symbolic reading for the 10th anniversary for 9/11.  The sermon was much about forgiveness.  These are the main things I took away.

  • Jesus said "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven time."  There is no limit to how many times we must forgive.  
  • To forgive, we must tell ourselves over and over in our head that we forgive this person, and then eventually we will believe it and no longer need to say it.
  • Why bother to waste our precious time and space in our heads and our thoughts on a wrong a person committed against us?  
We must forgive others.  It is not up to us to determine who should or shouldn't be forgiven.  We are not here to judge others, God is the only one who will judge us.  

I think I could save myself a lot of time and energy if I could just learn to forgive.  I often find myself upset at someone but instead of letting them know that I am angry or upset or sad and moving on, I hold onto that anger inside me.  I become short-tempered and irritated, and the other person often does not know what is wrong.  If I could just let go of my anger and move on, it would save many hurt feelings and rude comments down the road.  The truth is I am much more likely to hold onto that anger instead of forgiving but with God's help I will try better. 

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