I was going to write a different post for today, but then I realized it could be worked into the November 22 message. Monday morning, on FOX, I heard Tucker Carlson say something that is one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard in my life. I’m not sure if I can get the exact quote, but I can get the right idea.
“It is hard to forgive someone you’ve harmed.”
Have you ever had someone who has lied about you, done and said terrible things, come forward and ask for forgiveness? Nope, me either. Without sounding like a total self-righteous jerk, I try to forgive. In the Lord’s Prayer, we are taught to pray forgive us our debts (sins, trespasses) as we forgive…
I don’t know about you, but I take this very seriously. I’m such a pitiful and miserable sinner, I can’t risk not having my sins forgiven, so I am going to do my very level best to forgive, no matter what. Forgiveness does not involve liking, approving, befriending, associating, or even dealing with that person. Unfortunately, if we have the misfortune of attending a church that is Anglican, Catholic, or Episcopal, we must ‘peace’ that person, no matter how miserable it. But, wait, if we have forgiven that person, we should be able to grit our teeth and offer that peace. No, it isn’t for them, it is for us. Offering that peace gives us peace.
If we are to forgive we can’t hold a grudge. The other day my mother and I were involved in a snitty, and eventually very snippy discussion about just that. I reminded her that I have a heck of a lot of flaws, but holding a grudge isn’t one of them. It’s not worth it, plain and simple.
There is someone who did something quite nasty. It did not really wrong me, it was just nasty. It was terribly nasty. It was aimed at hurting someone close to me, but backfired, and basically caused me to lose all respect for this person. In turn, this person can’t let it go, and can’t forgive me for something I did not do. Tucker Carlson is right. I thought of this person the moment he uttered that phrase. It is amazing. This person can’t forgive, or at least I don’t think they can. I’ve forgiven. Like I said, forgiveness does not require forgetting, nor being stupid. If you think I’m ever going to trust this person, ever again, forget it.
We must be able to forgive. When bad things happen to us, the ability to forgive and let it go is one of the most important steps to healing. I’ve been known to annoy people when I state that the now men and women who have been molested, raped over the years, via the Catholic Church, must let it go, forgive, and quit demanding money. How do I know about this? Well… I forgave the person who molested me as a child. He tried to kill me. He made several kidnapping attempts. I was not allowed to have a normal childhood. The irony is that the last events remember, as a child was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and his funeral. The day of his funeral, we drove my grandfather Froehlich to the airport in Atlanta. I remember a few other things, but my life for a period of time is a blank. I remember Christmas and Christmas in my new school.
Unfortunately, I was not allowed to live a normal life. I was not allowed to do things other teens would do. Even as a college student, I was required to live at home, and no, I did not understand why. This led me to be constantly angry with my parents. I was angry with life, God, and myself. It wasn’t until I finally accepted what had happened to me, and fought for sanity that I realized the only way I could survive was by forgiving the person who molested me. The strange thing was that it was shockingly easy. Once I did, this huge weight was lifted from my soul. I was free. With that realization, the resentment against my over-protective parents dissipated. Let’s face it, I had other causes for resentment, just like any normal adult child.
Forgiveness is vital. What is so strange is watching people who can’t allow themselves to forgive for petty things, petty differences, not those things done to them, but what they have done. It is easier to be nasty and refuse to forgive, than admit we are wrong. Until we can make that admission, we’re making ourselves miserable instead of punishing the person we’ve wronged.