I would say that one of the hardest things to do is forgive. I mean, yeah, sure, when whoever wrongs us asks, “Will you forgive me?” it’s easy to say a simple “yes,” but often, we don’t really forgive them. We form a grudge in our hearts, and our friendships and relationships aren’t the same. For me, it’s the deeper things that I find are hardest to forgive. But it is important for a Christian to forgive, just like God forgave us.
Matthew 6:14 says, "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
When I was nine or ten, a bunch of adults (including our parents) had a meeting at our house. All the adults' children were in the backyard, but my sisters were inside, so I was alone with the other children. For a while we just played the usual games that people play when they’re outside with nothing to do, like sharks and minnows, until everyone got thirsty except me. The other kids went inside, and while I waited for them to come back out, I sat down on the playground slide and began to sing.
Now, when I was younger, I was obsessed with singing, and I also loved to show off my voice. I figured I’d become a singer and be rich and famous when I was an adult.
Well, back to the story, when the other kids came out (also, I didn’t know these people very well), I of course wanted to finish my song (plus, I wanted the kids to hear my voice). I was only, like, on the first chorus when they came out. I guess the kids got bored of standing around waiting for me to finish, so they decided to start growling like animals, coming closer and closer to me with “tough animal” looks. I thought they were making fun of my singing, and that their way of expressing that was by growling. So, being stubborn and not wanting them to “win”, when the song ended, I started another. The kids made their own little group of animal “attackers” with code names and continued inching in on me, growling and making weird noises and laughing.
This happened for another two songs or so, until my younger sister came out. I abruptly stopped singing and walked over to her. I whispered in her ear that I thought they were making fun of my singing, and that I hoped she wouldn’t join them. My sister then went back inside and told my mom. I went upstairs and, not being able to hold it in any longer, started sobbing my eyes out. I felt so hurt and upset, and most of all, I was scared that I didn’t have a good voice. I remember my mom coming up after talking with the kids and explaining that they were just playing a game and couldn’t tell me (I mean, how do you explain anything to someone who’s singing at the top of her lungs?). I think we exchanged the usual apologies and asking for forgiveness business stuff, but I don’t really remember.
What I do remember is that I did not forgive them in any way! I was angry, and I didn’t think they deserved forgiveness. I was so stubborn and proud, and I closed myself up to the facts. A deep grudge grew from that experience, which I wrongly directed at only one of the kids (we’ll call her Hazel for now). I blamed her for my unhappiness, for the whole animal game episode. I was scarred from that day, and I wasn’t ready to become friends with Hazel anytime soon. Eventually, I eased up on her, and allowed myself to become friends with her. But just friends. I was still somewhat on edge, and my pride held me back from letting go of the past. Over the years, Hazel and I become close. We were pretty much equivalent to best friends. But when people, even my own sisters, asked me, I denied it. When Hazel asked, I said no, that I was best friends with someone I can’t exactly say I was as close with at that time. And I was still upset from the past, even though I forgave the others much earlier. I don’t know what was going through my head, and I don’t know why I couldn’t just forgive her! But pride really can blind someone from the truth.
It wasn’t until a year ago did I forgive her with all of my heart. I didn’t want to keep our friendship from blooming to the fullest, and I wanted a fresh start. I prayed that God would help me to forgive her completely, and that I was truly sorry for not doing it earlier. Let me just say that my heart felt like ten times lighter after!! And I finally got to see that day in the light. I realized that if I hadn’t been so proud and stubborn, and hadn’t tried to show off, it probably wouldn’t have happened. It wasn’t all Hazel’s fault, either, and it was wrong for me to put all my anger on her. If I’d just forgiven them right away, it might’ve been over like that. Pride hurts so many relationships, and in my case, it kept my friendship from growing. Today, I would call this girl one of those people I know I can go to no matter what, one of my closest and best friends, the most loyal and sweet person I’ve probably ever met, and my younger “sister.”
I want you to know, “Hazel”, that I am truly sorry for holding this grudge against you for so long. I have completely forgiven you, it’s in the past, and I’m so thankful that God brought you into my life. Don’t worry about what happened in the past, it’s all good and I know you didn’t mean anything. I’m realizing just now that what happened that day until now was a big step in breaking down my pride, and I don’t believe I was meant to be a singer anyways, so thank you for showing me that. I am probably more at fault for that day than anyone else, and I’m sorry for holding back our friendship instead of letting it go. I’m so sorry for any pain I’ve caused you by holding onto this grudge, and I hope you will forgive me. And even if I could, I don’t think I’d change what happened. God truly has a plan, and He really does make all things work together for our good. I love you so much, sista. 💗
Do you see the consequences when we don’t forgive, though? I can only imagine what our friendship would’ve looked like if I’d forgiven her right away! It has caused many tears and heartache, but you know what? GOD has the final word!! Don't let your pride and hurt blind you and keep you from forgiving. Trust me- I learned it the hard way, and I want you to be able to learn the easier way. Don't run away or try to hide the conflict: it is so much better to face it, reconcile, and forgive right away. It will be hard, but God will give you the strength and the courage. You don't know what other people may be going through when they hurt you. They may not even be angry with you- maybe they're just having a bad day. But I beg you, forgive them. It is totally worth it. Remember: God forgave you of all your sins! Can't you forgive that one little (or big) thing your friend did? Think of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18. And also keep in mind that it might not be all the other person's fault- examine yourself and your actions and see if you need to take some of the responsibility, and then apologize to them.
Matthew 18: 21-22 says,"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.""
This week, I challenge you to pray and ask God to show you any grudges that you are holding against others, and for the strength and courage to forgive and forget. And then start over. Put it in the past and let your friendship bloom again. Don't keep track of others' wrongdoings, just like God does not remember our sins, but forget them and instead treat that person with Christ's love.
God's will be done, always and forever. I love you all.
"I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart;
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"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all of my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."