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What If I Can't Forgive?
That's The Last Straw!
"That's the last straw, I can't take it anymore!" We've all said that a time or two, haven't we? There are a myriad of things that take us there and the triggers are is individual as we are. Those of us who say we have never gotten that angry are probably telling a fib. Go on, admit it, somebody has pushed your buttons. Life is full of challenges connected to family, relationships and friendships, not to mention co-workers and bosses.Throwing others under the bus seems to be an epidemic.In society today everything always seems to be someone else's fault, usually whoever is not present at the moment
Betrayal is, unfortunately, a part of life .And it hurts. Betrayal breaks hearts, leaves bruises that take what seems like forever to heal and open wounds that turn to scars.The pain of betrayal is often comparable to that of grief in that it puts us into a state of shock followed by anger and denial before we are finally able to accept what has happened.
We may feel immobilized at first, unable to respond. But once we get our bearings the explosion takes place. At this point we usually want revenge. We want to see the person who harmed us suffer as much ( or probably more) than we have. As Christians we know we are not supposed to repay evil for evil, so while we may entertain the thought of dishing out some form of punishment, we will most likely dismiss that after enjoying it for a minute.
If we can't do anything evil to the person who hurt us we often try to come up with the next best thing. And what is the next best thing? Telling anyone and everyone who will listen, usually tearfully, while secretly hoping they will do something about it since we can't. That seems to be a solution we might be able to slip past God without getting into trouble. After all, if someone who is outraged by the way we have been treated and does something it's on them, not us, right? Wrong.
You Mean I Can't Get Them Back???
Bemoaning our troubles to others oping they will take up our cause is a passive aggressive form of angry. It is also a cowardly thing to do, getting others to do our dirty work because we are afraid to do it ourselves. And, as believers we are scripturally commanded not to "get them back." Everyone likes to quote Matthew 5:38, but they like to cut it off after "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." The law does indeed say that in Exodus, and Leviticus adds that the punishment should match the injury.But Jesus, who came to fulfill the law said in Matthew 5:39 "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." That sort of blows getting them back out of the water.
So...now what to do...if you can't return the injury. This is what Jesus has to say about that in Luke 6:35 "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked." Being kind to the ungrateful and the wicked sounds pretty off putting, especially when you are hurting, but it is well worth the reward. It brings with it a sense of peace and accomplishment that is beyond compare. Sure, getting them back will give you a temporary adrenaline rush and a fleeting high sensation, but then regret and the feelings of guilt follow. It isn't worth it.
Holding on to unforgiveness is a never ending cycle of anger, guilt, shame and conflict. The chart below offers some interesting insight into the pathways of anger.
Unforgiveness Has A Direct Effect On Your Health
Many illnesses are attributed to stress, anger, and unresolved pain. Addictions are driven by past hurts and resentments. Digestion is disrupted by high levels of stress and anger. Digestive problems can manifest in many ways, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, acid reflux and a host of other issues. Blood pressure problems and heart disease have been linked to emotional issues, as well as sleep problems. Headaches, neck and shoulder pain can be attributed to stress and anger as a direct result of the posture in which we hold our bodies when we are experiencing these emotions, Clinching of the teeth, a common response to anger can lead to issues requiring dental visit s for broken teeth or TMJ.
In short, when we hold on to anger and unforgiveness, the person with whom we are angry is controlling not only our thoughts, but our health. How to get past that? 12 Step teaches us to :let go and let God." That may sound too simplistic or cliché, but it is the only workable solution in many cases. Let go of the person who has hurt you and let God deal with them.
A Merry Heart Doeth Good Like A Medicine
Proverbs 17:22 says that a merry heart does us good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be a bag of old, dry bones. I choose a merry heart. And in order to have a merry heart I have to forgive and release people who have wronged me. There is no way to be joyful with the ugly spectre of anger hanging over your head.
So...how to let go? I wish I could tell you that it's as simple as saying "I forgive" and moving on, but it isn't. I think that's why Jesus answer to how many time we should forgive our brother was seventy times seven. Sometimes we have to forgive the same person for the same offense every time we think about it. If something you think you have forgiven is still stirring emotion you are not yet free from it. That is when you have to make a conscious decision to forgive as many times as necessary until you get the victory. Nobody deserves to be in control of your health and life, so forgive them until they get out of your head. The freedom it brings is so worth it!
It has often been said that I forgave the prisoner and set them free, only to discover the prisoner was me. Give yourself the gift or forgiveness.You will be the one who benefits. Discover life outside the prison walls of toxic emotion.