One of my favorite songs by
crush singer Sade is “Stronger than Pride.”
The opening lyrics have always been particularly meaningful to me—
I won’t pretend/That I intend to stop living/I won’t pretend/I’m good at forgiving …
Like Sade, I’m no good at forgiving. In fact, I’m terrible at it. It’s one of the disadvantages of having a good memory, especially where strong emotion is involved. I remember stuff that others have long since forgotten. For example, I still remember, with only a slight bit of resentment, when Mrs. Williams, my third-grade teacher, confiscated my jump rump after she caught me deliberately turning crooked so my classmate would lose. (I know it’s not an excuse per se, but my classmate had done the same to me—that’s how I ended up turning.)
The point is, I really know how to hold a grudge. If I want to forgive you, I know how to and I will. But the problem is that I’m often content to not forgive you. I’m actually happy being bitter. And make no mistake, this is a problem, because bitter is not what I’m called to be.
There’s a man—he shall remain nameless—for whom I’ve been harboring quite a bit of unforgiveness. This individual let me down big time and in so doing hurt me significantly and caused me to lose something dear. And until very recently, I was more or less okay with hating this person.
Then he got sick, and everyone started looking at me like I should care. But I didn’t. Not exactly. Truthfully, when I heard the news I thought, “Well, heck. He made me sick. I guess payback is a you-know-what.”
But do you know that no one in my family would support my expressions of ill will? Lousy Christians. No one called me out, but they all shook their heads, or did the tsk tsk thing, or said stuff like “Crystal, that’s not very nice.” Even my son (I won’t say which one), who has not yet made a profession of Christ, frowned when I made a snide comment.
So, I knew it was time for some serious prayer, and it went something like this:
“Lord, I don’t really feel like forgiving this person, okay? But I know you want something else for me. So, you go ahead and do your thing. I won’t resist.”
Kind of a crappy prayer, you might say. But it was honest. And guess what? That very day, actually that very hour, my bitterness and anger toward this person was released. And, it felt good.
Now, all my hurt feelings could still be rekindled if I think on certain things too much, but I don’t care to do that anymore. Instead, I prefer to pray for this person and hope that God does a mighty work in his life, like He did in mine.
Shoot, I might even buy this man a get-well card … and send it. Let’s pray that I will.