Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Hardest Thing To Give Away

"It's the hardest thing to give away
The last thing on your mind today

It always goes to those who don't deserve..."

What is that scrap of song lyrics referring to? The answer is in the title of the song.

Forgiveness, by Matthew West. (For those of you who want to hear the song, I’ll be attaching a video to the end of this post.)

Forgiveness just might be the hardest thing to take to heart. Let's be honest with ourselves here - if you've been hurt, the last thing you want to do is forgive the person. No, it's more likely you want revenge. Or, at the very least, you want them to understand that they hurt you; you want them to apologize and, if they can, try to heal, fix, or compensate you for what they did/said wrong.

As the lyrics say, it's the hardest thing to give. Some would say that it’s easier to cut off a finger or an arm than it is to forgive someone who hurt them. Forgiveness is the last thing on anyone’s mind, especially when your mind is saying, “But they don’t deserve it!”

Consider Colossians, chapter three, verses twelve through fourteen:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

   – Colossians 3:12-14

God makes it quite clear that He expects us to forgive those who hurt us. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

We did not and do not deserve forgiveness. No one no one – will ever sin against us as much as we have sinned against God. If He has forgiven you, and canceled the enormous debt you owe, shouldn't you forgive the smaller debt of someone who has offended you?

"Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness..."

If we pray, we can  with God's help   learn to give others what He gave to us. We can't do it on our own; I don't claim to be saying that. But we can with our Heavenly Father's help. We can learn to love the unlovable, reach the unreachable, and do the impossible.

There is another aspect I want to discuss; it is embodied in this particular scrap of lyrics:

"It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word..."

I know it hurts. I know it's hard. When someone concocts and spreads lies about you, it hurts. When someone you thought was your friend suddenly stops speaking to you, it hurts. And sometimes, it seems like the only course of action is to stay angry, and to hold a grudge against them for a very long time.

Forgiving and loving the people that hurt you is probably one of the hardest things to bring yourself to do. After all, the natural response is to become angry. To feel indignant, hurt, and betrayed. Many people never manage to forgive those who hurt them, and at first, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal.

"It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It's always anger's own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It's the whisper in your ear saying 'Set It Free'..."

Many, many people will tell you that you have the right to hold a grudge, and that you deserve some sort of compensation for the pain you've been caused. Believe me, I know - I've been on both sides of that equation before, both the person who has been hurt and the person saying you have every right to hold a grudge.

It's no surprise then that a lot of people consider the if-they-won't-apologize-then-I'll-find-some-way-to-get-back-at-them or the I-will-never-acknowledge-your-existence-ever-again mentalities to be perfectly acceptable when dealing with someone who hurt you.

You can claim to others that you're 'over that one incident' and that you're not angry anymore. In reality... you probably are not over it, and there is a good chance you never will be.

Oftentimes, the inability to forgive has less to do with the hurt you feel and more to do with your pride. Let's face it. Telling someone, "I forgive you" is very similar (in our minds, at least) to saying, "You were right, you win!" And that's a tough thing to say, or, in this case, think you're saying. No one likes to admit that they are wrong. No one likes to admit defeat.

But forgiveness is not defeat. Far from it.

"It'll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free

There is no end to what its power can do

So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you..."

I think that is my favorite verse from that song. It is so true. At first, you might feel annoyed, or even ashamed, by telling someone you forgive them. "This means I've lost," a voice might say inside your head. "This means I've been defeated. They'll be gloating over this for years!"

That's not true. And even if they are 'gloating' over it for the rest of your life, who cares?

Look at it this way. If you keep holding a grudge, and let the pain, the anger, and the feelings of betrayal fester... in the long run, it will hurt you even more. You lock yourself into a prison of bitterness. Trust me, I know; I've found myself inside of that prison, battling with the feelings of anger and betrayal, more times than I wish to count. Bitterness, as Danae Dobson once said, is like a cancer, eating away at our soul. The result is pure misery.

But when you wholeheartedly forgive those people, and tell them so, you are set free from that prison of bitterness! And while you may feel ashamed for a while. But in the end, you will feel much better - free from the burden of hate that you carried. It truly will set you free. 

1 comment:

  1. So true. Another good song in that vein is 'Losing' by Tenth Avenue North. Good post!