by Rhonda, March 08, 2022

I had an evening this week where I was particularly grouchy.  Usually, when I am grumpy, I tend to isolate myself and I refuse to interact.  I guess somehow in my mind, that's better than lashing out at those unfortunate souls who live with me.  I felt bad about my evening of self-imposed isolation, so the next day, I had to send out an apology text to my kids.

But, it made me wonder.  Why is it so easy to be nice when we're at work, or at church, but sometimes it is so difficult when we're at home trying to make dinner?  I thought about the question for a while, then while driving down the road, I decided to ask God if He would weigh in with His opinion.

You know, when you ask God for His opinion, He usually gives it to you.  Immediately, one word came to the forefront of my mind.


I sighed.  Lessons on forgiveness are so difficult for me.  God has already been talking to me about the need to forgive so I can move on from my divorce.  Now, here's the same darn topic again, showing up in a different area of my life.

Am I really grouchy at home because of unforgiveness? I asked myself.  I didn't ask God to weigh in this time, because I figured I wouldn't like the answer.  

God asks us to forgive, because He knows the toxicity of holding onto anger, bitterness, and revenge is crippling for a Christian.  It gives the devil an opening into our minds, and when he's given an opening, he'll turn our minds into his playground.  No matter which way we approach it, there's no true peace for a Christian who is living with unforgiveness.

It is easy to say, but so difficult to put into practice.  There's something inside of us that feels like forgiving and letting go means we lose.  But forgiveness is what keeps us from living in the past, in a pit of debilitating emotions threatening to overtake us based on the trigger of the day.  Forgiveness is freedom.

As I pondered my situation, I realized unforgiveness over my divorce has really crept up on me over the past few weeks.  Years of memories have their way of storming my mind, reminding me of how I've been wronged (it rarely reminds me of how I've wronged). Things said, things done, and hurtful memories have been popping into my mind at random times, and instead of letting those things go, I've been holding on them.  I've been thinking about how things should have gone, and that cycle of thinking means more memories pop up more often.

So, Christ reminds me.

Forgiveness puts an end to this cycle.  

Matthew 18: 21-22 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.”

Sometimes Peter is so relatable.  This is a question I probably would have asked.  "Lord, how many times are you going to expect this of me?  It seems like seven should be the limit."  Then God answers, "seventy-seven times".  I can just hear Peter's response.  "Seventy-seven times!  Are you serious?"

God was telling Peter forgiveness has to be a lifestyle.  It can't be a decision we make once and then revert back to life as before.  That same hurt will pop up the next day as a memory, and the next day.  In fact, every day, those we love the most also have the opportunity to hurt us the most.  We're all humans, and those closest to us will hurt us whether they intend to or not.  If we're not careful, even small everyday offenses will build up in our minds, and unforgiveness will rear its ugly head over even the smallest, most inconsequential things.

Forgiveness doesn't mean we don't set boundaries.  It doesn't mean we put ourselves out there to be hurt by someone who is abusive,  But, it means we let go of needing to even the score, of wanting to take revenge that belongs to Christ.  In fact, forgiveness is more about letting go than hanging on.  

God wants us to forgive because He doesn't want anything coming between us and God.  He doesn't want us hanging onto things that are going to lead us down a road of destruction, following the next sinful thing that will make us feel better.  No, God wants us to be healed.  It is out of His love for us that he sets forgiveness as an example, not out of any need for suffering on our part.

So, I will try again.  I will continue to work on making forgiveness a lifestyle, not a moment.

In this, I will find freedom.

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