Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Forgiving others - being good to ourselves.

Some days after I had given a talk on forgiveness recently, a man told me that he had being putting into practice what we had shared on Christian forgiveness. He had realised that he was carrying hurts and anger about people in the past. The talk had uncovered hidden resentments, and he had begun to pray for those people. And as he continued to do so he said he felt emotional and the tears came - a frequent sign of grace working deep within - and he experienced great peace. To be able to put down the burdens of the past is always a precious gift.

God does not ask the impossible from us. Jesus tells us: "Pray for those who treat you badly; bless and do not curse them."   So taking the Lord at His word and trusting in His grace we do just that. We don't have to like someone before we pray for them. Nor do we have to wait till our emotions are no longer raw before doing so.  We can simply say: "Lord bless him/her and grant me peace!"  It is very hard to hate someone y0u are praying for. Such a choosing of forgiveness opens a space for the Spirit of the Lord to bring us healing and peace.

Feelings follow the action. Forgiveness is not firstly about our emotions; it is a choice, a decision, an act of the will. If the wound is deep we may need to make that choice again and again until the heart is free.

Resentment keeps the hurt alive in our hearts, controls our moods and extends our pain. We are being very good to ourselves when we make the decision to let go of any bitterness we are nursing. Resentment is an acid that destroys its container. The container is our own heart!