Grace Notes – The Annoyance of Forgiveness

By Debora Coty

Why on earth would that woman want a meeting with me? I hung up the phone, puzzled.

Margaret had long been dissing me, ignoring my phone calls and e-mails, and walking past me at church like I was invisible for the past ten years.

And now she wanted to take me to lunch?

I felt completely justified arming my inner guard with an attitude Uzi as we sat across a cozy table from one another. I was prepared for her attack.

To my absolute flabbergastation, Margaret confessed that she had treated me badly because of jealousy. Then the air was completely sucked out of me when she added, “I’d like to ask for your forgiveness.”

What? I screamed inwardly. You want my forgiveness? Forget it, Sugar. You hurt my feelings so many times I’ve lost count. You don’t deserve forgiveness!

My knee-jerk reaction shocked me. Wasn’t I a Christ-follower? Didn’t Christ himself say, “Forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too”? (MARK 11:25, NLT).

I realized that I really didn’t want to forgive Margaret. I felt comfortable in my long-term grudge state and was actually annoyed that she threw this surprise twist in our relationship.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that how we feel has nothing to do with forgiveness. We forgive as an act of the will, because God commands us to, not because of feelings. If we wait to feel like it, we’ll never forgive anybody.

The act of forgiveness enables God to perform a mysterious and profound work of grace in us. The healing process begins – first inwardly, in our own heart, then outwardly, in the broken relationship with our offender.  As we release others from the hurt they’ve caused us, our own hurt is released. Anger stops holding us prisoner. Resentment no longer corrodes our intimacy with God.

And you know what? After I forgave Margaret verbally that day, I eventually did feel that grudge boulder begin to crumble. It wasn’t overnight; it was a process, but crumble it did.

Are there any grudge boulders inside of you that need to be obliterated?