The Annoyance of Forgiveness by Debora M. Coty
Debora M. Coty is an inspirational humorist, popular speaker, and award-winning author of 13 books, including More Beauty, Less Beast: Transforming Your Inner Ogre, and Too Blessed to be Stressed. Deb lives and loves in central Florida with her husband Chuck and her pooch Fenway.
The Annoyance of Forgiveness
by Debora M. Coty
Why on earth would that woman want a meeting with me? I hung up the phone, puzzled. Maureen had long been dissing me, ignoring my phone calls and e-mails, walking past me at church like I was invisible, snubbing invitations to my local book events and speaking engagements. She’d disagreed with nearly everything I said or did for the past ten years.
And now she wanted to take me to lunch? Go figure.
I felt completely justified arming my inner guard with an attitude Uzi as we sat across a cozy table from one another and ordered salads. I was prepared for her attack.
When the server left, Maureen took a sip of water and then, of all unexpected things, teared up. To my absolute flabbergastation, she confessed that she had treated me badly because as a wannabe author, she’d been jealous of my writing success.
Then the air was completely sucked out of my guts when she quietly 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).
But forgiveness doesn’t come naturally in our revenge-glorified world. Because it’s often impossible without the Holy Spirit’s intervention, and because we feed off the power of one-upping someone who did us wrong, forgiving and accepting forgiveness are unique qualities in today’s society. Even among Christians.
I was stunned to realize that I really didn’t want to forgive Maureen. I felt comfortable in my long-term grudge state and was actually annoyed that she threw this surprise twist in our relationship. But I was supposed to forgive her, wasn’t I? It was the Jesus thing to do. Even if I didn’t feel forgiveness in my heart, I could state it with my lips and pray that my heart would follow.
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 Maureen 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?