40-Day Challenge: Forgiveness (Day 9)

Ever have one of those days when you read something that hits you right between the eyes — because it convicts you of the very thing you had been doing just moments before?

I have. In fact, it happened to me just now. My eyes fell upon today’s topic, and I realized in just that instant that I had been stewing for the umpteenth time about a member of my husband’s family who is one of the few people who makes me see red just by seeing that person across a crowded room. That’s a lot of power to give someone, right?

As I wrote this particular reflection, I had this person in mind when I wrote it . . . and yet just today, reading it again, the resentment flares. Again. And again, I offer it back to God. “Take this for me, will you? It’s too heavy for me to carry around…”

Sometimes I think that’s part of the reason God puts people like that in our lives. To remind us just how dependent we are on his grace, every single moment of our lives.  We can grow stronger in grace, and I’m trusting that the day will come when I can be in the same room with this person without my blood pressure spiking the tiniest bit. After all, this person is a child of God, just as I am. There must be something loveable in there somewhere.

Please, God. Show me what it is. For my husband’s sake as well as my own.

And so now, if you’re ready, please join me in the  “Prayer of Abandonment

St. Ambrose taught that “no one heals himself by wounding another.” And yet, in marriage there can be a very real danger of damaging the one we love by lashing out from our own sense of woundedness, particularly from painful relationships in our past. Pettiness, jealousies, and need to control can quickly drain the joy and friendship out of any union.

How often does the toxin of anger, however justified, spill over and poison other relationships? And how often do we hold on to those negative emotions, afraid to let go out of a misplaced sense of justice? In Mitch Albom’s “Have a Little Faith,” his rabbi friend “Reb” admonishes Mitch not just to forgive, but not to let anger take root in the first place.

“You know what I found over the years? When I had a disagreement with someone, and they came to talk to me, I always began by saying, ‘I’ve thought about it. And in some ways maybe you’re right.’ Now, I didn’t always believe that. But it made things easier. Right from the start, they relaxed . . . I took a volatile situation and  . . . defused it. You know, in our tradition, we ask forgiveness from everyone – even casual acquaintances. But with those we are closest with – wives, children, parents – we too often let things linger. Don’t wait, Mitch. It’s such a waste . . . Nothing haunts like the things we don’t say.”  (Have a Little Faith, 212).

Today’s challenge:  Do you find yourself bickering with a loved one over the same topic again and again, without really resolving the problem? St. Francis de Paolo offers today’s challenge: “Pardon one another so that later on you will not remember the injury. The recollection of an injury is in itself wrong. It adds to our anger, nurtures our sin and hates what is good. It is a rusty arrow and poison for the soul. It puts all virtue to flight.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord God, in your goodness you have given me the one who is best able to wear down the sharp edges of imperfect love, even those that are hidden just below the surface of the heart. Help me to forgive as you forgive — without reservation, and with love refined in the fires of adversity.

 

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5 Comments

  1. Going through my current situations is very painful, hurtful and hard! Everyone has asked me how I could forgive my husband or the other woman. I tell them, it isn’t easy, but if God can forgive them both, who am I not to forgive them? I am not better than God. I want God to forgive me, so how can I not forgive others. I have learned through this experience, forgiveness is for our own peace and goodness. By forgiving, we truly lay our burdens at the feet of the Cross and allow God to show us His will and He way.

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    1. You are so right, Lorie. In my experience, forgiveness is something that happens not just once, but many times (especially in the beginning).

      It starts with, “Lord, help me to WANT be willing to forgive.”
      Then, “Lord, help me to be willing to forgive.”
      Finally, thankfully, “Lord, forgive me as I have forgiven.”
      (That last one is what keeps us from picking the burden up again . . . hopefully.)

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  2. This resonated with me just now as I was upset with my husband just this morning. I let him see I was upset.

    As I read this challenge, I realize that again, I was giving him power over me, power that should be the Lord’s alone.

    That I am not being the lighthouse, the comfortable place he needs where he can be himself, where he can be dperessed and sad but still worthy.

    I know his heart is not warm towards me at this point but the more I plant anger in mine, the further away he will go. I have to rid myself of the anger and resentment.

    This is a very important challenge for me.

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  3. Angel: You are doing the right thing. Sometimes we have to get out of the way for God to act. (And sometimes He starts with US! Go figure.”) Blessings, Heidi

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