By Cynthia Shahan
When I was in seminary, I took a counseling class on walking clients through forgiveness. I honestly think it was more enlightening for us than it would ever be for our clients. We had to face those places in our lives where we were will still harboring unforgiveness. I honestly thought I had dealt with those hard places . . . until a year ago. It was then that I realized just how layered our hurts can be. Several months ago I learned that a person I had once loved betrayed again. This time it wasn't me. Yet, I found those ugly feelings of anger, betrayal, mistrust, and unforgiveness welling up inside of me. My resounding question was, "How could he?" Sadly, this has been a familiar question I've asked since then, not about this guy, but about countless others who have betrayed people I love. And yet, in all these situations, I've been called to help my loved ones walk through forgiveness. It's a daunting task really, especially when you come face to face with your own lack of forgiveness.
A couple of weeks ago I came face to face with unforgiveness yet again. Someone who abruptly left my life showed up out of the blue and as soon as I saw him I was filled with anger, not just because I was remembering how he had hurt me, but because I realized how he was affecting my current relationships. As much as I didn't want to, I had to admit that these feelings I was having towards him were more harmful to me than they'll ever be to him. The thing about unforgiveness is that it festers. Sure, it can lie dormant for awhile, but in time, it will always always always pop back up. Often times, it is transferred onto people who had nothing to do with the initial circumstance.
This is what I've been reflecting on for the past month. As much as I feel like I have the "right" to hold on to my anger, hurt, and unforgiveness towards people who have hurt me, what I don't want to happen is transference of mistrust and insecurity onto the people who have committed to being a part of my life. No, I can't just automatically forgive instantaneously (boy, do I wish), but I can choose every day to strive for forgiveness, allow God to meet me in those places of hurt, and rely on Him to bring me to a place of complete forgiveness and freedom. I want to love with every fiber of my being. I want to freely give my heart away without dwelling on how others have misused it in the past. I want to trust when someone tells me that I'm important and that they have no intention of purposely hurting me. I have to CHOOSE this for me. I can't expect people to prove it to me, because in the end, they will fail. Not because they want to, but because we are all human, and as much as we don't want to, we will always come up short. So today, I choose to rely on Jesus to make up for my shortcomings. I pray that people will extend grace to me when I fail and I will try to offer the same in return. It is the best gift we can ever offer one another.
Cynthia is a lover of creating, coffee, Gilmore Girls, Jesus, & Target. Louisiana is her home, but for now she lives in Nashville with her overphotograhed dog, Bella.