Pearls and Dreams
I learned a long time ago how to forgive. How to thouroughly forgive. If necessary, over and over and over again. I took Jesus' words to forgive 7 x 70 to heart. When you don't like confrontation, you have 2 choices ... you either become very adept at forgiveness ... or ...you become bitter. I choose the former. It served me quite well ...or so I thought.
I have a friend who once told me that her greatest fear in our friendship, is that she would offend me, and she would never know it. (She's right). I took that as a compliment ..she did not mean it as a compliment.
When I was a teenager, I was in a Christian School, and our teacher spent a lot of time dealing with us on the verses Matthew 18:15-17 (this is the New Century Version)
15 "If your fellow believer sins against you, go and tell him in private what he did wrong. If he listens to you, you have helped that person to be your brother or sister again. 16 But if he refuses to listen, go to him again and take one or two other people with you. 'Every case may be proved by two or three witnesses.' 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, then treat him like a person who does not believe in God or like a tax collector. 18 "I tell you the truth, the things you don't allow on earth will be the things God does not allow. And the things you allow on earth will be the things that God allows
We, as a class, memorized the verses and spent weeks on the principal and the importance of these verses. The teacher was trying to cut down on the cliques, hurt feelings from gossip and general teenage angst in the school. It worked. We became a tight knit group, who learned to solve our problems Biblically, and to forgive and to work together to not hurt each other.
On with my adult life, I became more and more inside my shell ...interesting side note here ... I accidently typed ..inside myself and had to backspace ... hmm. Anyway ... I became more and more inside my shell ..and less and less able to confront those who had hurt me ...and chose to forgive those who hurt me rather than tell anyone.
I learned that most people usually hurt someone out of misconception, miscommunication or other such thing, rarely from intent ...so I just took that stance. Someone hurt me, they had no intention of doing so ..and on with life. They got the benifit of the doubt ... and I moved on.
They hurt me again. They didn't know they'd done it before, so how could they have known? They again, got the benifit of the doubt.
I could forgive someone ..forever this way. It was easier than confronting them, or becoming embittered.
I'd also learned that sometimes, uneasy friendship, can turn into good friendships this way. I've had some that have started out rocky, and my determination to forgive ..has allowed the communication to stay open and we've wound up with great friendships.
So ... recently, I had a conversation about the Matthew 18:15-17 ... I wasn't quite sure why the verse 15 was really necessary if you were able to forgive 7 times 70 ... what's the point of drawing attention to someone hurting you in the first place? In my experience, when I DID tell them they hurt me ..they were hurt themselves that they'd HURT ME! So why make a situation worse when I could just forgive anyway?
So ... this week ... a situation happened. Someone whom, I have had to practice the forgiving repeatidly over and over again. I'd felt judged by him, like he felt that I was less than, not worthy of his time. Like I didn't matter or was a second class citizen. In many situations, this had happened and he ... and my son had a MAJOR miscommunication. It happened with my son. I can't let that one go. That's not fair to him. To me ..yea, walk all over me. Don't hurt my kids.
Then, a friend, a woman who I'm mentoring/accountability for ... called me and said that she'd had a problem with someone ..was it her? Or could this person really feel this way about her?
Maybe Matthew 18:15 isn't about me ... Maybe it's about others. Maybe letting someone know they've hurt you ... will keep the situation from happening with others. Maybe, if when he'd first hurt me 3 years ago, I'd let him know, he'd have been aware that he can come across that way, and worked on changing that ... and my friend ..who doesn't have the background I have ..who FEELS like she's not worthy, who feels like she doesn't belong ..and assumes they're right ...wouldn't have been put in the same situation.
He and I talked tonight. He, with pain in his voice said "If you feel this way, how many others have felt the same?" I told him of my conversation this week. Then assured him that I'm not going around church talking ... I honestly couldn't tell him of others, that I'm her accountability ..and she was weighing thoughts/emotions ...he grinned in HUGE relief over that one! But broken hearted that TWO women ..who he cared for and respected got this feeling from him ...
And ...if only I'd realized ..that it wasn't about my ability to forgive him ... it was about brothers and sisters working together in the body of Christ ... it really had nothing to do with me ... but who in the future might be effected!