She did it again.
She rejected me again.
I felt hurt again.
And I am struggling to forgive. Again.
Remember two weeks ago when I wrote about Reagan’s* rejection? I invited her to sit with me and my roommate at dinner, but she sat somewhere else without even explaining why. Well, not long after that incident, she rejected me again.
My roommate and I were walking into a meeting and glanced around for two empty seats. My roommate spotted two open seats by Reagan, so we sat down there. Reagan didn’t say anything when I sat down (but neither did I). However, partway through the meeting, Reagan got up from her chair and moved to sit in another seat. With other girls. And a really cute guy.
To say I was offended would be an understatement. To say I was furious would be more accurate.
The Speck in Her Eye and the Log in Mine
I couldn’t believe Reagan got up and left her seat beside me to sit with other people. Was I not good enough for her? Why had she rejected me again?
I thought I knew why she moved. I assumed it was to get that cute guy’s attention. Sure. he was super handsome.
But knowing that certainly didn’t make the hurt disappear.
When would Reagan realize how much she hurt me when she ignored me? When would she recognize that she’d made a mistake? When would she understand that she rejected me for a silly guy?
Or, I could be asking myself when I will put the past behind me and forgive Reagan…because maybe I never really forgave her for rejecting me the first time.
Again and Again and Again
Maybe I simply needed to let go of my bitterness…and constantly remind myself to let go.
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV)
When I thought about this post, the above passage immediately came to mind. Peter is a lot like me—he doesn’t always like to do hard things (and he gives into peer pressure). I feel and act the same way.
Forgiveness is insanely hard. And it isn’t really a one-and-done process.
It’s easy to think of forgiveness as a one-step process. We let go of our anger toward someone and say, “I forgive you.” Forgiveness is often portrayed this way. But I think forgiveness—even for a single offense—is a daily process.
Because your anger, frustration, and resentment toward someone probably won’t disappear when you utter the words, “I forgive you.” Your feelings might not like that decision. And the devil certainly won’t.
He’ll probably whisper something in your ear like this: Why would you forgive her? She ditched you. Just stay mad at her. She deserves it. Holding a grudge doesn’t even hurt anyone.
Oh, he is so wrong.
When You Don’t Feel like Forgiving Again
Friends, that is a lie. Holding a grudge hurts you and the other person. I’m not saying that when you forgive someone, you need to be his or her best friend. I am saying that forgiveness isn’t a one-step process. It requires us to continually believe the truth and choose to act in a godly way toward someone, despite how we feel.
Here’s the truth: God tells us to forgive, no matter how many times someone wrongs us (Matthew 18:21-22). God tells us to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). Christ loved us first, even when we didn’t deserve it (1 John 4:19, Romans 5:8). He offers us forgiveness for our sins against Him (Ephesians 1:7).
We can’t give up on someone and say, “I’ve forgiven him (or have claimed to forgive him) too many times. It’s not worth it anymore.” Jesus doesn’t stop forgiving us, and we can’t stop forgiving others. Even if you genuinely forgive someone for an offense, her or she may hurt you again. And then you’ll have to make a choice—the hard choice that will require you to constantly let go of bitterness and heartache.
But it’s not the impossible choice. With God’s strength, it’s the possible choice. Because bitterness can be healed and heartache can be cured–but only by our forgiving Father.
*Name has been changed.